Thursday, March 08, 2018

Hiking: Thoughts on footwear

I hated those hiking boots almost from the time I bought them. Years ago, I had been in the market for some hiking boots. Strapped for cash, I had looked for some good boots at a great price. I finally found what I thought were great boots advertised at the REI discount page of their website. These boots were from The Northface. I had previously owned some Northface gear, but not much of it, because the cost was higher than my spaghetti and meatball diet could afford. However, they made great sleeping bags and jackets and so I figured that their boots were probably great too. I ordered the boots.
As I opened the package, the first thing I noticed was that they were made out of ankle-high sturdy leather with little give. Unlike the running shoes that I had been hiking in for most of my adult like, these boots were not flexible.  I couldn't help wonder how it would be to hike in them and not be able to flex my foot all that much as I had been accustomed to with the running shoes. They seemed well-made though, and I put them on, walking around the house. They were pretty comfortable and all of that, but I couldn't put out of my mind how stiff they were. I've always had fairly picky feet, when it comes to footwear, and I was worried about these boots. Still, I had spent the money and maybe they required a breaking-in period, so I held onto them.
My day job was as a mail carrier and I thought that I could break them in just wearing them to work. The postal service does have requirements for footwear, but occasionally, people do a bit of fudging on that without being reprimanded, and that's what I did. At the end of the day, there was one spot on the outer part of the boot's collar that had really hurt the tendon that runs down the outside of the ankle. Still, I thought, maybe the boots needed more breaking in.
However, I put them aside and went back to the running shoes.
A few years went by and the boots just sat in the closet. At the time, I wasn't doing any kind of winter hiking--rarely venturing into inclement weather, and when I did, I had some old army boots that were broken in and that did the job adequately, if not wonderfully. I had been backpacking, but generally it was for overnighters and no multiple day excursions. Then I planned the Kings Peak four night backpacking trip.
With that length of hiking, and expecting any kind of weather, I wanted something a little more durable than my running shoes. I remembered the Northface boots I had tucked away in the closet. I'll take those, I thought to myself.
It started out fairly well, but that first day on the trail, due to unforeseen circumstances, such as heavy run-off keeping us from crossing the creek where we needed to, we ended up walking extra miles, just so that we could be ready for the hiking on the following days. The first day was 12 miles and by the end of the day, I was exhausted.
Already that place where the boot rubbed my tendon on the first day I ever wore them was beginning to hurt tremendously. I didn't know what to do. We were miles from any chance of wearing something else, and we still had the peak to climb. By day three, there was no way I could endure the pain any longer. I pulled off the boot and took my knife and cut out the portion of the boot that was rubbing. Relief at last! It would take days for that pain to totally subside, but at least the pressure was gone. For the rest of the trip I could focus on why we were there instead of the pain I was in.
When I got home at the end of the trip, I tossed the boots into either a box that we had been saving stuff in to go to the local thrift store, or I threw them away disgustedly. I honestly cannot remember.
There is a moral to this story. That is, that when purchasing boots, or any article of clothing on which you have to depend to protect you in wilderness situations, make sure you like them, and if you have any misgivings, return them immediately and get something you are comfortable with.
A second lesson is this: Don't be afraid to modify your clothing to save your body from pain.  If I hadn't been smart enough to cut my boot to relieve the pressure, I'm not sure how much longer I would've been able to walk. And don't skimp when it comes to footwear that you will depend on to get you out of rugged terrain.
Northface likely does make some good hiking boots, but in this case I think they were on the discount rack for a reason. It's all part of the adventure though. Keep on hiking!
Jewel Lake, Uintas

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Rose: Still an amazing song

The moment I heard Bette Midler's hit song The Rose, I loved it. I cannot read the words without applying them to my own life. They are powerful words that stand reach down to the depths of my soul. It's a song that stands the test of time. I have loved other versions of this song as well, including, but not limited to, Conway Twitty's version. Still great after all these years, and quite possibly in my top ten all time. Enjoy!

Here's the Conway Twitty version.

And then this wonderful performance, a duet with Bette Midler and Wynona Judd.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sharing the sunrise

Earlier this morning, when I looked out side, my eyes were filled with wonder as I gazed at the Beautiful hues in the eastern sky.

I don't think I'll ever tired of this glorious work of God. My plan is to post pictures like this in my blog until the end of my days, or until something happens to change my ability to post and share with you the things in which I find great joy.

Each sunrise or sunset brings back wonderful thoughts and memories to me. There is nothing like them in all the world.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Skiing was a glorious adventure

Monday I had the opportunity to go skiing at Brighton. I was excited because I'd been watching the weather forecast and it looked like I might get some fresh powder. None of the friends I had asked, including my brother Mike, could go, so I was going solo--not quite as fun, but still, I've gone skiing alone before and still had a great time, so I was rarin' to go.
I had gotten off to a late start because as I got five minutes away from home, I realized that I had left my ski ticket voucher at home and had to go back to retrieve it. Once home, my wife, Ann was having trouble with the sound on the computer, so I stayed for a little longer to make sure she got it back on, and then I left.
The lifts were already open when I got there and by the time I got dressed and ready to go, they'd been running for about half an hour. The snow was coming down fast and furious, and as I went up the Majestic lift, the snow was blowing right in my face. I always take an easy run or two to get myself warmed up before doing something more strenuous and this was no exception. By the time I did my second tour on that lift though, I wanted no more of it. It was running so slow and I could see the other nearby lift, called the Crest Express, running a lot faster. I took that lift the next time and when I got off on top, my glasses needed to be cleaned off. I'd been okay so far without goggles in my brief three year return to skiing, but with the snow coming down and the wind blowing so hard, I definitely saw the need for some good "over the glasses" goggles. Anyway, I stopped when I got off the lift to clean my glasses. I had brought a microfiber cloth with me and as I wiped them off, the left lens came out of the glasses. Great I thought, just what I needed to happen. However, I was able to pop it back in and I headed down.

You can see that left lens is a little foggy.
I pretty much stuck with that lift the rest of the day as the runs were long and fun and had a lot of variation. And there was an awesome 4-5 inches of  powder everywhere! I was impressed with Brighton's runs. I had not been there in thirty-plus years, the last time being when I went night skiing with Mike when he was fourteen. I liked it better than Solitude, where I have been doing most of my skiing, because I've been able to ski cheaper at Solitude. The particular time when I went to purchase my ticket from liftopia, Brighton just happened to have the cheapest ticket for this particular day. One advantage Solitude has over Brighton, other than price is a lot more restrooms scattered around the slopes.
I wanted to get ten runs in before I stopped for lunch, and though it was still snowing, it slowed down a little as I headed to lunch. By the time I got done with lunch though, it was snowing harder than it had all day and I was pumped to get back up there.
The sun poked out from time to time

Down in the parking lot, it wasn't snowing as hard as up on top.
I managed seven more fantastic runs after lunch and by then my legs were getting really tired. I stopped after seventeen. When I got home and went to clean off my glasses, the lens fell out again and I couldn't get it back in--I ended up digging through my bedroom dresser to find my spare glasses, and then later, when I had to go to Walmart for some things, I stopped by their optical department and they put the lens back in for me. I consider myself lucky that I was able to get that lens to stay in for as long as I did. I had my old pair of glasses in the 4Runner, but ended up not having to go back and get them.
I think that was my last time skiing for the year. I had planned on taking my granddaughter for a lesson in March, but with as little snow as we have, and for some other reasons, I think I'm going to have to take both my oldest granddaughters next year together. That might be better anyway. They have great deals on lessons in January.
Further down the canyon, there just isn't much snow at all. Looks like May up there.
I had a glorious adventure on the slopes. Now it's time to start planning some hikes. I can't wait.

Love means saying you're sorry

I think I know what the most ridiculous quote about love is. It came from that film in 1970, Love Story. I don't remember much about the film, but the quote will stay with me forever:

Love is never having to say you're sorry.

Isn't that crazy? If you love someone, you will say you're sorry. It's kind of the exact opposite of the quote. Not that one should go around saying they're sorry all the time, but when it's warranted--and in any good relationship, it often is, you should say it.

Personally, the more I talk, the more I put my foot in my mouth. I have found that once you let those words fly, you cannot get them back. I guess that's why I'm generally known as a quiet man--I don't want to say the wrong thing, so I often keep quiet. But not often enough. I still manage to hurt those I love with my words. And for that, if I've hurt any of you, I apologize. I am hoping though that my loved ones love me enough to know that sometimes I say things out of hurt or anger that I should have just not said out loud. Sometimes I say things out loud though, to let my loved ones know I was hurt or frustrated. That's not always the right thing for us to do. Often it's better to just relax, chill, and think of all the good things and good times we've gone through with our loved one.

And the reason why is because sometimes we never get that chance to make amends.

So, contrary to the "wisdom" of Love Story, I will just say "I'm sorry" right now for my words I let fly from time to time. I will still make mistakes as friends do, but I think I will just treasure up the memories I have with all my loved ones, and look forward to the wonderful times yet to come.

Have a fabulous Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Thoughts on healthy lifestyles

As a self-described health nut, I'm always looking at ways to live healthier and happier--even into advanced age. Fitness has always been a big issue with me, and in fact I find myself frustrated about it way too often when the demands of my job and life as a caregiver affect my fitness plans, which they do frequently. Often also, in those fast-paced demanding days,  I find myself reaching for the easy thing to eat, instead of carefully planned and cooked meals. My lunches often end up as General Tso's Chicken along with some kind of pasta (though spinach pasta is part of the mix--or at least green pasta) with bits of broccoli in it.
That being said, I do put an immense amount of thought into doing what I can do easily to eat more healthy, and I investigate thoroughly the evidence for longevity and lifelong health that is evident in certain societies.
Which brings up something I just ran across today. I have done cursory investigation of the Paleo dieting regimen in the past and fairly recently discussed it with a fellow health enthusiast and was reminded that the Paleo diet ousts dairy products. The reason given for that is that humans eating dairy products is a relatively recent event in their eating lives. Recent meaning, only in the last 10,000 or so years have domesticated animals existed and prior to that, folks would have had to milk wild wildebeests and musk oxen--not a very pleasant sounding task.
My prior research into longevity though suggests that in one area of the world, goat's milk is a key contributor to that society's tendency toward long life. Dan Buettner's classic treatise on the subject, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest identifies goat's milk as one of the factors. This according to longevity studies of the Ikarians of Greece. Goat's milk apparently promotes healthy intestinal flora and is high in tryptophan, which is a stress-relieving hormone. See the book review here: Clickety-click
I concur with much of the Paleo dietary guidelines though. I'd add that the late exercise and diet guru Jack LaLanne believed in eating things that were as close to their natural state as possible. I firmly believe that eating that way plus having a killer exercise regimen let LaLanne live until he was over 96 and much of that very healthy--at the age of 70 he pulled seventy boats, some with people aboard, for a one mile swim.
Though I haven't yet reached LaLanne's proficiency at either fitness or dieting, I'm working hard at perfecting both. For breakfast most days of the week I make a smoothie filled with all kinds of good stuff. The mainstays include spinach, blueberries, carrots, raw eggs, bananas, and turmeric, though I occasionally throw in other greens like kale and am planning on trying beets soon. When I don't feel like making the smoothie, I have some oatmeal with blueberries, real maple syrup, and plain whole milk yogurt. When I really go off the road of my diet I will eat whole wheat toast with Crazy Richard's peanut butter (made with only peanuts) and a glass of whole milk. Whenever I miss my smoothie, I try to make it up later in the day. That doesn't mean I don't go AWOL every once in a while on my good eating habits. I do. But then I try to get back to what's good and healthy within a day or two of messing up.
That being said the second component of maximum health is a good exercise plan. I am convinced that exercise is just as key as a good diet is at helping someone maximize their potential for a long and healthy life. Right now I'm doing a variety of strength training exercises along with stair climbing for cardio. Often on my days off, I am hiking, skiing, or just getting outside and working for those stress relieving, emotional healing, life invigorating excursions that renew both body, mind, and soul. I won't be towing any boats across the bay any time soon, but I hope to lead a vigorous life well into my nineties, if not beyond.
Lastly, the keys to good healthy lifestyles include having good interpersonal relationships with family and friends, laughing a lot, and lots of hugs. That kind of thing I can get behind any day of the week.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

A matter of trust

I have had trust issues since I was a much younger man. I can't really say what caused them. Maybe a single incident--maybe more. Be that as it may, my life since then has been one in which I have been skeptical of many things, including things people say they will do, or have done. Counterpoint to that though is that I have largely been religious my entire adult life, for most of it as a Mormon, and the last several years as a Bible-believing Christian. So, obviously, some manner of faith has been involved in accepting those differing belief systems. And while early on I  found myself doubting some of the tenets of Mormonism and eventually all of it, I have never doubted the existence of God, nor that Jesus Christ was my Savior.
But still, I sometimes fall into a lack of trust in God. I find myself telling God that certain things are too tough for me and that I need him to solve the problem, because I have no answers. And then I forget about what I just asked God to do, and go about trying again to solve things that I have found myself unable to solve in the past. In effect, in those situations, I have given up on God or been too impatient, and I have waded in, both arms swinging, trying to dig out of impossible situations myself.
It's not that I don't think I should keep trying. I do. I have always believed that a man who quits is someone who is not to be respected. I post motivational quotes around the house and try to live up to them.
But how does that involve God? Is my impatience in God's timetable admirable because I want to get things done and I feel the need to keep on fighting? Or is my lack of faith a weakness that stems from my trust issues of the past? Why do I sometimes feel that I can only count on myself?
Deep down, I feel like I need to relax and trust. It's what I want to do. It's who I want to be. I believe strongly that God is there listening, and now I know that I never deserve help, but that God, who sacrificed himself for me on the cross, made me whole and continues to do so. I can trust in that. And I can trust that a God that mighty can do pretty much anything, including healing my distrustful heart. That is what I will ask him for. I don't deserve it, but I know that what he wants for me to. And that is good to know.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Hiking: City Creek Canyon

I had wanted to hike up City Creek Canyon Road. The last time I had gone up there, I had been having too much fun along the way and never made it to the end. The end of the road was my goal today. I bet someone who has seen lower City Creek Canyon is already screaming "That trail is paved. That's not a hike--that's a walk." And in a way they'd be right. My intention when I set out this morning was to walk up the paved road all the way to the end of it, and then step past the gate onto the actual trail. As you will soon find out, stepping past the gate onto the trail was the only thing I did that followed that plan. And several miles of it ended up being a real hike. Let me explain.
The walk began from the parking lot east of the Utah State Capitol Building. I started walking down the one-way road to where the City Creek Road split off and headed up the Canyon. As I walked the road east of the Capitol down, I looked across the canyon and wondered how I could get onto the other end of this road, so I could drive to the City Creek parking area, instead of walk past it after the turnoff. I thought that if I  got back down soon enough, I would drive over to the other side and see if I could find the road.
One of the decisions I had made was whether or not to wear my ski jacket or my thick flannel shirt that I got for Christmas. The flannel was really warm, even for flannel so I thought I might be okay with just that. I decided on the flannel and left the ski jacket in my vehicle. At first, I thought I had made a mistake because the morning air (I began hiking at 7:51) was cold and there was a light breeze that was freezing my face. Later on though, after walking for a while, the flannel seemed to be perfect.
I got to the gate at the far end of the canyon parking lot and looked at the map.
It was 5.6 miles to the last picnic area on the map, and just a short distance further, the turn around where the real trail, Meadows Trail, headed up into upper City Creek Canyon.
The clouds were amazing as I hiked. I took several shots of them and could have taken many more.

I also noticed that there were several side trails, and there was a trail that paralleled the road for much of the distance.

I found myself getting a bit tired, because I had climbed over 200 floors on the stair climber the day before, but I soldiered on.
Just after the three mile mark I passed a building marked "City Creek" which I think was the water providing utility for part of Salt Lake County. About a quarter mile past that, prior to the 3.5 mile mark, the plowing ended and a packed snow trail took off along the road.
The plowing ended about 180 yards shy of the 3.5 mile mark.
I hadn't counted on the road not being plowed all the way, but I had set my time limit to be three hours up, so I decided to stick with the plan and try and make it to the end of the road by the time my three hours was up, which would be at 10:51 if I wanted to be exact.

At first, the snowy trail was well used, but as time went by and I got closer to the five mile mark, it looked like more and more people had decided to turn around and the trail was becoming less and less of an actual trail. Right after I reached Rotary Park, the trail really dwindled down.
The trail after I reached Rotary Park became much less used.
I was thinking that a lot of people must have had Rotary Park in mind as their goal and went back down once they reached it.
That wasn't my goal. My goal was the end of the actual road and the beginning of the actual trail. In another mile or so, I finally made it, a couple of minutes past my three hour limit, but nothing to sweat about. My watch said 10:53.
The turn-around before the final gate.

The Meadow Trail, heading up after the final gate.

Sparkling ice crystals in the snow, hard to capture with a camera.

Service vehicles? Always present? I think they're exaggerating.

On the way back down, I took a few more pics, sat and ate a banana,
I'm always looking for great picnic sites like this one.
and struggled back to the 4runner (Yota) as my legs began feeling like lead over the past three miles.
In all, counting the extra walk from the Capital Building, I had covered 13.2 miles.
Since my legs were so tired, I really wanted to go find out where that road started on the other side of the canyon so I would never have to park at the Capitol and walk that stretch again, so that's what I did. It wasn't until I got home and began looking at pics that I noticed the coordinates for that one way road were on the lower left corner of the map in the picture of the map above. By the time I was done with that, I was starving. I had only packed a peanut butter and jam sandwich, which I had eaten at just after 9 am, and a banana, which I ate on the way down. I was thinking that I could probably eat half a pizza, which reminded me of when I had done the Half Dome hike in Yosemite, a 17 miler with lots of steep parts and I had only taken six Clif Bars along. That provided about 1200 calories. The strenuousness of that hike burned about 4000-5000 calories. When I got back to Curry Village that day, I ordered and ate a whole pizza. I wasn't feeling quite that hungry this day, but I was pretty famished. I ended up ordering takeout at Pat's BBQ, and then as I neared home, I ordered something from Sonic. I had been thinking about picnics for much of the day.
A list of the picnic areas in City Creek
Today ended up being a great adventure. Some of it expected, some of it unexpected, but all of it a blessing.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Lay Down Beside Me...another Don Williams classic!

Don Williams did a number of great songs back in the day. This is one of his best. Lay Down Beside Me has also been covered by the likes of Alison Krauss and Kenny Rogers, and frankly, I love Alison Krauss's part of the duet she sings with John Waite. I'm not so fond of the John Waite part though. Anyway, no one does it like the Gentle Giant, Don Williams. Take it away big guy!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

When My Heart Finds Christmas

When Harry Connick Jr. penned the song, When My Heart Finds Christmas in 1993, little did he know it would become a classic among Christmas songs, let alone Christmas love songs. Although Michael Buble has gone on to become perhaps a better crooner than Connick, Connick's biggest Christmas hit ranks right up there with the best of Buble's Christmas offerings. (Sorry, I can't figure out how to do the accent on the "e" in "Buble".) The words to the song are simple, however, the music is sentimental and filled with feeling and when Connick sings it, it sounds like he means it. It is on all of my Christmas favorites lists. The video is of a much more recent performance of Connick doing the song. Happy Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Forty minutes of pain

My newest workout at the gym is what I call "Forty minutes of pain". It's really refreshing. What that involves is forty minutes on the stair climber. I have recently bumped this up to forty. It used to be thirty-eight, and I will still do shorter time periods when I don't feel up to the forty, or when my time doesn't allow me to complete forty minutes. But today, I did the forty and it was forty minutes of pain. I began the routine doing 71 steps per minute, then increased by 1 step every four minutes, until I got to 28 minutes, after which I increased by one step every three minutes. My goal was to burn off 700 calories. I didn't quite make the 700 by the end of the forty minutes, but after about 44 minutes (the last four part of the cool down) the calorie counter registered 700 calories burned. I also burned a few after the stairclimbers as I did my abdominal workout today. Here are the vital statistics:

Minutes: a little over 44
Floors: 191 (at about 17 steps per floor)
Steps: 3247
Calories burned: 700 (maybe 75 more doing the ab workout)

There's one more statistic that's worth noting:

Pieces of pie burned off: two

So there you have it, I have burned off several pieces of pie since Thanksgiving, but still haven't burned off all of the pie and other things I've eaten. Thus go the holidays. I also have a much harder time making it to the gym to do said workout from about mid-November through the end of the year, simply because my job as a mailman gets pretty crazy during that time period.

The bottom line is that forty minutes of pain is worth it to me so that I can do the things I love, which includes eating.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hiking: Antelope Island, Frary Peak

Bison are frequently spotted on the island.
I think one of the most interesting hikes around the Salt Lake Valley, is the hike to Frary Peak on Antelope Island. The actual elevation of the peak (6596 ft.) isn't high in relation to the peaks of the Wasatch or Uinta Mountains--or even the tallest peaks in the Oquirrhs--but the landscape is entirely different. Pretty much barren of trees, although there are a few junipers here and there, and down in the ravines you can see small clumps of oak, maple, or some other deciduous trees, the landscape is mostly grassland and sagebrush. And the geology is different as well with dark rock outcroppings appearing throughout the peaks and ridges of the island.

The hike itself is best done in a season other than summer as I would wager that it gets pretty hot in the summer months and there is virtually no shade. Fall is the perfect season to do it, and my brother Mike and I found out to our relief that the no-see-um flies had maybe died off for the year. I wouldn't bank on that though. Antelope Island is always a place where you should have bug spray on hand as there are times when the biting flies can be maddening.
Wildlife is plentiful if you take the time to search it out on the hillsides and down in the flatlands. Bison are often seen along the trails and from the ridges you can look down and spot groups of them feeding on the grasses. Saturday, when Mike and I went on our hike, we spotted numerous buffalo and on the way out, a herd of deer down in the lowlands. Some others along the trail had spotted a Bighorn sheep and other wildlife that we hadn't seen.
At this low altitude, wildflowers are still around if you look.
This sunflower was calling my name.

Early portions of the trail are steep as it makes its way up to the ridge. There is a 2050' elevation gain over the course of the hike, and much of that is in the first mile.  Once you are up high, it levels off and only occasionally climbs or drops steeply, most of the time the trail crisscrosses the ridge allowing views of the Great Salt Lake to the west, and the Wasatch Range to the east. The higher you get, the more expansive the views and you can see south to the Oquirrh Range, Southwest to the Stansbury Range, Stansbury Island directly west, Promontory Point way up north, and many other points of interest.
View west with Stansbury Island in the distance.

There are still some fall colors on the way to Frary Peak

Stansbury Island with whitecaps on the lake in the foreground.
The trailhead sign says that it's a 3.2 mile hike and there are markers every half mile along the trail. I think that the 3.2 miles is a bit off now, because they have redone the trail on the last portion in the past couple of years and it is longer as it curves around the peak and goes up gradually, instead of the nearly straight up "stairs" from years gone by. I don't think they have yet changed the mileage posts to reflect this new trail, but I would guess it added another quarter mile to the trek.
I got a bit higher and took a pic of Mike down on the trail.
That being said, it's a doable trail for most people who aren't in horrible shape. If you are not in great shape, going slowly will help you to make it to the top, where the reward for the effort is pretty amazing.
Mike looking like a viking explorer.
On top, look for the USGS marker. It's on top of a rock right where the trail gets to the top. That is the highest point, and it's worth standing on just so you can say you made it to the very top. The cairn in which a mailbox is placed for writing notes may be a bit higher, but my recommendation is that you avoid standing on that, as it will fall down, and you with it.
Don't stand on the cairn!!
You won't find lodgepole pines, aspen, or thick underbrush up here. What you will find especially if you can go during the week, is peace, and solitude, unusual landscapes, and amazing views. Well worth the few hours of your time to do this adventure.
Looking southeast from the trailhead, Wasatch Mountains in the distance.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hiking and Four-wheeling: American Fork Canyon

The Moon was Beautiful low in the eastern sky

I have been on vacation this week and with our original plan of spending two nights in Colorado canceled, I figured I could hike twice this week. Today was the first one. On the agenda was the Tibble Fork Loop hike, which I had heard a lot about, but never done.
I got up early, hoping to see the sunrise while I was up there, and actually I got up there a lot faster than I thought I would and sat back in the new Tibble Fork parking lot to try and get some pictures of the little smile of a moon that was rising in the eastern sky.
Once it started getting light, I headed over to the dam as that was where the trail head was supposed to be. I parked down below it, on the pull out area between the road and the dam. Once I crossed the dam I could see the trail, or what I believed to be the trail, heading up the side of the hill. There were a couple of spots of yellow ribbon around the base of the trail.
I went back later and took these two pics of the trailhead when it was light.

Same picture, but from a distance back on the dam.
I wasn't quite sure that it really was the trail because A) there was no sign indicating so, and B) there was a trail going off to the left, as if it was going to circle the reservoir. I decided that the one going along the side of the lake was not the trail, so I skirted the ribbon, trying to avoid the eroded areas, and worked my way up the trail.
Once on the trail I found that someone had cut trees and branches and put them across the trail.
They had to cut down a lot of scrub oak to cover this trail.
It was definite that someone was trying to discourage hiking on that trail, but I kept going--mostly because there hadn't been a sign at the trail head indicating that the trail was closed. After a while of climbing over the branches, the trail met another one angling in from the left and the branches and small trees no longer covered the trail.
I was able to get up high early enough to catch the light on nearby

I made my way up through scrub oak and maple, and then gradually, found myself amongst the quakies and pines as I climbed in elevation.  At about this point it dawned on me that I had forgotten to pay the fee that is charged for doing anything in American Fork Canyon. I had heard of some people who had gotten caught for that and had ended up paying a hefty fine, and I debated heading back down the way I came. But I decided I would just hike fast instead. In a few minutes, I found a junction and one trail headed left over to Mill Canyon, the other part of the loop was that way.
The trail to the right led to Mud Spring. I turned and looked at the other side of the sign, as if I was coming up from the Mill Canyon side and saw that the trail I had come up had officially been closed.
Yep. I had come up the closed trail. Oops!
I had actually been surprised by all of this because it seemed like I had seen several trip reports from people hiking this loop, and none of them had mentioned the closure. Maybe it has been very recently that they have closed it. And there was no actual sign on the Tibble Fork end that noted the closure. I felt bad, but there was really nothing I could do at that point.
I still wasn't sure I was on the right trail though because I hadn't really studied the map and didn't actually know the name "Mill Canyon" so it didn't really mean anything to me on the sign. I met two women coming up and they confirmed that I was on the trail that looped back. One of them was wearing something that to me looked like ranger clothing so I was a bit worried that I might get in trouble for hiking up that way I had. But there had been no badge, so I figured that her hiking clothing just kind of resembled ranger gear and that she was just another hiker.
In the midst of peace and contentment, there are still signs of civilization.
You can still find pockets of color.

The reds are hard to come by now.

Up there at the top, the trail meanders through some large meadows. There wasn't a lot of color left--just patches really---but it was still Beautiful. There is another fork in the trail and it was pretty self-explanatory.
The next sign I saw showed me the way back to Tibble Fork where I was parked.

And it smelled so good and clean up there! I made my way down Mill Canyon, taking pics along the way, still a bit worried as to whether or not I'd have a ticket waiting for me on my windshield.
Looking north 
Stream crossing for motorcycles and bikes.

This looked like a ladder in the sky to me.
Once back, there wasn't a ticket and I breathed a sigh of relief then headed to the fee station to pay my fee so I could be legal for the rest of my stay. I had decided that I wanted to do a little driving on dirt roads, so I headed up to Silver Lake Flat. Along the way I noticed that the Granite Flat Campground had a hand-scrawled sign that you could have a picnic in there, but you had to pay $8 and your canyon fee didn't count. I decided that there were probably better places to have picnics and that my canyon fee would suffice for those other places.
Not that I was stopping to eat. I had jammed down my peanut butter sandwich shortly after getting back to my vehicle and wasn't planning on eating again until I got down out of the mountains. I had promised Ann that I would get home early because I had gotten up at the crack of dawn. There are certain pleasures that only can happen as you are awaiting the sunrise, and I wanted those perks, but that would be at the expense of not staying as long into the afternoon. Part of being a caregiver.
I drove through the stream that gurgles into Silver Lake and headed up the dirt road toward Red Baldy and the other peaks up that direction.

Looking toward Mt. Timpanogos from the Silver Flat Lake Road
Looking north, toward Red Baldy, etc.

From the road above Silver Lake Flat

From the trailhead parking just above Silver Lake.
I didn't spend a lot of time up there, just enough to give my hubs a workout, and to get a few pics of the peaks and remaining colors. And, as always, to leave myself feeling a little bit unsatisfied, so I would be sure to come back. I found a few more trails to take and a few more roads to drive. What more could a man want? I thanked God for letting me have a great time in his world, and headed back down to civilization.
The adventure was over, but another one is just around the corner. I can't wait.
I had a great time. Wish you were here!