Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Short hike: Grandeur Peak

Yesterday I got a chance for a break from my care giving duties and decided to take a hike. My choice of destination was Grandeur Peak--or as far up the trail as I could go before my time limit expired. I chose that because I didn't want to find my spikes for snow hiking. I had a pair of micro spikes that I had found abandoned and slightly rusty at Lake Blanche a few years ago. I had never even looked at them since then and when I did, I found that they were extra large. I'm pretty sure I wear medium. Still, I threw them in the pack just in case. If any of you reading this are missing some,  and lost them at Blanche, if you can identify them, they are yours. Otherwise, I'd be willing to trade them with someone who bought mediums or large by mistake and need extra large.
This trail begins at the Church Fork Picnic area up in Millcreek Canyon. I started at about 8:30 from the main road that goes up the canyon, as this time of year, you can't drive into the actual picnic site where the trailhead parking is located.
The stream through the picnic area was rather pretty, so I took some shots of it as I leisurely followed it up the Church Fork drainage.

The trees didn't have their leaves yet ,but there was some green along the stream. I saw a lot of horse tail, what we used to call "snake grass". We used to make whistles out of it, and for the life of me, I can no longer figure out how we did it. If any of you know, I'd appreciate a head's up.
We used to call this "snake grass". Its real name is "horse tail"
If you know how to make whistles with the segments
I really want to know too.

I did a lot of stopping to take pics and that might have cost me my chance at summiting the peak itself, which rises just above 8200 feet. I needed to be home by noon though, and that's clear across the Salt Lake Valley, so I figured getting back to the 4runner at 11:30 was the plan. At around 9:55, I hit the final saddle before the final approach to the peak and there I reached a milestone. I actually caught an old guy in his seventies. I had no idea how far ahead of me he'd been on the trail from the time I began the hike, but it's pretty rare that I can catch one of these old mountain goats and pass them.
The way I figured it, I had been making great strides at the gym on the Stair Climber machine, having been doing around 36 minutes on the thing twice a week. I really think that helped my ascent on this trail. I don't have the exact figures, but it's around 1700-1800 feet in elevation gain to the saddle in around two miles. Usually that would be kicking my rear end, but this time I felt pretty strong the whole way--well except for the first part and I always struggle at first, until I get warmed up.
I looked around from the saddle. The cloudiness and general grayness of the overcast sky had not been relieved from the time I began until I reached the saddle, and I never saw the sun except through the clouds until I was most of the way back down. There's a nice view of the city and some great views of the surrounding peaks.
The sun was fighting valiantly to break through the cloud cover above the mountains to the southeast.

Looking down into the Salt Lake Valley.
The view from the saddle is excellent though and I would like to go back again, not only to scale the peak, one of the easier ones in the Wasatch Range, but to take in the views on a less gray day.
All in all it's a great little hike and pretty easy for anyone in decent shape. Since I have not done the last part, up to the top, I won't vouch for that, but the rest of it could be done, up and back in three hours, just like I did. The rest of the way up? That's another adventure for another day. I'll be up for it. Will you?

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