Saturday, July 28, 2012

Of Moose and Men

Here's the man...

And here's the beast!

Congrats to any of you who caught the reference. Today's climb was Timpanogos, the second tallest mountain in the Wasatch. Although Mt. Nebo is taller, Timp offers much better views.

The same guy must have designed both the trails up Deseret Peak and Timp. Once again, the mountain was replete with completely unnecessary switchbacks, each of which gained maybe 10 feet of elevation. Consequently, the trail was entirely too long (to the tune of 14+ miles round trip) and gentle. Naturally, a really easy trail with terrific views at the top attracts scads of people; Timp is a local legend and is undoubtedly the most popular hike in Utah. My friend Sid and I spent most our day dodging, passing, and avoiding an almost continuous parade of people going up and down the trail.

At 11,700 feet, Timp is the tallest mountain I've climbed. The trail isn't strenuous at any point, including near the top, so I had no problem at all with the elevation, although I did see several people gasping for breath. The mountain is, however, very dramatic. It's one of 57 mountains in the country classified as "Ultra-prominent" (sticking up really vividly 5000 feet above its surroundings), and it certainly lived up to its name. I saw both the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake (in Provo) to the west and the Heber valley to the east. It was truly incredible.

I managed to completely and utterly destroy my shoes today. They've been in terrible shape for a while now, with chunks of rubber falling off and no grip left on the bottom (making it really tough to climb up or down scree; see last week's post). But today was the final blow. I caught the back of the sole of my right shoe on a rock, and it tore the sole off from the foot-enclosure about 2/3 of the way. So for the rest of the way up and the entire way down, i had the sole of my shoe flapping open and closed like a Venus Fly Trap on amphetamines. Those things are going in the trash can as soon as I can convince myself that it's really a necessity to spend $110 on a new pair of Merrells. 

 And how could I forget? Your Utterly Impractical Hiking Item Of The Week is...? A high school football team. This is bad news for a couple different reasons
1) The Noise, Noise Noise Noise! What do you expect when you get 40 high school boys together?  It's not like Timp is a place for solitude to begin with, but when you yell across the mountain to each other for two hours about the most inane subjects possible, noise pollution is taken to a whole new level
2) Football players stink at hiking. And it's not just the linemen either. They hiked painfully slow, and rested every 5 minutes near the top. When there's 40 people doing that and blocking the trail, the rest of us get antsy.
Apparently 8-year olds can hike Timp just fine; it's the high schoolers who struggle. To be fair, though, the coach gave us a ride in his pickup from the trailhead to where our car was parked.

And now for one of the best pictures I've ever taken:

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