Monday, July 8, 2013

Lone Peak

When Suzy and the kids decided to stay an extra weekend in St. George a couple weeks ago, I decided to hike another mountain while I could do so without a child on my back.  And luckily, I found a friend--Nate Grover--who was also looking for a last-minute adventure.  The last time Nate and I hiked together was in the summer of 1999 when we hiked Union Falls starting at midnight (great story for another post).  We were long past due for another adventure.

So we decided to climb Lone Peak--the granite behemoth that hovers over the Salt Lake Valley and then, on the other side of the Point of the Mountain, Utah county.

It was not an easy climb, but it is by far my favorite mountain I've ever climbed in Utah.  It was so amazing that I can't even think of a close second.  That's not hyperbole.

Once you climb to the ridge above "Jacob's Ladder," the views are simply breathtaking in every direction for the remainder of the climb.  

Granite boulders presiding over Utah Lake.

With all the granite cliffs and spires, surrounded by snow and wildflowers, I truly felt like I was climbing in the Tetons.  The below picture is about half-way up the mountain.  Though it doesn't look like it here, the Lone Peak summit is the spire on the left of the other two peaks in the background.

I thought this tree was a great inspiration to keep going.

Though that didn't work out so well for this dude, who has been turned into a cairn.

I get paid for my use of words, but this summit truly left me speechless.  And breathless.  If you're interested, click on some of these panoramas to get the bigger size and see just how amazing these views are.  This is near the base of the ridge, looking northeast, complete with glacial lakes and amazing peaks.

Looking south along the ridgeline.

Another shot of the ridge to the summit.  Those are some great peaks on the left, and then Utah Lake on the right.  And that ridge to the summit is the first time I've ever felt afraid of heights.  You make a mistake on a few sections of that scramble and you're going to need some plastic surgery (among other things).

This is the 180-degree view from the summit to the east.  At the very far left, you can see Ben Lomond Peak (the bump on the horizon), and then on the very far right you can see Mt. Nebo (also a bump on the horizon).

Me at the summit, with Mt. Timanogos on the right.  I still get a bit sick to my stomach when I look at this picture and think of the size of the cliffs on three sides of me.  (But no, mom, I was not in danger.  And yes, I was very careful.)

Of all the amazing views along this hike, I think my favorite was actually below the summit in the "meadow" that is surrounded by the cirque.  If I could build a cabin anywhere on earth, it would probably be right there--right in the middle of the blow picture.  But I can't.  The most they'll let me do is park my tent there for a few days.  So that's what I'll do.  I'm already planning that adventure.

And now for a small confession:  Nate and I were enjoying such a lovely conversation on the way down the mountain that we accidentally lost the trail (OK, more of a series of cairns than a trail), and we couldn't find it again.  Not sure what happened.  I've stared at Google Earth for a long time trying to figure out where we went wrong, but it's a mystery.  We ended up bushwhacking for several miles until we finally found the trail again at the bottom of "Jacob's Ladder" (near the bottom of the mountain).  It's always an adventure when Nate and I get together.

But, our mishap ended up being a good thing.  Without taking that non-existing trail less traveled, we would not have found this cool waterfall, nor would I have been able to convince my children to rub lotion into my extremely scratched-up legs for the next week.

Don't underestimate Loan Peak.  But if you're looking for a real mountain to climb in Utah, this should be at the top of your list.

1 comment:

Katie said...

wow stu - that looks amazing. i loved the picture of your inspirational tree. and all the panoramic pics. It was nice looking at all this loveliness lounging in my bed rather than putting forth all that effort. :) Hey, that looks like Thomas Grover. I bet they are brothers huh. Great post.