Monday, March 20, 2017

Solo Hikes

I think I've documented here how much I love to hike.  The scenery, the views, the exhilaration of making it to places that few people go.  All of these things make me truly grateful to live in Utah and have so many opportunities to get out into nature.  Last September during the week of my birthday, Christi was sweet enough to take care of everything on the home front while I went on a monster hike.  I was all by myself, which I love.  The silence and the grandeur are amazing.

For many years, the boys and I (plus Christi or my brother Tyler or Christi's brothers Matt and Danny) have hiked into the Lone Peak Wilderness and camped at a serene spot near a river.  We love this opportunity every year.  As I've looked at maps of the surrounding area, I've long had a desire to visit Lake Hardy.  We start our annual hike at about 5500 feet elevation and ascend around 2000 feet to 7600 feet.  Lake hardy is just under 10,000 feet.  It can be accessed from our campsite, but there is also a more direct route.  For my birthday hike I took the more direct route.  I started at 5500 feet elevation and hiked first of all to bighorn peak at 10,900 feet.  Then I descended about 1300 feet (to 9600) to get back to the trail and went up again to 10,000 feet to get to Lake Hardy.

What an experience!  I hiked 12.5 miles and ascended a total of just under 6000 feet.  I was on the mountain for 10.5 hours.  Without my GPS it would have been a bit challenging getting back.  By the time I reached my car it was pitch black outside.  (I brought a flashlight with me knowing this would likely be the case).  I didn't see much wildlife besides some birds I think were grouse.  They are completely silent until you're right on top of them, at which point they flap away in a tremendously loud flurry of wings and scare the tar out of you!

Here are some pictures and one video.  Be warned, the video is of an old fat guy with his shirt off and you can't unsee it.

The starting point 

Fall colors make this my favorite time of year to hike

One of those mischievous grouse!

There were dozens of these critters on the trail once it got dark.  They're about 3-4 inches across with eyes that glitter in the glow of the flashlight.

Here is my route from my hiking app.

Last week I embarked on another solo hike.  I was working in Southern Utah and had to stay overnight.  I decided to hike to Observation Point in Zion National Park.  This 8 mile round trip, 2200 foot elevation gain hike is fantastic.  The views are extraordinary.  When you get to the overlook, you're looking down about 700 feet onto the top of Angel's landing.  Along the way there are some incredible views down into slot canyons 100 feet or more high.  You're surrounded by the beautiful Southern Utah red rock throughout the hike.  And of course the view of Zion Canyon at the top is unsurpassed.  I sure love where I live and work!  It is also wonderful that locations include so many
great memories with my family.  Taylor, Parker and Christi have shared many days with me in the Lone Peak Wilderness.  Taylor, Parker, Xander and my dad have explored many hikes with me in Southern Utah.  I'll always remember my dad hiking with us to the top of Angel's landing.  At age 73!  What a great sport:).

Angels landing is the prominent point almost dead center in this picture.

If you look closely at this picture, you can see a waterfall in the middle.  The water is flowing from a "hanging canyon."  Waterfalls like this only occur in the spring when there is snow melt or if there is a really heavy rainstorm later in the season.  Very cool!  It's the first time I've ever seen one flowing.