Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Miscellaneous Wasatch Foothill Hikes

Mount Wire, July 28, 2017

I love running Mount Wire (7,137ft.) during lunch (recess for old men). It's right out the back door from work and I use to run it three or four times a week before I started cycling. Today I took a break from the bike, went back to my roots of trail running and I tried running up Wire. And it was pathetic! I was so slow compared to when I ran everyday. Running and cycling are not equal partners in conditioning one's legs and the result was about 50/50 running vs. power hiking. When I ran consistently, before I bought a bike, I could run Mt. Wire from start to finish, which is about 2.5 miles and 2,200 vertical feet of climbing, one-way. Today was my fourth time up Wire this summer and, although I was slow, it was so much fun to be off the bike that I'm wondering why I don't do it more? Cycling burn-out aside, it has been a dang hot summer, and I swear every time I ride I get blasted with a 20mph headwind. So, today while shuffling up Wire, I was reminded that trail running is a joyful pursuit.

Compared to cycling, running is a very simple pursuit. No equipment required other than shorts and shoes. Just get up and go. Plus there is little threat of getting run over by a huge Escalade when the driver is checking Facebook posts while driving (not a lie). I came away with a renewed commitment to tag Mt. wire at least once a week. I say hope because my OCD tendencies exhibit themselves when I work-out, and it seems like I switch activities every few years - all or nothing running or cycling - a weird accountant thing.
Drone shot on summit of Mt' Wire (elevation 7,137 feet, without tower). Man-boobs and no tan, not a pretty picture! I got fried and the sun-burn hurt for a full week.
I may be 5'8" and 160 lbs, but I look like 200 lbs with that cycling tan (dark arms, and way too white chest and belly). No 55-year-old male should ever go shirt-less. Just bad for everyone.  

Pyramid Peak, August 4, 2017

I hiked Pyramid (6,814 feet) a lot when I was a kid because it was it was a straight shot to the summit just out my parents back-door, and there were none of the houses in Cave Hollow that now block the way. Cave Hollow back then was a pristine canyon with a faint trail through mature Canyon Maples. Quiet, green and peaceful, no sounds of motos or 4X4's and I don't ever remember seeing anyone up there. 

Pyramid was also the first place that I hiked for ski turns back when I was in the sixth grade, 12 years old, in 1974 or so. It was back country skiing before it was cool. I wasn't a pioneer, I just loved skiing and didn't mind packing skis up a hill. I remember the year because I wrote a report about it (a writing contest themed on 'what we did on Christmas vacation') and my sixth grade teacher was mortified that anyone would hike with skis. She didn't believe me and gave me a C for effort and an F for imagination. The kid who won wrote about going to Las Vegas and Disneyland. And we wonder why our public schools are failing! 

Anyway, I hiked up there with skis-over-shoulders because I was too young to drive and too stupid to NOT hike with skis. My first turn off the top set off an avalanche (a wet slide) which slid top to bottom but it was more exciting than scary, and I returned the next week for more free turns. My parents seemed unconcerned with the danger, just happy that I was adventurous and outside in the clean air. 

I really miss the way Cave Hollow use to be (pre-trophy-home-hell of today). The geology of Pyramid Peak is unique, the face is missing and I've often wondered, 'how did that face slide off?' One catastrophic collapse or was it a grain at a time? The peak gets a lot more traffic now because the pipeline right-of-ways provides a brush-free access, from both Mueller's and North Canyon. The shortest route is up North Canyon (take the left by the cabin then follow those boot-leg 4X4 roads). Speaking of which, the Rhinos and 4X4's are causing severe erosion and some day there will be a deep ravine down the access ridge. If I owned one of those homes below, I'd be very nervous. There are gates on the main access road and I wish the landowners would lock them up. Foot traffic is best.
Pyramid Peak (6,814 feet), otherwise know as Cave Peak on USGS maps. That tiny spike on the top is me. In 1974 I skied straight down the middle from the top, hopping the shorts cliffs and falling about 50 times. The snow was like wet cement and my turning was still in a developmental state, but I was just happy to be skiing.

The old trail out of Cave Hollow ascended the right hand ridge between the open "cliffy" face and the Gamble Oak (barely seen about 1/3 from right side on bottom of photo). The "new" trail out of North Canyon follows the right side ridge (on the skyline on the upper mountain), which is the Kern River Pipeline right-of-way (ROW). One can now literally drive a truck or a Jeep to the summit of Pyramid Peak on bootleg 4X4 roads. The pipeline made a feeble attempt to keep 4X4's off their ROW by piling boulders along the junctions of the bootleg 4X4 trails and their ROW, but someone made short work of those barriers. Even my 91-year-old Mom could move a big rock with a pry bar and and a winch. The bootleg roads are quickly eroding and forming deep trenches, plus do we really need a road up every ridge? Just worried this area is going to become another 'Bountiful B' (if you don't know what I mean, take a look on Google earth, but be prepared to taste the bile). 
Pipeline scar, constructed in 1992. I love my home toasty-warm during the winter, and natural gas is much cleaner than burning wood, coal or oil, so yes, I am part of the problem here, but I think we can do better to make this blend.

Looking much better with a shirt on (see Mt. Wire pictures above). Wasted way too much time with the drone and the results are less than impressive so my drone work is about over.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Maybird to Pfeiferhorn, June 2, 2017

Pfeiferhorn and upper Maybird Gulch.
I've always hated dawn patrols. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know they're all the rage with B.C. skiers. It's a right of passage to go roll into work stinky and sweaty at noon, then brag at the water cooler about the big-vert you skied before sunrise. For me the problem is not the early rise and little sleep, a beautiful sunrises will always compensate for the lack of zzzzz's, I just hate the 'gun-to-the-head' mindset that comes with pushing to get up a mountain before reporting to the boss. The joy of skiing is diminished when I'm watching the clock and worrying about being late for work (my work environment is not friendly to late arrivals). I really wanted to ski the Pfeiferhorn at least once this year and it hadn't worked out thus far, so today I fought down the responsible-accountant-instinct, went to work late and did my semi-annual dawn patrol. 

I had a mid-morning meeting that I could not miss but I figured it was now or never for the Pfeiferhorn, so I set the alarm for 4:00 AM and headed for LCC. My approach was the traditional White Pine to Red Pine trail and then to Maybird Gulch and it all went to plan, except I was too damn slow and did not quite make it to the summit. I had a set turn-around time which came and went as I arrived at the base of the last climb up the east face of the Pfeiferhorn. The time was late so I did the responsible thing and turned around and went to work. I was too slow but other excuses include the snow being alternately frozen then sloppy then frozen and on and on. In the summer, when the trail is snow-free and I have much less baggage (ski gear), I can get up the Pfeif in under two hours (plus one for the descent), which makes a 5:40 AM start very reasonable for a late morning ETA at work. My speed today was about half my summer rate and I came up short. With the 4:00 AM wake up call, I didn't get to the trail head until 5:30 (dressing, breakfast and drive time take time) and I wasn't hiking until 5:40. I booted up to the Maybird bridge and was in snow almost immediately after crossing LCC creek, and the snow was icy and often slick. After crossing the Maybird bridge I switched to skis and crampons and the going was faster.

Even with the day cut short, it was still a glorious day in the mountains! 

"We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn." -- Henry David Thoreau

I LOVE that previous generation had the fore-site to protect small slivers of the Wasatch, leaving it as God created it. Anyone who regularly hikes the Wasatch will come to know how little of the Wasatch still remains free of development. I'm no pot-hugging-tree-smoker, but do we really need ski lifts and condos in every last corner of our state? 

Sunrise and golden cloud over the Hogum Hogback (the Hogum-Maybird divide).

This is the bridge over Red Pine Creek which leads to Maybird Gulch. When I was a kid this bridge did not exist and when I was about 12, while hiking here with my Dad and brother under the same conditions, we reached this point and came upon two skiers returning from Hogum Fork  who were afraid to cross back over. The temperatures had heated dramatically, the creek was so fast and the snow banks so collapsible, they didn't dare attempt to cross. We (mainly my Dad and Mark) helped them across using fallen logs and ski poles. Every time I see this bridge that memory comes back to life.  

Sunrise Peak - a.k.a O'Sullivan's - (middle) and Dromedary (r - almost hidden by tree) with Tanner's Gulch between.
Monte Cristo at sunrise.

First view of the Pfeiferhorn.

Upper Maybird and the Pfeiferhorn.

Should I stay or should I go? Watching the clock and debating whether or not I can get to work on time.

Maybird/Red Pine Divide.

Checking the time . . .again.

The snow was hard and icy but never needed the Whippet.

The ridge line above is the traditional route during the summer, approaching from Red Pine, and it often turn folks around before reaching the last climb to the summit because they get spooked on the knife-edge section (right side of the photo). From down here it looks even more benign than it really is. It has never bothered me. Wish I could say that about other knife-edges, like out current spectrum of elected officials. 

The problem with hiking the Maybird route is that I can't stop taking photos.

A herd of Groots hiking in Maybird. 

As you can see, not the best skiing conditions, but it was June 2. 

The Maybird terminal moraine melting out of the snow with Broads Fork Twins, Sunrise (O'Sullivan's), Dromedary and the LCC ridge line to the north.

Tanner's Gulch across LCC from the Red Pine trail.

Red Top and White Pine Canyon above, getting green below.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Farmington Canyon, May 12, 2017

Full moon setting to the west over Bountiful Peak

Glorious sunrise in the mountains, the Aspens are leafing and the snow is frozen . .  not the best ski conditions but much better than sleeping-in and watching Sponge Bob until noon (yes, I have done that).

Brett contemplating the meaning of frozen, dirty, snowmobile-tracked snow.

Sky funeral. Porky didn't survive our big winter. 

In my 30+ years of skiing Farmington Canyon I have never seen these warm-ish springs ever freeze or cover with snow. They are cool enough that they never emit a cloud of steam, yet they never freeze.

The small dead tree was once short enough that we would straddle it on our approach and we used it's height to kind of gauge the snow depth. I'll admit our method was totally unscientific due to its continual growth, but when it disappeared under the snow we new we had good coverage.  It's now 10-feet high and, sadly, dead. RIP beacon tree tree.

Cornice falls off the northern flanks of Bountiful Peak

Gobblin Valley . . .

Bountiful Peak (which is directly above Centerville and Southern Farmington, so who knows why it's named Bountiful Peak which is at least four miles south.

Francis Peak and its FAA facility.

Bountiful Peak, view from the north from the top of Mud Peak (our name given the drainage to the NE below).

Francis Peak from Mud Peak (view looking north).

Brett looking down Rice Bowl (view NW).

Same view, zoomed out.

Ready to ski Rice Bowl.

Brett looking west toward Antelope Island.

Me, looking gassed per usual. I need a flux capacitor to go back to 1980 to get my 18-year-old body back, but still retain any wisdom that 55 years might have brought. On second thought, I'll take my 18-year old mind too. (B. Fuller pic.)

Me, skiing Rice Bowl (B. Fuller pic).

Me, dropping into Rice (B. Fuller pic).

Bountiful Peak coming out of winter.

Turns in upper Rice Bowl.

My wet-slide debris from last week.

Here comes the sun . . . and Brett. 

Brett, 20 feet on the wrong side of the fracture lines (right side), but who am I talk, Mr. Smart-ass photographer is on the wrong side too. That said, we were safe (presumably) given the long, sustained freeze-thaw cycles of the last month. Everything is welded into place this time of day. 

Cornice collapse crevice on the Mud/Rice Bowl ridge. 

Ski track in upper Mudd (l) Rice (r) Bowls.

Rice Bowl still in snow with the aspens leafing out. View from the Farmington Canyon road by the Sheriff's cabin (view SW).

Zoomed view of upper Rice Bow, as seen from the Sheriff's Cabin. Too bright to see our ski tracks, barely seen if you try.