Thursday, May 30, 2013

short and steep

We had a leisurely Sunday morning, sleeping in as long as the dog would let us (which isn't that long, actually) and then going out for breakfast at the Cottonwood Heights Cafe (two eggs over medium with bacon and white toast for me and an Athenian omelet with sourdough toast for H).  Then, to kick off the summer hiking season, we picked a new hike, the Lambs Canyon Trail.  Lambs Canyon has some options to it: you can do an out-and-back from the Millcreek side, an out-and-back from the Park City side or leave a shuttle car at either Millcreek or Lambs Canyon trailhead and hike up and over the saddle.  Since the shuttle car option involved an awful lot of driving, and the Millcreek trailhead would involve an additional 1.5 miles of road walking, we opted to drive up Parley's Canyon to the Lambs Canyon trailhead.

Some sort of wild clematis, maybe?

About 1.5 miles up the road from the I-80 exit there's a small parking area and a pit toilet.  No dogs are allowed in Lambs Canyon as it's a protected watershed; indeed, we followed a nice little creek for much of the way.  The trail was a forgiving surface of packed dirt, not at all rocky, and big trees shaded us nearly the whole way up to the saddle between Lambs and Millcreek.  Although there were still pockets of snow and some lingering winter-kill, wildflowers were starting to poke through.  We were lucky enough to meet a new Utah critter too: the rubber boa, which is an 18" inch long, completely harmless and very shy boa constrictor, pale tan/gray with no markings and a blunted tail.  It let us get close and take pictures before sliding under a log.

We thought it was a great big worm at first

It was just over two miles to the saddle, making for a short-ish hike (just over two hours with pauses for photo opportunities and viewing at the top), but the steepness of the trail made it a work-out: 1,518 feet of elevation gain.  Since it was the first hike of the season, I could quickly feel my legs and lungs protesting a little.  The views from the saddle go all around: Gobblers Knob and Mt. Raymond to the south, Grandeur Peak and the Salt Lake valley to the west, the Uintas to the north/northeast.

Nice soft surface to walk on (no rocks!)

Back at the car we of course had some PBRs, sitting in the warm sunshine and watching the comings and goings of folks around us.  The parking area had been nearly empty when we started up the trail but was completely full by the time we got back - folks out and about, enjoying the nice holiday weekend.

Apres self-portrait

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