Sunday, June 22, 2014

summer solstice

We thought we'd try something new on Saturday: getting an early start on the day, (a) hoping to avoid hiking in the heat, now that the cold front has moved on, and (b) hoping to see more wildlife in the morning light.  It was with much groaning, therefore, that we got up around 5:30 a.m. - the dog could not believe we were getting up that early - and got going, having had the foresight to lay out our gear the night before.

Heading up Butler Fork towards Reynolds Peak

We were hiking up the Butler Fork trail at 7 a.m., the sun just barely peeking over the mountaintops; it was a chilly 47 F but we got warm quickly since Butler Fork trail is very steep at the beginning before the grade eases as it makes its way up the drainage.  Our goal for the morning was Reynolds Peak, following the loop that H and our friend Paul had done back in 2011, although we knew we wouldn't encounter nearly as much snow as they did.  The walk was quite nice, cool and shady and full of trees, the air full of birdsong.  We didn't see any people on our way up the drainage but H spied a young mule buck deer mule, his antlers still covered in velvet, moving through the aspens on the hillside above us.

View to the north towards Millcreek Cyn

We crested the saddle between Big Cottonwood Canyon and Millcreek Canyon, where several well-trodden trails converged, and then kept going up a ridge towards Reynolds Peak on a much less well-traveled path.  The ridge trail was steep in spots too but the view rewards were worth it, with 360 degree views of Millcreek, BCC and even Sugarloaf, Devil's Castle and East Castle at Alta in Little Cottonwood Canyon.  I looked over the lip of the bowl H and Paul had glissaded down on their hike - it was really steep and even if it had been full of snow, I would have been nervous starting down it.  Now, with no snow and full of wildflowers, we had to retrace our steps down the steep ridge path.

Working our way up the ridge to the summit

Intending to make a loop, we continued down to Dog Lake after we came off the ridge, then cruised down that trail to the road.  In contrast to the solitude we had on the way up, lots of people were making their way up to Dog Lake, folks with big packs for overnight camping, folks with fishing poles, big family groups, MTBers.  When we came out at the canyon road at the Dog Lake trail head, we had to walk along the road down canyon for about a half mile to get back to the car.  The whole hike had been just over seven miles roundtrip and we were finished with it before 11 a.m.  Hike stats: 7.08 miles; 3 hrs. 32 min. total time; 2,257 ft. ascended.

Wildflowers just coming out in alpine bowls

Although I had had grand ambitions of running errands and getting things down during the afternoon, all that fell apart when I had to take a nap to counter the effects of getting up so early.  We did rally for the evening, however, heading up to Snowbird for their first Cool Air Concert series of the summer.  We didn't know anything about the band, Chatham County Line, and were pleasantly surprised when they turned out to be a funny, very talented bluegrass band from North Carolina.  A fantastic end to the first day of summer.

Reynolds Peak summit

No comments:

Post a Comment