Thursday, October 9, 2014

nice day for a hike

My folks came out to visit us - technically, visit us, then go to Capitol Reef National Park, then visit us again - and on their first full day, before they'd really had any time to acclimate to being more than fifteen feet above sea level, we took them hiking.  They are experienced hikers, being 1998 Appalachian Trail thru-hikers and, most recently, having climbed Mt. Katahdin (Maine's highest peak) for the umpteenth time just a couple of weeks ago, so we tried to come up with a hike they would enjoy.  My first thought was Bowman Fork to Baker Pass, but when we remembered that it was 9.1 miles round-trip, we thought that might be a little longer than we wanted to do.  I then suggested Grandeur Peak: at around six miles round-trip, it was deemed more manageable and off we went.

Looking into Millcreek Canyon from the switchbacks

We've been having a stretch of spectacular fall weather - sunny and 70s - and Sunday was no exception.  It was hot even, on all those south-facing switchbacks, and we made sure to drink lots of water, especially the folks from back east.  The sky was a brilliant, cloudless blue and the trees were still clinging to their fall colors, a few pinks and oranges splashing the hillsides and groves of golden aspen standing out among the evergreens.  It was also an off-leash dog day there in Millcreek Canyon so we met lots and lots of friendly, happy dogs: shi-tzus, labs, golden retrievers both young and old, a Weimaraner, a Schipperke, mutts galore and the sweetest eight-month-old pitbull puppy.

Me and my dad on the ridgeline

What I had perhaps neglected to emphasize while selling Grandeur Peak as a hike was the elevation gain: about 2,600 feet.  That's a lot if you've just come from sea level the day before.  My mom, who was fighting a bit of a cold, opted to hang out on the ridgeline, leaving H, my dad and me to climb the last, steep quarter-mile to the summit.  At 8,299 feet high and perched right on the edge of the Wasatch Front, Grandeur Peak has great 360-degree views - Antelope Island, the Oquirrhs, the whole Salt Lake Valley, the peaks above Big Cottonwood and Emigration Canyons and the snow-capped Uintas.  Our descent was smooth and quicker than our climb, although I think my folks finished their water before we were down.  By the time we got back to the car, the post-hike beers felt well-deserved.

There's some fall colors for ya

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