Sunday, September 4, 2016

labor day weekend part 1: crispy

We kicked off Labor Day weekend Friday night with beers at the Hogwallow - where we talked with a couple of local guys and got some ideas on places to explore in southwestern Wyoming and southern Utah - and tacos at the Lone Star Taqueria - where we confirmed that long holiday weekends means fewer people to fight for outside tables.  While we ate our fish tacos and chile verde burrito, we discussed outdoors plans for the weekend.  Our initial thought had been to MTB on Saturday but a quick check of showed the Park City Point 2 Point MTB race starting at Round Valley in the morning, and we quickly decided to hike instead.

Too early for aspens but the pinks 
are starting to show up now

In the morning, H checked the weather.  The forecast of mid-morning "lightning at elevation and winds gusting to 39 m.p.h." quickly put the kibosh on my suggestion of the Superior/saddle and we scrambled to come up with a non-peak hike.  We settled on the Terraces-Elbow Fork-Pipeline loop in Millcreek Canyon since the trail is not at all exposed and even on the ridge, we would be well below the surrounding peaks.  We got going fairly early, hitting the trail at 7:45 a.m.

Fall colors

Amazingly, we saw scarcely any other people.  Odd-numbered days are off-leash dog days in Millcreek Canyon and I expected (was hoping) to see lots of dogs.  We saw only three, as well as seven hikers, four MTBers and three trailrunners - that's practically deserted for Millcreek!  There were definitely cars at all of the popular trailheads but we couldn't figure out where the actual people were.

We headed up the Terraces end, doing that long grind that quickly got us warmed up, then crisscrossing back and forth across the ridgeline.  Fall is definitely approaching: the leaves are already changing and the flowers, grasses and ground covers are completely dry and crispy now, especially with no appreciable rain for well over a month.  We saw three hikers on this section.  The descent into Elbow Fork is quick, losing elevation much quicker than we gained it.  We crossed the canyon road there, picking up the Pipeline Trail, which we took down to Burch Hollow.  You end up losing a lot of elevation there too, but it's deceptive because when you get onto the Pipeline Trail, it's even with the canyon road.  But as the canyon road heads steadily downhill, the trail stays largely level, so when you get close to Burch Hollow, there are lots of switchbacks to drop you back down to the level of the road.

The flat stretch is the Pipeline Trail

It was just a quick hike (6.29 miles; 2 hours 39 minutes with stoppage time; 1,700 feet of elevation climbed) but it was clearly a wise one as the winds were already picking up as we left, with darker clouds beginning to accumulate at the peaks of the Wasatch.

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