Friday, July 7, 2017

alta evening

Ah, the scorching hot days of July are upon us - time to go out early or late and hunker down in the shade and/or air conditioning in the middle of the day!  On Independence Day we followed that rule to the letter.  In the morning, while the hoi polloi were out waving their flags at various valley parades, H did a road ride and I did my from-home loop on foot.  It was already hot by 11 a.m., so we stayed inside for the afternoon, catching up on laundry and watching the Tour de France.

Moonrise above Sunnyside chair

But around 6:30 p.m. we threw on our hiking boots and went up to Alta.  Where it was 97 F in the valley, it was in the 80s up there - still warm, for Alta, but definitely tolerable.  We assume that earlier in the day it was super-busy up there but at that point, people had headed back down to the valley for cook-outs and fireworks.  We parked at the upper Albion lot and started up the meadow trail.

Paintbrush just opening

It is VERY green up there right now and the wildflowers are about ready to burst into color.  Some have already started: bluebells, pink geraniums, a few paintbrush and lupin, gentians spiking up but not yet in bloom, several columbine here and there, and alpine buttercups rampant up high.  That may sound like a lot but trust me, the wildflowers are only just getting started at this point.

Alpine buttercups

We went up the meadow trail, stared dolefully at the replacing-Supreme-lift construction and then continued up towards Catherine's Pass.  Although there were cars in the parking lots still, we only crossed paths with four people on our way up and one trail runner on our way back down - ideal crowds.  The sun was getting low in the sky as we gained elevation.  I could definitely feel it in my legs and my lungs that I haven't been doing much hiking; despite the struggle, it felt good to be out there.

I see a little silhouetto of a ... deer

After a brief stop at Catherine's Pass, we kept going up and across Catherine's Area towards the top of the [Supreme] lift.  Although we didn't see any moose (which we had expected), we did see a whole bunch of individual mule deer, including one young male who, cautiously but curiously, followed us for a little ways, peeking at us through the trees.

Catherine's Area is high enough to still have some snow

The sun went down on our descent, first behind Superior and then behind the horizon.  The nearly-full moon was out, however, and there was still light in the sky almost all the way down, through the campground (closed this summer due to the lift construction) and then again through the meadow.

H amongst the buttercups

We paused for a few minutes back at the truck, enjoying beers and the cool air, counting the stars as they popped into view and watching the headlights of an ATV trundling around in the trees below us.  Then we headed back down to the heat of the city, marveling at the hundreds of glittering fireworks displays sprouting from the valley below.

There she goes

Hike stats:  6.99 miles, 2 hours 49 minutes (including stoppage time), 2.8 m.p.h moving average and 1.708' of climbinb

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