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Recently returned from serving the people of Honduras for 3 years

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It all started with Timpooneke

Yesterday was a perfect day for a hike to the top of Timpanogos. I listened to the weather report and noted that skies were suppose to be clear with high's in the mid-80's. It doesn't get better than that when you are hiking to the top of a very tall mountain. In Utah, Timpanogos is pretty famous as 'THE' place to hike. It promises to be gorgeous no matter what time of year you make the trip. (Winter although would be totally impractical due to the large accumulations of snow - but I'm sure it's still gorgeous). We were looking forward to beautiful autumn vistas - and we certainly did see them.

Karianne and I started up the trail head (elev. 7370) from the Timpooneke campground, which is a trail leading to the summit about 7.5 miles in length, at about 6:50 am. We were the lone car in the parking lot when we arrived and we thought we'd be hiking the trail all by ourselves. But just as we were leaving another couple cars arrived with a few more people. Usually during the summer the parking lot is jam packed with hikers. An alternative trail is the Aspen Grove trail in Provo Canyon which is a little longer and a little steeper.

You can't beat the weather for hiking at the end of September. Even with the sun shining once we arrived in the lower basin, we still needed our hoodies to keep us from getting chilled. The autumn colors were gorgeous, lots of yellows on the Aspens and red and golds scattered in splashes of color across the mountainside. We kept an eye out for moose, usually we always see moose on the trail but no moose sightings on this adventure. We did have one scary experience as we were hiking through a wooded area. Suddenly we heard a startled growly sound and the noisy crashing of something making it's way through the underbrush. We took off on a dead run until we decided we didn't really know where to run too or what manner of animal was behind us. We didn't dare go back to look . . .

While the leaves and foliage on the mountainside were beautiful we missed the gorgeous wildflowers of summer. We climbed up to the saddle (just under the 11,749 elev of the summit) in exactly four hours. While we ate our peanut butter sandwiches, granola bars and gator aid for lunch we contemplated continuing on to the summit. I never feel comfortable heading up that trail just looking at the steep drop away on the right. We did see a very woolly family of mountain goats nimbly ambling along the cliff side trails, occasionally pausing to jump from ledge to ledge or sun themselves on the rocky outcroppings. From far away down in the basin, even though our binoculars they resembled "Utah Polar Bears". They were not very frightened of us and even came quite close to us while we were eating. The views from the saddle are spectacular! All of the Heber valley lies beneath you on one side of the mountain, and all of Utah county is below you on the other side of the mountain with a view of the entire Utah Lake. There was no water at all in Emerald Lake, and we could see a few more hikers making there way to the top from the Aspen Grove Trail.

After sitting in the sunshine on the top of the mountain and enjoying our lunch, we decided it was about time to head back down the mountain. Going down always seems to be much easier than the hiking up. I was a little worried about whether my knees would take me all the way to the bottom without becoming too uncomfortable. My knees don't seem to hold up as well as they used to, but we made it all the way down without any difficulties. We had some great conversations on the trail, and decided we already must plan our next summer hike to be sure it is reserved with a firm date on our calendars. We made it back to the parking lot in 2.5 hours from the saddle for a total of approximately 14 miles in 6.5 hours, while climbing approximately 4000 feet in elevation. Not a bad days work - I think I'm going to just enjoy my dinner tonight and maybe even have some ice cream for dessert!


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