Friday, September 27, 2013

Summer hikes

This summer, for our big family trip, we should have the opportunity to do all kinds of day hikes.  We'll be traveling to Utah and maybe Wyoming.  Our goals are probably too expansive and may have to be trimmed down.  We've got too many places on our "want to see list" to do more than just breeze by unsatisfactorily.  However, that's probably just going to have to remain the case.  Nothing can be done about it.

Along with visiting some of the great outdoors sites in the area, we also have other things to do--such as visit Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake, and maybe BYU campus in Provo.  My wife still has a living grandfather in the Provo area that we'll want to visit with, I imagine, if his health is up to it.  But my wife and I have decided that even though this is a family trip, it's "mostly" up to me to see what I'd like to see.  With the caveat that we're not in a position to do any backpacking, and if I overdo it, I'll hear lots of complaining the whole time.

However, I'm really spoiled for options, so deciding ultimately what's in and what's out will be difficult.  We've talked about seeing some Yellowstone highlights (including the geyser fields and Old Faithful, as well as the Falls) and on our way towards Utah from there, we'll drive right by the Tetons.  It'd be a shame not to stop and spend a day or two on day hikes.  Inspiration Point is a probable pick, as is some of the popular Jenny Lake hikes.  I have every intention of making the Tetons one of my very top priority visits for a major backpacking trip in the next 2-3 years, however, to hike the Teton Crest trail, so I don't have to feel bad about anything I miss on this particular trip.  I wonder if taking the Cascade Canyon trail (since I'll probably go farther to come out Paintbrush canyon of the Crest trail rather than the early "bailout" on Cascade Canyon) is doable?  Looks like it's fairly lengthy--maybe a good 5-6 miles, unless I take the (probably expensive) shuttle boat across Jenny Lake.

After this, we drive south to the Wasatch Mountains, which rise just to the east of the major urban areas of Utah.  Here, while we'll spend several days doing things in town, I've got a few great hikes on my bucket list.  I'd like to do the Mount Timpanogos summit, via Timpooneke Trail, but that's a really long day, and I suspect that my wife and at least one of my kids will be intimidated by some exposure to heights.  Rather, I think a more manageable hike up to Timpanogos Cave National Monument is a better choice.  Plus, it's kind of a classic.  A few other Wasatch hikes tempt me, including Cecret Lake.  There's also a Wasatch Crest trail that runs for a little under 12 miles (although it looks like its more frequented by mountain bikers than by hikers.)  Too long as a round trip, but I wonder if the girls would drop me and the boys off, while they go wander around Salt Lake or something?  Hmmm...

I'd love to head back to the High Uintas Wilderness.  Last time I was there, the wilderness designation couldn't have been more than three or four years old for the area, and I remember loving the scenery and charm.  However, that's really a backpacking destination.  Rather, my last gasp of mountain ranges in Utah may come from doing the La Sal Loop Road when we head down to Moab.

Of course, if I'm going to be in Utah, focusing just on the mountains seems a bit foolish.  After all, Utah is known for its red sandstone fantastic desert scenery as well.  I'd like to go to Goblin Valley state park and hike the Wild Horse and Bell slot canyon loop with the family.  They'd love the slot canyons.  We're going to spend at least a full day, hopefully two at Arches National Park, and while I'm there, I'd love to go see the nearby Fisher Towers too.

Either on the way there or the way back, I'd love to stop and see a few things that are en route, or at least not far out of the way.  Scott's Bluff, Devil's Tower and Mount Rushmore make this list.  Frankly, though, one of these days I'd love to do a big Black Hills loop hike, but again; that's out of scope for this coming summer's trip.

I do admit to feeling a little bit intimidated by the sheer number of options, as well as by the fact that I have pent-up demand for hiking and want to both overdo it, and am having trouble prioritizing.  But I think that I'll get it settled by Christmas Break, or thereabouts, and have a great time finally hiking some of the exact kinds of territory (and some of the specific places) that I want to see.

The image looks like an early August wildflower bloom on the Timpooke Trail.  Mount Timpanogos looms in the distance, while the photographer is on the way to hit her peak.