Mt. Timpanogos

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Mt. Timpanogos is a mountain that has been on my bucket list for a while. I’m sure it’s on the bucket list for most people that reside in Utah. It is a bit of a long hike, about 14 miles round trip with about 4,500 feet in elevation gain. It is the second highest mountain in the Wasatch range. The tallest, Mt. Nebo, is higher by a mere 179 feet. If you take a gander at the picture above, Mt. Nebo is actually pictured at the far right, way in the background there.

Koda and I got a later start than I would have normally liked. That is how it usually goes around here for us, though. I hit up McDonald’s breakfast on the way down to Happy Valley, gotta keep with tradition. We drove up American Fork Canyon and watched the temperature plummet to about 49 degress. It was wonderful to see considering it was in the high 90s at the valley floor that day.

We arrived at the Timpooneke campground/trailhead and began our summit attempt at 8:50 AM. Although, what I thought was going to be a wonderfully low 50s begin to the hike was a great lie. I was furious as it seemed that a pocket of hot and humid air followed along the trail with us for the first few miles. It was a little infuriating, but as we gained elevation the heat dissipated.

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During the first few miles, we were surrounded by dense foliage on either side of the trail and we passed through forests of my favorite tree, the Quaking Aspen. It was a beautiful hike with streams and waterfalls all along the way. If you ever want a good hike, but don’t feel like climbing an entire mountain, I would recommend hiking this trail up to Scout Falls.

As we ascended higher and higher, we started to come across small patches of snow that kept growing and growing. The snow was on its way out for the year, but there was still plenty of it to fight with along the way. In fact, the scariest part of our hike came as we were crossing a snow field that was covering a rapidly flowing stream. I deemed it safe enough to cross, at least that’s how it was perceived from our end. However, as we crossed over the snow towards the other side, unbeknownst to us, the snow became very thin. My leg fell through the snow and I clung to a rock on the other side of the stream. I wasn’t too worried, it seemed straightforward enough to get out. That is, until I saw there was about a five foot drop between where I was stuck and the fast flowing water below. Surely, I would be swept under the snow and be stuck where I would struggle against freezing water to escape. Thankfully, I was able to clutch onto a rock and pull myself up to safety. Koda didn’t seemed phased in the least.

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The hole my leg fell through is on the right.

We ventured onward towards the summit and the snow fields just kept on growing. Eventually, we were hiking on nothing but snow with little patches of dirt trail as our next goal. It wasn’t too bad actually, and Koda handled it like a champ.

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What I found to be the most frustrating was to try to decipher where the trail actually was leading. We took several wrong turns following what I thought were footprints that would lead to the top, that turned out to be nothing but dead ends. As we ascended higher, too, the trail traversed steeper and steeper slopes, insomuch that as we had to watch our step as we hiked along the snow as to not slide down the mountain. We wouldn’t have been hurt from sliding down the mountain, but we would have to re-climb great sections of the trail, and that was something that I didn’t have the time nor the energy for.

Eventually, after a series of extremely steep and sketchy sections of snow, the footprints we were following stopped. They just ended and we were stuck. There were some people we had passed along the way previously, so I decided it would be best to wait for them to catch up. They soon did, and together, we contemplated the best plan of action. Brian and Crystle were their names, and they quickly became friends with Koda and I. Soon, another guy, Marcus, caught up to us as well. We forged through the untracked snow as a group. I slipped once and fell a couple of feet, but Crystle had the biggest scare as she slipped from the snow and began sliding down the mountain. Soon, she was able to self-arrest (an ice axe would have done wonders here), but she had to make the steep climb back up to the trail, and by the time she reached the trail, her hands were swollen and numb. We pressed on.

Views from the saddle
Views from the saddle

Soon, we reached the coveted saddle. This is the first section of the mountain with views of Utah Valley, and boy are they breathtaking. From this spot of the hike, the trail crosses over the saddle and climbs up the other side. The trail is steep, rocky, and high in altitude, but it is only a half mile to the top.

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The trail follows along the side of the ridge line towards the summit.

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After stopping every couple of hundred feet, at about 2:30 PM, we made it to the top. The views were amazing and we were so happy to be at the top after such a crazy climb. That snow sure made it way more challenging than it needed to be.

Crystle and Brian at the summit.
Crystle and Brian at the summit.

The hike down was our worry, but it soon became my favorite part of the trip. As we reached the steep sections of snow fields, we noticed that several other people simply sat on the snow and slid down. We gave it a try and had a blast! We found 3 different quite long sections of snow to slide down, and even had some races. Koda followed along by running along side of us. It looked more like he was trying to swim down the mountain. He seemed to have a bunch of fun as well, though.

The rest of the way down was uneventful, but still just as pretty. We reached that parking lot between 7:00 and 7:30 PM. It took longer than it would have normally, but it was well worth it. The hike was amazing, though, and beautiful. It was a great adventure.

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