I got a bit of a crazy idea this past Friday. I decided that I needed a long multi-day adventure. I planned a route along the Central Wasatch from Lambs Canyon to the Grove Creek trailhead. I opted to figure out a bikepack experience along that route. I have been looking to do 50 miles throughout the Wasatch for some time now. This would be my chance.
My wife dropped me off at the Lamb’s Canyon trailhead around 3:30 pm on Saturday. Climbing up the canyon was much more of a hike than I was considering. I did bike at times, but there was a lot of climbing up it. The climb up to the pass was only two miles, but it was hard. I had to hike-a-bike a lot, including carrying over fourteen downed trees. It took me 75 minutes to cover that first two miles.
I made it down the two miles to Millcreek in about 15 minutes. The remainder of the evening was spent climbing up from Elbow Fork to the fork of the Wasatch Crest and Canyons Resort. I pulled in around 8 pm and set up camp just before dusk. I had an excellent setup for the night.
Last night it got frigid. I had a warm setup in the hammock that kept me nice and cozy. Thankfully, because it was well below freezing. The sky was a bit hazy as I settled in, but then as the night continued, it cleared up to reveal the nearly full moon. It almost made it difficult to sleep because of how bright it was outside.
I was hoping to make it about four miles farther than I did, but I wasn’t about to ride in the dark. I had to cover the extra distance Sunday morning. I did ten miles Saturday and then nearly ten more to Brighton on Sunday.
The riding on Sunday was much better than the previous day. The climb up Red Lover’s Ridge was tough, but from there, it was pretty good rollers. I think that the riders coming down the Wasatch Crest Trail perceived that I was pretty odd for going the wrong direction and with extra gear on me and my bike. But I will say that I looked pretty tough.
I broke camp and got onto the trail about 8 am. I arrived at Brighton around 11:15 in the morning.
My family met me up at Brighton for the Sabbath in the afternoon, so I relaxed and studied while waiting for my family to arrive.
My family arrived to spend the Sabbath with me at around 2 pm. Together, we enjoyed an incredible mountain Sabbath. After some time together, I headed up towards Lake Catherine to spend the night.
Again, another clear night with a bright moon. I tucked myself into a lovely hideaway off of the trail.
I awoke just before 7 am after another crisp night in the mountains. For the most part, I stayed warm. My toes did get a bit cold at times, but grateful to sleep pretty comfortable all night long. I opted to hurry and pack up to head up the trail. I was going by 7:15 am.
I remained all bundled up as I hiked my bike up to Catherine’s Pass and then Sunset Pass. From there, I descended into American Fork Canyon. It was rocky and steep. I saw several deer along my way down. It was steeper than I anticipated. I ended up with a minor crash as I leaped over my handlebars at one point. Thankfully only bruises, but I did tear up my puffy jacket.
When I got to the bottom, I had a choice to make. I could take the relatively easy descent down the road to Tibble Fork, and home, or I could climb up the trail and continue my planned route. I opted to continue, but there were many times when I was rethinking my decision along the crazy steep climb up to the ridge trail.
I cannot imagine that all those runners who do Wasatch 100 have to do this section in the dark at mile 60ish.
I eventually made it up. I am grateful that I did because that section of the trail was some great riding. I went through pristine trail sections, rocky sections, steep hiking sections, but amidst the challenge, the scenes around me were amazingly gorgeous. It gave me a chance to reflect on how wonderful the Autumn season is.
There is a chill in the air. The sun beams down warmth from a nearly cloudless sky that helps to offset the breeze. We have now arrived at the point in our calendar, where our days are shorter than the nights. Life in the mountains scurries about to prepare for the frosty days and impending sheets of snow that will soon cover this gold, green, and brown landscape. Autumn is officially here.
The aspens have lost their leaves at the higher elevations, but those around 7000 feet work to cling to the theme as long as they can. Their leaves glow as the sun kisses the drying golden appendages. Soon they will let go as their annual cycle comes full swing.
As the breeze blows through, there is a rich melancholy about the land. The leaves of the aspen clap together with a subtle chime. When the breeze stops, the sounds are kept alive by the sweet chirp of the many birds that call these trees home. Amidst, the chorus is heard the protective squeal of the resident squirrel chasing around to gather his fall harvest.
The mountains are alive as much this time of the year as any other. There will soon fall an eery silence when the snows fly, but for now, there is a sense of welcome urgency to be sure that all of creation is ready.
The trees and animals won’t be shocked when winter falls. They know that it is coming. They will be ready. They sense fall’s fast approach.
I arrived at Salamander flat just before 3 pm. I was planning to rest there and then push onward to the Timpooneke Road around the front of Timp and down Grove Canyon. I was cold and tired. I had lost the motivation to continue. I feel that I have found what I came out here for. I was ready to get home. I decided to ride my bike over to Pine Hollow then take the road home. I sped down the road and over to the Murdock Trail and home.
It was nice to get a shower and to sleep in my bed that night. Adventures like these are lovely, but sometimes it is hard to stay motivated for so long. Maybe I gave up too early, but I am satisfied. I covered well over 50 miles and spent two cold nights in the backcountry. I am grateful that I went through with this crazy idea.