Sunday, October 18, 2009
Wonderful 3-Day Weekend
So I've had a pretty great weekend. I've been planning to hike Mt. Nebo nearly all year. And this week was my window of opportunity. I took Friday off from work, since Saturday was going to be the opening day of the Utah deer hunt. (I try to avoid being a target, unintended or otherwise.) I didn't really research the hike, other than hiking a bit of the trail from Bear Canyon back in June. After than, I decided to take an easier/flatter route, especially since there is now snow up near the summit. Not realizing the existence of a couple of other choices, I decided to hike it from the Monument Trailhead, right off of the Nebo Loop Byway. I had prepared myself for the worst; backpack full of boots, extra socks, energy bars, gatorade, thermal underwear, jacket, gloves, snowshoes and, most important, the camera and extra lenses.
I headed down the trail, just before 9AM. It was beautiful. I never did put on my jacket or gloves. And I hiked in my trail runners all day. After hiking south between 6 and 7 miles, I began to get frustrated, wondering if this trail was ever going to ascend to the summit. To this point, it had just skirted along the bench, up then down, then back up again. But mostly just taking me south. I finally decided to get off the trail and just start climbing a buttress, which looked like it may get me up near the cliffs. After about 20 minutes or so, I realized that this wasn't going to get me to the top, at least not without a significant chance of falling or worse. Then, I realized I had access to a modern-day convenience--my cellphone. You get cell coverage most of the way. I began calling EVERYONE I could think of who may have hiked Nebo before. Out of the 7 or 8 people I called, about half of them had hiked Nebo. However, NONE of them had hiked it via the trail I had taken because, "it's the longest, most difficult route to the top." Oh, nice one, Wade. It was about 1:00PM by now and I figured I had at least another 2 miles to go south before the trail would climb to the summit. But that meant it was highly unlikely I wouldn't have time to summit and then make it back out by dark. So, feeling a little defeated, I sat down, had some lunch, and took a few pictures. (This place is amazing for photographs. I highly recommend it if you're into that sort of thing.) Anyway, after my little break, I headed back north, toward the trail head and my van. I had hoped to find some wildlife to capture with my camera. Sadly, I didn't see much; Just a yellow-bellied marmot, a couple of sage grouse, and 2 deer, none of which were worth digging my camera out. It was a tough hike out. My left knee had begun to feel the stress of the 30 lbs of gear on my back. And I was drained of energy, not having eaten anything but energy bars that day. One bad thing about that trail is at the end of the day, when you're completely zapped of energy and strength, you'll have to climb upward for about the last mile to the trail head. I thought I could make it OK, but I actually had to sit down and eat 2 more energy bars and another gatorade during the last 1/2 mile.
At the end of the day, this was an amazing hike; A beautiful adventure, and something I hope to do again and again.
I had actually begun to catch a cold Thursday night, and it had fully set in by Friday morning. But I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to take that hike. And by Friday night, I felt sort of terrible. I didn't sleep very well. So when Saturday morning came, I got up early and drove up to the top of Payson Canyon to try and capture sunrise on Nebo Peak. As you can see from the photo, I missed it by about 20 minutes. Oh well; Still a decent photo. On my way back down, I ran into 3 flocks of wild turkeys, the 3rd of which were outside a restroom at the picnic area. Pretty awesome. Sort of made me think of Thanksgiving. I don't know why.