Sunday, October 19, 2008

Timpanogos

This weekend I had two invitations to go on cool trips: one to Zion, and one to Jackson Hole. I turned both of them down, however, because my team (the Double E's) had our intramural volleyball championship game on Friday night. I've never been on a champion intramural team, and I didn't want to be driving somewhere while my team played without me.

We were undefeated, and it was a double-elimination tournament, so we only had to win one of two matches to win the tournament (and more importantly, get a t-shirt!). Sadly, we lost the first match, 2–0. Even more sadly, and despite our excellent fan support, we lost the first game of the next tournament. During the second game, we were up 24–22, with possession, and it looked like we might pull through. We blew it, though, and—saddest of all—ended up losing the game 27–25. That was the end of the road, and there were no t-shirts for us at the end of it. We were probably doomed from the start, though, since we were a team of nerdy electrical engineers. It's a miracle we made it as far as we did. :)


Since I had some free time on Saturday, I decided to hike Mount Timpanogos. I needed some time to think and ponder, and I wanted to see the fall leaves before they were all gone. The last time I had been on top of Mount Timpanogos was as a freshman in September 2000. I made an attempt last year, but we had to turn around before the summit.

I went solo, partly so that I could go fast, and partly because I couldn't find anyone to come with me on short notice. Rather than taking the familiar Aspen Grove route, I decided on the Timpooneke route, which starts in American Fork Canyon.

I started late (for me), leaving the trailhead around 7:50 a.m. I made it to Scout Falls in 30 minutes, a large meadow half an hour later, and Timpanogos Basin two hours into the hike. An hour later I was at the saddle, and 40 minutes later (just over 3.5 hours into the hike), I was on top. The trails were icy and snow-covered for about 2/3 of the way.

I ran into some interesting people on the hike. A few people weren't really prepared for the conditions, hiking without wind protection, or hiking in skater shoes. Timp in late October is a ballgame from Timp in early September. One guy was a trail runner, and he jogged all the way to the top, only stopping long enough for me to take his picture for him. There were also some hunters prowling around in their dashing bright orange outfits.

I had even more time to myself to think about things than I had planned, since I took a couple of detours on the way down. I had originally planned to glissade down the Timp glacier, but I hadn't looked at the map very carefully, and I didn't realize that the ridge traverse to the head of the snowfield was so long. I went a little over halfway there, but since some of the cliffs were getting sketchy, and since I was solo, I decided to play it safe and turn around, which cost me about an hour.

There's a wreckage of a B-25 bomber that crashed in on Timp the 50's not too far from Timpanogos Basin, and I had planned to check it out on the way back if I had time. I almost decided to skip it, since the trail to the area was unbroken, and breaking trail in snow by myself didn't sound so fun after an already long hike. However, my curiosity got the better of me, and I stashed my pack in some bushes and trudged off through the fluffy snow.

About half an hour later, I neared the area where the plane was supposed to be. My GPS said I was within 300 feet, but I realized that I was one cliff band too low. To get to the plane, I would have to hike up another 200 feet or so. That didn't sound appealing at all, and the snow was deep enough that I figured it might be buried anyway, so I decided to bag it and turn around.

The hike down was a lot easier since a lot of the morning's ice had turned to slush and mud, and I made good time. I was glad when I finally got out of the snow and could move faster, and the monotony of the hike down gave me the thinking time that I needed. There were still a few changing leaves at lower elevations, but the leaves along the trail were mostly dead and gone.

I decided to take the Alpine Loop road home, which goes back behind Timp from American Fork Canyon to Sundance and then Provo Canyon. The aspens were stunning along the road, with bright yellow leaves everywhere: on the trees, drifting through the air, and lining the ground, sometimes in bright piles along the sides of the road. If you're looking for a beautiful drive, head up there sometime in the next few days between about 4:00 p.m. and 5:30, when the sun is setting.

After my beautiful drive home, I did laundry and crashed. I think I'm even going to be sore, which I haven't been for quite a while. It was a good weekend. :)

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