Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pre Daylight Savings Time Peakbagging

I hate daylight savings time, at least in the fall. Who cares if its light in the morning? We all get up, go to work, and sit inside. I want daylight after work so I can actually go do some fun stuff outside. But whether or not I dislike this tradition I have to accept it. So in the final week before the post work activities largely come to a halt with the sun setting at the unfortunate hour of 530 pm, I decided to try to tag a few more peaks that were on my list: Squaw Peak, Grandview Peak, and Spanish Fork Peak.

Squaw Peak-Monday

This peak is really accessible, probably similar to Grandeur Peak in Salt Lake via Church Fork in mileage and vertical. Its 7.4 miles RT, with 2820' of climbing. For the average BYU zoobie on a date it might take half a day, but if you can run it you'll be up and down in less time than the average Provo Temple session, which can easily be seen from the summit. I gave it a solid effort and managed 2nd on the strava ascent leaderboard, with only the mythical creature Sas Quatch besting my time. (see here for clarification). Fun outing, the Provo folks are lucky to have this peak so close.

Looking down the south face of Squaw Peak. Rock canyon trail seen below

Grandview Peak-Wednesday

My gps died in city creek, imagine the blue line connected to the other blue line to make a nice loop

This one is definitely off the radar. Located high above city creek canyon, its isn't really easily accessible from any one direction. Three-four distinct possiblities exist, and they are all involved. I recruited Court for this outing since it involved a bike ride/running combo, which he tends to enjoy. We rode up city creek canyon 5 miles to Rotary Park, then took the unmarked North Creek trail up to Rudy's Flat. From here we more or less followed the ridge east all the way to the summit, which involved some trail, but mostly psuedo-trail/off trail ridging. We summitted right at dark and it was pretty cold. Then came the descent. I had preplanned to descend via the trail-less, possibly horrendous but extremely direct variation down Cottonwood Gulch into City Creek. I like direct routes, and despite the high likelihood we would be jungle shrubbing for 3 miles, it seemed more adventurous, less time consuming, and pure than returning the way we came or continuing on towards swallow rocks.

We started down with headlamps ablaze and found a surprisingly enjoyable dirt stream gully thing in bottom of the U shaped valley with minimal shrubbery and we cruised, taking only 30 min to get from the summit to city creek. Highly recommend this 3rd class adventure running descent. Imagine a less bike friendly version of the Bobsled in the University Foothills and you get the picture. 15 min down city creek and we were back at our bikes. This sweet loop(sans bike mileage) was 10.4 miles and 4400' feet of climbing, which took us around 2:45 hours, plus the 30 min or so of bike time.
Ridge running

Court yelping, "ow!" when the trail disappeared

Almost to the summit

Spanish Fork Peak(aka Maple Mountain)-Saturday

Annie grew up at the base of this peak and has summitted it numerous times, even going so far as to call it "her mountain". I guess the Mapleton folks refer to this peak as "Maple Mountain", but to everyone else its Spanish Fork Peak. The author of the summitpost description has some harsh declarations regarding this discrepancy:

Some locals refuse to call this mountain Spanish Fork Peak, instead calling it "Maple Mountain" or "Mapleton Mountain." This seems to be borne out of some simmering rivalry between David (Mapleton) and Goliath (Spanish Fork City). USGS, understandably, sided with Goliath. Best advice for residents of Mapleton (which exists only because it seceded from Springville in the 1910s, with the blessing of the Utah Supreme Court) is to get over it. The name is Spanish Fork Peak.

I decided I needed to summit it as some point to honor Annie's youth and also because I was intrigued by the Dorais bro's ski video from last year. I was happy to discover there were trails on both sides of the peak, so I could traverse it rather than do an out and back, which I am not fond of. Starting in SP canyon, I headed up the  less popular and steep Sterling Hollow trail and after an hour or so I hit a big open meadow with remains from a large hunting camp. I was unable to find the trail from here and it was getting pretty socked in, so I decided to beeline it north straight up a huge talus field into the clouds with hopes I'd hit the peak. The trail supposedly traversed west around a subpeak but I wasn't going to go spend a ton of time looking for it. Luckily the clouds parted right as I hit the ridge, unveiling I was just below the summit, marked by a giant triangular metal structure.
Talus field where I lost the trail

The talus became tedious so I vouched for straight up 50 degree weeds instead

I got lucky and my direct talus approach worked out perfectly. Summit just ahead
Wanna-be Timp like metal summit structure

Maple Canyon Lake on the descent with a herd of elk
It started to snow on the summit, so I continued north on my planned descent route of the right fork of Maple Canyon, the more common approach. Everything went smooth and 7 miles and 5300' of knee bashing later, I was back at the canyon mouth and met Annie to help with the shuttle. Only 2:41 for this 12.5 mile adventure. Amazing what ground you can cover with some simple fitness.

Now that the sun is gone, the headlamp may be my best friend for after work activities, pending the weather cooperates.