Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Apparently Northern Utah is A Little Different...

About a month ago, I decided to take a trip to Northern Utah with one of my co-workers to climb the highest peak in Utah in the Uinta Mountains. The peak is about 13,500 feet, which when completed would beat my personal elevation record by about 4,000 feet. We headed first to Salt Lake City to check out Josh Ritter, a current favorite singer/song writer of mine. The show was in a really small venue and it was a lot of fun to see live music for the first time since coming out West.

The next morning we got up early and headed for the Uintas. We had planned a 3 day trip to hike in, summit the peak, and then hike out. Many lessons were learned on this trip.

Lesson #1: Just because you don't need bug spray in the desert, doesn't mean you wont need it in a much cooler and more wooded environment.

Lesson #2: The weather is extremely unpredictable at elevations above 10,000 feet.

Lesson #3: It takes a lot less time to hike with two people who do it for a living, than it does to hike with 10 clients who don't want to be hiking.

Lesson #4: It can and will get into the 30's at night during the summer in Northern Utah.

By the end of the first night I probably had about 15 bug bites and had accomplished killing at least as many mosquitoes. This pretty much meant that as soon as we had fed ourselves, we retired to the mosquito free tent. This would sometimes be as early as 7pm. This was partially due to the fact that we had underestimated the amount of time it would take us to hike and would get to our campsites late in the afternoon. The second day of hiking presented itself with a lot of cloud cover and thunderstorms. We got hailed on and rained on, but luckily this day was mostly flat and not challenging hiking. The day we summited the peak, however, the weather was even worse. We woke up to more rain, but decided to head for the peak anyways. I will say that it's pretty sketchy to climb up a bunch of loose rocks in the rain when a thunderstorm is threatening on the horizon and you are at the tallest height around.

We did successfully make it to the top and then briskly headed back down. By the time we got back to our campsite we had been hiking in rain and hail for hours, we were soaked and cold, had outrun a thunderstorm and were just generally pretty tired. Luckily we had some dry clothes and warm sleeping bags. The next day we hiked the 9 miles out to the car. Of course the weather was perfectly pleasant as we were leaving.

At the very least this trip prepared me, a little, for what is to come for the winter in the desert.

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