Timpooneke, Timpanogas - Mistakes and Blessings

It was a crazy day on Saturday. Fun but crazy. About 10 years ago, I first went on a hike up the back side of Timpanogas mountain that led me to the top of the mountain (I was with my brother and Mom). A few weeks back, I remembered how much I enjoyed that hike and decided it would be fun to do it again.

Saturday morning I met up with my brother and sister at 7 and headed to the trail head. It took us about an hour to get there, and when we did there were car loads of people. The first time I hiked the trail must have been a weekday because the parking lot was full and there were tons of cars on the street. We parked probably a good 1/2 mile from the trail head.

Once we got started (about 8) up the trail, we encountered several groups which were coming down already. We found out that most of them had walked up in the dark in order to watch the sunset (after finishing the hike, I was pretty impressed). The first part of the trail is pretty easy and mostly straight. You pass several cool waterfalls from runoff up the mountain and are in the trees for the most part.

BJ helping Elisa out

BJ and Elisa ahead of me

One of the several waterfalls we passed

After about 2.5 hours, we had gone probably about 2.5 miles. We needed to move at a quicker pace if we were going to make it to the top as my brother needed to be home by 4 and the full trail is 7.5 miles long. Our sister wanted us to go ahead so that we could make it to the top and we did (mistake #1). We took off at a pretty good pace and then at one point we accidentally got off the trail and went up a pretty steep rocky area. It really killed my brother's legs and he couldn't keep up the pace as well.

A view of what we were about to climb from the fork

"Flower Garden" - also right at the fork

Despite the tired legs, we kept on going and came to a trail fork that led to either the top of the mountain or over to a lake (we spent a large portion of time later on at this fork). We headed up the top of the mountain and while in the process, my brother got a pretty bad cramp in his leg. I really wanted to make it to the top and so I left him behind and made it to a place called "The Saddle." Basically this is close to the top and the area where you can see out over Utah lake and the cities there close by, as well as back the way that you had climbed up. It was about 11:45 at this point, and I really wanted to make it to the top, but I could see my brother moving up slowly but surely. I decided to wait for him to see what he wanted to do (mistake #2).

At "The Saddle"

My brother made it up at about 12:00 and he did want to go further up the mountain (mistake #3). He called his wife and got out of his previous engagement to watch his little one, and then we took off. It was really windy up there, so it was a good thing that we both had jackets because we put them on. We headed up what we both would agree was the steepest and hardest part of the hike. There was one are that is called "The Staircase" and you realize why as you climb it. It's a rock face that you are climbing up along the rocks and it's pretty steep. It took us about an hour to get to the top despite it only being about 1/2 mile (due to a combination of the steep climb and leg cramps). The top was some site.

"The Staircase"

A view from the summit

Once we were done, my brother really wanted to go down to the glacier rather than back the way we came and I agreed (mistake #4). We headed down a trail the opposite of the way we had come up and walked for another 1/2 mile. No one else was headed down this trail but some others followed about 10 minutes behind us. It wasn't near as long or bad as it was mostly downhill. We did take a wrong turn at one point and we came to a drop off that was about 15 feet down. The rock face had some places for holding and we both shimmied down it somehow, but it was certainly the time when my heart was beating the fastest of the entire hike. We walked a bit further and came to the glacier. It was pretty rocky on the snow but fortunately, there was predefined path where other's had slid down the mountain. My brother had brought some garbage bags for sliding down and we had a little joy ride down.
Sliding down the glacier

We finally made it to the bottom where there is a lake that is runoff from the glacier, and we took a few minutes to take our jackets off, put some more sunscreen on, and just get ready for the down hike. We took off and headed back around to go where the fork in the road was at. About 1/2 way back to the fork in the road (about 2:30 pm) my brother decided he wanted to check if his wife had called. I decided I'd check my cell phone as well (blessing #1). It turns out my sister had made it to "The Saddle" and didn't know where we were. She had called my parents and they in turned called us not 5 minutes earlier than when we checked our phones (she didn't bring her cell phone so she didn't know our numbers). We called the number she had left back and told her to meet us at the fork in the road (mistake #4 - we both typically assume that everyone orients themselves the way that we do).

"Emerald Lake" at the bottom of the glacier

We made it back to the fork in about 10 minutes, but we knew our sister probably had a good 20-30 minutes ahead of her from when we had talked to her so we just sat down to relax. BJ and I sat at the fork watching the trail up above for our sister for some time. We could see people coming down and we kept thinking that was her. After about an hour we really started to get worried, because she really should have been there at that point (it was pretty steep up there so we thought maybe she had been taking her time to come down). We decided that I would head back up the mountain (not too quickly because surely she would be down soon) while my brother waited at the fork). I was moving along and got to one point where the uphill really starts heavily and at that point I was freaked out. I had no idea where my sister was and I couldn't think where she could be. Fortunately, my legs weren't tired or hurting at all because of my running routine (blessing #2) and so I was able to fly up the mountain pretty quickly for a second time (probably half the time it had taken us before) in order to get to "The Saddle."

Basic idea of the path we had taken around

A video of the trail we took

Waiting for Elisa

Of course she wasn't there and I thought maybe she had gone down the back way and was looping around to where we had been. I was still freaking out at this point though, but luckily I had cell phone reception and was able to get hold of my parents and found out that my sister had headed down the wrong trail that looked easier to get down (I assume she was following others) that led back to where the lake was at. She had got a bit scared when she didn't recognize the trail she was on and that there were far less people on the trail. Luckily, a couple coming by had a cell phone and she was able to call and tell us where she was (blessing #3). She was headed down the trail to the Provo canyon side of the trail. We decided to head down the mountain back to the car and then drive around and meet her at the other trail head. It was about 4:30 when I got this information of where she was and I was up at "The Saddle" still.

I flew down the mountain at a probably unsafe speed considering how steep the cliffs were and got back to the fork, my brother had probably been there a good 2 hours just waiting at this point so his legs were well rested and he was ready to go. We flew down the mountain. From that fork in the road, it took us 1.5 hours to get down to the bottom of the trail. We passed a ton of people on our way down and a couple of people wanted to make sure we had found our sister as we passed them (we had asked several people if they had seen her). We stopped and filled up our water bottles since my brother was practically out and I had a half of a bottle left. We then made the long trek back to the car (if you've forgotten we had to park a good half a mile from the trail head due to the number of people being there).

A look from the car to where we had hiked to

We got to the car and drove to the other trail head. Our sister only ended up waiting for us about 10 minutes despite the fact that she was probably an hour ahead of us going down the mountain. It was almost 7 at that point and we had to drive from Provo canyon back to Salt Lake and on to Bountiful. I was home by 8:30, only 4.5 hours later than originally planned. My wife wasn't too mad, but I don't think my brother got off as easily :).

Things I learned from the hike:
- Bring plenty of water. I had enough but both my brother and sister needed more. They both had those camelpaks and they found out that those don't hold as much water as they thought and you don't know how much water is actually left in them.
- Bring your cell phone regardless of whether or not you think you'll have coverage. We had coverage in the oddest places. My sister didn't have her phone...
- Make sure you make it clear where you are meeting up if you split up. The problem wasn't that we split up, it was that we didn't clearly state where we needed to meet up after splitting up (none of us knew that well though as it has been some time since we were there).
- Enjoy nature. I already knew this though. That's the whole reason I went in the first place.

It was a fun hike, and I had a good time, but I think next time I'll do it alone on a Saturday when there are lots of people and I don't have to leave anyone behind. Either that or do it with people that don't have any time constraints because it is quite a hike, much harder than I ever remembered it. We are all glad to be home and safe today in spite of our sun burns.


BJ said...

fun times - my wife wasn't upset at all. I just assumed she was, she was glad we had fun and everyone was safe in the end.

another tip - don't forget the sunscreen on your legs!

Bradwich said...

Sounds like good times. Glad everyone was ok. I hope to hike Timp at some point in the future. Both that and Olympus are on my bucket list.

Beej & Chris said...

Those are amazing pictures JC! I really wish my knee's weren't bad because that would have been quite a site to see!
Oh and don't worry I am not mad that you didn't include me in your blessings list...even though I was the one that told you that your sister was ok and to call your mom to find out where she was ;)