Aspen GroveI set my sites on Mt. Timpanogos as my 9th hike in 9 days of P5k prominence peaks. The previous 8 days I hiked
Hayford, Arc Dome , Pilot , North Schell , Ibapah , Deseret , Flat Top , and Nebo . After completing Mt. Nebo on July 7th, I drove over to the Aspen Grove trailhead for Mt. Timpanogos (elevation 6,880 ft) and relaxed, ate dinner, and got some sleep.
The morning of July 8th dawned clear and beautiful and I was on the trail at first light. I knew this was a long hike and I wanted to use the cool of the morning to do the tough part of the hike. The Aspen Grove Trail starts off nice and wide and it is easy to make good time. The first creek crossing had a nice bridge across at one time, but it is broken in the middle and the creek was flowing over the bridge. No problem for me, but anyone with tennis shoes on will get there feet wet. The trail changed from gravel to asphalt pavement at the bridge. Hey, this is going to be an easy hike if the trail is paved.
The pavement lasted about a mile until I reached the first waterfall and then the trail turned back to dirt and gravel and stayed that way the rest of the hike. The trail gradually gained elevation as it climbed up the Primrose Cirque. I think I counted at least 7 waterfalls on this portion of the hike and they were all beautiful. My camera was working overtime trying to capture all the beauty. The trail even went behind one of the waterfalls for a unique perspective. Adding to the splendor of the waterfalls was the proliferation of wildflowers along the trail. Later I saw other hikers making bouquets of the various wildflowers.
The miles went past quickly. When the trail approached the headwall before it entered the upper valley at about 10,000 ft elevation, it became somewhat steeper. There were patches of snow to crossover, and the trail had branches that seemed to lead me astray. I took a few wrong turns before finding the correct trail again. This was a little frustrating and the forest service should have the trail marked better if they want to control off trail hiking or shortcutting.
I finally reached the upper valley and the trail became almost flat as I made my way to the Emerald Lake Shelter. Emerald Lake was still mostly frozen and had several icebergs in the water. At the shelter were a forest ranger and a member of the Timpanogos Emergency Response Team (TERT). They had the weekend duty to help any hikers who needed help. I stopped here, socialized for a few minutes, and had a snack. I could see the next part of the climb was covered by a long snowfield. I asked them about the route and they told me to just follow a guy who was about 300 yards up the trail from me. They indicated that he had Mountain Goat blood in his veins and knew the way.
I didn’t know if I could keep up with someone that was related to a Mountain Goat, but I headed off down the trail. At the snow field my Mountain Goat guide had left good footsteps, so I used his trail and followed his steps for about a mile across the field until it met up with the Timpooneke Trail. There was a conga line of hikers coming up the Timpooneke Trail. I had only seen a few people since leaving Aspen Grove until now. There were dozens of hikers heading to the summit.
The Aspen Grove Trail joins the Timpooneke Trail on the ridgeline at about 11,000 ft. The snow ended here and it was clear sailing up northern ridge to the summit of Timpanogos. I was grateful that there was no ice or snow on one part that zigzagged up a rocky chute for about 80 ft. It was dangerous enough with the loose gravel. Ice would have made it treacherous.
On the summit there were already at least 20 other hikers doing their celebrations and congratulating each other for reaching the summit. It was a festive aura in perfect weather on the summit. I ate my lunch, did some more socializing, and rested a while. Some of the other hikers were going to hike over to the glacier and descend down to Emerald Lake that way. One hiker had carried a plastic sled to slide down on. I thought he was insane. Later I saw him down at the Emerald Lake Shelter and he survived the ordeal. In fact he was going to climb back up and do it again. Ah, youth….
I headed down the same way I came up. It was a lot easier going down. I was tired but felt good. I got down to my truck at Aspen Grove 8 ¾ hours after I started. I covered nearly 15 miles and climbed over 4,900 ft. This was a great climb and very scenic. I hope to do this one again someday. Now on to Idaho and Borah Peak to finish my hiking vacation.