Ol' BenOl' Ben
June 28, 2005
Myself and three friends from work “Snowball”, Hardy, and Wendy had planned a trek to get a geocache on top to the most prominent peak in Ogden--Ben Lomond Peak.--also the second highest peak in Weber county. Our apprehension was obvious as we donned our CamelBaks and tightened our boot laces and started up the trail lined by scrub oak and box elder trees. Our goal was just over nine miles away, according to some research, it was an 8 hour round trip. As the sun peaked above the eastern mountains, we shed our jackets and hid them along the trail, glancing at the grayish clouds that were coming into view with the morning light.
Lugging an ammo box that Hardy planned on placing somewhere about half way to the peak, we headed to our goal of tackling Old Ben. After we had the long switchbacks behind us, we looked out over Ogden. The sun had chased the last of the shadows from the valley, and the morning sun was warm and bright, albeit dark clouds loomed above.
After some pictures and a breather, we were on our way again, next stop would be for lunch. The trail took us on the east side of the range, and back up again to the ridge. We crested what was the highest point of our journey so far, with some spectacular views in all directions, and decided that this is a great place to eat lunch.
The sun had warmed things up quite a bit, but the sun still could not burn off the clouds that carpeted the seemingly endless wilderness behind the ridge. It had warmed us, though, and re-energized we took lots of pictures and started again on our way to the peak, with Ben never leaving our view.
This portion of the trail took us back along the ridge and not too far away, we found a great place for Hardy’s geocache. It would be good to get rid of that dead weight. After we placed it under a gnarled and weathered juniper, we headed out. Not much further.
The next portion of our journey took us around the side of the mountain where we met up with the first of the snow. The sun hadn’t yet melted this crusty rotten snow, and it was nice to see the spring season’s flora sprouting through the defrosting ground.
We stopped for a group photo where the trail we were on met up with another trail from North Fork, both with Ben Lomond at the end. We could see that the snow covered trail would not be much use to us and we followed the switchbacks as far as we could. Below was a beautiful bowl with a pond. The scenery along this trail has been wonderful, well worth a trip back. After we glassed for some moose, we started the bushwhack up to the peak.
Halfway up, the vegetation was minimal, and the plentiful snow was as hard as the rocks underneath. We were so close, and the hard snow provided as much traction as a greased skillet. Below the 45 degree slope ended in rocks and trees to a pristine depression. If any one of us lost our footing and slid down the hill, the chances of us being able to stop were minimal and the crystallized snow would cut us to ribbons.
Here Wendy decided grudgingly decided not to pursue the last 1/10 of a mile up to the peak, her fear of heights had unnerved her here on the slope. She waited here as the three guys went ahead up the crusty slope to the peak.
Kicking and marching through the snow on the way up was a daunting task, knowing that if a foot slipped, it would be a fast ride to the bottom. Finally, we reached the ridge, and after negotiating some rock outcroppings we were at the summit.
We opened the stainless steel box which held a ledger and signed our names. Somebody had been here earlier this year. We were one of the first for the year. We propped our cameras on the box and took pictures to prove our ascent, and took in the breathtaking scenery from 360 degrees you could see in all directions.
A quarter mile away is Willard peak, the highest in the county. Just below, on a shelf we glassed some mountain goats that frequent the area. Too bad they weren’t any closer. We would have to attempt Willard another time.
We took out our GPSrs and saw that the geocache was just to the east of the peak. We took off wanting to be the one that found the cache. I found it under some scrub brush. Not much was in worth trading, so we just signed our names and headed back down to Wendy.
Because the snow was hard an nearly impossible to walk down, we did so in small glissades down, keeping careful control lest we got to the bottom on our asses and shredded to bloody tatters. Halfway to Wendy’s location, my feet slipped out from under me, and I started a speedy out of control decent to the bottom. I laid down and arched my back, digging my heels and elbows into the crust trying to slow my momentum and I yelled “See you all at the bottom!!” After all, it may be fun to slide down this slope and show up at the parking lot long before the others.
Luckily I was able to control my slide and stand back up. After a short hike to the where the others were, we started our direct decent back to where the two trails met up.
Along the way, a drift of snow met up with a cliff of rock leaving a 20’ crevasse. “Why not?” I said and stripped my Camel-B and climbed down to the bottom. With the snow to my back, I grabbed what handholds I could and shimmied down to the ground.
A gentle slope gracefully swept down the mountain side, and we being “grown-ups” could not resist a chance to play in the snow. We each took turns glissading down the slope, just to hike back up and do it again. When are feet were wet and cold we wondered what the heck we were thinking. It was still at least six to seven miles to our cars.
The way down, the scenery proved to be just as beautiful as on the way up. It was a good thing that we had digital cameras. If we had film, it would have cost a fortune in developing. We stopped where we had lunch and had a “Victory Cigar” and headed down the mountain. [img:267424:alignright:small:]
The rest of the way down proved uneventful and easy going, except my hip and knee started hurting, and would hurt for about a week after the jaunt. I cant wait to do it again.