Rain or Shine...One of my goals is to hike all the major peaks in the south Wasatch. After successfully hiking Cascade the weekend before, I couldn't help but notice the nearby Shingle Mill Peak with the dozens of terraces along it's west face, while we were making our way to the Cascade saddle. I had determined that my next hike would be to Shingle Mill Peak, and possibly Freedom Peak. I had already picked that the following Saturday after Cascade would be the day. I'm one that likes to be prepared for anything or everything on a hike, so I spent the week leading up to the hike, researching the route, watching the weather reports, etc. Much to my chagrin, I watched the weather report deteriorate with each day. The night before the hike, I saw the forecast predicting highs in the 70's with rain all day. I was so amped for the hike, that rain or shine, I was going to go regardless!
Upon waking up early Saturday morning, I was thrilled to see blue skies, however, it wouldn't take long for that to change. There is a quote common to Utah that goes something like this... "If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes." It couldn't have been more true this day.
Hitting the TrailheadI originally wanted to be at the Dry Fork TH at 6am, just like I was the week before for the Cascade hike. However, after doing the math, I figured it would be about 50 degrees at the start, and I knew my hiking companion hated the cold, so instead, we started the hike from the Dry Fork TH at 830am. We made great time as we ascended up the trail, through the beautiful meadow of wildflowers and aspens. Before we knew it, we found ourselves near a the cirque under Freedom Peak. I spotted two deer, a male and female making their way through the aspens.
About the time we hit the terraces, the clouds began to come up and over the top of Shingle Mill and Freedom Peak which was interesting because normally the wind and weather comes from the west, but these clouds were coming from the southeast. Within ten minutes, the temperature had dropped about ten degrees. Luckily, I had told my hiking companion to wear pants and a windbreaker. She even brought ear covers!
Reaching the SummitIn a couple of the trip reports I'd read, I learned the the Shingle Mill Peak trail was originally an Eagle Scout project from the early 2000's, and that the particular scout troop had been trying to recruit people to use the trail, to make it a little more visible. There were short stretches where we lost the trail leading up to the summit, but there was an abundance of cairns which helped lead the way. By the time we reached the saddle between Shingle Mill and Freedom, the cloud ceiling had dropped to about 9800 ft, which was about two hundred feet below us. It was quite an impressive sight to watch the clouds rush up the east side face and up and over the ridge. Very cool indeed. The temperature was barely 40 degrees and with the sharp wind, and me in shorts and a t-shirt, I found myself a tad under dressed.
We made it to the summit amid thick cloud cover a little under three hours. It was freezing up there, we took some pictures, found the registry amid the summit cairn, signed our names, waited ten minutes for the clouds to lift, and when they didn't we decided to get off the mountain before rain or snow. We were lucky enough to not have either during our hike.
While we couldn't get any good views due to the thick and low cloud cover, finding the registry helped fill the void. We were surprised to find that four people had hiked Shingle Mill in the last two weeks, although prior to those four, it had been nearly a year before them.
We ran into just one person the whole time, and he was making his way to the Cascade summit. We talked for about ten minutes, where I mentioned I had just done that hike the week before. Going to Cascade alone in this weather was very daring, so we swapped phone numbers and told him to call us when he got done to let us know that he made it down OK. (He later called us to say that he turned back shortly past the Cascade saddle due to the weather.)
Despite the weather, it was an enjoyable hike that only took a little under five hours roundtrip. I'm looking forward to making a return trip up to the Dry Fork TH to take on Freedom Peak!