Decided to give the Bear Canyon route a try after climbing via Jabob's Ladder in '04. I spent the previous night marking the trail heads and junctions in my gps after reading about some trailhead confusion and the off trail travel on the upper part of the trail. I parked at the gate (no choice here anyway as the gate was still closed). From the Orson Smith trail sign I proceeded north for a bit, then east up an incredibly steep hill of sand before making it to the Cherry Canyon Logging Trail sign. This sign is almost directly east of the gate a couple hundred yards.
From here the trail makes many switchbacks up the steep foothills, eventually working its way south into Cherry Canyon. Then it climbs very rapidly up the slope with a few small almost level sections that were a great relief. I found myself wanting more switchbacks just to ease the climb! Eventually it leveled out and crossed north into Bear Canyon in a pleasant and cool pine forest. I stopped at the spring for a food break and to refill my water. After the spring the trail became very steep as it climbed north out of Bear Canyon, and began working it way east.
After a while the trail wanders into some pleasant meadows with some granite spires to the north and south. I stopped by the cabin for some pictures and pulled out the map to study the route ahead. Just curious, does anyone know the story behind the cabin? Anyway, the trail fades just beyond the cabin and the route became easy routefinding up the drainage. I followed the dry creek bed for most of the way. It curves left (north) as it passes below some granite spires on the south. Eventually I was at the head of Bear Canyon. I made sure to check my landmarks here to not miss it on the way down, plus I marked it on the GPS as a backup. I actually found the hike up the meadow drainage to be very tiring for some reason. The slope didn't look steep from the cabin, but it really took a lot of wind out of my sails.
Once at the top of the meadow drainage I worked my way easterly until coming to an area with a granite bowl in it, a natural half pipe. Lone Peak came into view at this point. From here, I worked east over a minor summit covered with small pines. On the high point of this section the route coming up from Jacobs Ladder through the cirque is visible, working its way towards the saddle north of the summit ridge. I picked a route out visually and joined up with that trail just below the saddle in a drainage. From here its obvious the route to the peak and I made the scramble up. It was very windy up here this day, enough to almost cause me to turn around. A couple hundred feet from the peak it was blowing hard enough to make me feel uneasy about my balance.
The dizzying view and the thrilling summit scramble are great and it is exhilerating to make it to the top, but it comes at a high price. I'm in good shape and hike and backpack regularly, but this mountain pushed me to my limits both times and is a real test of endurance. Jacobs Ladder iwas a real pain to tackle, and I was hoping for better in Bear Canyon. Although it doesnt have the long and brutally steep section like the Ladder, I still found it to be an extremely strenuous hike. Felt like I was stuck on a perpetual stair stepper from hell. No other summit I've been on in the Wasatch tires me like Lone Peak does. It is the prettiest peak in the Wasatch in my opinion, but she sure dishes out the hurt!
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