An argument for better public transportation

An argument for better public transportation

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 40.65700°N / 111.77°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jan 10, 2002
Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 SEG meeting. For whatever reason, I elected not to set aside a few days to explore. Still, after a few days of heavy food and the stress associated with giving a talk, I felt guilty about my lack of exercise and my non-exploratory attitude. Jesse Lomask and I (Antoine slept in) decided to reverse the trend by climbing Mount Olympus on Thursday, October 10. Despite a good deal of snow on the higher peaks, Olympus (prominent from SLC) looked clear all the way to the summit. Only problem was, we had no car, and the trailhead was a good 15 miles from our hotel. We could have found someone with a car, but we figured they'd either be irritating or too slow.

The joy of riding the bus

At the pitiful hour of 10:00, we boarded the UTA Trax train, installed as a sop to the 2002 Winter Olympics. End of the line, U. of Utah, still 10 miles from the mountain. Waiting for the bus... Morgan: "Is this 810?" Driver: "No, it's 13." Morgan: "Do you go down Foothill Road?" Driver: "Yes." Morgan: "Do you go to the Park-n-Ride at 3900 South?" Driver: "Huh?" Waiting for the next bus... Morgan: "Is this 810?" Driver: "No, it's 14." Morgan: "Do you go down Foothill Road?" Driver: "Yes." Fuck it...board the bus. Morgan: "Do you go to the Park-n-Ride at 3900 South?" Driver: "Huh?" Exit bus. Board Bus 39 5 minutes later. Sitting at Wasatch Blvd. and 3900 South, eagerly awaiting bus 354. Jesse: "I gotta take a piss." Walks toward Sinclair gas station. Morgan: "OK, but hurry up. The bus could come any minute." Jesse returns. Morgan: "Now I gotta piss. I'll make it quick." I think about buying some gatorade, but the 5-person line discourages me. After all, the bus could come at any minute. Craning neck down road. Buses pass, but in the wrong direction. Why is there no route sign on this bench? Just 15 minutes more. OK, 5 minutes more. Fuck it, let's walk. Make sure you look behind us and we can flag down the bus. Walk, look, walk, look. 4200 South. 4600 South. Sidewalk disappears. Speed limit increases. 4900 South. Not a single bus has passed in either direction. I'm parched, but all I have is 32 ounces of water for the whole hike. Two miles later...the trailhead. And still, not a single bus.

The climb

It was just a hike, albeit a steep one. Scrub oaks down low, turning progressively yellower and more dense as we climb. The high overcast keeps temperatures low, though the air is humid for SLC. Cool slabs and rock outcrops in every direction. Snow-capped peaks in the distance. Colors everywhere on the rocks and trees. Everything except for blue! After Tolcate Creek, it gets steep. And stays steep. I'm really out of shape. Lungs work OK, but my quads slowly burn and refuse to cooperate. Jesse blazes ahead. Bastard! He's four years older than me. Foliage thickens, some fir trees appear. What a steep trail! Finally, the saddle at 8400 feet. The last stretch to the summit looks steep, but I gleefully await the chance to use my hands a bit for uphill progress. We pass a young guy and his 2 loud border collies. 2 50-somethings with trekking poles. And on the summit...a guy talking on his cellphone! Always a pet peeve of mine, but surprisingly, Jesse despises it more than me. He's usually has a far more positive outlook than I do (hasn't been in grad school as long), but it takes all his energy to not make a rude comment. On the descent, we practically run. Not for any reason, just the male instinct, I suppose. I find the fast pace rather refreshing. A quick shuffle down the steep stuff seems to be far less punishing on the knees and legs. I'll have to try this again.

Back on the bus

I'd tried to forget the obvious question on our hike: how the hell would we get back? If no buses passed us on Wasatch Blvd. in an hour and a half, why would one suddenly appear? From the mountain, we decided to follow Tolcate Hills Road through a neighborhood, under I-215, and out to a different busy street, where we'd hopefully find a bus stop. Amazingly, the strategy worked! Soon we were again waiting for the bus at Holladay Blvd. and Tolcate Lane. Mansions all around, but not even a bench at the bus stop. We sat on some rich guy's split rail fence, and fully believed he'd call the cops on us. I began to understand the life and daily routine of the "help". Sitting, sitting, craning our necks, sitting, sitting, where the hell is he? After 25 minutes, we were on bus 14 again. Amazingly, the line terminates in front of our hotel. Slow, but mindless. Like the bus should be. In summary, it was an adventure in many respects. Far better than the alternative. Because my parents were in town, I was able to eat another fantastic meal at some French restaurant, but after this hike, I felt guiltless about the wheel of goat cheese and creme brulee.


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