I had planned to do a three-day backpack to King's Peak, but I woke up the day I was leaving to a nasty weather report for the Uintas. I would have to scratch the trip. I decided to still head north to visit friends, and take advantage of the one nice day of weather to hike another peak. There are no shortage of peaks to hike up in northern Utah, but with dogs not allowed in Big or Little Cottonwood Canyons, and most areas in the Wasatch likely bustling with Labor Day weekend crowds, I settled on hiking Deseret Peak in the Stansbury Mountains west of Salt Lake City.
My friend Taylor joined me and my pup, and we made it to the trailhead with little difficulty (except you turn on West Street in Grantsville, not S. Cooley Street). After securing a parking spot in an oddly busy lot (blame it on Labor Day), we headed up the well-maintained trail, but were lost in less than a mile. The trail was heading upstream, and as we crossed a creek, we lost the trail. We wandered around trying to find it, but it was nowhere in sight. The people behind us couldn't find it either. After a while, the people behind us went back, and we kept going, deciding to bushwhack it up a hill, and maybe join another trail. So we bushwhacked for a long time, and scraped up our legs, and when we finally saw a trail, it was back where we had come from. We went back down the steep hillside to the creek, and up the other side, and finally saw some people. They informed us they were heading to the lake and the trail to the peak was quite a ways back. But we were just happy to be back on the trail, whatever trail it may be. We had wasted an hour of energy and water and it felt nice to be back on track. We soon found ourselves back at the creek where we had first gotten lost, and smacked our heads with a bonehead realization. While we had been looking upstream for the trail as we crossed, it was actually just a few feet downstream. It was completely obvious where the trail went, but we had somehow missed it. We were finally en route though, and knew we would actually get to the peak.
After a few more miles, we reach the switchbacks up to the saddle. And after making it up those, I find that I am out of water. Doh! While I rarely use more than half my Camelbak, me and the pup somehow chugged ours down. The hike from the saddle to the summit was much cooler at such a high altitude and water wasn't as dire. I was doing fine. We made it to the peak around 4 p.m. and hung out on top talking to a few others up there (who made us feel less stupid by telling us they made the same mistake we made at the creek on a previous attempt at the peak). After maybe half an hour, we started our descent. By the bottom of the switchbacks, I was wanting water badly, and Taylor shared her last few sips with me. We had about three miles to go, but it was downhill, and the sun was losing power.
When we finally got back to the car, we were pretty desperate for water. Our lips were chapped and I was getting a headache. While we wanted to make a mad-dash for a gas station, we got stuck behind some jerk from Washington who drove 10 miles an hour and would not pull over for us. Half an hour later, we chugged water in the parking lot of the Chevron in Grantsville, and even the dog downed two cups straight. Upon reaching the interstate, I made another bonehead move (which I'm still deciding if I blame on dehydration or sheer stupidity) and switched lanes at the last second and took the wrong fork, thereby sending us the opposite direction of home and thirty miles out of the way to turn around. No way Jose. I did a U-turn in one of the unmarked cop turnarounds. But hey, if it wasn't marked as "authorized vehicles only," at least I could play dumb if I got pulled over. We got back home around 8:30 and I was pretty exhausted. With our bushwhacking detour, we ended up doing around ten miles and 4,000 feet of elevation gain. Detour and all, it was well worth it.