Deciding and Preparing
I am a mountain enthusiast and love hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and anything else outdoors. So when I realized it was the middle of July and I still hadn’t climbed a major peak in the nearby Wasatch Mountains, I felt extremely lame since I live within a 30 minute drive from countless peaks and had no excuse not climbing one yet. I decided it was time for me to get out of the house and into the mountains, so I began narrowing down my choices. By Wednesday July 21, I had narrowed it down to 4 peaks in the following order of enticement.
1. Lone Peak
3. White Baldy
4. Red Baldy
Lone Peak was a obvious number one choice for me, as it is considered a monarch of the Wasatch and commands a demanding presence from my home in Cedar Hills. I had looked at this mountain for my entire life, waking up in its shadow every morning, but I had yet to climb it. The only obstacle between me and it was permission from my parents, which they willingly gave as long as I felt it was safe and I had someone to go with. The first requirement was easy enough. I had read plenty of trip reports and reviews on several routes up the mountain and felt it was within my abilities, but the second parental requirement proved to be a little tougher. I invited my friend DJ, and he willingly accepted, but now we had to convince his parents that it was safe.
On Thursday night I called DJ and asked what his parents had decided. He told me his dad was fine with it, but that his mom was still concerned and leaning towards not letting him go. I jokingly told him that I might come over and do a little presentation to convince his mom, and we both laughed, but after hanging up I thought it wasn’t a bad idea. I know his parents pretty well so felt comfortable making a fun slideshow that had some humor in it, as well as facts, just so his mom didn’t make her decision off assumed information. I made a quick powerpoint presentation, and since we go to Lone Peak High School, I thought I would include a little made-up history about the school in relationship to the mountain. Below is what the opening slide said.
Since the founding days of the roundtable of knights at Lone Peak High School, It has been required of every incoming Junior to climb the mountain the school was named after in order to enroll for his 2nd year. This is what makes Lone Peak students Knights instead of barbaric Caveman or Vikings. The founding fathers of our wonderful school figured if every student was willing to climb the monarch of the Wasatch Mountains they would learn the wonders of hard work and dedication and excel academically. This program has been extremely successful and Lone Peak has become the top school in the state and one of the top schools in the country. High graduation rates and a high percentage of students going to college and excelling in their chosen careers testify to the efficiency of the Lone Peak climbing system.
After this fun and persuasive powerpoint, DJ’s mom gave him permission to come with me, and after preparing our packs and staring at the mountain we would soon be on, we tried to get a little bit of sleep.
The Climb Up
You must understand that I am a kid that hates alarm clocks and prefers sleeping in until 9 or 10. I enjoy the early morning but I hate getting up for it, so when my internal alarm clock woke me up at 4:59, one minute before my alarm was to go off, I was quite surprised. I was off to an alert and energetic start and was ready to conquer the challenge ahead. At 5:30 I picked up my friend and drove to the Orson Smith Trailhead in Draper to begin our ascent. After much consideration I chose the Cherry Canyon Logging Trail Route. Despite the extra elevation and longer mileage on this route I decided the shade, and creek would be worth the it. The hike started out long and tedious, as the trail steeply and slowly switchbacked across the ugly sagebrush slopes on the west of Lone Peak. But slowly the sagebrush turned into a mahogany forest, which then transformed into Pine Forest, and before long, we were in beautiful country I never knew existed.
View after many switchbacks on the desert western slopes of Lone Peak Meadow of Wildflowers just before Outlaw Cabin
View from the Cirque. View of the Summit
We continued going, refilling on water at a stream, and then headed up the South Fork Little Hollow drainage until reaching the west rim of the cirque. A steady pace with lots of stops for pictures put us at the cirque at 11:30, approximately 5 hours of hiking. By this time both DJ and I were totally exhausted. Earlier in the week we had both played several hours of basketball and started out the hike with sore legs, and after 5 hours we were absolutely exhausted. Sore but determined we headed towards the peak after a short break.
The scramble up to the peak was fun, but would have been a lot better on a fresh pair of legs. Unsure of what to expect on the class 3 scramble to the top we told ourselves and our parents that we would be willing to turn back if it seemed to hard. There were a couple of spots with some good exposure, but after careful routefinding, we were able to find a way up we felt was safe. Once we reached the top we crashed. We both laid down, then pulled out our sandwiches and feasted. I called my home and got out the hand-mirror I had brought and flashed it down to my family. They saw the bright light as we turned the mirror up and down, and then got a mirror of their own and signaled back to us. Its quite amazing you are able to see the reflection off a small mirror 6,000 ft below you. After some more rest and a some talking, we headed back down the mountain and once again reached the cirque.
Lost and a Painful Journey Down
Resting on the Summit
On the way up we failed to note landmarks as we regained the ridge after descending down the west side of the cirque (as suggested by Joseph Bullough in his Cherry Canyon Logging Trail Route Page), and this came back to haunt us. On the way down there was a cliff right where we thought we had come down so we started hiking down one side of it, figured it was the wrong way, went down the other side, figured it was the wrong way, and after some serious thought, confusion, and annoyance at the mountain we realized we were somehow supposed to be on top of the cliff. The only problem was that from where we were at, in the cirque, the cliffs looked inpenetrable. We knew we had to be on the top, but we couldn’t figure out how we had climbed down cliffs and not realized it. After puzzling over the problem we decided to climb up some cracks on the cliff. It went to a dip in the top, and it seemed like we would be able to scramble up to reach it. It proved to be a lot tougher of a climb, and after navigating our way through some real tricky and sticky situations, we decided to call it quits and try and find another route. We hiked back around the cliffs, and after seeing a cairn, we realized that we had come down on the northeast side and hadn’t realized it because it looked steeper than it felt. We finally regained the west rim of the cirque at 5:30, decided to call our parents and tell them we would be later then expected, and started descending the long trail back. By this time our bodies felt like shutting down. Sore knees, feet, backs, legs, and exhausted lungs made the journey back long and painful and there were multiple times when we felt like sitting down and going to bed for the night. We made good time going downhill, but the long trail took its toll on our bodies and equipment. About 30 minutes before reaching the bottom my laces on my saloman trailrunners snapped, making it even harder to descend on my aching feet. I have bad feet so I am used to them hurting after a hike, but never before have they hurt like they did on the way down. At 9:00 PM we finally reached our car, tired, exhausted, beat up, and determined never to hike again. Luckily that feeling stopped the next day after looking at the pictures of the beautiful scenery I was able to enjoy.
I can honestly say that Lone Peak did a good job of beating me up. By the end the hike had taken all future desire of climbing out of me. Being lost for 3 hours was the main culprit of my negative attitude, but I was still able to laugh every once in awhile at our situation on the way down. At the top of the summit I jokingly told DJ the views would be worth 15 hours of hiking. Little did I know that I had jinxed myself then and there to do just that, but looking back, it was still worth it.