Forming the Game Plan
One of the goals I've recently made is to hike to the top of all the main peaks in the south Wasatch, specifically the peaks between Mt. Timpanogos and Mt. Nebo. I was looking forward to hiking Provo Peak since it was the highest point at 11,068 feet between Timp and Nebo. I didn't even know anything about Provo Peak just a couple of months ago. Most people haven't. It seems like Timp and Nebo draw so much attention that Provo Peak gets forgotten.
One day at work, I was talking with some co-workers telling them about some of the hikes I'd been, showing some pictures, and sharing how Provo Peak was one on my list of ones to hike in the near future. One of my co-workers said that he wanted to go and do Provo Peak when I went. I was a bit hesitant, not because I didn't like him, we get along great, it's just that he's a bit out of shape and the only hike that he'd been on was up to Battle Creek Falls, which is only 1.2 miles roundtrip with a total elevation gain of a little over 500 feet with a total elevation of 5666. I'd done leisurely hikes before with him, and couldn't help but notice that even the slightest incline left him winded, and knowing that Provo Peak was about a 2800 foot elevation gain with no flat parts that he could be in a world of hurt on the hike.
I reluctantly agreed, not because I didn't like him, but that I was afraid for his health, even though he is nine years younger than I am. As the day approached to the date for hiking Provo Peak, I was secretly hoping that something would come up, so he couldn't make it. I set out the game plan. Meet at the Squaw Peak turnoff from Provo Canyon at 5am and reach the trailhead at 630am. We made good time down the Squaw Peak Road/Trail to the parking area for Provo Peak. We reached the TH at 6:15pm and made our way up the ATV trail which heads northeast.
False Summit after False Summit
Chase and I made pretty good time on the ATV trail even though we found ourselves stopping every two minutes or so. After about 15 minutes on the trail, we came to the cairn and an arrow of rocks on the ground pointing to the trail that would lead up to the top. I hiked with Chase for the first 15 or 20 minutes up trail through the scrub brush and wildflowers. We then figured that it would probably be best for him to go at his own pace as to not feel pushed. I began to ascend and it only took a few minutes to separate. They nice thing about Provo Peak is that the trail is easy to follow, and there's only one way to go... UP! While the first part of the incline was in the small bushes and trees, it quickly turned to scree, which made the going a little slower. At about 9800 ft, I was out of the largest parts out of the scree. My GPS did a great job at letting me know that what looked like the top really wasn't, so I wouldn't get my hopes up. There looked to be about 4 to 5 false summits on the way to the top.
I made it to the top of Provo Peak right at 8:15am a mere two hours from the trailhead. The views were great in all directions as I was able to enjoy the morning sun on my face after hiking in the shadow of Provo Peak all morning. I took some pictures and began to look for the registry that I read was located in the summit cairn. I was disappointed to find that someone had taken it down with them, so I began a makeshift one which I will replace with a permanent one when I hike back up there in the next month. The temporary registry is in a baggy and consists of a gum pack and a FedEx pen found in the registry.
Now by the time I finished taking pictures and started the registry, I just took in the great views, and saw that it was about 8:45am and I still couldn't see Chase. It was nearly 9am when I started to worry. I left all my equipment on the summit while I quickly made my way down the peak to see where Chase was and if he was OK. I made the mistake of leaving the two-way radios in the car, which would have solved all our problems.
View of the trail looking down about 600 feet from the summit. Chase making his way up to the summit of his first 11,000 ft peak!
After descending about 600 feet, I finally saw a little white shirt another 500 feet down from me, slowly taking a breather after every five steps. Poor guy. He was a trooper though. I encouraged him as he made his way to me, and then together we made it the last 600 feet to the summit. While Chase said he not only failed to remember that he was afraid of heights and that he felt like throwing up upon reaching the summit, he was fine!
Chase reaching the summit!
We relaxed on the summit for another 45 minutes, took pictures of Chase as the conquering hero, then made our way down. It was a great hike, very easy, very fast since it just goes straight up, and very scenic!
View west from summit. At the summit.
My patented GPS summit shot.