Left Brigham City around 9am and headed east up the highway through Sardine Canyon. In Logan I stopped for the necessary donuts and film before going up Logan Canyon. This tight winding gorge is very rugged and scenic; especially Rick’s Spring, which is a huge upwelling of pure, cold water out of a cave entrance. The river looked like it would be great fishing, but I had neither license nor pole and the craving to fish that afflicted me in my youth appears to have been replaced by the need to walk on ridges instead. But I sure felt like a kid watching it and looking for trout.
Arriving at Tony Grove Lake, I found an attractive body of water, but unfortunately crowds of people and RVs everywhere. To get away from that mess I hustled up the trail towards White Pine Lake. Once on trail I would only see one other person all day until returning to the start. The wildflower gardens north of the trailhead were spectacular. I talked to a man taking pictures of pink elephants heads (Pedicularis groenlandica) on dry soil. This struck me as unusual, but the area had been awash during spring melt off and that must have given these wetland plants a wet window to do their thing before this rock strewn meadow/wash dried out for most of the summer.
Mt. Magog’s southeast face was very spectacular, but I didn’t stop for a picture because I thought I would get one with the lake in front, but found the lake to be on a different aspect of the mountain. That will teach me to hike without a map again. The trail continued up through open Douglas fir before making an 800 foot drop through a heavy forest to the outlet of White Pine Lake. This graceful stream flowed through nice meadows of wildflowers in an open Douglas fir and spruce forest.
My dad used to come to this lake back in the 1950s and told me it was full of fish. When I first saw the lake I was skeptical because it seems shallow and full of vegetation. Not the high crystalline subalpine lake I had become use to growing up in north Idaho. But the north face of Mt. Magog formed awesome walls above the water and the other side of the lake was ringed in the background by a spectacular limestone plateau with harsh cliff margins. Somehow I had to get through them to climb above. Upon leaving the far side of the lake before heading up the scree slopes, I noticed movement in the corner of my eye. Looking closer at the water I saw it was loaded with Brook Trout. Most were small, but they were everywhere.
The limestone cliffs were rugged and something I would never try to climb, however, there appeared to be a few paths one could pick their way through some narrow chutes. Without too much effort I found my way onto the basin above and found it to be a delightful bench land of several hundred acres in size. The surface was nearly flat and formed of broken rock with only scattered trees here and there with an occasional meadow oasis. Near the upper ridge, which forms the main crest of the Bear River Range, there were several depressions without outlets that I suspect may have been indicative of caves in the karsts landscape. Previously I had noted on the map (that was left home) that some caves were in the area, but I did not have time to look for them. Maybe on the next trip I’ll get to this.
It was a short and easy scramble to the main ridgeline and I was there quickly. The views were spectacular and included the Uinta Mountains to the east and to the west a commanding view of Cherry Peak and Cache Valley and even the upper Salt Lake Valley beyond. The ridge was broad and rounded and gave a great ridge walk to the summit of Mt. Naomi, which is the namesake of the wilderness area I was in. From here a trail could be followed back down to Tony Grove, but my plans were to walk the ridge south before dropping down to Tony Grove Lake.
The ridge ahead however appeared to be jagged so I dropped down into a snow filled bowl and climbed up again only to find what had appeared to be cliffs off a point turned out to be a nearly flat rise. So I wasted a lot of time and energy. But I continued on my nice ridge walk and eventually did find myself on difficult rocks. I wondered what I had got myself into as there was no way down except to back track extensively over nasty stuff that I just assumed not do again. This knife edge may have been nothing to many serious climbers, but I’m a hiker/scrambler and this was almost over my head. But eventually after some very slow maneuvering and almost ripping my shoes off, I found myself on broad ridge again.
The top was wide and nearly flat with a huge snow cornice on the left side and the rest covered with incredibly bright flowers. I doubt I have ever seen such a dense spectrum of color before. Soon I realized that I was really getting tired and was ready to look for a way down. If I got down and back to town early enough, I might be able to get to the hot springs before closing time and soothe my sore muscles. There were supposed to be several caves of the west side of the ridge, but despite the open terrain, I could see nothing that looked like an entrance. I was running too low on time to look anyway.
I baled off the east side and passed through a thick forest before finding pavement and RVs signifying my return to Tony Grove Lake and the end of my hike. I hustled back to the car and a fast drive west to Crystal Springs for a good soaking. Other than some sore muscles, a sun burn and bruised feet from inadequate foot wear, I was in pretty good shape. Soaking in the water, I realized that I needed to plan such hikes a little better and prepare rather than just make them up as I go. Remembering the map would also be helpful. But it was a great day hiking that I would remember for many years.
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