Add Heading Here
I've been on this peak so many times before. It is my favorite short hike here in the Wasatch Mountains. I make sure I get it in every year. This year hiking Devil's Castle was a little different. Maybe it was the complete solitude I felt on the peak that evening or the wind blowing through my hair. Whatever it was, took over my entire body.
Rushing out from work up in Park City, I made my way down into the valley and up Little Cottonwood Canyon as fast as I could. With this hike, I need all the sun I can get. It is a very dangerous hike with awesome but deadly terrain. Dangerous because one side is sheer cliff and the other side, well...not quite sheer cliff but falls can be fatal or warrant serious injury. You just have to be careful in hiking this peak.
With my heart pounding and my lungs gasping for air, as they always do going up such steep terrain, I made my way up the steep mountainside above Cecret Lake. I have much congestion in my lung and bronchial area, so not-quite-but-close-to gasping for air literally does apply with my breathing going up this hill. I felt good energy and much determination to keep forging and not break unless I really had to. I can't remember the time it took me, but I was somewhere around an hour in reaching the ridge from the trailhead. Reaching the alpine ridge is such an exhilarating thrill for me every time. This is my favorite ridge, filled with an abundance of granite, unique wildflowers and plenty of free-handed rock climbing and scrambling terrain! The wind always makes itself known when I reach the ridge by blasting me in the face.
I was two-thirds of the way there but felt like pushing on instead of stopping to suck in the scenery. The harder but MUCH FUNNER part is yet to come! Without losing a momentum in my step, I make my way up the rocky terrain, being cautious to stay right along the ridge. I used to follow the trail, which winds its way along a somewhat safer part of the mountainside, but if you're careful enough, the ridge is just as safe and provides, in my opinion, the best scenery of all. Plus, more importantly, it helps me orient myself with heights and helps me out with my fear of heights. The closer you get to the Castle, the exposure becomes more imminent. There is an area that I like to free climb. The holds are plentiful, big and good, but I will admit, if I make one wrong move or slip, I would probably be a gonner. I actually take pride in being able to climb this small, maybe, 10 feet section of rock successfully and safely, with the extreme amount of exposure below me. I can't believe it, but even my hands sweat just in typing this up. With the wind still blowing through my hair, I make my way cautiously through the rocks and closer to the summit. I find myself always clutching on to a piece of rock, making sure I maintain good balance. Then the next trickiest part of all is laybacking moves as I make my way to the peak. I am very nervous at this point, so of course, I do it with great caution. BINGO!! I've made it....ONCE AGAIN!! I quickly sign the climbers log and enjoy the view as the sun starts to set. I take in my panoramic shots and look for my buddies, the mountain goats, and for the first time ever on this hike, I don't see ANY! I'm shocked because I always do.
The view is nothing but spectacular. Words can't even describe the beauty. I mean..I'm sitting here, staring at my computer, trying to think of the right words and nothing's coming. I stare down below at the great expanse and try not to get dizzy. Ironically enough, I start scaring myself with a little vertigo...I'm going skydiving the next day, and it all seems to....scare me for the moment! lol I'm only able to take in the view for a few moments before I know that I have to head back. I know it takes me longer in downclimbing than going up and since I was soloing this, I like to do all challenging parts with as much sun as possible, which was quickly setting.
I dont know how it happened, but heading back suddenly became the better part of the hike, which is ironic for me to say, because I NEVER like heading down from the mountains. Once I get over the very sketchy parts, my body completely relaxed and I made my way down at a calm pace. The best word I can find that describes the remainder of the hike is perhaps serene. Except for the light wind, everything else was calm; the kind of calm you can't get anywhere else but in the mountains, and the kind of calm that..can completely take over your body...in some magical way. Maybe it was the fact that I'd once again successfully completed this hike, or that there was complete silence around me as I made my way back to the lake, or just the sounds of nature. Whatever it was, I didn't want to stop taking it in. I stopped at the lake and sat down on a boulder. There were plenty of people around but almost no sound, which makes it, "oh, that much better!". It was AMAZING! I sat at the lake for a bit, not wanting to ever leave this place, and contemplated. Without using my headlamp, I made my way back to the car.
The next day as my friend and I were driving back from skydiving, he looked over at the mountains and started asking me questions. He was very intrigued in climbing them and asked me about my hike. I told him how nice it was and I remember him asking, "what made it so nice?" I just looked ahead at the road in front of us and thought to myself, "words can't even describe it. How am I supposed to describe it to him?" If I remember right, I said, "just everything about it. You just have to experience it for yourself. I wanna take you on that hike." He agreed to go with me.