Thursday, July 5, 2018

First Hike of Summer 2018

Beginning the Hike
My hike started in the mouth of a canyon where the Rocky Mountains meet Basin and Range. The altitude of the trailhead is around 4700 feet above sea level. It was early afternoon, and the day was warm with mild breezes, and only a few small scattered clouds. Good hikes can be had in a many kinds of weather, but this was particularly good weather for a hike.

A Little Ways up the Trail
This is one of my favorite trails. It's the first mountain canyon I ever hiked in back in 1982 when I first visited this area. The canyon continues to provide good hiking experiences in all seasons. For more pictures of this canyon, you can visit this post from two years ago.

The lower end of the canyon is more desert-like than other parts of the trail. Every once in a while a small lizard or skink would dart across the trail ahead of me.

Looking Back
The character of the canyon changes as the trail gains altitude. Drier below, it becomes greener higher up. There's a noticeable temperature difference between the lower and upper parts of the trail.

Dense Greenery
Around halfway up the canyon rocky mountain maple and box elder trees crowd the trail. The close foliage can give the impression of being in a forest, but the deciduous thickets only line the narrow bottom of the canyon. Occasional views up through the canopy reveal mostly juniper, cliff rose, and towering evergreen trees standing singly or in scattered stands. Huge cliffs and outcrops dominate the canyon sides.

Looking South Toward Corral Mountain
I reach the top of the canyon trail and take the left fork, heading north. The trail winds through stands of maple trees, then aspen groves. The trail also passes through meadows, providing great views of the surrounding mountains. Summer breezes cause the aspen leaves to whisper and shimmer in the sunlight.

Provo Peak
This section of trail rises a thousand feet, from about 7200 feet to 8200 feet above sea level. I see a few deer scattered throughout this area, their red coats standing out against the forest greenery.

Yet Another Rubber Boa
Just below the 8200' pass I come across what looks like a huge earthworm on the dirt trail. It's a kind of snake called a rubber boa. I've yet to find anyone who knows what I'm talking about when I mention to them about rubber boas. Even avid outdoor hikers I know have never seen nor heard of them, yet I come across rubber boas almost regularly on my summer hikes, and in several of the local canyons. I've posted about them before on this blog. On this hike I gently pick up the rubber boa and move it off the trail lest some unobservant hiker come along and carelessly tread on the snake.

Cascade Mountain
At the pass I turn right onto another trail, heading east. Parts of the trail run through open country, providing great views of towering mountains. If majestic is a term that applies to mountains, how can it ever be applied to mortal kings and queens? I don't care how lavish their palaces, how fancy their carriages, or how dazzling their crowns, mere royalty doesn't measure up to the majesty of these mountains! Silly though it might seem, the grand scenery surrounding the trail occasionally caused me to whisper in awe, simply, "Oh, wow!"

This segment of trail travels around the north side of a mountain and passes through large stands of tall evergreen trees. The trees provide cool shade to the forest floor. The understory is only about knee high or so, with abundant white columbine flowers scattered throughout. Red squirrels and woodpeckers are common in these woods.

Provo Peak
The trail crosses a stony ridge at about 8700 feet, and here I stop to eat and rest before heading back. Directly east of this overlook is a mountain which towers to over 11,000 feet in altitude. A gibbous moon rises above the ridge line. The air where I rest is mild, almost cool, and the sunlight feels pleasantly warm on my back.

A Snack Before the Hike Back
Next time I'll bring more food. The packaging on the fig bars I ate tout two servings per package, yet I was still hungry after eating all I had brought. The water bottle was filled with cold water from a spring a mile or so back down the trail, and was so refreshing. After a while it was time to return. A desire to stay tugged at me as I headed back. As I descended the trail, the air grew warmer even as the evening sky became darker. It was almost ten o'clock by the time I reached the trailhead.

Here's another post with pictures from this and another nearby canyon.

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