Friday, June 30, 2017

Gobblers Knob (10,246'), Utah, June 20, 2017

Mileage:  8+ miles (RT) 

Elevation gain:  3,241' 

Trailhead: 6200 South exit off I-215, head east and south on State Highway 190 for 2 miles and turn left onto Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. Drive 8 miles to the Butler Fork trailhead on left (picture of trail map is below).

This mountain has the coolest name.  Apparently the name came from a group of impoverished miners living in the area who raised turkeys to supplement their meager earnings. Sounds plausible.

Hiked with my brother today. I asked him to take me hiking to help get my legs ready for this summer's peak bagging adventures (what better place to train than Utah?!). Gobblers Knob is one of his "go to" hikes.  It's close by and always serving up a good workout and mad views.

Gobblers Knob shares a saddle with Mt. Raymond.  Hiking both Raymond and Gobblers Knob is a popular option  - but definitely off the table for me today.  My legs were tired from the past weeks' hikes. And besides, we had lunch plans. 

This morning was warmer than the last few mornings. The air was dry, and out in the woods the bright green of the new leaves on the trees popped against the blue sky - perfect weather!

We reached a water crossing of sorts. I opted to rock hop while my brother crossed the log.

There's a short cliffy area skirting a steep incline.  It isn't treacherous by any means but we did use care. It was probably a challenge for the mom we saw carrying a two year old and baby in a sling, though!

"Cliffy" area.

It was fun going through the fields of wildflowers and the aspens.

On the way to the saddle we hiked a long wooded stretch which wound around and up to the saddle. Although beautiful, I understood why my brother felt this portion of the trek never-ending.

We went left.

 Yes, the views are spectacular.

Mt. Raymond and the saddle (GK slope on right).

We reached the saddle and stopped to rest before continuing up the herd path to the summit.

The saddle.

The original plan was to hike up Mt. Raymond and we headed that way (left of the saddle). After a few hundred yards up Raymond's rough herd path (steep with a sketchy drop off), my legs voted for the more predictable Gobblers Knob.  Good choice as we found out later that higher up, the Mt. Raymond path was still heavy with snow.  

Two moose taking the short way down!

Those hundred yards up the sketchy-gravelly-steep herd path to Mt. Raymond took a lot out of us and neither was hot on going back to the saddle and then up Gobblers Knob.

But we came to hike, dammit, not whine, so we picked our way down and back to the saddle -  and up the other side we went.

While not a "dragon's back" by any stretch, Gobblers ridge did have a few bumps, one of them considered a false summit.  I was warned as I trekked up the narrow path and through the rocks.  From this last bump you will see the true summit close by.

Heading up to Gobblers Knob.
Incredible viewage.

Snow.  Given the late snowfall, most peaks still had some. We headed over to the snow field that covered the path.  It had a slippery slant but not too steep; quite doable so we punched out a path with our boots and continued on.

Just a bit of snow.

On the summit we took a break and admired the view. The marker is on the far rock, just keep walking past the summit and you will see it on the right.

After twenty minutes we headed down to the saddle, through the woods and to our car.

Mt. Raymond from the summit.

Heading back to the saddle.

I'd earned my beer today so back at the car we put on drier clothes and headed to the Silver Fork Restaurant for lunch. 

View from the Silver Fork Restaurant (L:Raymond; R:Gobblers Knob).

A great day to be in the mountains!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Mt. Aire, Utah, June 18, 2017

Mileage:  3.8ish miles (RT) gate open;  6.5ish miles (RT) gate closed

Elevation gain:  1,991' (add 200' if the gate is closed)

Trailhead The trail begins at Elbow Fork near Salt Lake City (from Mill Creek Canyon Road, use these directions). Part of Mill Creek Canyon Road is closed from November 1 until July 1. During those months hikers park at the Maple Grove Picnic Area parking lot and walk the road up to the trailhead (adding 1+ miles each way).

Mt. Aire boasts beautiful views from its summit at 8,621'. 

Hiked with my brother today.  We parked at Maple Grove Picnic Area and headed up the steep, windy paved road (be mindful of fast moving cyclists - this road also intersects the Pipeline Trail). Temps were in the high forties and we walked fast to keep warm.

Road walk.

We got to the trailhead in no time (located left of a sharp right curve).

The trailhead is well marked.

Don't let this sweet trail fool you - it gets steep fast!

The path hugs the creek for a bit then crosses.  It's a steady climb, great for training.

There are no blazes on the trees but the path is easy to follow.

Lambs Canyon trail junction. We continued on to Mt. Aire.

Soon we were out of the canyon and up a series of gravelly switchbacks.

Checking out the road below...

By the time we reached the summit, it had warmed up quite a bit. So had we!

View from the summit area.

We hung around the summit and took pictures, then headed down in time for lunch, being careful not to slip on the small round rocks (hateful things).  We used the road walk back to cool down and stretch.

A bike event was taking place and by the time we got back to our car, the parking lot was filling up with spectators.  

It was a short hike but we felt it. This is a great half-day hike and the unrelenting climb and steep switchbacks are great for getting legs ready for the big climbs!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah, June 6, 2017

Mileage:  3 miles (RT) 

Elevation gain:  480'

Trailhead:  Trail starts at the Wolfe Ranch parking lot, which fills up quickly. (You can also park at the Arches viewing point a mile from the trailhead.) Enter the park, which is located five miles north of Moab, Utah off of Route 191, and follow the signs. (Click here for a map of the park.)

Hiked with my daughter today.  It was 8:00 a.m. when we arrived at the park gate and were surprised to find no one there to collect the $25 entrance fee.  We drove through, stopping at the visitor center to stamp our parks passport and top off our water. Then we jumped back in the car and drove up the intense switchbacks that lead into the park.

The parking lot at Wolfe Ranch was full but we were able to find a spot across the street.  An RV pulled in behind us and soon after a car squeezed in behind the RV, essentially blocking it in. The RV driver said he would wait for us to return before trying to get out (we too were somewhat blocked in).

Heading up the trail.

By 8:30 the day was heating up and the crowds had arrived. We stepped onto the trail and headed up what felt to us like one big, never-ending rock. For a relatively short hike, the intense sun and unrelenting pitch of the trail makes this more challenging than you would expect.

Some used umbrellas to block the sun.  We wore hats, suncreen, and had plenty of water but still felt the tug of exhaustion as the sun got higher.

The trail is well marked and exclusively on rock.

There is an area midway where you can grab a bit of shade.

The trail veers right onto a wide ledge. Get ready to head right on that ledge, the final approach to the viewpoint.

Definitely worth the trip!

It was VERY busy at the top.  Everyone wanted their photo under the arch.  Most of us were standing on the part of the viewing area that's seriously slanted in toward the center, like a drain. The middle of the drain is open - a serious drop off. Someone lost their water bottle and it rolled toward the center and down the drain - a reminder that we were standing on the slant of a smooth rock with a long way down should we slip!

We hung out admiring the view for quite a while, then made the trek down taking the short path to the petroglyphs.

Back at the trailhead and parking lot the crowding had increased. Our RV neighbor was waiting for us as were several new arrivals waiting to take our spots.

If you plan to hike to Delicate Arch, do so early and plan on parking and crowd stress. Bring plenty of water and wear a hat and sunscreen.

Photo courtesy of