Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mount Timpanogas

For the past 7 years, I have looked out my window and seen the magnificent Mount Timpanogas. It towers over Provo, demanding your gaze again and again. It's the impressive wall that dominates the landscape on the northeast side of Utah Valley. At 11,749 feet, it's the second highest mountain in the Wasatch Mountain range and perhaps the most recognizable in Utah. It has everything a hiker could ever wish for, including a lake, glacier, waterfalls, alpine meadows, wildflowers and wildlife. Seeing it every day, I knew eventually I had to climb to the top in order to feel like I had truly experienced the Utah landscape.  

One Sunday morning in July, I woke up and had the thought that I wanted to hike Mount Timp. I laid in bed for a few minutes, considered this thought, and decided to go for it. There's no time like the present, right? I looked around the kitchen for hiking food, grabbed my backpack and took off. 

There are two trails used to reach the summit. I chose the Timpooneke Trail in American Fork Canyon, which extends 7.5 miles one way with an elevation gain of 4,508 feet. At 11 am I started my hike! 
 The first hour of the hike heads up a glacier valley known as the Giant Staircase.
 Whitney gave me a selfie stick earlier in the summer. I realize she was making fun of my selfie game by giving it to me, but it has been perfect for my summer hiking adventures. Instead of always having pictures of just landscape, I can actually get in a few. 
 Scout Falls. This is a neat little waterfall just over an hour into the hike. I was pretty hot by this time, so I walked and stood under the falls for a bit.
 The water was freezing! But it was really refreshing. 

Timpanogas was named by the indigenous people to the area. Roughly translated, it means "water on rock." Between Scout Falls and the cascades of tumbling water you encounter throughout the first few hours of the hike, it's easy to understand the description. 

From Scout Falls, there are several switchbacks. Above these, you enter Middle Basin which is littered with avalanche debris. The trail makes big loops and switchbacks here as you gain elevation. Once you finish those, you enter Timpanogas Basin, which provides your first views of the summit. 
 The basin was covered with wildflowers. I felt like Maria in The Sound of Music.
My first view of the summit, so beautiful! By this time, I was feeling pretty good. I had really enjoyed the hike and had yet to feel the effects of the altitude change. I stopped here among the Flower Garden and fueled up for the ascent.
I took this picture about 40 minutes before I reached the saddle. It was here that I started to feel the altitude; my breathing got heavier, my back bent further over, my nose dripped constantly and I was extremely thirsty. Since I was at a glacier, I decided to eat some of the snow. It wasn't yellow so I figured it was fine. 

After passing through meadows filled with wildflowers, the trail climbs to what is known as Timp Saddle. This gives sweeping views of Utah Valley and of the summit ahead, which is a small point in the long ridge about midway on the mountain.
Beautiful view of Utah Valley.
I took this picture at the Saddle looking back on the path. It was hard to believe that I had just come from below there. It was quite the ascent! 
 I made it!
 I sat here for about half hour just enjoying the view. It was so satisfying knowing that I had finally made it to the top of this mountain I had seen every day for 7 years.

The toughest part of this hike is definitely the 20 minutes leading up to the Saddle and up to the Summit and then hiking from the Summit down to the Saddle. It's steep, rocky and slow-going. By the time I made it back to the Flower Garden, I was feeling pretty proud of myself. 
I snapped this picture and couldn't believe that I had just been at the top. 

On the way down, I saw over 40 Rocky Mountain Sheep. I stopped and watched them for a while. There were several babies in the group, which were fun to watch walk. 
I just had my iphone with me, so this picture isn't the best quality, but you can see a few white spots up there. They were very noisy! 

From this point on, I decided to run the rest of the way down. I don't know what possessed me to do that, but it was fun. I still stopped to enjoy the scenery, as I encountered deer, chipmunks and more sheep. I heard that moose were popular on the American Fork side of Timp so I was really hoping to run across one, but no such luck.
I reached the bottom of Timp about 8 hours after I had started. I was tired, dirty and so happy. I really did enjoy hiking the mountain. Sure, it was difficult, but it was so rewarding. It reminded me that no matter how high, long or difficult a trial may be, with persistence, faith and determination, you can conquer even the most difficult hardships. In the moment, it may not seem like you are progressing, but when you reach the top, you gain perspective as you're able to overlook the valley below and witness how far you've come.

I've only been at the top of Mount Timpanogas once, but every time I've looked up at it since, it tempts me to climb to the top again. The beauty, the wildlife, the view, it calls to me. The mountain beckons me to return for another journey. Mount Timp has that magical quality that makes you say to yourself, "I want to stand on top of that." 

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