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Month: July 2015

Timpooneke to Orem, 20 Miles of Wading Through Grass and Flowers

Timpooneke to Orem, 20 Miles of Wading Through Grass and Flowers

This morning I embarked on an “easy” route. Starting at the Timpooneke Campground (after being driven up there by Chris, THANKS!) I took the Great Western all the way around the West side of the Mt. Timpanogos ridge-line, back and behind Big and Little Baldy and down to Orem. It was fantastic.

First, you climb a fairly rocky trail for a mile, placing you at the affectionately named “Julie Andrews Meadow.”

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The hills WERE alive, but mostly with the sound of me wheezing. Stupid cold/allergies.

 Then, the trail parallels the Timpooneke Rd., crossing it various times, diving down and climbing up hills and ridges full of aspen and conifers. Just gorgeous.

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First glimpse of the valley after coming around the north end of the Timp ridge, before dropping down towards Grove Creek
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Along the drop to Grove Creek.

Besides some GI distress, these were great miles. At this point, the GW also doubles as the Timpooneke-Chris Flats Trail Nr. 151. It eventually took me all the way to Grove Creek Springs – where I refilled my water – and then to Chris Flats.

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Grove Creek Springs. Yum.
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Chris Flats. As beautiful as ever.

On my way down to the Battle Creek Trail junction, 2 ladies with 2 boxers came around the corner and the unleashed dogs got very aggressive. It was scary and I had some choice words for them. Sheesh. If your dogs are trained to stay back, keep them on a leash.

From there, the GW climbs up to the Big Baldy Saddle, back behind Little Baldy, and then down to the rock-pile Altar I have frequented a few times recently. Instead of taking my normal descent route, I kept on the GW, which popped me out on the Aqueduct Rd. about 1 mile east of where I normally come out. By this point it was hot and I was beat. It was a long few miles to my car, which was parked at the Orem Gun Range.

When I got to my car, I had hit 18.7 miles. I decided to add the extra mile and a half for an even 20. It may have not been worth it. It was not a fun 1.5 miles.

Overall, it was a fantastic route. The only real problem was that for much of it the tall grass and wildflowers and other vegetation was so tall and thick that it was leaning over and covering the trail. This made it hard to see your footing and led to a few stumbles.

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Overgrown with wildflowers, during the drop to Grove Creek.
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Overgrown with grass. Itchy.

Perhaps it would be best undertaken in the Spring, before it all grows too high.

My New Treadmill: The Dry Canyon / Altar Loop

My New Treadmill: The Dry Canyon / Altar Loop

Twice now, I have run a 7 mile loop from the Orem Gun Range > Dry Canyon > The Altar/Rockpile > Orem Gun Range.

I think it will be my regular treadmill run. It has it all. Runnable flat-ish rolling trails, a good steep climb, and some fun technical descents. The mile drop from the altar down to the fire break road is such a fun single-track. The grass is about chest high or higher so your immediate peripheral vision is just a blur as you fly down the trail – it feels like a video game.

Plus, its pretty gorgeous. I would only change the amount of loose rock on the back side when dropping down to the Altar. I may modify it, park at Dry Canyon and do the loop from there. That would leave more of the nice rolling BST for the end.

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Above Orem after climbing Dry Canyon and traversing south up the west-facing hillside.
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Much of the vegetation along the BST is blown out and yellow, but climb 1,000 feet and everything is bursting with color.
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The Altar
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Lone Tree on the firebreak road.

Mt. Timpanogos – First Summit

Mt. Timpanogos – First Summit

Mt. Timpanogos is one of the more famous hikes/summits here in the Wasatch, especially in Utah County. Somehow, I never did it back in the early-2000s when an undergrad. This morning I resolved to correct this grievous oversight with an early morning summit before work.

I hit the Timpooneke trail at about 5:45 solo. Some trails a “ok,” but worth it because they get you to a beautiful destination. This trail was gorgeous every step of the way. I jogged and power-hiked up, slowed only by the need to snap pictures, and groan from some early-AM stomach issues.

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Looking back down the valley while climbing at the morning light streaming in.
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Looking up from the cirque.

s I made the climb up to the saddle I saw 3 people waiting at the ridge. As I approached, they waved and called my name. It was Mel, Lori, and Zac on their double-summit attempt (up Aspen Grove to the Summit, down to the Timpooneke trailhead and then turning around to do it all in reverse. They almost did it, but had to bail on the 2nd summit as a t-storm and lightning rolled in as they approach the saddle later in the day to scramble up for the 2nd summit. Bummer). In any case it was awesome to see some friendly and familiar faces. We summited together, took some pictures, complained about how windy and cold it was up top, and then scrambled back down to the saddle.

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Hiding from the wind – Lori, Me, Zac, and Mel. PC Zac.
Standing on the Summit marker. PC Zac.
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Looking down the north ridge-line and saddle from near the summit.

I saw another friend, Phil, on his way up for the upteenth time this week (this time with his kids in tow). A couple other Wasatch Mountain Wranglers also passed as we headed down and they headed up. I moved ahead of the trio as they too pictures and chatted – figuring they would catch up. They didn’t. But, WMW Jack did and we ran the last 2-3 miles together chatting.

Including some messing around up top, it took me about 4:20. Not bad. I hope to shave some time off next time I tackle it.

It was a gorgeous day. Just perfect. I’m already plotting to attach it again next week.

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Heading down. Wild-flowers all over.
Sq*** Peak via Rock Canyon

Sq*** Peak via Rock Canyon

With the family out of town until late tonight, I swapped some morning hours for running and shifted work hours to late evening. With sore feet (strained muscles or bruised on the bottom of my right foot and extensor tendonitis on the top of my left foot) I haven’t been putting in miles. It has been killing me. I put on my old Altra Olympuses and laced them different to minimize pressure on the top of my left foot and decided to explore up Rock Canyon in Provo.¬† 7.5 miles and about 2,800 ft. elevation gain in the first 3.8 miles up!

I hiked here some as a college student, but that was almost 15 years ago. I forgot how dramatic the canyon walls are. Just gorgeous. I also forgot that the first 2 miles of “trail” are pavement and then loose scree gravel. Boo.

Once I took the Sq*** Peak trail turnoff the trail improved, but got steeper. Thankfully I was in the trees and shade.

     After cresting the ridge. Man, I love when you get up into the Aspens.

After cresting the ridge. Man, I love when you get up into the Aspens.

When the trail crested and started climbing the ridge to the peak, I was exposed to the sun but the temp was lower up at elevation and there was a breeze. Hallelujah. I climbed slow and stopped to chat with a few different runners for a while. I bombed down quite a bit faster.

The feet feel pretty good.

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Mistimed picture. It was supposed to me over at the flag, but got me running back to the camera.
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Panorama looking East and South down into Rock Canyon