Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Conquering Mt. Timpanogos

This is Mt. Timpanogos, the second highest peak in Utah's Wasatch range. It reaches nearly 12,000 feet in elevation. I live at the base of this mountain. Every day I look up at this mountain and say to myself, "One day I am going to hike this mountain again."
Yes, again. I hiked Timp for the first and only time when I was 12 or 13. The experience traumatized me and I have been unwilling to hike the mountain again. My dad is a mountain man. He would spend every waking hour in the mountains if he could, and when we were young our family outings and vacations were always spent hiking and camping. My mom is not such a mountain woman, but for the sake of love and family she followed my dad on his adventures - even to the top of Timp. The hike is 18 miles round trip, and depending on the time of year, you may have to cross several glaciers to reach the top. (What were my parents thinking?)

I don't remember much of that first hike...I've blocked it from my memory I think. However, I do remember reaching the top and being sure that I was going to fall to my death! I have a thing with heights as it is, but to be that high up, on a tiny trail, it was almost more than I could do to not curl up in a tiny ball and cry forever!

Once you reach the 'saddle' of Timp you have another 1/2 hour hike in order to reach the summit. The trail to the summit is hard to describe, and for a bunch of young kids it seemed near impossible to survive. My dad gave us the option of going to the summit or turning back. None of us were too inclined to go back from where we had just come from and we knew that if we made it to the summit, we could slide down a glacier and avoid the trail from you know where. We chose to climb to the summit. Again, what were my parents thinking???

Thanks to a million guardian angels we survived that hike, and until this past weekend, I've never gone back. I made a goal to hike Timp this year, and I've waited and waited until someone could hike it with me. My dad, who will always be my first choice for a hiking partner, injured his back and hasn't been able to do much of any hiking lately. I waited, hoping that his back would heal, but when I heard a weather report say that we would get snow soon in the higher elevations, I knew it was now or never. Two of my sisters were willing to drop what they were were doing and agreed to hike the mountain. We started hiking at 7 am, and after about four hours we began to wonder if we were "ever going to get there."

The view along the way was spectacular, and we quoted one of our favorite movie lines over and over again: "Beautiful, beautiful, wish you were here." We laughed and laughed and blamed our shortness of breath on the altitude, and just kept hiking.

When we finally did reach the saddle we could see that a storm was moving in rather quickly. We made the decision to keep hiking. We were SO close to the summit and didn't want to turn back. We set out on the trail from you know where and what do you know, it was as scary as I remembered it! My sisters were a lot more confident than I was, but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.

We were somewhere between the saddle and the summit when the storm hit with full force. We were covered in clouds, we were being pelted with hail and we could no longer see the trail. Really, it disappeared. Heather climbed up a rock slide to see if the trail happened to connect on the other side, but because of the storm couldn't see a thing. At that moment, we made the decision to turn back. Before we set out on the hike our brother sent a text that said, "Have fun, be safe, and BE SMART." Turning back was us being smart. We were frozen by the time we made it off the face of Timp but we were safe and we knew we had been protected.

About 20 minutes after we got off the face the storm stopped and the clouds cleared. The rest of the hike was uneventful and by the time we made it to the trail head I could feel my fingers. The entire hike took a little over 7 hours, and it was the best 7 hours I've spent in a long time. Thanks hermanas, for being willing to help me accomplish a goal! Next year we'll do the hike again, and this time we WILL make it to the summit. Unless of course there's a storm.


Aaron and JaLae said...

You've inspired me. Next year...(if you invite me)...I'll go with you. Guess I better hit the treadmill...

Brynn said...

What were your parents thinking! My kids complain about going on a 45 min walk. I can't imagine taking them on a 7 hour hike.
Looks pretty amazing. I'm glad you are safe.

David G. Woolley said...

Wow. Look at you. Hiking all over the face of Timp. And the photos are great. Did I ever tell you we hiked Timp at night? Got lost. Spent the night sleeping on a glacier right below the summit where the hut is, looking over the glacier to the east. What a bummer. I could hear voices all night, I just couldn't tell where they were coming from.

Carrie said...

I'm glad you made it up and back safely. I was thinking about you all day. I might have to join you next year. :)

David G. Woolley said...

And one more thing, Hermana, neither hail, nor rain, nor dark of night can keep me from hiking timp. Hunker down behind a pine tree. Get out a Gautemalan candy bar. And wait for the sun. It always comes back out.

Tiff said...

I know this is rather late...but I am glad that I went with you. I agree that it was the best 7 hours we have had in a long time. Thanks for asking me to drop 'everything' to go with you!


Noelle said...

Dear Dave,

Nothing kept us from hiking Timp, the saddle is pretty much the top. What kept us from reaching the silver little shack was not a minor storm. It was a lightning bolt kind of storm that says, "one wrong move and your dead."

My sister's three little girls were incentive enough to leave the silver shack for another day.

And I don't know if you've noticed but there is not one pine tree to be found, there at 12,000 feet.

With that said, perhaps a Guatemalan candy bar WOULD have made all the difference.

David G. Woolley said...

I would have reached the top without the protection of a candy bar. Or a Guatemalan ROOSTER drink. Remember that one? Gallo. Gallo. Gallo.