Monday, September 28, 2009

An Adventure in the Stansbury Mountains

From 2009-09-26 001

On Saturday I had planned to hike Deseret Peak (11,035 ft) in the Stansbury Mountain Range. I headed out with Sherrie, Jonathan and Britney to conquer the mountain. We made it part way up South Willow Canyon when we encountered the gate across the road. Apparently, the fire on the west side of the mountain range a few weeks ago resulted in some damage to the road and it will not be re-opened until next year. The option to hike up to the trail head through the scout camp next to the gated road was offered. I figured that would add about 3 miles one way to the hike (all uphill) so we nixed the plans to the hike the peak. Not wanting to waste a beautiful day we turned off at the gate to go to the Medina Flats trail head. We started down this trail, which I quickly decided would go on my list of trails to NOT hike again. Not too far down the trail we crossed what I believe is Miner's Fork road (more like an ATV trail than a road). It ran up a narrow canyon with a dry creek bed at the bottom. I believed this would lead to Willow Lake so we turned west and proceeded up the "road". This was a pretty hike mostly through pine and aspen forest. It was, however, a fairly constant, steep grade trail. We eventually made it to the end of the "road" where the trailhead for Willow Lake was. At this point, everybody (except Jonathan) was too tired to proceed further. So we never made it to the lake. I was thinking that I might try it again, but the weather this morning indicates snow later in the week which means hiking in the Stansbury Mountains (for me) is done for the season. Hopefully, the road will be repaired and Deseret Peak will be available for hiking next year.

After making out way back down the trail (which due to the grade was almost more difficult than hiking up), we got in the car and headed out of the canyon. However, during our hike, a fire had started further down the canyon. We found out that we wouldn't be able to leave the canyon until they had the fire under control. We parked along the side of the road with all the other vehicles (mostly trucks pulling horse trailers) to wait out the fire. At one point it looked like we would be waiting 4 or more hours. I walked down a couple of times to see what progress was being made. I saw a helicopter bringing in water and I heard a large cottonwood tree go down. About an hour into our wait, the sheriff came up and told us we could drive down carefully past the fire trucks (our car was the only small car waiting and the only one that would fit past the fire trucks). I was glad to get out of the canyon. It is such a narrow canyon and full of fuel (scrub, grass and dead trees) that I was a little nervous sitting there with a fire burning. If the wind had picket up, it could have quickly ballooned into a large fire engulfing the entire canyon and there is not other way to get out. Thanks to an excellent fire fighting crew from Tooele and Grantsville and good weather we made it out safe (and smelling like campfire).

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