Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

September 27, 2014

Lone Peak Hike n'Summit

Lone Peak is an imposing summit towering over my house in Utah.   I've flown over it, and hiked all the way around it, but never stood atop the rocky summit.   It's been calling me all summer, and finally I found a day to hike up.  Well, actually it was my second attempt...the first time got a late start and attempted a trail which obviously in retrospect didn't actually reach the peak at all!   That time I had a nice day hike and came back down to do more research.  Topo maps aren't very updated...mine is missing the entire town of Sun Crest at the Point of the Mountain!

So for the big day I got a very early start on what would be a hot day in the valley.  At 5 am it was still dark but I was already dressed in a sleeveless shirt and feeling warm enough.   From the house is was an extra 3 miles to the main trailhead, but I prefer do my outing without vehicles if possible.

At 6 am on the trail head it was still quite dark, and I am relying just on the flashlight from my phone...I didn't think I would arrive at the trail so quickly.  Or perhaps I just haven't adjusted my planning to the shorter days yet. Then I see the sign that cougar are active in the area and solo hiking at dusk and dawn is highly discouraged.  Whoops.  I start to get a little worried as it's still pitch black except for the lights of the city, and I'm now in single track through scrub oak.  Then I get the bright idea to follow the signs'  suggestion and make some noise...I'm not big on shouting so instead I find some tunes in my phone and pump them out.  I figure cougars wouldn't want to eat Billy Joel, right?

I guess they didn't because the only wildlife I saw was a huge owl that landed right by me in a tree...I guess it wanted to eat the white rabbit I had just scared up from the trail.    Billy Joel and I carried on until it was plenty light and even beyond that (better safe than sorry).

 The Cherry Canyon trail starts from the valley bottom in Draper, climbing from about 5000 feet all the way up to the summit of Lone Peak at 11,253 feet.    So better than a vertical mile of elevation gain and my house is lower than the trailhead, too.  The trail is only about 6 miles, but it climbs steeply for most of the way...how could it not?

Not to say it's not scenic...the Cherry Canyon trail is definitely the better of the two main trails to the summit in terms of scenery, it's varied all the way, from grassland, scrub oak, and pine forest, to boulder hopping and desert scrub brush.

The sun didn't shine on me until almost 1030 that morning, which kept me cool enough to keep hiking steadily up to the Outlaw Cabin, which is maybe halfway up the trail...I'm not exactly sure.   The main trail continues behind the cabin but there is a small spring nearby to fill up on water, too...topping up here allowed me to make it all the way back to the house again without running out of liquids.

Climbing again quickly brought me out of the woods and through some boulder fields dotted with pine trees.   The trail is now marked with occasional cairns, and from each cairn the next one is in sight...but sometimes it took a little patience to spot them.

I'm moving slower by this altitude, too...picking through the rocks at 9,000 feet is definitely slower than the trail had been so far.   By now the sun is full on, there is no breeze, and I know it's going to be a hot one.

Lone Peak in the distance still looks far away
The peak finally comes into view as I meander aimlessly (it seems) through the boulders.  The hiking trail has to get to the top by accessing the northwest ridge...all other ways up from this side require actual climbing and ropes.

The final section of the trail isn't a trail at all, just boulders piled on each other all the way to the summit.   It's a bit exposed to say the least...nothing I haven't done but it's a long way down if you trip.  Lone Peak itself has 600 feet of vertical most of the way around it....I sat in the middle of the tiny summit rock and ate a slice of pizza while trying not to look down.

I had passed two guys on the final push to the summit, and when they caught up to me at the top, we chatted for a while and exchange photo ops (hence the reason you don't have to endure a selfie of me this time).

It was absolutely beautiful on the peak...warm but not hot, a nice breeze but not windy, and brilliant sunshine as you can see.   As it was noon already I knew it would be a scorcher in the valley, so I didn't linger too long.

I decended via the Jacob's Ladder trail, just to try something different and make it a circle hike.  After   returning on the same path through the scree and boulders,  the trail diverges just before the cabin (more or less), heading across Enniss Peak and down the south face of the mountain.   It's not a pleasant trail, I must say.  Very steep, loose gravel and rock, and fully exposed to the southern heat, I hiked or ran as fast as I could just to get down faster.  The best thing you can say is that the trail is shorter from the trailhead, allowing normal people to attempt the summit in a day...plus the trailhead is almost 1000 feet higher than Cherry Creek.  

My day didn't end at the trailhead, though...I had another 5 miles to go down the gravel road and the streets back to my house.  The valley temps were in the 90's by then and my spring water came in useful to soak my hat and keep me going the last couple of hot miles.  It was amazing to look back and see where I had come from in that short time!

Final time, it took me 3 hours from the summit to reach the house again...pretty fast but I was racing dehydration and the heat.   I spent 6 1/2 hours going up and 1/2 hour on the summit for a 10 hour day.  I figure it was about 17 miles or so, no real way to tell.    Definitely a beautiful summit and it would be nice to spend more time up there...perhaps on a cooler day?

Summit view to the west...Point of the Mountain is looking pretty small

View from the summit north
The US Geological Survey mark on top of the peak
The peak...and the trail to get there...hah.