Seeking Desolation

Posted by on September 23, 2016 at 11:50 pm :: No Comments

I am a big fan of Utah’s mountains. So when I realized a few months ago that it had been a couple years since I’d hiked to the top of one, I resolved not to let summer pass without doing just that. I invited my family to come along with Jason and me on my “hike-a-mountain day” and a group of them opted in. Together, we reached the crest of Desolation Peak. It was beautiful family-bonding time. Geeze, I am just full of monumental ideas.

We started out early but still didn't make it back until late afternoon.

We started out early but still didn’t make it back until late afternoon.

The path to Desolation Peak, at least the route we took, starts in Big Cottonwood Canyon and ascends 2,706 feet in total. About four miles in, it reaches Desolation Lake, which sits in a colorful basin 766 feet below the summit.

Desolation Lake was a perfect snack spot.

Desolation Lake was a perfect snack spot.

My sister, two of her boys, and my dad were our companions on this trek. Everyone but my dad started out early in the morning. He came up three or four hours later due to a scheduling conflict but it only took him an hour and a half to reach us as we were descending the tippy top. Yup, my dad is a rock star.

Desolation Lake was incredibly clear.

Desolation Lake was incredibly clear.

Our initial climb may have been missing a father but it wasn’t missing the gumption to go farther. We rose up that mountain like silk boxers on a bull rider and then took a waterside break at Desolation Lake. Desolation Lake was beautifully clear, vibrantly teal, and uninhabited… except by salamanders that didn’t seem to be dwelling it well because there were quite a few dead ones about the water. We ate lunch in this gorgeous bowl, away from any decaying lizards, and then we aimed for the summit.

The boys thought the undisturbed lake waters needed to be skipped.

The boys thought the undisturbed lake waters needed to be skipped.

Panoramas of Park City were a surprise bonus with this trek.

Panoramas of Park City were a surprise bonus with this trek.

When we reached the saddle, we noticed ski lifts directly below us on the opposite side of the ridge. That’s when Jason and I had an aha moment. The valley on the other side was Park City. Desolation Peak, which tops out at 9,990 feet, sits directly above Jason’s favorite run at Canyons Resort (now part of Park City Mountain Resort), Ninety-Nine 90. Aha indeed.

Everyone made it to the summit without too much strain.

Everyone made it to the summit without too much strain.

One of the best things about hiking a mountain is what you find at your feet.

One of the best things about hiking a mountain is what you find at your feet.

The scramble from the saddle to the summit was a little tricky simply because there wasn’t an established trail. We circumnavigated most of the zenith trying to find a defined route before giving up on that and just climbing. That did it!

Desolation Peak's saddle offered spectacular views of two valleys.

Desolation Peak’s saddle offered spectacular views of two valleys.

Desolation Peak was a fantastic 10-mile trek. The boys went against youngster tradition and did not complain at all but rather seemed to enjoy themselves. The weather was nearly perfect, not too hot; we did get rained on a little on our way down though. Even the wildlife indulged our undertaking. We ran into a moose mommy and her calf during our ascent and a bull moose as we were returning. Bully!

I'm glad this bull moose wasn't nervous around people because a nervous moose would make me nervous.

I’m glad this bull moose wasn’t nervous around people because a nervous moose would make me nervous.

I’d highly recommend this trail to all of those that love hiking and to all of those that don’t. The distance is decent but not strenuous and the compensation, in the form of outstanding views and waterfront opportunities, is lucrative. Also, I’d recommend hiking in general. There is something almost mystical about stepping up a mountain. The whole world seems to slow down to the rhythm of your feet. Moreover, it can stimulate conversations like few other activities can. When your primary goal is simply taking one stride after another, a talk about almost anything can be quite welcome. Yes, monotony becomes your ally and discussions erupt. So connect with your kin and nature. Go hike a mountain!

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