Saturday, July 16, 2005

Hike Blogging: Naomi Peak, Wasatch-Cache National Forest

I spent the past couple of days hiking and camping in the Mount Naomi Wilderness Area. For some reason, the mountain is called Naomi Peak, but the wilderness it is named after it is called Mount Naomi, and the trail that goes through it is called the Mount Naomi Peak National Recreation trail. Go figure.

Anyway, I camped along High Creek, a small but fast-moving stream that drains the wilderness area. There is a decent dirt road that leads to the trailhead, and several primitive Forest Service campsites along the way.

Here's a picture of the campsite:

The creek is full of fat and tasty brown (Salmo trutta) and rainbow (Oncorhynchus myskiss) trout. It doesn't get much fishing pressure because of the heavy vegetation along the sides and the absence of slack water. That is a big advantage, as it keeps the Orvis crowd and their contaminated waders and boots away. As a result, High Creek is free of whirling disease and New Zealand mud snails, unlike most "blue ribbon" trout fisheries in Utah.

The technique for fishing this stream is to set up an ultralight rig, using only a single snap swivel and a snelled #8 hook with no more than 1 foot of leader. Thread on a small worm or a bit of nightcrawler, find a deep pool or eddy, and drop it in or let it flow with the current into the slow water. You should get a hit fairly quickly. The disadvantage of this technique is that you'll lose at least one hook on a snag for every fish you catch.

This is Cherry Peak, in the heart of the wilderness area. Note the large amounts of leftover snow from the heavy snowfall this winter. This is clearly a sign that Global Warming is upon us. Mayor Rocky Anderson is right: Utah's ski industry is doomed.

The trail is deceptively easy at first. There is only a 1,000 foot gain in elevation during the first three miles and the trail stays in the timber and follows the creek, so it's nice and cool. Then you reach the High Creek basin, where it spreads out and the trees become more scarce. From then on, it's much more difficult.

You gain 3,000 feet in elevation in the next three miles, and there's very little timber for shade. By the time I reached High Creek lake at 8,762 feet, I was pretty worn out. But I still had almost two miles left.

Up higher there were large snowdrifts that crossed the trail (Heavy snows persisting in the high country in mid-July? More evidence of Global Warming!).

Finally, I got to the top. Here is a view of Smithfield, Utah from the peak at 9,979 feet above sea level. It took me about 4 hours, 45 minutes to get there. Coming down was quite easy, as it only took 2 hours, 45 minutes. My pedometer showed almost exactly 6 miles one way, which is very close to what I calculated from the map.

This was one of the toughest hikes I've ever done. The rapid elevation gain, combined with the heat and the thin air, made this one more difficult than it appeared at first. Overall it was a nice mini-vacation, if only for the fishing.

Next up: Deseret Peak, Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

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At 1:43 PM, Blogger The Great El-ahrairah said...

Ha, Mount Naomi! A wussy hike! Try Timp or the three peaks of Mount Nebo in a rain storm and then tell me how hard the hike was.

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear el-ahrairah,
Naomi's Peak can be made more challenging by starting at the valley floor in Richmond and going over Cherry Peak - total climbing elevation of 6300ft to the summit. I would love to climb Nebo sometime if I ever get that far south but would prefer to descend off the north end as my knees do better with more up than down. Are you familiar with the "unofficial" trail on the north side? As far as being on those high ridges in a rainstorm - pass!

At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post! I've been hoping to hike to the lake soon and ran into your website while searching for info. Have you heard much about all the surrounding caves in those areas?


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