Monday, August 27, 2007

Hikeblogging: Santaquin Peak, Uinta National Forest, August 25, 2007.

After my unexpected adventures in mountaineering on Twin Peaks last month, I was looking for a hike this month that would be more pleasant and less taxing. Specifically, I wanted a hike that would give me a good workout (~10 miles round trip) and allow me to bag a decent peak (>10,000 feet elevation) but that wasn't too steep (less than 1,000 feet elevation gain per mile distance) or too far away (<60 miles) and had a decent trail going all the way to the top.

After consulting my hiking guides, I found that Santaquin Peak filled the bill perfectly.

The trail begins up Payson Canyon at the Loafer Mountain trailhead. The trail itself is quite well-maintained and easy to follow, but there are a couple of intersections and if you take the wrong turn you'll end up somewhere else. Follow Forest Service trail 098 all the way up.

As you go up the long ridge of Loafer Mountain you can see the Payson Lakes in the basin below. David Day of Utah Trails recommends doing this hike in the fall, and I can see why: There's alot of aspen and maple trees in the forest here.

Off in the distance is the imposing Mount Nebo, the highest point in the Wasatch Mountains, and a peak that is on my list for next year. I would have climbed it this year, but I didn't have the time to the recommended two-day backpacking trip.

Up on top there's a mailbox containing a notebook for peakbaggers to sign, along with some emergency supplies. Thanks to anyone who came here after reading my entry.

You have a great view of Utah Valley from on top, almost as good as the one on Timpanogos with only a fraction of the crowds. I only ran into about 20 hikers all day, and half of those were from a single ambitious Boy Scout troop from the town of Woodland who were going to descend the front face of the mountain to get home. I wonder if they made it.

The top is covered with interesting rocks made of sandstone or mudstone with layers of halite (mineralized salt) sandwiched in between. Apparently this mountaintop was a flat shallow sea basin during the Paleozoic Era that repeatedly dried out and then flooded, leaving the salt from the previous evaporations.

Overall, this hike was everything I hoped it would be. It was steep coming down in some spots, and I got a couple of small blisters and a mild sunburn, but I wouldn't mind hiking this mountain again some future autumn.



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