Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hike Blogging: Mount Nebo, Wasatch-Cache National Forest

I did this hike on August 7-9, 2008

Last week I was able to complete one the most difficult hikes in Utah: Climbing Mount Nebo, the highest peak in the Wasatch Mountains.

Nebo is located just east of the town of Mona, Utah. The terrain is extremely steep; the mountain is a large block of sedimentary rock that has been tilted up on its side and has three peaks of almost equal height. Although the north peak is technically the highest peak of the three, most people just hike to the south peak and call it good. You will find out why later in this post.

The top of the north peak is almost exactly 8 miles from the start of the Andrews Ridge trailhead. That is part of the reason most people just go to the south peak instead of the north; it cuts 2 very difficult miles from the round trip distance and allows them to do the hike in one day. We chose the other option and backpacked in about 4 miles and then camped in one of the few campsites along the trail, this one among huge Englemann spruce more than 100 feet high and more than 3 feet wide at the base.

The next day we started out and got to the south peak in good time. The trail leading up to the south peak is well-used and in good condition. But the entire hike is quite steep; you gain over 5,000 feet in elevation from the trailhead to the top. Once on the ridgeline, however, it gets much easier.

We had a lunch up on South Nebo (elevation 11,877 feet) and since the weather was good and we were feeling fine we took off for North peak (11,928). Although only a mile away, it is quite difficult and the trail is not as well-maintained or easy to follow. Several times we had to find our way across knife-edge rocks. And as you can see, it's quite steep itself; the north face of North peak is just a sheer drop of about 100 feet.

We finally made it to the top, and there is a little mailbox where you can leave your name and other comments. The view was spectacular, but as the picture shows, there were clouds forming in the distance so we took off as quickly as possible.

It was a good thing we did. Just as we approached the South peak, a storm whipped in at amazing speed; within 5 minutes it went from warm and partly cloudy to almost completely fogbound with a cold rain. Visibility was down below 50 feet, a nerve-wracking condition when you are on a steep ridge with 500-foot cliffs on one side. But we kept calm and found the trail, and the storm soon passed over us as we descended South peak.

After spending another night at the camp we came down the next day, tired but elated. This was indeed a beautiful trip, but it was also very taxing. I'm glad I did it, but I won't be repeating the experience any time soon.



At 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info


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