Sunday, September 27, 2009

Captain Holly's Hiking Blog: The End(?)

Back in early 2003, when I was an assistant Scoutmaster and had signed up to be Hiking merit badge counselor for our troop, I went out searching for a good sturdy pair of hiking boots to help me with my new calling. I went to Kirkham's in Salt Lake City and found this pair of Vasque boots on sale for something like $90.

They have turned out to be a bargain. Every hike in this blog has been completed with these boots, along with several others about which I haven't blogged. I would guess counting all my scouting expeditions, hunting, fishing and camping trips as well as hiking I have put about 400-500 miles on them. They are beginning to wear out but other than having to replace the laces they've never failed me.

It's only fitting then that I retire them at the same time I retire my hiking blog. No, I'm not going to give up hiking, but I am going to spend less time peakbagging and more time fishing and backpacking. When I was up in the Uintas earlier this summer I saw all sorts of wonderful opportunities to fish but was unable to do so because I had left my fishing gear behind in the interest of reducing weight.

While on that trip I decided that I had done most of the hikes I wanted to do when I got back into hiking a few years ago, and now it was time to do something else with my limited vacation time. That "something else" is more backpacking and fishing in the Uintas and less hiking just to climb a peak. As a result, if this blog does continue next year it will do so as "Captain Holly's Backpacking/Fishing Blog".

Just thought you'd like to know. Thanks for reading.


Hikeblogging: Wellsville Cone, Wellsville Mountains Wilderness Area, Wasatch-Cache NF

I did this hike on September 12, 2009.

Over the past four years I've planned on doing a late-season hike to the Wellsville Mountains but there always seemed to be something that would force me to cancel. This year I was determined to do it no matter what and I finally did.

The Wellsvilles are the steep mountain chain between Cache and Box Elder counties. Supposedly they are one of the steepest in the US, rising from valley floor to top and back in less than 6 miles. I can attest that they are indeed steep, having gotten several blisters from coming back down.

The overall distance from Coldwater Canyon/Maple Ridge trailhead east of Mendon to the summit is only about 3.5 miles, but I had to tack on an extra mile because the dirt road leading up the trailhead was so rough my car couldn't make it. A 4WD with high clearance is a necessity if you plan on going.

About a half mile in you come upon lovely Coldwater Lake, which in reality is a small pond about 75 feet long. But it is picturesque. From here the trail goes right up the mountainside and you gain about 2,000 feet in elevation over the next mile or so. Fortunately there are several switchbacks which makes it relatively easy. But because the trail isn't heavily used the brush has grown over the trail in a couple of different locations.

On top the views of both Cache Valley and Box Elder county are great. The trail then follows the ridge line south until reaching the top of Wellsville Cone which is 9,356 feet. The tallest peak in the chain is just a mile to the south and is about 20 feet higher.

On top there is a makeshift memorial to someone who died earlier this year, but it doesn't specify if he died up on top or on the trail, or if he just liked hiking to this mountain.

This picture of the road leading out from the trail head shows why this hike would be great for right about now. The lower elevations of the Wellsvilles are covered with groves of aspen and maple and are beautiful when the leaves turn. I probably should have waited a couple of weeks to hike it, but if I had failed to go when I had scheduled it I probably wouldn't have gone just as in previous years.