Utah and Idaho
Thursday 20 June to Tuesday 25 June
I started this trip by going to the Evolution conference in Snowbird, a ski resort a little outise of Salt Lake City. I was also a little bit disappointed by the scenery. Yes it was nice but I've certainly seen a lot more impressive. That said there was one point where you could get a nice view down to Salt Lake City and where I took some photos both during the day and late that evening.
The Monday of the conference we had the afternoon of. The "field trip" I was on got cancelled so instead I went hiking from the resort. I started off by heading up to Hidden Peak. At 3000ft elevation gain in three and a half miles this did not seem a particularly big ask but the elvation - starting at 8000ft - certainly made it quite a bit harder than most of the munros I've done. My muscles were fine but breathing was a little more difficult. There's also a aerial tram to the top of a mountain and so it felt in may ways like the top of Snowdon - without the cafe. Althouigh it did have flush toilets and a really rather well heated room.
After Hidden Peak I headed over to Mount Baldy. This felt a bit more like a proper mountain as it was a lot quiter and had no facalities although I was far from the only one to walk over from Hidden Peak. There was a much less well used trail leading of in the other drection, and having done some research on the internet, I headed off in that direction and was soon alone. The plan was to head down towards Cecret Lake (the goal of my "field trip"). It would appear that part of the path was still under snow and after some traversing round on a non-snowy, but steep, slope I eventually spotted where the path I wanted to emerged from the snow. On the way down to it I sunk up to my thigh in the snow and then had an unintention glissage when I removed myself - although it wasn't very far and I emerged unhurt. Then it was to the lake, which was reasonably attractive, and then to the village of Alta further up the valley from Snowbird before walking back to the resort. A good hike all in all.
Wednesday 26 June
After a slightly manic last evening to the conference (more on this in my blog) I headed back to the airport Wednesday morning to pick up a rental car and then headed to Timpanogos Cave a National Monument a little outside of Salt Lake. The 90 minute walk to the entrance actually took me 45 but they put me on an earlier tour so I hardly had o wait around at all. The cave was someway from the best I've seen in terms of the formations although it did feel the most like proper caving I've ever done in a tourist cave which somewhat made up for it - we had to duck and squeeze past things at points. Hardly proper caving but a lot nearer than normal!
Thursday 27 June
Craters of the Moon National Monument
After visiting the cave I had driven up to Craters of the Moon in Idaho. There were also some small caves here but due to White Nose Syndrome and the resulting rules - mainly that you could take in nothing that had been in another cave - I decided not to go in them. Crater's of the Moon is the remains of an old volcano - not a big single vent but rathe rlots of smaller ones - and to be honest wasn't very exciting. Worth seeing yes but not somewhere I wanted to spend much time so I was soon on my way towards the Sawtooth mountains.
After lunch and a stop at the visitor's centre I drive the nine miles down a gravel road to the trailhead for Baker Lake. The round trip was about four miles and it was an enjoyable hike even if I was getting tired by the end. The lake was nice although the ones I saw over the next couple of days were nicer. Still, it was a good introduction to the area. That evening I faffed trying to find a campsite before settling on the campsite next to the trailhead for my next day's hike - it was a little expensive and wouldn't be so good for the last day which was why I hadn't gone there straight away. While looking for a campsite I'd seen quite a bit of the Sawtooth Mountains which reminded me quite a lot of the Tetons, although as there was fewer of them they weren't quite so impressive.
Friday 28 June
My main aim for the next day was to do the 10 mile round-trip hike to Sawtooth Lake, the largest lake in the wilderness. Not much to say about the hike itself until I reached Alpine Lake a little way before the main event. Was a worthwhile detour to see it as it was rather attractive. Sawtooth Lake was even more impressive and I had an enjoyable time there exploring, eating lunch and taking photos.
As there was still a lot of daylight left I went and explore Stanley Lake. This is larger than Sawtooth Lake but definitely not in the wilderness as it has roads and camspites. I decided to start hiking towards Bridal Veil Falls and see how far I got. I never did make it to those falls but I did make it to Lady Face Falls which, while nothing spectacular, had a nice feel about them as they seemed to be rarely visited.
Saturday 29 June
Saturday I knew I'd need to start the drive back towards Salt Lake as thanks to Delta bringing my flight forward by several hours there was no way I'd be able to do all the drive the next day. I'd decided that I wanted to leave reasonably early so wasn't planning on doing too much walking before I left. However I ended up doing the eight mile round trip to Bench Lakes and although I only had time to see one of them I was very glad I'd gone that far as it was very attractive. I then started the drive back taking the longer scenic route - which to be honest wasn't that exciting.
On the way back I would be going past Twin Falls which, from something I'd seen in a interstate visitors centre, seemed to have a cool water fall so I decided to stop off and explore Shoshone Falls. Very glad I did as they were stunning and I ended up spending about 45 minutes there - this despite it getting rather windy. I then headed on my way to my campground for the evening.
Sunday 30 June
Not much to say about this day as I spent pretty much all of it travelling. I did however maage to get some photos of a bird before leaving my campground. I'd been wanting to get some decent photos of this bird, which I suspect is an American Robin, for some time so I was rather pleased.
Copyright Daniel Money 2013