Monday, June 13, 2016

Wasatch Crest attempt





Will my luck run out on me someday?  Ok, here was the plan yesterday - park my car in Park City and take the city bus to near the top of Guardsman Pass, then ride the Wasatch Crest Trail.  I rode to the Park City transit center and was told that the bus doesn't run to the top of Guardmans Pass until June 17th.  So, my day started off on the wrong foot.


I decided to just ride from Park City and it didn't take me long to find a trail, but I wasn't really sure where I was going.  I just thought if I kept riding up, I would eventually hit the Wasatch Crest trail - as the name indicates, the trail is located on the Crest of the mountain range that divides Park City from Big Cottonwood Canyon. 

I ran into a moose early in the day.  I tried to snap a photo but, by the time I got out my camera, the moose had wandered further into the brush and I couldn't see it anymore.  I kept riding and eventually, I got into the Park City ski area and had a basic idea of where I was going.  The mountain just seemed to keep going and going and going. 

I kept riding up and felt like I was making good progress.  But, then, the weather started to turn.  I could hear some thunder in the distance and it started to rain.  In retrospect, I should have turned around at that time.  But, I kept riding. 







The weather was getting worse.  The thunder was closer now.  At first, I sat below some trees, thinking that I could just wait out the storm there.  But, then I started to feel nervous and rode back down the mountain to a Yurt that I had passed earlier.  By now, hail was starting to fall and the thunder felt like it was striking just yards away.  The Yurt was locked.  I kept looking around the building though and a urinal was open, aptly name a Yurtinal, I jumped in. 
















The thunder felt really loud now and really close.  I was really glad that the Yurtinal was open.  After about 30 minutes, the storm finally passed.  There was a lot of hail on the ground. 







The skies quickly became blue and sunny again.  I thought (wrongly) that I wouldn't run into any more storms.  Not wanting to drive all the way to Park City and not accomplish my goal of riding the Wasatch Crest, I pushed forward. 






As I got to the higher elevations, there were more than a few trees that had fallen on the trail.  I later ran into the Park City maintenance crew who were clearing the trees.  They told me it was a bad idea to ride in weather like we were having but they also told me how to get up to the Wasatch Crest trail. 





Finally, nearing the top of the mountain range, I came to Shadow Lake.  The skies were still blue, and, I congratulated myself on nearing the summit and thought that I could outrun any more storms by riding quickly down the Wasatch Crest trail. 







I was pretty tired by the time I finally started on the Wasatch Crest Trail.  I can see why the first part is called Puke Hill because its a really steep incline.  The views on the Crest were amazing. 




Off in the distance, I saw some dark clouds gathering again.  But, I thought I could outrun the storm.  However, by the time I got about halfway down the Wasatch Crest Trail, the clouds appeared much closer.  I realized that I had made a big mistake tempting mother nature again.  I already escaped her once today, and now she was coming after me again.  I turned back and literally pedaled for my life.  The Wasatch Crest trail is at about 10,000 feet and there would be no Yurtinal to save me this time.  I could hear the storm getting closer.  Finally, I started descending and made it about 1,100 feet down in about 20 minutes.  I was hoping to make it to Brighton ski resort.  By now, the rain had started to hit me and the thunder was much closer. 

I realized I wouldn't make it to Brighton and so, I sought shelter under the front roof of a home near the trail.  It makes your hair stand on end when the lightening strikes and then you hear the thunder clap so loud that it sounds likes its hitting only a few yards away.  I was asking myself why I hadn't just turned around after surviving the first storm.  Now, I didn't have any indoor shelter to run to.  As the lightening struck, I nervously wondered if the next one might hit me.  I do still want to attend my kid's wedding, graduation and know my grandchildren.  What is the continued appeal of engaging in risky outdoor activities?  

Finally, the storm passed.  The skies were still a bit cloudy though.  I rode down Big Cottonwood Canyon and was glad, once again, to have made it out safely.  Wasatch Crest is an amazing trail.  I will have to ride it again sometime, just not during a severe thunderstorm!! 











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