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Pie and Beer Day on South Mountain

July 24 is a HUGE holiday here in Utah.  Pioneer Day....but the pagans call it Pie and Beer Day.  Its bigger than the Fourth of July. Seriously.  So I thought it would be a great idea to take a hike up a mountain whose grassy flanks are covered by homes whose occupants would be shooting off fireworks all evening.  Expensive homes and tons of fireworks.   Not only was I going to hike up a mountain with extreme fire danger, I took a cheeseburger with me.  Hows that for living on the edge?

South mountian does have a trailhead but the path I took kind o petered out and I just walked up an easy ridge covered with basalt boulders.  At the top there is an overturned radio tower, two benchmarks and gorgeous views.  And there was a delishious cheeseburger and a beer.  No pie. The pie I made wasnt edible.  

Mount Ascension, Lewis and Clark County, Montana

Hot and dusty but wonderful mountain bike ride to the top of Mount Ascension complete with fresh burgers from RB's in Helena in a backpack.  Blue skies, good views, and old friends, sharing good times overlooking Helena, Montana.  

So close, but yet so far.....

The plan this morning was to do Ecker Hill.  According to the aerial photographs in Google maps, this was right off of a road in the Pinebrook Estates development near Kimball Junction, but just as I feared, when I got to the top of the road, there was no way to get to the obvious summit without going through someone's backyard.  So, I had to rely on Plan B.  Instead of walking 20 yards from the road at the top of the hill, I took the trail up from Ecker Hill Middle School  At the bottom of the hill.  On the bright side, though, I passsed this moose right by the side of the road on the way out of the subdivision.

The trail to the top started out pretty reasonable, albeit overgrown, and then things got confusing, because there are trails heading off in all directions, presumably because people have taken different routes to the top, or whereever else they might be going.  Never-the-less, it wasn't too difficult or time-consuming to figure out how to get to the summit.  Although, I think the actual summit may be in the living room of the house in the background.  I never found a benchmark.

There really wasn't much reason to linger at the top, and it looked like a possibility of rain, so I headed back to my car.

Step Mountain

I was looking for something different...and easy as its pretty hot these days  and I found it on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley. Step Mountain.  Due to the low elevation I made it a breakfast hike and arrived around 9:00am.  Step Mountain is composed of horizontal basalt columns that form the "steps"  It is very striking.  I headed up the dirt road and as it became parallel with the saddle an obvious trail emerged and a 5 minute walk brought me to the top.  No marker up there but lovely views of the Oquirrs and Kennecott Copper Mine to the west.  Had my burger breakfast of champions and headed back,  already considering the day a sucess.

The obvious trail at the saddle.

Kennecott Copper Mine in the background.

The burger....

Basalt columns...

Redrock Peak

For this hike, I followed the instructions at:  I am used to trail guides generally overestimating the time it takes for a hike, but this was pretty much exactly right, at 4 to 5 hours.  It took me just under 5, but I admit to getting a little lost at one point where I overshot the point to turn right and bushwack up the mountain.

The gate from the parking lot right off of Rt 66 was locked, so I had to do the extra 1/4 mile up to the next gate.  There is a huge parking lot here, but it was completely empty this morning.  Obviously, a lot of hunters use this area.

The first 3 miles or so of this hike are along a jeep road, which ascends pretty gradually.  I kept my eye out for the "shorter" route mentioned by Greg in the Summitpost, but missed it on the way up.  I don't see how anyone could find it, actually, as it is pretty subtle and looks indistunguishable from many other side trails that don't go anywhere.  I can say that it is about 15 minutes past another gate that is maybe 1.5 miles into the hike, and 5 minutes after you pass the pond completely covered by fluorescent green algae.  The side trail heads off to the right and starts off going in the downhill direction.  I stayed on the jeep road all the way for 3 miles and then missed the place the where you are supposed to turn right and ascend to the peak, maybe going 1/2 a mile further on the trail before figuring out my mistake.

The area is heavily used by horses, as is clear from the hoof prints on the road, and the ahh...... let's just say other signs, which were abundant.  There were also ample signs of cows, and eventually, actual cows, which watched me warily from the side of the road.  The terrain looks more like southern Utah than what I am accustomed to around here.

The climb up the grass and scrub covered summit is pretty steep.  There are a couple peaks, but the one shown below is the highest and has 2 benchmarks about 5 feet apart.  That seems a bit redundant.  I chose the one that was a couple inches higher.

My excitement at reaching the summit and enjoying the view was short-lived, as I was besieged by a dense cloud of little flies.  They seemed to only be hanging out at the benchmark, as I only had to go a few yards to escape.  But there were so many it was hard to breathe without inhaling them, much less eat my cheeseburger.  So the actual consumption took place slightly off the summit.

Here you can see the view looking towards East Canyon State Park and the alternative route down.

For the trip down, I decided to try and hook up with the alternative trail described by Greg in the Summitpost, and this involved a lot of clambering through the scrub and wondering if I was lost.  I still haven't figured out how to get all of the thistles and other stuff out of my socks.  Eventually, I did hook up with a very clearly marked trail that I was able to follow down to the jeep road.  In retrospect, I'm kind of glad I didn't come up that way, since it was steep, slippery and completely unshaded the whole way. 

Treasure Hill and Park Silly Market

Thinking that it would be nice to get out of the heat in the valley, I made plans to visit the Park Silly Market the Sunday after the 4rth of July.  Why not do a cheeseburger summit while there?  Treasure Hill is right off of Main St, or so it seemed.  Actually, this summit is right at the top of the Payday lift at Park City Mountain Resort, so I could in theory have done it while skiing this winter.  But I didn't.

I figured that this would take about an hour, but it actually took 2 hours.  It looks like a short distance on the map, but there's that whole vertical distance thing, and it was quite a bit more vertical distance than I anticipated.  I also was too lazy to take the mountain biking trail that switchbacks up, and instead took the trail that goes pretty much straight up under the Town lift.  In retrospect, that may have not been the best choice.  At least I got my exercise.

By the time I had consumed my burger, the Town and Payday lifts were running, for people who wanted to get the view the easy way.  I toyed with the idea of asking the liftie if I could ride down, but decided on a purist approach and slid back down the trail.

On the way down, I could see Rossi Hill on the other side of Park City, which is an as yet uncheeseburgered summit, but I suspect that this is going to be one of those Park City gated community areas.  Something to investigate, though.

The Park Silly Market was indeed festive, although I probably would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't all hot and sweaty, so that's another lesson learned.

Second time's the charm

The first time we attempted to cheeseburger Big Mountain, we ran into some unplanned issues such as "no dogs allowed",  steeper than expected trial, and poor map-reading skills, and ended up cheeseburgering the wrong summit.  Needing to complete the task, Groundround and I did indeed give it another attempt with full confidence that it would be done this time.  No dog, but we still took our bikes.  We did some hike-a-bike, some great trail riding, and ditched our bikes for the final trek up to the summit.  And happily ate our cheeseburgers on top of the big cairn on top of Big Mountain.  Incredible 360o view.

Biking along the flat section across a beautiful meadow with Big Mountain in the background.

Yummy burgers on top.  We can see the whole world from up here.

Black Butte, Madison County, Montana

We conquered Black Butte with freshly grilled cheeseburgers and Pabst Blue Ribbons in tow over the Independance Day Holiday.   Beautiful mountain and a great hike.  

Black Butte, Madison County, Montana

Return to Bald Mountain -- At the wrong time

Last year, this was the first hike I ever did in the Uintas, but I was not cheeseburger equipped at the time, so even though there are already 2 posts for this peak, I thought it would be a good first Uinta hike of 2014.  The last time I did this I loved it -- easy to get to the trailhead right off of 150, 2 miles up, interesting topography, beautiful views from the summit, lots of wildlife, etc.  The drive this morning did not disappoint, as I saw many deer and even 2 moose by the side of the road. 

The guides say that hiking season for Bald Mountain is July to October.  I figured, June 29 is close enough.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I could see a fair amount of snow partway up the trail, but figured that it was probably not impacting the trail too much.  Bad guess.

There were a few cars in the lot, but no people.  I had the whole place to myself.  

As it turns out, the snow was located directly along the trail towards the ridge in the picture above.

This is a narrow trail on the side of steep slope, and I did not feel comfortable walking 100 yards across the steep slope in the snow.  But there was what appeared to be an alternate trail off to the right, with reasonably fresh boot prints, so I figured that was the official alternative route.  The 3 mountain goats I saw climbing up indicated that at least some mammals could make it work.  They are in this picture, but too small to see.

To make a long story short, this did not work out well.  I don't rock climb, and I am not exactly famous for my sure footing.  So, I was REALLY happy when I managed to somehow stumble across the trail again near the summit.  From that point on it was easy going to the top, where I never found the benchmark, but the highest point was pretty obvious.

After wandering around the peak for awhile, admiring the views, I headed down, thinking that I now had an elevated vantage point to make finding the trail easier.  Ha ha.  The trip down was substantially more scary than the trip up, and exhausting, because I had to keep backtracking uphill whenever I encountered cliffs or snow fields.  It seems that I am incredibly out of shape, probably from eating all of these cheeseburgers.

Next year, this is definitely going to be a mid-July hike.

Highest peak in San Diego

At a whopping 1591 feet above sea level!  While visiting the in-laws in La Jolla, Boo-burger and I decided that we had better bag another cheeseburger summit.  The trail to the peak was in beautiful shape, complete with wide switchbacks and nice rock steps, maintained for lots and lots of Californians, who seem to be everywhere.  Most of the fellow hikers were young people, probably from the nearby college at the base of the trailhead.  We grabbed our WhiteCastle burgers, added some cheese, and off we went up to the peak.

Enjoying our cheeseburgers on top.

Complete with USGS marker, though barely legible.

View from the top, looking down onto the cell towers.  Note the dude up high on the cell tower, wanting to be "pinged".