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Day Hike: Pfeifferhorn via Red Pine
By Carol Masheter
| I was nervous. But then, I am a nervous person. The weather forecast was good, but earlier this summer, I had been chased across Pfeifferhorn’s knife edge by a surprise storm. I did not want to be up there today in wet conditions with a group.
Just before our meeting time at 7 am, a steady trickle of SUVs cruised LCC parking lot. None of the drivers met my eyes. I was considering whether to go solo, when a guy got out of his car and grinned at me. Paul and I shook hands. Mitch and Kathy joined us. My 10-year-old Prius had started making ominous noises two days ago, so I was grateful, when Yvonne offered to drive us all to the trailhead.
After putting on footwear, sunscreen, and visiting the toilets, we were on the trail by 7:30 am. Among the firs, some of the shrubs were beginning to turn orange, bronze, and scarlet. Above where Kathy spotted a grouse in the trailside brush, we began to see a few aspen across the drainage that had turned the clear yellow signifying that fall is really here.
After the recent cool spell, it was surprisingly warm this morning, so we stripped off layers sooner than expected. Folks gobbled down snacks and guzzled water, before we tackled steeper trails above Lower Red Pine, picked our way through the web of social trails to the sub-ridge above Upper Red Pine, and climbed up the head wall.
Our reward was a high stretch of gently rising trail above tree line and our first view of Pfeifferhorn’s summit pyramid. In spite of the smoky haze from California’s wild fires, we gazed across jagged ridges to the distinctive notch of Lone Peak, the sprawling Timpanogos ridge, and below us, boulder-strewn basins, where we hoped to see mountain goats but did not. Every time I hike this high country, I am grateful that we have this magnificent resource so close to home and a thriving outdoor community with which to enjoy it.
We discussed the option of stopping at the start of the knife edge, an honorable and wise choice for those who do not like exposure. Others went on to the summit. I showed the way I like to cross the knife edge, while others followed, pointing out good holds and spotting each other — good teamwork. We spread out, while climbing the summit pyramid to avoid being in each other’s rock fall path. With careful foot placement, we avoided displacing many rocks, always preferable to having to dodge flying cannonballs.
On the summit, other Pfeifferhorn enthusiasts joined us. We traded hiking and climbing stories and took many pictures. When it was time to descend, we reminded each other to stay focused, as the descent is often when falls and injuries occur. We enjoyed conversations with other hikers moving up and down the mountain.
Once on the distinct trail at Lower Red Pine, we each descended at our own pace. Below tree line, the afternoon sun backlit the turning leaves, making them even more brilliant than this morning. All in all, we enjoyed a fine day with good company in our beautiful local wilderness. Thank you, Kathy, Paul, Mitch, and Yvonne. Scribe and organizer: Carol Masheter