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Hike to Mt. Timpanogos from Aspen Grove Trailhead
By Stephen Dennis
| Given the many wildfires in Utah and California, and the resulting unhealthy air quality and poor visibility in the Salt Lake and Utah County valleys, the official recommendations is to stay indoors and limit exposure to at most 30 minutes. So, of course, we do Timpanogos.
But, first, we have the pre-adventure adventure on I-15 South with a police car flipping on its lights and then doing the swerving thing across all the lanes. He was within six inches of Nancy on the first swerve. Then, further South, the low-pressure light came on, and we stopped at a Chevron to add air.
John Kozloski drove directly to Aspen Grove from the Heber Valley side, got there first, and guarded the last two remaining parking spots by essentially pretending to be a forest ranger and leaving the would-be-parkers with the distinct impression that they would not be able to afford the resulting fine.
The morning start at the Aspen Grove spot was pleasant cool with Nancy Martin, Scott Griffen, Ed Hemphill, James Kucera, and Stephen Dennis setting off at a good pace. There was no smell of smoke in the air.
Stephen started feeling the altitude about half-way to meadow. By that time, you could smell the smoke. And by 2/3rds the way to the meadow, it was decided to split the group. Progress from there was about how you would expect into the meadow, passed the lake, and the building. The only water was at the lower falls. Except for the lake, the water features above were dry.
The first group probably reached the top as Stephen was crossing the boulders. Jim and Nancy decided to walk out the ridge, and that gave Stephen time to reach the saddle and approach the peak. There was less smell of smoke there, but there was still the altitude factor.
Especially as the day continued, Stephen was worried he would recognize his friends approaching, and that would be the end of the day, but it never happened. When the peak came into full view, he didn't recognize any of the shirts or hats on the trail, so they must still be at the top.
The group at the top were about to start down, when Nancy, looking down, recognized someone with Stephen's gait. We were within hooping distance, and there was hooping.
Dizzy and taking stops, Stephen eventually made it. It was better than Birthdays and Christmases put together.
On the way down, Stephen finished the 3.5 liters of water he brought. John and Nancy shared extra with him in turn. We ran into a woman bringing water up for her husband who we had seen earlier laying on the ground. There was also a young feisty couple with a water issue. We stopped at the waterfall to cool off and filter for us and for other young couple.
It was a wonderful adventure, enjoyed despite the distinctly bad air quality, despite and because of the adversity. Overall, taking out the intentional stops and pauses, it was about 5 hours up and 3 hours down.
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