Trip Report: Wildcat Ridge Day Hike 2019

Wildcat Ridge Day Hike 2019
By Ray Daurelle
HIKE 09/21/2019 EXT

It's been a rough year for the Wildcat Ridge day hike - the most extreme of the club's scheduled local hikes. That's Butler Fork in Big Cottonwood Canyon to Mount Raymond to Hobbs/Triangle Peak to Mount Olympus to Wasatch Blvd. Our first planned day for it in June was cancelled due to snow left from our near-record snow year (see huge cornice picture in the September Rambler p 18).

I did a before-the-scheduled-hike Refresher hike of Wildcat in late August.
We left the Butler Fork trailhead at 5 minutes to 6am. -On both the Refresher hike, and on the Official hike as well.
The Refresher hike had temps in the mid 90's at the end. The temperature difference between the the main ridge's 10,000 foot elevation in contrast to that in the valley leads one to immediately understand a parallel with the traditional picture of the temperature difference between heaven and the lower elevations.

The Official hike, 3 weeks later, had 3 inches of snow. I'm guessing the snow cut down the size of the crowd. There were 3 of us.

From Mt. Raymond we got an almost completely cloud free sky in all directions. We were surprised and delighted to find that descending the steep southwest slopes of Mt. Raymond was no worse with these particular snow conditions (it's awkward when it's dry anyway). That had been a concern. But 1/2 hour past Mt. Raymond, it and our ridge westward were becoming shrouded in a tight cover of clouds. The day turned into a dazzling, beautiful cloud show.

The faint animal trail contouring the south slope of the early part of the ridge was not possible to follow when hidden under several inches of snow. But my GPS track from the Refresher kept us close. The GPS device was especially useful, when those clouds packed in around us, giving us occasional white-outs, and it turns out there's plenty of route finding along the way.

After Mt. Raymond the three of us played "I'm happy to turn around when YOU give the word" for 2 more hours. That got us out across many steep, slippery mountainsides and snowy rock slabs to a view of the lower west half of the ridge. I had thought it might look drier on the lower part. No such luck. Things were feeling extra tricky already, so we finally gave in to reason and bailed out at the 7 mile mark (mile 9 is the summit of Mt. Olympus).

Note: At this point, do NOT think "Oh, 9 miles. I can do that." That does not apply on Wildcat Ridge. Just don't. It's a big mistake. Wildcat contains long, continuous stretches of stuff one could fall off of.

Dropping into Neff's Canyon from the middle of Wildcat is not a gentle descent. Then after the long steep drop from the ridge, Neff's continues to drop a long way down. And after that you still have a long way down to go. Like Bell's Canyon. Thousands and thousands of feet down.

On the Official hike I was accompanied by Jeff and Nancy Munger.
On the Refresher hike I was accompanied by Julie Kilgore, Alex Arakelian and Miles Tobin.
A very strong team on both days.

On the Refresher hike, Julie appears in many of the photos I took. She's smiling huge in every one. That hike was releasing many ghosts that had built up about Wildcat Ridge. It was awesome to witness the continuous release of so many pent-up demons. It was very calming. But don't get too calm yet. Wildcat ridge keeps going and going and going. There's Always more.

At 4 pm on Olympus, the thought of the heat below led Julie to take a nap on Mt. Olympus, to await the evening's easing of the overbearing heat. And in such rattlesnake territory, only the bold dare to nap. That's why she's president.

On each version of the hike, we all returned tired and happy from a great day of fantastic activity.

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