Delano Peak Loop 2016

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LarryBoy

Hiker Trash
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Jan 4, 2015
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It pays to be prepared. On a random Thursday night in late June 2016, I decided to go on a spur-of-the-moment backpacking trip over the weekend. Thankfully I have enough route creations rattling around in my Caltopo account that it's easy to print one and go on a moment's notice. This one was the Delano Peak Loop, something that had been collecting dust for a couple years.

I'd never been to the Tushars - and boy I was in for a treat. I drove down Friday after work to the Big Flat area south of the high peaks and the ski resort in the range. I parked my car and hiked a mile in. I threw my sleeping bag on the ground and slept under a brilliant starry sky. I have a simple camera phone and am always too sleepy to take star photos, so you'll have to trust me.

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I woke up the next morning and hit the trail. The trail dipped and weaved northward, generally following the ridgeline, occasionally flirting with the edge of treeline. I caught occasional glimpses of the high country that lay ahead of me.

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I left the trail and followed a ridgeline, ascending to a shoulder southwest of Mt Holly, the southernmost of the "big" peaks of the Tushars. When I arrived, my jaw dropped. The views were amazing. A huge subalpine basin lay in front of me, and on a distant ridge, I spotted a herd of mountain goats doing their thing. Wildlife would be a common sight on this hike.

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I had demurred on this hike years for several reasons, a major one being the state of trails - a big unknown. There was a trail crossing this basin - somewhere. I wasn't sure whether it existed or whether it had seen any maintenance recently. As it turns out, the trail faded in and out of existence. Most of it was sketchy or nonexistent. But the views were beautiful and the day was picture-perfect.
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After a few hours, I reached a dirt road which led to a saddle on a major east-west ridge. I called an audible and decided to hike the ridge directly west toward Delano Peak (the highest peak in the range) rather than dropping down into a canyon and climbing back out of it. The ridge was steep in a couple spots but generally straightforward - and oh my goodness - the view!

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After an hour or so on the ridge, I spotted Delano Peak. Wildflowers dotted the high ridgelines. Patches of snow hung on for dear life in the intense sunshine - I like to think of them as "The Little Glaciers That Could".

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Soon enough, there was no more up. Delano Peak, 12,000+ feet. Highest in the Tushars, highest in Utah outside of the Uintas and the La Sals. Photos don't do justice to the panoramas. To the north, even more rugged peaks beckoned.

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I lingered for a while on the summit ridge, heading north as I gradually lost elevation. By this point, my stomach was talking to me about the fact that it hadn't eaten quite enough lunch. I stopped by the inspiringly-named Mud Lake for some supper.

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Walking a 4WD road, I soon encountered a family from Beaver on ATV's. They seemed curious about what I was doing and were genuinely surprised to see a hiker. I guess not too many folks visit the Tushars! I stopped again and a random trailhead/picnic table for Supper 2.0. I hiked a couple miles, now on a marked and maintained trail, and threw my sleeping bag on the ground after a long but amazing day. Just days after the summer solstice, the sun lingered in the sky, unwilling to go to bed just yet.

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The birds were up early, as was I. I followed the trail at the edge of treeline, ducking in and out of drainages as I paralleled the main crest of the range beneath Delano Peak and Mt Holly.

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I made a quick stop to summit Lake Peak, from which I could see almost my entire route. I enjoyed views of Puffer Lake to the west. Oh, and I enjoyed an almost obscene number of gummy bears. Mmmmmmm, gummy bears.

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After another half mile, I rejoined the trail I had hiked yesterday along the forested ridgeline, south to my car. I was driving back to Salt Lake by noon. A short adventure, but an adventure nonetheless. And I'll be back, to check out those rugged peaks to the north. A successful weekend.

Click here to view on CalTopo
 

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andyjaggy

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Dec 2, 2013
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898
Nice, the tushars have been on my list for a few years, but I never seem able to make it down there.
 

WasatchWill

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Jul 23, 2013
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Love it! I saw the headline on the slider and figured this would be from you. That looks like a fantastic little loop. I've got Delano and the Tushars on my calendar for July but it looks like you did it at just the right time of year with all the green and snow patches dotting the high peaks. I'll probably only be able to break free for one night and probably be coming from Torrey, so I'm thinking of just trying to go up the Bullion Canyon trail and back doing a little lolli-loop of my own up there.
 

LarryBoy

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Joined
Jan 4, 2015
Messages
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Love it! I saw the headline on the slider and figured this would be from you. That looks like a fantastic little loop. I've got Delano and the Tushars on my calendar for July but it looks like you did it at just the right time of year with all the green and snow patches dotting the high peaks. I'll probably only be able to break free for one night and probably be coming from Torrey, so I'm thinking of just trying to go up the Bullion Canyon trail and back doing a little lolli-loop of my own up there.
Yeah late June was ideal. There weren't too many bugs, the afternoon thunderstorm pattern hadn't fired up in earnest yet (counterpoint: I got pounded the week after that in the Uintas), and the snow and wildflowers made things all sorts of pretty. Highly recommended. July might be perfect this year, what with the higher snow year we've been having.
 

Glasterpiece

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Mar 19, 2014
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Love it! I saw the headline on the slider and figured this would be from you. That looks like a fantastic little loop. I've got Delano and the Tushars on my calendar for July but it looks like you did it at just the right time of year with all the green and snow patches dotting the high peaks. I'll probably only be able to break free for one night and probably be coming from Torrey, so I'm thinking of just trying to go up the Bullion Canyon trail and back doing a little lolli-loop of my own up there.
With the amount of snow we've had, you just might luck out in July.
 

Glasterpiece

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Very nice TR. I always see them from the freeway and even made it up to the Big Flat once. A beautiful area.
 

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Artemus

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Great report. I loved that hike. Thanks for the share.

A short story...

I went to hike Delano in the 80's, solo. I 4WDrove up to a meadow in twilight to climb the next morning. The meadow was probably half a mile long and at the other end of the meadow was a large herd of elk grazing in the grass. I thought Cool! Perfect place. I threw a tarp down and as darkness fell I was dozing off and a pack of coyotes camp out into said meadow and started yipping and yapping and running around. Being a newbie I laid there and started thinking about all the bad things a pack of wild dogs could do to me. I know now there is nothing to fear from coyotes and, in fact, all wild animals. Some you should respect, but not fear.

I couldn't sleep and I can't sleep scrunched up in my Jeep Cherokee so I scooched under the jeep and slept better with my face plastered against the oil pan. The coyotes never approached for inspection as far as I know and the next day I had a delightful expedition up Delano as you did. The Tushars are surprisingly fabulous.
 
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LarryBoy

Hiker Trash
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Joined
Jan 4, 2015
Messages
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Great report. I loved that hike. Thanks for the share.

A short story...

I went to hike Delano in the 80's, solo. I 4WDrove up to a meadow in twilight to climb the next morning. The meadow was probably half a mile long and at the other end of the meadow was a large herd of elk grazing in the grass. I thought Cool! Perfect place. I threw a tarp down and as darkness fell I was dozing off and a pack of coyotes camp out into said meadow and started yipping and yapping and running around. Being a newbie I laid there and started thinking about all the bad things a pack of wild dogs could do to me. I know now there is nothing to fear from coyotes and, in fact, all wild animals. Some you should respect, but not fear.

I couldn't sleep and I can't sleep scrunched up in my Jeep Cherokee so I scooched under the jeep and slept better with my face plastered against the oil pan. The coyotes never approached for inspection as far as I know and the next day I had a delightful expedition up Delano as you did. The Tushars are surprisingly fabulous.
Hahahaha that is funny. If you sleep kissing the oil pan, does it count as a Bag Night? :wavespin:
 

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