June Wasatch Wanderings...


Life really is better Here
Apr 20, 2013
Since my bronchitis is only slowly clearing up...
The couple of weeks prior had seen an active June- hiking after work with the work hiking club and a couple great days hiking with my sister who was in town from AZ. I always like trip reports best about this site. So here is a trip report compilation with pictures of mountains, Utah being green, snow, and lots of water for the water and cascade connoisseurs.
The snow is melting down fast, so minus the annual trip this weekend for some fishing at Schofield reservoir and a week in San Diego and Tijuana, there should be quite a few evening and early morning hikes if I get back to where walking up the stairs does not make me go lightheaded or start coughing.

Sandwiched in the middle of this report, are pics from my trip with my sister up to the Primrose Cirque overlook (I never even knew this had a real name), through Horse Pasture. Which presented a lot of views like the below. It was one of my favorites in a while. So giving a little taste to start:
Horse Pasture Friday 6-20190025-proc-sh-crop_1.jpg

Earlier in June, hiking club finally put away snowshoes and sought the sunny side of Big Cottonwood Canyon.
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When my sister arrived we agreed that for our two evenings of hiking she would plan one, and I would take to planning the second one. I had been in VA, and no one told me it was monsoon season already at the start of June. So I saw 20% chance of rain and a tiny little thunderstorm that came over as I left work and figured we might just have a gray, cool hike. I did grab my poncho/tarp.
My sister had chosen Blanche. Early Blanche without crowds is fine by me, and we had only four cars at the trailhead. Perhaps the 20% chance of rain scared the crowds off.

The creeks were frothing, raging, white and splendidly roaring. The sun was mostly behind high clouds. Green like we only get in Utah for like two weeks normally, everywhere. The creeks kept stopping me, almost as much as taking it easy so my sister could try to gain her breath at altitude as the climbing started to beat her up.
We had plenty of Fritos to eat.

The theme song for this day was Modern Chemistry by Okey Dokey and Liz Cooper.
Thunderous Blanche 6-20190006.jpg

We hit the final bit of climbing and opted for the alternative way up that is best in winter and early spring to avoid some steeper snow that remained on the trail. As we started to climb thunder started to growl. I got ahead of her and looked back toward the sliver of SLC valley that I could see, and started to see lightning in the valley.
I checked my phone since I had service. Two thunderstorms were stacking up on each other and heading our way, while another was already in the valley- obviously.
Cool. I like thunderstorms.
Thunderous Blanche 6-20190017.jpg

Any little channel that could carry water had water.
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I did what every good little brother does at this point.
"You are going too slow!" I called out to her. "There is like 4-5 minutes of climbing to get to where we have cover and are at the lake, and I figure there is less than 5 minutes before this storm is on top of us. You better hurry up so you can take cover from the lightning."
She said something snarky in return, and we just about hit the lake when the first lightning struck with instantaneous thunder. Dromedary and the ridges to our right started to disappear under a wall of rain and hail.

I walked out to take a standard picture of Blanche with the Sun Dial behind it and lightning crashed once overhead and once right behind the peak. Too bad I missed taking a picture with lightning in it. Then as I started to get pelted by hail I retreated quickly back to where my sister huddled under the poncho tarp. We sat down against the dam and were treated to an excellent lightning and thunder show. My sister a few times was caught saying "What did you bring me to? I am going to die..."

Oh overly-dramatic sisters.

We had some more Fritos.

Here was a pic from the cover of the poncho when the rain had temporarily let up.
Thunderous Blanche 6-20190041.jpg

We were hunkered down for about 45 minutes. A couple of times near the half hour mark the lightning had stopped enough that we started moving to perhaps start back down, only for lightning to crash again close by. However, once we hit 45 minutes, we were also going to be racing daylight, and my soaked windshirt (from my excursions outside the tarp) was starting to feel cold.
I gave my sister some icetrekkers and trekking poles, as the plan was to make for the actual trail in the snow and stay under some cover of the trees instead of the way up which had been much more open.
I wrapped my sister in the fashionable poncho tarp, gave her my buff to keep her head warm, and even with thunder still rolling, we pushed on down to the trail.
A few minutes later, and the storm let up in the gathering twilight.
We ditched the poncho and I took off my windshirt, but put on gloves since my hands were cold from holding the poncho tarp closed, and on down the trail we went.
The creeks and falls were fantastic silver slivers and white water as we quickly went down trail. We hit the bridge in darkness, when it was past time to put on a headlamp, but it is just a short bit of trail before the paved trail, so we pushed on.
The paved trail had some small streams flowing onto it from the rain so we splashed our way back to the Jeep just as another round of rain started to fall, and then went for burritos and chimichungas.

Since my sister was beat more than I expected by the day before, I decided to give us a shorter option for the next day. Plus, there was another 20% chance of rain.
With my daughter included, we went on up the newly fully opened Alpine Loop to the Summit parking lot and hit the trail early on Friday afternoon.
The green aspens against the lingering snow and gathering thunder clouds against the peaks were excellent.
We moseyed up the trail.
Horse Pasture Friday 6-20190079-proc-sm-crop_1.jpg

We lost the trail on the last ridge in the snow, and went on the wrong path. On the map I had seen a little down before the final up, so thought the down we did was correct, but it left us well below the ridge we wanted to be on.
So up we went, bushwacking up where the aspens had been knocked down by a slide.
Horse Pasture Friday 6-20190104.jpg

There was one snow obstacle with some exposure that my sister did not enjoy, when she froze up on the last 20' of the 200' or snow that we had skirted on the snow, and at a place where the exposure was behind us... all I said was "C'mon. You are fine. We will see you up there," and I pointed up to the ridge and started walking. Tough love little brother I guess. Although in reality, I only took a few steps and just sat down in reality to make sure she made it the last little bit.

The views were great. For a little while it seemed the thunderstorm might come our way, but it stayed west and seemed to just be hitting up against Timpanogos' ridge. We ate some treats, took photos, and talked for a little while, enjoying it.
Horse Pasture Friday 6-20190113-proc.jpg

These trees sculpted by the wind are great.
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You could see some tracks in the snow on the regular Primrose trail, but it will take a bit of melt before average hikers will be making it up the trail. I had heard news of constant slides over Memorial Day and after... and the mass of snow was incredible.
The normal trail comes in from the right of this snowfield and then has a few switchbacks right up some of those deepest areas near the middle top and top of the photo.
Horse Pasture Friday 6-20190144.jpg

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I am not sure if my daughter is:
a) imitating the trees in the earlier part of the ridge
b) limboing under the aspen tree
c) having a seizure
d) weighed down by her immensely heavy pack that I think was given to her when she was 5
Horse Pasture Friday 6-20190223.jpg

We climbed the ridge and avoided the snowfield that had challenged my sister. This meant we had some steeper areas fully covered in snow... Glissading!
Horse Pasture Friday 6-20190238.jpg

Of course, water everywhere.
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We had some daylight. So I took my sister on about the tamest trail I know. Plus it is my Mom's favorite, even though my sister did not remember ever going there.
First some views of green.
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Water and flowers.
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It was just so green... and the shadows and highlights were cool.
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My daughter pointed out the little snake, and my hands still have the skills of my youth... I caught this first try in the tall grass. My older sister went off running up the trail.
"Where did she go?" I asked my daughter.
We let the garter snake go, washed my hands, and tried to catch up later and she ran again. "Do you still have that snake?" she asked.
She is still traumatized by her youth and a younger brother methinks.

Last one. With my sister home. The Monday work hike group asked if we could do Blanche... Again... Alright, I said. My cough was just starting. The extra exertion probably made it worse. We went slow... like really slow... not because of me. We only had a few minutes of sunshine, but no real rain, and even though we had a late start, we had a late, dark arrival back to the parking lot. However, it was a nice hike.

More water... flooding.

A few minutes of sunshine was all we had, right up near the rockfall and the final climbs. Then this big thunderhead started coming down from the north. It did not start raining until we were at the parking lot.
Blanche Again 6-17-20190038.jpg

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Gathering storm.
Blanche Again 6-17-20190105.jpg


Aug 18, 2018
Really fun to read and I had to look up a few words @Ugly - thanks for sharing. The newly opened Aspen leaves against the snow are magical and it's so green everywhere, lovely. How long does the monsoon season last in Wasatch?
So is your sister really out of shape or was it mainly the altitude (which is tough when you live at sea level or just 1,000 ft)? I think you posted a photo of her some time back getting caught in snow during a hike in the Superstition mountains.
Your cough might linger for many weeks to come, but I hope you get better soon!


Life really is better Here
Apr 20, 2013
Really fun to read and I had to look up a few words @Ugly - thanks for sharing. The newly opened Aspen leaves against the snow are magical and it's so green everywhere, lovely. How long does the monsoon season last in Wasatch?
So is your sister really out of shape or was it mainly the altitude (which is tough when you live at sea level or just 1,000 ft)? I think you posted a photo of her some time back getting caught in snow during a hike in the Superstition mountains.
Your cough might linger for many weeks to come, but I hope you get better soon!

The cough is putting a damper on my summer and I gave it back somehow to my wife where it originated.
Wow, good memory, yes, my sister is from AZ, so the altitude and the cold got to her. She has spent too many years down in the cushy low altitude heat. She does a lot of hiking-like almost daily- down there and paddle boarding, but the altitude can be rough, so I just give her a hard time. She had wanted to do something to help her get ready for Havasu in August, so I had torture planned for day 2. Since day 1 had kicked her butt, we took it easier.
Monsoon is usually July/August... so it was not really monsoon in June. :)
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