Monday, September 26, 2011

16 1/2 hours

That's how long it took us to hike to the summit of Mt. Timpanogos this past Saturday.

True story.

It is a 15 mile hike round trip. We...

(We being Ty and I and Scott and Jen Fugal who were there with us during the first attempt in the rain and wind and snow. The two teenagers that were there last week opted out of a re-hike)

We got to the Timpooneke trail head at 2:30 in the afternoon and had someone take our picture. Please excuse the spot on most of the pictures...I didn't clean the lens properly.
Me, Ty, Jen and Scott
Look at us smiling and happy ready to take on this mountain again. The plan was to summit, hopefully by sunset and be down the mountain by midnight at the latest. That was the plan. And, as is the case with this mountain, things rarely go as planned.

You think we would have learned that lesson last week.

It was fun to see what we couldn't last week because of the darkness and the rain. We tried to see if we could locate where the rock slide that we heard had happened. We figured it probably happened at the spot in the top left of the picture where rock slides had already been occurring.
This really is a beautiful hike. I hiked it last Summer up to the second meadow with my family for the Nielsen family reunion.
This is looking up through the first meadow
towards the second.
The leaves are just beginning to change.
Looking up to the cliffs off to the north of the trail

Looking back down the trail in between the first
and second meadows. I LOVE the red berries in
this picture. If you can't see them click on the picture
to see a bigger version.

Hiking up you have to cross water a bunch of times. Jen counted on the way back down. There were 13 water crossings. I don't know if that number changes in dryer years or not...I would imagine it does.
Ty at one of the crossings.

We made it to the second meadow. And I ask Scott and Jen to pose for a picture. At first they didn't want to stand next to each other and then they decided it would be okay. See those hiking sticks that they are holding? Those came in mucho handy in the hours ahead.

I love the cliffs and the colors that were just beginning to change

As we continued on out of the first meadow Ty and Scott were able to spot the mountain goats way up high grazing. We actually ran into a friend of Ty's from his old neighborhood. They had been up on a hunt and had gotten a goat. They didn't have it with them because it was being taken down the front side of Timp. I had no idea that a decent down the front was even possible. Anyway if you look really close at those little white spots. Those are mountain goats. Clicky the picture for a better view.
As we hiked there were a TON of people coming down off of the mountain. Some had gotten really close to the goats and so Jen and I were really excited to get up there before the sun set and try to get some shots of them with our cameras.

We crossed the snowfield going up without any problems. I was shocked that it seemed SO much smaller in the daylight. Night time just jumps things up so much....and boy did that ever hold true on our way back out.

When finally came to the point where we had made it to last week we were shocked, again, at how the dark and the rain and the clouds (and the HIGHER water) had made this particular water crossing seem so formidable. In all reality it was very simple. But the water last week was gushing out from under this snow bridge. It would have been up to at least our shins.
Here are Ty and Scot in front of the snow bridge.
Just past this point we stopped for our longest rest. We sat down and ate some food so we could get our energy up as we headed towards the summit.

My hiker man Tyran... Love him.
As we headed higher the wildflowers were still blooming.
You can even see a couple of wild Columbine in this picture.
Looking North along the back side of the mountain.
I love the look of those shale slides that look like waterfalls of rock.

We finally reached the third meadow. Off to the right you can go over to a latrine that is up there. I needed to go REALLY badly and the thought of having a toilet to sit on was highly appealing. Until I got to the toilet and lifted the lid. Then....not so much. I spare you any pictures of that horrid spot and give you instead the wild life that blessed us with their presence.

Mama dear and her baby....
And then there were TWO babies...
And then three!!
Loving the deer butts.
It was there in that third meadow that we realized that there was no way that we would be able to get to the summit (or even the Saddle) in time for sunset. We didn't care we just kept plugging along.

You have no idea the crazed looks we were getting from the people coming down. Or how many times we were asked if we were going to the summit. Scott kept wanting to tell people "No we are just walking backwards." Which would have been awesome!

We were also asked multiple times if we had flashlights. Which we did.

At this time Scott was starting to have difficulties breathing because of the altitude. I was noticing a headache coming on and was worried about altitude sickness. Scott said that he would go with us to the saddle and wait there for us while we hiked the summit. I just said that we would wait and see how he felt about things once we made it to the saddle.

As we came up onto the Saddle the scene that came into view was breath taking. We had made the Saddle just after 9 p.m. With a little rest Scott decided he would continue on to the top with us. I'm so glad that he did.

This is looking to the South towards Orem and Provo.
This is pretty much the main view.
As we started up that last part of the hike we had to take it pretty slow with frequent stops for both Scott and I to catch our breath. At times it was also very hard to know where the trail went so while Scott, Jen and I were catching a breather Ty would scout ahead to make sure we were on the correct trail.

It was difficult, to say the least. And, I'll be honest, it was scary. There were times as we were climbing I was asking myself "How are we going to get back down this in the dark?" I started to sing the hymn "I Need Thee Every Hour" and I was asking for courage and comfort and safety.

My prayer was answered.

In the most beautiful way.

My dad came. He was there with me. And his dad was there as Grandpa George. I could feel both of them there beside me. Encouraging me and cheering me on. I could feel him saying "You can do this Shanna. I know you can!"

And so.... I did.

I took us until midnight.

Yes you read that right. 3 hours from the saddle to the top. But we did it. With encouragement from one another and from those sent to help me.



Did it!
We did it!
We really, really did it!!
One of my goals was to not only to make it to the top but to
write my name down in the log that they have there.
At first we couldn't find it and I was TICKED off.
Then we realized where it was, found it and signed it.
There is a little stone pillar in the middle of the shack that is there so we all took turns standing on it so that we could say that we actually made it to the VERY top of Timp!
Jen on the top!
And me looking crazed with a big thumbs up!
I was testing out to see what a picture would look like if
I used the timer and got this spooky shot of Jen.
The four of us crazy loons on the top of Mt. Timpanogos
after hiking for 10 hours.
At this point, let's be honest, I think we were all contemplating staying the night there in that shack. We were cold and tired and the prospect of going back down the mountain in the dark wasn't a happy one.
Jen and Scott getting cozy
Ty and I didn't sit.
(I don't think I could have gotten up off of that
floor if I had sat down.)
But we did get cozy.
Then came the time that Scott was waiting for. He had packed with him a golf club and some golf balls so he could hit one off of the top.
Surveying the scene.
Teeing up.

He decided he didn't want to pack them back down the mountain
so he left the club and the balls there for others to have their swing.

Scott called his sister and told her to look up and see if she could
see lights at the top and she could see his head lamp!
That was cool!

This next picture is a panorama of the view from the top of Timpanogos
looking down into Utah Valley at midnight.
It is a beautiful sight.
The Salt Lake Valley is to the far right of that picture.
There was actually a couple of points during the
hike to the top where we could see the Provo temple,
all at once.
(clicky on the picture for the bigger version.)

Coming back down off of the top and onto the saddle again took an hour and a half. I was feeling better. Scott also did better the lower we got.

The stars that you could see were incredible. Jen and I even saw a shooting star. I decided to see what I could get with my point and shoot camera. See that one little white dot? That's what I saw when I looked on the picture review on the camera.
I actually think that little white dot might be Venus.
Then I got the picture home on my editing software and I upped the contrast and the brightness and THIS is what came up!
Remember what I said earlier about the snow field seeming larger in the dark? Boy was that ever true this time around. The snow that had been ever so slightly slushy on the way up had frozen, super solid and even with sticks to give us a little bit more help in crossing there was some serious slippage going on. I actually covered probably the last quarter of that on my rear end because I couldn't keep my footing. That got the adrenaline pumping!

As we were coming down and we hit the place where we turned back last week we were hopeful. It had only taken us 2 hours from that point down a week ago. What we didn't count on was how fatigued we all were. My left knee really started acting up. Thankfully I had packed an ace bandage because last week it was my right knee and I knew that there was a possibility that I would need some extra support. Ty's left knee was killing him as well so I wish I'd had two wraps so he could have had one too.

It ended up taking us double the time it took us the week before.

We only ran into a few people on the way back down. This night we pretty much had that mountain to ourselves.

Just before we finished we ran into a couple of guys who were hike with skis and ski boots on their backs. They were heading to the glacier to take a ski down that! We tried to warn them that on our way up we had come across two different people who had been bloodied up pretty good trying to slide down that thing. I don't know if they actually made that attempt or not but they didn't end up on the news so maybe they were able to ski down it...or maybe common sense took over. Who knows.

On this hike we watched as the edge of darkness descended Saturday night and we welcomed the sun rise. We made it back to the parking lot at 7 a.m. Sunday morning.

Don't you love the look on the guys faces?
We were extremely tired. Scott and Ty both had church meetings that they were supposed to be to Sunday morning at 7. Needless to say they didn't make it.

Our church starts at 9 a.m. We got home just before 8. I drove Jona down to the church for a meeting he was supposed to be to then I came home, took a shower and headed back so I could go to sacrament meeting.

You may think that I'm crazy. But this was my thinking. My Savior was there for me on that mountain. When I was scared He sent my dad and grandpa to be with me. The least I could do was make it to Sacrament Meeting and renew my covenants with Him. And so I did.

At the end of the meeting I had been awake for 26 and 1/2 was time for my head to be hitting my pillow.

And this brings me to the end of my story. It probably took 16 and 1/2 hours to read through it. If you made it through it all I commend and thank you.

If you get the chance to hike to the top of Mt. Timpanogos I highly recommend it. But plan for a very long day. I do want to hike this again. I want to get to the top when there is sunlight so I can see that view from both ends of the spectrum.

Today as I went out for a walk and looked up at the top of that mountain a big smile broke onto my face. Because I did it. I made it to the top and proved to myself that I can do hard things.
Thanks to Ty and Jen and Scott for going up with me. Good company makes all the difference in the world.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The half of it

Early Saturday morning found me in the passenger side of the Durango heading up American Fork Canyon towards the Timpanooke trail head. It was dark and cold and the weatherman had said that rain was in the forecast.

In discussing the weather with the other couple we were going to be hiking with (Scott and Jen Fugal) and whether we should go forward with the hike a question, "How adventurous are you feeling?" was posed. Tyran and Scott decided that they were feeling on the high side of adventurous.

Me? I was thinking about the hike and how it related to a discussion that we had in our ward, about being able to do "hard things." I wanted to prove to myself that I could do hard things.

So my adventurous and hard doing self prepared by packing ponchos, warm hats, hand warmers, extra socks and even gloves. We made sure we dressed in layers. We had plenty of water and a back pack full of snacks for the trail and of course TP in case nature called.

The drive up was full of laughter and excitement. We were looking forward to this night hike even if it might be a little cool and wet. Hey that makes hiking easier right? We arrived at the parking lot for the trail head, hopped out of the vehicle and immediately I noticed the moisture that was lightly falling from the sky. It was very light, almost a mist so I wasn't too concerned.

Another group of hikers arrived just after us and began unloading as well, that made me feel a little bit more confident in our decision to head up the mountain. I snagged one of their group and asked her to take a before picture for us.

He we all are in the only photographic evidence from the hike.
McKenna, Ty, Me, Lynzie, Jen and Scott

Look at us all dry and smiling.
And blissfully unaware of what lies ahead.

The other group took off like a shot .We took a few minutes to take care of bathroom needs before we started the hike. There is a list at the head of the trail where you sign your group name, how many people are with you, where you are from and how many nights you plan to stay. Tyran signed for us and on the number of nights he put 0 (we hope). He told me that his goal for the night wasn't necessarily the summit. His goal, he informed me, was to not make it on the news.

I am glad to say that goal was met.

We started up the trail at about 12:30 a.m. and the light moisture that was falling in the parking lot quickly got heavier. I didn't have my rain poncho on because I knew that hiking in the poncho can get hot and sweaty really fast. I had on a sweatshirt, a long sleeve shirt and an short sleeve shirt. My gloves were on my hands almost as soon as we got out of the car. Even with the heavier moisture I was getting hot and sweaty so I stopped and pulled off my sweatshirt and tied it around my waist. And we went off again.

Then the rain started coming down in earnest and I wished I had put on my rain poncho. I kept going for a while thinking that the rain was sure to let up but it didn't. Another stop was made to pull out the ponchos and put them on. They were only .99 cent ponchos so the sleeves were only quarter length but it kept most of the rain off. I can't say it kept me dry because I was pretty wet before I put it on but it was a wind break and it kept me from getting wetter.

We passed the first group of hikers who were huddled under a tree and against the mountain. I wondered if they were going to turn around or continue on. Passing that first meadow we heard Elk calling to one another which was pretty cool. And the rain continued to fall.

If you know that specific trail you know that there are several small streams that flow over it and we carefully tried crossing those so our feet would stay dry. I'm not sure why. As we continued on wards and upwards the trail became littered with puddles. We tried to avoid those as best we could as well trying as much as we could to stay as dry. Going on the part of the trial with bushes close in on either side was more soaking than actually walking out in the open. The branches whose leaves were made to hang on to moisture would slap up against our legs and arms and leave us soaking.

The girls, McKenna and her friend Lynzie were having a difficult time. They were freezing. We stopped a couple more times but found that when we quit moving we just got cold so we soldiered on. We came to the snow field crossing and were able to see the slight trail that went across it so we slipped and slid our way over to the other side. The clouds had been rolling through and what had been a few patches of "fog" now proceeded to grow thicker. As we continued to move higher the wind picked up, the rain began to have a mixture of snow in it and even some hail.

Then we came to a part of the trail where weren't sure which way to go and we were up into the cloud bank in earnest. Ahead of us there was a fairly large drop into a waterfall/stream bed with the only crossing a large tree trunk that was actually in the water, to the left was the sheer drop off of the mountain (I was dark and cloudy so that side was hard to tell) and to the right a very steep hill and a snow field. We couldn't see if the trail actually continued again on the other side of the waterfall. Ty and Scott saw some trails on the steep side and they were checking to see if that was the way we should go.

I said that maybe the clouds and not being sure of where to go forward was God's way of telling us that we needed to turn around. Because yes we can "do hard things" but we need to be cognizant of what is "hard" and what would be considered "stupid". As we stood there discussing our options we noticed lights coming down on the other side of the stream bed. Another group of hikers was coming down. In seeing them we knew that we would have to cross those falls on that large log to continue on and we knew that the conditions up ahead could not be good if this group was coming back down. That sealed the deal.

It was 4:00 a.m. We were tired and cold and very wet. We knew we weren't going to be able to summit. We knew we had come as far as we were able and that we needed to turn around and start making our way back down the trail. And we were okay with that. (The girls were REALLY okay with that. They had wanted to turn around much earlier on.) I pulled out the hand warmers and tried to get them heating up. I don't know if they just were old or a bad batch, if it was just too wet for them to work properly or if our hands really were just that cold but we hardly got any warmth from those at all.

A little ways down the trail I pulled off my poncho to give to Lynzie and put my sweat shirt on. It was then that the group that had been coming down off the mountain passed us. They told us that they had made it to the latrine area and that it was really wild. Hail and snow and wind. They clarified our decision to turn back.

Coming back across the snowfield was a bit more nerve wracking than the first time. McKenna slid on her first few steps and that spooked her good. I gave her the walking stick (that she had asked me to carry) and we slowly made our way across. After the snow field the trail had basically turned into a small stream and all thoughts and chances of keeping our feet dry went down the mountain with the rest of the water. We did try to stay out of the deeper puddles but much of the time we just splashed our way down.

There wasn't much laughter or joking or even talking. We were each lost in our own thoughts, silently making our way down in the rain. Each trying to stay as warm as we could. I think we only stopped maybe twice on the way down. Once for a potty break and once because we heard what, at first, sounded like a large animal moving through the area. But that sound built and grew until it sounded like thunder but it kept going never rolling out. We had just heard a large rock slide. I think that occurred at the top of the first meadow. We stayed still until we couldn't hear any more rocks moving, then we kept moving. We also started hearing the Elk calling to one another again so it must have been that first meadow. That might be where I noticed that the rain had finally tapered off.

The lower we got the more the IT band on my right knee was gave me some serious twinges as we moved slowly back down the mountain. Ty's right hip flexor was giving him issues and the girls were saying that they were falling asleep as they were walking. We started seeing lights below us. Other groups that had decided to start the climb early in the morning, hoping to avoid the rain and weather that we had just hiked through.

Each time a group passed I would think "I should have asked them how far away the parking lot was" and then I was always grateful that I didn't. I decided didn't want to know. Just after the fourth group heading up the mountain passed us we finally arrived at the parking lot. We were all soaked to the skin and freezing.

It was 6:30 a.m. I had been awake for 24 hours.

As I opened up the car door and tried to raise my leg to give myself a boost up in I realized that this was going to be more difficult that I had imagined. My leg was so tired and cold and sore that I had to basically grab on to the handle on the ceiling, lay as far back as I could and lift my leg up into the car with my free hand. As I was trying to get my butt into that seat I just started laughing. What else could I do? Eventually we all got in the Durango and started it up and headed home. Of course the first thing we did was crank up the heater, unfortunately that vehicle does not warm up very quickly.

It was on the ride down that Scott said "Hey, remember about 6 hours ago when we were still friends?" and Ty said "Next time you ask me how adventurous I'm feeling I'll tell you to ask me next week."

We made it home about 7 a.m. and we all piled out of the car. As McKenna rushed into the upstairs shower I stumbled down the stairs thinking "I'm not making the trip back up those stairs again today." I stripped out of my wet clothes and wrapped up, in my warm bathrobe and went and sat on the heating pad waiting for McKenna to finish up her shower.

As I heard her getting out I tried to get Ty to go before me but he wouldn't hear it. So I filled up the tub and soaked the cold out. I realized that I couldn't stay in there much longer or I would be falling asleep. Groggily I climbed out, dried off and quickly made my way into bed where I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow and there I stayed until about Noon.

I've tried to figure out how far it actually was that we made it along the trail. We are thinking that it was just over half way. Would I do it again? Probably not in those conditions...unless I was wearing a heated wet suit. But I really do want to summit that mountain.

So next Saturday (which is supposed to be FABULOUS weather) will find me at the Timpanooke trail head once more. Not for a night hike though. We're going to start at about Noon. Too bad it's not like the video games where we could just "save" and start the hike where we left off.

But guess what?

I had a great time. Honestly. As cold as I was. As wet as I got. And as much as my muscles were screaming it was still fun. I loved hiking with Ty and the girls and the Fugal's. They were all amazing. McKenna and Lynzie did great for those conditions. They didn't complain or whine. Scott and Jen were still able to laugh and joke and hopefully we'll be back to being friends in a couple of weeks. (I have invited them to the re-hike but I haven't heard back from them yet)

I learned that I CAN do hard things and I can have a positive attitude while doing them. Even if I only do them half way.

And the mountain still calls.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


is probably one of the few artists that I
would LOVE to see live.
I adore her voice and her songs.
Oh and can I have her hair color
and makeup artist...
pretty please?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Timpanogos may call you

Here I am your special mountain
Come to me, come to me.

I've lived in Utah all of my 40 years.
Lived at the foot of this amazing mountain...

And I have never hiked to the summit.
I've hiked the back part up to the first meadow
many, many times in my youth
but have never made it to the summit.

(The plan was to hike it for my 40th birthday
but late snowfall snuffed that plan out)

Well that oversight will be remedied early this Saturday morning.
Ty and I and some friends have plans to hit the
trail head at Midnight Friday Night...

(or is that be Midnight Saturday Morning??
help me out here)

and hike up to watch the sunrise.
That is the plan.
But we are also planning on taking it easy and not
pushing it too hard and heavy so we may not
make it there right at sunrise.

It's a 7.5 mile hike one way
from the Timpooneke trail head.
15 miles round trip

My question for you is....
Does Timpanogos call to you?

Would you like to join our little group
for this hike this weekend?
If so email me and so I'll know to meet up with you
It should be fun!

Here's a couple of other links if you want more info...