10 September 2009

Cascade Mountain Hike

Ever since we moved to Orem I have been looking at Cascade Mountain wanting to climb it. Every morning when I would step outside it stood there laughing at me. But no longer! This labor day I climbed to the summit and conquered the mountain. Yeah, it got a few good blows in against me too. My knees are still hurting a bit from the hike down.

Nate and I had been researching how to get to the top of this mountain for quite a while and we finally drove up Provo Canyon on a search for a good trailhead. After driving around for about an hour we finally came upon a marked trail at Big Springs Park. I didn't know this park existed until this drive. It is a nice little park set way back in the mountains. To get there you drive up Provo Canyon, exit at Vivian Park, and then follow Southfork Road a few miles until you reach Big Springs Park. At the back of the park is a trailhead marker stating that the Cascade Saddle is 4.1 miles up the trail. We now knew where to start. We just had to plan when. Labor Day became the answer to that question. So on Monday a party of 5 set off on the trail at 6:00 AM.

It is still dark outside at 6:00 AM. The first 30-40 minutes we hiked following a single headlamp. Luckily the trail is very clean and nice. In fact, the trail was a lot nicer than I had expected. All the way to the saddle the trail was well defined, not to steep, somewhat shaded, and just a nice walk. By the time we got to the top of the saddle we were wondering what happened to our challenging hike. This was really easy and we thought we were almost there. We were not disappointed though, the hike turned out to be quite challenging and we were not almost there.

From the saddle the trail continued down the other side of the mountain as the Dry Creek Trail but it did not continue on to Cascade Peak. Only the ridge of the mountain continued toward the peak. The trail along the ridge quickly narrowed and much of the ground turned to loose scree. We thought the peek was not too far from where we stood on the saddle, but it turned out it was hiding behind another set of lower peeks. We ended up having another 3 miles to hike.

Several things combined to make the hike along the ridge somewhat technically challenging. You had to be careful where to step due to the loose rock. Several times the ridge was very narrow and large trees were growing right on the top of the ridge. This situation required that you either climb over tree branches or walk down below the ridge. At some points the one side of the ridge was a sheer cliff. The other side was still passable but it certainly limited the trail possibilities. There were several peaks that we climbed before reaching the true summit. Between each peak was a valley in the ridge. This meant that we climbed up and then down several peaks making the hike long and hard. On the return trip we did not follow the ridgeline much at all. We instead hiked on the South side of the mountain 100 feet or so below the ridge. The side of the mountain was steep and covered with scree, but it was easier than the constant rise and fall in elevation.

We made it to the summit right about noon. A full 6 hours after we started. The view was spectacular.

By the time we arrived at the summit I was starving. I sat down, ate lunch, rested. Knowing we had a long hike back down the mountain we stayed just long enough to take a few pictures and sign the register. Overall, this was a great hike. I was better prepared than I was for last years Mt. Nebo hike. It was still quite painful coming down the mountain, but going up was great. I recommend the hike to anyone with a full day available and a fair amount of experience under their belt.

1 comment:

Claire said...