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Hiking Lone Peak mountain

Last summer for our anniversary, Mike and I decided to spend the weekend being active.  Doing things we normally can’t do with 4 kids.  My sister took the kids for the weekend (we very rarely leave them) and we beat up our bodies.  Friday we went paddle boarding down the Provo River (we actually did it twice it was so much fun).  Saturday we spent the entire day mountain biking in Park City.  My kind of mountain biking.  You ride the ski lift to the top and just ride your mountain bike down.  I only flipped over my handle bars once so I call it a success.

And Sunday, we decided to summit Lone Peak in honor of our 12 successful years of marriage. We’ve both hiked mountains before.  And we aren’t beginners in the outdoors, but we definitely weren’t prepared for this.  Mike’s famous phrase for the day was “I have no business being on this mountain.”  It was hard.  Really hard.  But SO so cool.  Something I’ll never forget.  Truly an experience of a lifetime.  It was a go big or go home kind of weekend.

 

I took our GoPro along with us and took little video clips of the trail the entire way up.  The terrain changes quite a bit from the bottom to the top.  I pieced together those video clips in this video.  If you ever plan to hike Lone Peak, this gives you a quick idea of what it will be like.  If you never plan to hike Lone Peak, you now to get to enjoy a 10 minute cliff-notes version.

And the photo version.

Starts out as a dirt path that goes virtually straight up.  It’s called Jacob’s Ladder and the ladder part is no joke.  It was like a ladder.  Up.  Up.  Up.  Steep.   DCIM100GOPRO

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I remember getting to this point and seeing that peak way off in the distance.  We’d already hiked a tough part and seeing this I realized how far we still had to go.  But the views were unbeatable and the entire way up I kept thinking “this is so amazing”.

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Then you hit a meadow.  It’s the only “flat” part of the entire trek.  We saw a tent in there.  Some people hike to the meadow, camp there overnight, and then head for the summit the next day.

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And then come the rocks.  And the giant boulders.  And “the chute” as I called it (big rocks, straight up).

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After the meadow there’s no clearly defined trail.  So you have to follow Cairns the rest of the way up (man-made stack of rocks to show the way).  They were generally pretty easy to spot.

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And then the final summit.  The part I was definitely not prepared for.  I was ready to turn back.  I was high enough.  It was good enough.  And the views were incredible.  But Mike kindly stepped passed me and said “we’re going to the top”.  And so we did.  And I was shaking.  And more scared for my life than I’ve ever been before.  I hike.  I don’t climb.  We had no ropes.  And the drop was straight down on both sides.  One bad step, one missed hand hold and it would have been bad news.  I’m not a huge risk-taker nor have I ever been climbing (like, real climbing, not just hiking) so this was all new to me.  I’m sure people who do this kind of thing a lot wouldn’t have been as nervous as me.  But I was truly scared.

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There were two people sitting on the summit as we made our final ascent.  And they encouraged me from above.  Told me which ways to go and which ways not to go.  Were it not for Mike (and those two strangers who had already walked the “trail”) I’m sure I never would have done it.  By the time we made it to the very small tippy-top, I was terrified.  And I couldn’t stay on the top for long for the fear I had of doing that last part all over again so I could get back down.  And for some reason the video I took up there didn’t record.  Boo.

 

Proof I made it as high as possible.

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But.  I can definitely say it was worth it.  Despite my terror.  The views were unbeatable.  The terrain was varied.  The scenery was breath taking.  The physical journey was incredibly demanding.  And making it to the top was satisfaction I haven’t had in a long, long time.

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I turned on RunKeeper on my phone to track how far it was to the top.  From our car at the base of the Jacob’s Ladder trail to the very top of Lone Peak, it registered as 5.67 miles.  And took us 5:54 to get there.  We went slooooooow.  And had to take a lot of breaks.

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I also wore my heart rate monitor the entire day cause I’m curious like that.  From our car to the top of Lone Peak and back to the car it took us a total of 9:51 and said I burned 5868 calories.  Just under 10 hours.  We’re not fast hikers.   You better believe I went and bought a pizza after we were done and ate nearly the entire thing by myself.

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The way down was much more physically taxing for us than the way up.  My quads were shot and having to get down those huge boulders on the way down and then the really steep part of Jacob’s Ladder was tough.  The last hour I was hurtin’.  Bad.

But we made it.  And it was truly incredible.  And I’ll probably do it again at some point.  Just need to let enough time pass so I forget a few things.  🙂

 

For anyone interested in doing this hike, a few tips.

*Try to go when it isn’t super hot.  We really lucked out and the weather was unseasonably cool when we went.  I can’t imagine what the hike would have been like it it was hot.

*Bring plenty of water.  We each had a full Camelbak and 4 disposable water bottles each.  Even though it wasn’t hot, we still went through almost all our water.

*Pack in good food that is sure to give you energy.  We had a lot of Powerbars, trailmix, high energy, easy to grab and eat as we walked kind of food.  We also packed in lunch (peanut butter sandwiches).  You need a lot of calorie energy to get through this long day hike.

*Make sure your phone is charged.  Weirdly enough, I had cell reception on the peak and was in the middle of FaceTime with my kids and my phone died.  Boo.

*Make sure you start early enough in the day to finish before it gets dark.  We had plenty of time before the sun set, but we didn’t want to end up on the mountain in the dark.

*If you have a GoPro, definitely take it.  I wish I would have worn ours strapped to my head while we hiked the last part to get to the summit.  And it was great to have to take our photos on the top.

*Bring a jacket.  It gets chilly up on top.  It’s probably best to layer.

*Make sure you have a camera.  Duh.  I used our GoPro and my cell phone camera (iPhone 5s) for all my photos.  And I love the panoramic shot I took while we stood on the peak.

*After you finish the dirt trail part of Jacob’s Ladder, you have to follow cairns the rest of the way up.  For the most part they were easy to find.  A few times we had to search.  Just keep going up and you’ll stumble on them again.  There seemed to be a few different ways to get up.

*I personally would wait until all the snow is gone.  Hiking this in the snow, especially the final ridge, would be pretty difficult.

*Go with good company.  And someone who doesn’t complain.  Or it’s going to be a long, awful day.  I’d love to take my kids one day, but it will be years (and years and years) before any of them are ready for a hike like that.

 

And just for fun, since I didn’t do this, here’s a video I found on YouTube of the final stretch to the summit.  Makes me a little sick to my stomach to watch and remember how terrified I was.  I gotta build up my bravery for hiking.

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