I flew into SLC Tuesday, and had enough time to go for a hike. I had done some research, and found out about Mount Olympus, which overlooks the city. After I checked into the hotel and packed my pack, I headed out.
The trailhead is on Wasatch Boulevard off of I-215. There is a parking lot with room for maybe 20 cars, and there isn’t any gate (I note this, since in a lot of places in California, they close the gates to the parking lots at ridiculous early times like 1730).
I started hiking about 1250.
First, of all, a common theme: this trail is steep! There was one place where the trail swooped down and then back up to the same starting altitude, but otherwise it was pretty much relentlessly up!
There are some big boulders on the lower parts.
This is looking back down the trail from the boulder above. You can see how steep it is, and how much loose stuff is on the trail.
This is looking towards downtown Salt Lake City. The white cloud is the dust plume that I saw from the air flying in.
There are a couple places where there are trail branches. I followed one (it was FLAT), and found this little hollow. The wind was blowing fiercely out of the SW; the news reported that the winds were 35 mph gusting to 50+. I would believe it. This hollow was out of the wind, and was a great resting place.
After a while, you get up into an area where it’s not quite so barren. These scrub trees went up quite a ways, and also protected from the relentless wind.
This was from a nice resting place. The snowy area across the way has part of the trail. I ended up near the top of it before I headed back down. Note the trail on the lower left, this is the only downhill part of the hike up; the trail dips down, then back up.
There is a small stream on the trail. The sign at the trailhead says it is 1.5 miles up, but my GPS said it was 1.9.
This was at the bottom of the snowfield. The going got pretty slow here due to the snow, and the fact that a lot of the trail had sand and dust, and was steep and wet.
Along here, my camera batteries started to expire, so I have a couple Blackberry photos also.
This is over at the snowfield you see in the previous photo. Every other switchback was progressively more snow covered. A couple guys I met around here (they were coming down) were carrying crampons, but had not used them.
Topwards the top of the snowfield I noticed these clouds moving in over the valley. The wind had been screaming in from the southwest, but these clouds were moving along the surface to from North to South.
At this point I decided to head down. As the cloud swept over me, it turned out to be just a fog, and the wind largely died off. But it started to get really cold, and the light was starting to fade. I added my sweatshirt, and I put on a pair of cotton gloves since my hands were getting cold.
The following pictures didn’t turn out as well as I hoped. There is an amazing amount of variety of rocks here, color and texture is amazingly variable.
I really like the veining in this one.
This is a shale rock. I saw shale jutting out at several points along the trail.
These two rocks were in close proximity, and had such different colors.
I got off the trail about 1700. The GPS round trip mileage was 4.77 miles. The altitude gain was about 2400 feet. I was absolutely beat. This was a very hard hike. It was beautiful both directions. I ended up getting about one mile from the peak. If I had another hour (and stronger thighs!) I would have made the summit.
I saw four people coming down as I was going up. There was at least one person who stopped at the creek and headed back. I also say another three people going up as I was headed down. A lot of the people had dogs, very cool.
This was a really nice hike, and fairly strenuous. Very enjoyable.
One thing I was surprised at – the lack of wildlife. I saw not a single squirrel. I heard a couple birds on the way up. On the way down, I saw several jays (they would almost have to be Stellar’s Jays), a couple small perching birds, and two – quail. These last two were about 30 feet off the trail.
23 May 2010 Update
I downloaded my GPS yesterday and figured out how to get the track exported onto Google Earth. It is presented here. You can see where I stopped on the way up, and how much farther it was to the peak of Mt. Olympus.