Vertical training is important this time of year and hiking in the mountains is a great way to accomplish that goal... and why not combine that with connecting 12 months of backcountry skiing.
We arrived at the Timponeke trailhead around 8:30am and the lot was pretty full. Sunday morning in Provo? I guess we aren't the only gentiles who had the idea. We shouldered our bags and headed out with the intent of hiking to a snowfield 5km from the trailhead. Our sources told us there was enough snow to make turns that would qualify as "skiing".
It was a chilly start but it warmed up quickly as the sun began peeking over the ridgeline. We stopped to remove some clothing when an old guy who I would liken to Jerry Seinfeld's athletic nemesis Izzy Mandelbaum (only more able bodied) approached us and started asking us questions. We had already started discussing the possibility of extending the hike out to the headwall but decided to make that decision when we reached our initial objective.
"Where you guys headed?" he asked, to which we responded with our conditional possible destinations. He immediately started making statements that seemed to have additional meaning - think "Password" the game show. "It's pretty icy", and "C'mon you guys... you gotta have a plan," he kept insisting. I would not have been even a little surprised if he'd asked us if we thought we were better than him or shouted "It's go time!"
We fell more or less silent, shrugged and just stared at him. We weren't rude about it - he just seemed to have more energy and and in-your-face attitude than I could deal with or muster. He felt the awkward silence, wrapped up his psuedo-helpful act and carried on.
|Izzy - it's icy go time!|
"Are you the two I just talked to down trail?"
Jen said, "No, that was other people," and he believed her. He then engaged us in a conversation about these two other people he saw down below who were also planning on going skiing. Again we paused silently for a moment and then as gracefully as possible told him that in fact we, and those two he'd seen down below, were one in the same. We told him that we were headed up to the other snowfield and he started with the remarks again. Apparently the 'password' to getting him to stop was to let him know that we had crampons and axes. Once we told him this his demeanor changed and it was clear that his reason for all the obtuse questioning was actual concern. He said he'd been up to the headwall a couple weeks back and he had needed crampons for the last bit.
When we reached Timpanogos basin we were amazed by the number of wildflowers around so late - but I guess that's a testament to the huge snow year this past season. We were also able to see our objective and that it was certainly worth the longer hike. We crossed the last talus field before we finally reached Emerald Lake.
|Provo & Utah Lake|
|Jen's eye view|
|Ready to go...|
I picked up the backpack, and I'm not sure what they were carrying but it was heavy. Best guess is, it wasn't beer. Unfortunately they took our agreement to pick it up as permission to keep walking. I now had to ski with two heavy bags all the way down. When we finally reached them and saw the pink stains on their pants we knew they'd received punishment enough, and returned the pack without the tongue-lashing planned.
We changed back into summer clothing and had some lunch while enjoying the perfect weather and scenery. We took one last look at our adventure and started the 12km trek back to the car.