I’m pooped. I hiked to the top of East Mountain today, and this hike was actually quite fun. It was only about 500 feet lower in elevation than South Tent Mountain, so I’m not sure I can blame my blah hike last time on that–maybe I just needed to get acclimated to the elevation (or the exertion). You can see from the aerial image of my route that there was a lot of zig-zagging. The climb was so steep, and through such thick brush and trees that it took me five hours to hike the entire 2.91 miles, and for more than half of that time I was stopped to rest.
I don’t think I’m going to go on any more long hikes alone, not after what’s happened the last couple of times. Each time, as I was hiking downhill, I fell at least a couple of times. I got scraped up pretty good today, and I even managed to get a thick sliver off a fallen log wedged under my fingernail about ¼ inch–it didn’t hurt much then, just bled a bit, but it’s killing me now. I just keep thinking that one of these times, I’ll take a nasty spill like that and break something important (not just my skin). Not only that, but I’m scared to death of running into a bear or cougar–yeah, I know how very unlikely that is, and I am armed while I’m out there, but I know that if something purposely wanted to attack me (as opposed to being startled into a defensive posture), I wouldn’t see it until it had its jaws around my throat. On my way up the mountain today, I spooked a sage grouse that was about eight feet in front of me (and slightly uphill), and when it flew off, it started off heading right for my head. I let out a pretty big yelp before I realized what it was, but by then it had turned and flew to my left for about ten yards before landing in some brush. My heart was beating really hard, because I thought I was about to get pounced on, and I had to sit for about five minutes before I’d settled down enough to continue on.
I don’t know which mountain I’m going to hike next, but I’d like to get three or four more in before the snow sets in at the higher elevations. I could just start going after the easy ones–there are six county high points left in my High in Utah book that are rated as “easy” (one of them is actually rated “too easy” because you can drive right to it), but they’re all so damned far away. I’m not sure I want to drive for several hours only to go on a short hike, at least not without something else to do in the area. I also want to get a trip to Nutty Putty Cave in pretty soon. Now that school has started, a weekday trip to the cave would be perfect.