Mill Creek > > Park City Overlook

adventure date: August 21st, 2014

distance: 5.2 miles (unless your us then it's 9 miles)
elevation gain: 1,179 ft
difficulty: moderate
exposure: mostly shaded
season: summer-fall (gate to upper Mill Creek Canyon is closed Nov 1st to July 1st.
tip: this is a popular mountain biking trail so be alert
getting there: Drive 8.5 miles up Mill Creek Canyon to the end of Mill Creek Canyon Road. Park & follow signs for the Great Western Trail (GWT), head East. 

This trail slowly & steadily ascends through meadows, wooded slopes, and over creeks until you reach the ridge line of Mill Creek that looks down onto Park City. I wish I could remember the route we took. Even though it added on 4 miles it was a great trail. Mill Creek Canyon is one of my new favorite spots. 

We unfortunately had to cancel our climbing trip this past weekend due to weather. Huge bummer. But despite the rain we still got outside, hiking this little gem instead. It was lovely! Once up the canyon & surrounded by the trees, and chilly air, under the rainy sky felt like we were suddenly in norther california (which is one of my favorite places, in case you were wondering). 

It was fun to get lost with our friends Jamie & Kerry and explore the mountains overlooking Park City. We saw some deer, a moose, and shrooms bigger than my head! Michael was pretty stoked to get to try out his life straw. We were no expecting/prepared for how chilly it got up there! So we rushed down and went to this yummy hole in the wall Italian restaurant to thaw out. 


30 hours of adventures

adventure date: August 31st - September 1st, 2014

Hofe had to work Labor Day weekend so we couldn't wander too far from home, but that didn't stop us from stuffing our short holiday with as much adventure as we could. Our packs were loaded with gear, tossed in the car, thrown on our backs, and hauled up to Silver Lake Flat in American Fork Canyon.

We were blazing up the mountain, through the aspens, racing the setting sun in hopes to catch a glimpse of the secluded lake before the stars came out. Even though I grew up with American Fork Canyon in my backyard, I never get sick of it. Its pretty fantastic. And that is my unbiased opinion. 

We reached a point where you could see Mount Timpanogos in the distance, and the view was too good not to stop and take a picture. No harm in that, right? I climbed up on to a boulder, balanced the camera, set the self timer and quickly raced down into the shot. Our camera takes a few pictures in a row. I told Hofe to quickly turn around so we could get a shot of us looking out over the landscape, then we spun back around to get one of us facing the camera (in the pic above, you can see my pad no dangling from my pack.) The camera took one last photo right as the realization hit that my sleeping pad , which had seconds before been strapped to the outside of my pack, was currently on it's way down the mountain. 

We stood at the edge in shock looking down as my compressed yellow sleeping pad tumbled and bounced over rocks and bushes until we lost sight of it below. I let out a laugh and "oh crap", but inside I was seriously contemplated leaving it. I'm really fond of it though, and knew I would freeze that night without it, so I had to go down and rescue it.
I carefully made my way down the steep scree slope. It was slow going. After awhile of looking and climbing through bushes, Hofe joined in the search. You would think the yellow would stand out amongst all the green but it didn't. We couldn't find it anywhere! I was praying we would and just when I was about to give up, Hofe saved the day and found it! I was so relieved and happy! ... then I realized we had to scramble our way back up the death scree. You could say some of the air was let out of my excitement. By the time we made it back to the trail it was dark & the remainder of the hike went by quickly.

Since we were late comers on the eve of a holiday we didn't have many choices for camping spots. Our options were even more limited because there weren't many trees big enough for hammocks around the lake. We crossed a stream and made our way around the lake, away from the other campers until we found the perfect cluster of secluded trees to set up our hammocks. 

I always put some thought into which side I want to be on, basing this decision on which side of Michael I would feel more safe (I do this whenever we are sleeping someplace new. Always pick the "safer side" of the bed.) Well you can't always make the right decision eh. I was excited to get to use my new throwback retro Eno hammock. It is so bright it pretty much glows in the dark! I love it. My new hammock, even in all its 90's glory, still has flip potential. The handy-dandy self timer was able to capture this gem at the perfect moment of me tipping out of my hammock. oh haha my face

Thinking the excitement was over we nestled into our hammocks ready for some much awaited sleep. Hofe was to my left a little higher off the ground, unconscious in no time, and enjoying a great night's sleep. Me on the other hand...not so much. I was half asleep when I heard rustling in the bushes a few feet to my right. I knew it wasn't an old Asian man this time either... I opened my eyes and laid perfectly still. I wanted to wake Hofe but I didn't want to draw attention to myself by shaking him or saying his name. The neon hammock was already doing a good job of drawing attention. After a few seconds when I could hear the creature moving towards the lake, and away from me, I slowly raised my head and peaked over the edge of my hammock. In the moonlight I saw the backside of a moose. It was still too close for comfort so holding my breath I slowly laid my head back down while it moved on into the darkness. My ears were on alert listening for even the faintest sounds. Eventually I worked up the courage to loudly whisper Michael's name but he was too sleepy and didn't really listen to me. At some point I dozed off but awoke again to noises on my right, and not moving I fell unconscious again. I was so tired but kept my ears open. When the sky was just beginning to lighten in the early dawn hours I heard something AGAIN coming through those same bushes to the right. The light made me a little more brave so I pulled down the side of my hammock to get a good look. I noticed a game trail 5 ft to my right in the bushes that three deer were taking to head back into the trees. After I watched them leave I was able to get a little more sleep but was still exhausted when Hofe woke me. 

We followed the animal's path a little ways then spent the rest of the morning exploring around the lake and climbing some boulders. After a quick breakfast (why does food taste so much better when your camping? that spam was divine!) we packed up camp (another great thing about hammocks is they are so quick!) and headed back down the trail.

We reached the car around lunch and swapped our backpacking stuff for climbing stuff and headed back down the canyon to send some routes. By some miracle we had the whole graycliffs & surrounding area all to ourselves! This is rare even on your standard Saturday, let alone Labor Day. Hofe was a rock star as always, and I was quite the wimp that day not going to lie. I wasn't used to the "more generous spacing" between bolts and it got in my head. Its unbelievable how mental climbing is. Sometimes the mental aspect is more challenging than the physical aspect. Thats why climbing is so great. Hofe is muy bueno at overcoming his mental blocks and crushing it, especially that day. For example, while we were climbing down at Little Mill later on that day, he got over his mind game and attempted a gnarly series of moves after some of the biggest whippers he's ever taken. Good thing I'm a soft catch :). He had quite the whiplash the next day though.
After we were spent from climbing, and pumped out of our brains, we went on a double date with my brother for some yummy Italian food. Hofe and I were coming straight from backpacking/climbing trip and it showed that we'd been living outside for awhile. We tried cleaning up as much as we could hobo style in the car with babywipes and dry shampoo (pure magic!). We still felt a little out of place, but the food was delicious! We also got to hit up Provo Canyon with them before finally heading home to watch a movie and get ready for the work week.


Desolation Lake

adventure date: August 16th, 2014

Desolation Lake
distance: about 6.6 miles
elevation gain: 2,465 ft
difficulty: moderate
exposure:  mostly shaded
season: spring, summer, fall

tip: keep a heads up for mountain bikers
getting there: head up Big Cottonwood Canyon for 9.1 miles and park at Mill D North Fork trailhead on the left side of the road. follow trail signs from there.

When picking a trail in Big Cottonwood Canyon, don't base your decision off of the names, they are misnomers. You can pretty much count on the trail being the exact opposite of it's name. For example, Dog Lake. 'Lake' is being a little too optimistic. Its a mud hole, a pond on a good day. And you can't even have dogs there! What the heck?! Can I rename this? So Desolation Lake sounds like it'd be pretty barren and ugly right? Again, it's just the opposite of it's name - it's beautiful! There is so much vegetation and wild life. 

This trail is beautiful from start to finish. You pass through trees, and meadows as you gradually ascend to Desolation Lake with some ridgeline views along the way. It is an awesome place to go and escape into nature, and beat the summer heat.

Since Hofe had to work I loaded up my pack to enjoy a day in the mountains. I originally planned on doing a shorter hike since I had already done a 4 mile trail run that morning, but I am so glad I took the recommendation of a fellow hiker & ended up doing this hike.

It had been awhile since I'd done a solo hike and I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it. No offense Hofe - I love hiking with you! But hitting the trail by myself, clearing my head, and working off some stress is sometimes just what you need. Me time. 

I laid on the beach of the lake for a bit and did some yoga and mediation. Then I strung up my hammock in the trees and took a nap, did some reading, and enjoyed the views of the aqua lake and tree-spotted mountains. It is so peaceful and relaxing! Such a great way to spend the afternoon!