Saturday, February 14, 2009

Utah Places: Mount Nebo

Nebo is seen from the freeway by travellers and is probably the most prominent landmark on the Wasatch Front that may get the least credit as a spectacular place to visit.

There are so many good things to list, I hardly know where to start.

One of the most interesting for boot-leather enthusiasts is that Nebo is a great place to hike. My favorite is starting from the Bear Canyon area, climbing up one of the many shoulder ridge trails to the summit ridge, and along to one of Nebo's summits. Nebo is actually a rather long, narrow north-south ridge with several "summits" of substantial height. They're all kind of crumbly talus decomposing sedimentary rock, loose and sliding, so the trails are pretty informally defined. If you actually find yourself so high, look west and find Nephi and Mona down below your feet, and Utah lake stretching out further to the west and north, with Payson/Santaquin just below to the right, Spanish Fork further, and Provo/Orem sprawling offinto the far distance on the north, Santaqin Peak and Loafer Mountain northeast, and west the other of side the Lake Mountains, out into parts of the West Desert, south to the mountains down the Wasatch chain in the Red Cliffs area and further, and east across to Baldy and the Skyline on the Wasatch Plateau. Nebo also has a good summit trail coming fairly straight up from the Nephi/Mona side, but I have never hiked it.

On the scenic menu, Mount Nebo shelters a Bryce-Canyon-like formation called Devil's Kitchen.

Okay, it's not Bryce Canyon, but it is beautiful, and worth the time to look.

Also on the regular drive across Nebo that is billed as the "Nebo Loop" is Payson Lakes, which is a marvellous place for a Sunday afternoon picnic or a short holiday drive in the mountains, or to come to see the autumn leaves, or whatever.

Payson Lakes is one area that has become popular enough to assume Disneyland proportions, so there is a blacktop track paved around the main lake for the benefit of joggers, bikers, walkers, stroller, what have you. Don't let it bother you, its overall a good thing.

If you just love camping with you family in campgrounds, there are some of the best around on or around the slopes of Nebo. I personally love Blackhawk. My preference. There is also Bear Canyon, if you love big cottonwoods and tall evergreens. It's on the south side, Blackhawk is northeast, so they give different perspectives at different times of year.

There are other campgrounds further off the beaten path that you can search out. I'm not going to name any here, because the people that use them think they own them. Maybe they do.

Personally, I would prefer to depart from the road by a wide margin and camp somewhere in the tall weeds. But I know this is not for everyone. I like hearing coyotes howl at the moon on the ridge after midnight, and owl hoots early in the morning before sunup. I want to find the snake trail across my path and the spider web in my boot. Ants in my granola are okay, I'm just more careful to keep the package closed next time.

Using a tree for bathroom needs has turned into a major problem for me. My last outing on our Milford Flats project, I had several accidents, and only an understanding and patient partner (with a not too sensitive nose) kept me from big-time breaking down out of just plain humiliation. Dealing with this kind of thing is a regular fact of life issue for families with babies and young children, and to a lesser degree, some adults are simply less comfortable or less adept. Using public facilities has always been emotionally uncomfortable for me, and now there is the hazard of unknown communicable germs ever present. It is a difficult problem, made worse by circumstances some of us cannot help. Under my present handicap, I found that under urgent need, I just could not physically get out of the tent, unencumbered from sleeping bag and other paraphernalia in time, and as a result, was unable to stop myself from peeing all over my person and my bedclothes. I do not know what exactly to recommend, and am hoping for some good suggestions. Other than carrying a shovel and a good supply of wet-wipes, I am a beginner.


Anonymous said...

I love Payson lakes. They're pretty fished out on busy weekends, but what lakes aren't, I guess. This is such a beautiful area. We love the Nebo loop for camping. It's a central area, but also far enough away to feel away from "it all".

So what's on for Monday??? That is, if we can get this snow to quit for a minute or two!

Jim Cobabe said...


I'm thinking the desert travel day is a bad idea, because of the weather. If snow isn't bad tomorrow, how about we gather for play in the snow and hot soup, at your house or ours, whichever looks best, depending on weather and circumstances.

I'm thinking we'll bring those bread bowls that you can eat after you eat the soup outta them, you make your potato soup recipe.

We'll sit around and watch a video and get cabin fever waiting for spring.

How's that sound?