Friday, January 25, 2013

Utah Places: Deseret Peak

 This is Deseret Peak east face with a view of the TwinCouloirs

One rather spectacular place of unsurpassed beauty that I have neglected to mention,  but deserves pointing out,  is Deseret Peak in the Stansbury Range, way out in Tooele County. I have never made the summit trek, but it is reputed to be an easy hike, about 15 miles round trip. Lots of climbing, though.  The peak elevation is over 11,000, and the trails start climbing at about 6,000 feet.  What makes it so remarkable is the pristine alpine terrain, right in the middle of the most unlikely desert terrain. That and the fact that it is far enough off the beaten path that it is seldom visited.

 View of Deseret Peak from South Willow Lake

 Another perspective of Twin Couloirs on Deseret Peak

 Alpine meadows on the northeast of Deseret Peak

Viewed through an aspen grove

When we were phasing out my contracting work for the BLM and Forest Service, I surveyed the Mill Fork of South Willow Creek area for a weed spraying bid.  This area is like an oasis in the middle of a desert.  Difficult to imagine the towering spruces and firs, and the thick aspen groves, that cover the spreading slopes of this mountain peak.  Rushing streams flow through the narrow canyons, supporting a veritable carpet of wildflowers.

Pretty early in the spring, the Mill Fork road was closed to vehicles from the Lower Narrows area, so I hiked alongside the creek up to the end of the road.  Here, at the Loop Campground, there starts the trail that leads to the peak.   This is where I ended my journey and started back to the truck.

Perhaps I should add, I made this trek after I had already experienced my first stroke episode in 2009.  I was not yet so paralyzed that I could not roll along at a fair gait, with the assistance of my sturdy cane.  Since then, things have become so much worse for me, and I could never do this trek today.

I left my dad with the pickup parked back at the Lower Narrows where the road was blocked off.  He started to worry about me after I had been gone for more than two hours.  He asked some Forest Service employees that happened to be passing by if they would allow him past the barricades to start searching for me.  But just about the time he was preparing to set out, I returned to the truck, thoroughly weary from the fairly short and easy walk.

There is apparently an active rock climbing group that favors the climbing wall offering itself at the Narrows of Mill Fork.  When we visited there, I saw that the egress to climbing routes was accomplished using an old mattress, strategically placed in the middle of the stream.  Perhaps a top rope belay uses this spot to rest on while protecting ascending climbers.  Anyway, it was rather a curiosity.

Another remarkable thing that I remember was one of the signs posted alongside the county road leading into the area.   The sign proclaimed a county ordinance forbidding anyone from bringing glass containers into public lands.

County Code prohibits glass containers on lands open to the public:
Tooele County Code
Title 6 - Public Safety
Chapter 18

Miscellaneous Provisions
6-18-6. Possession or use of glass containers on lands open to public access prohibited.

I've never seen anything like this before.  Don't know what bothers folks in Tooele County about those pernicious glass containers.  I suspect some local political officer had a bad experience with a flat tire, or some such.

Anyway, to get to the Deseret Peak area, you can follow the Mormon Trail Road from Grantsville, until you reach signs directing you to South Willow Canyon.  Though a long drive from Salt Lake area, well worth the investment in travel miles.

Some nice links here and here...

Or peruse the Wiki entry.


Jim Cobabe said...

Please remember to leave home any of those dangerous glass containers you might have otherwise brought along. We'll have no scofflaws littering up our beautiful mountains! :-)

Jim Cobabe said...

For those brave ones who would venture forth, keep in mind that the peak is a REAL mountain. It will be snow-covered until well into July, in some years. If you wish to visit at times other than summer, come prepared for deep snow. Bring trekking skiis or snowshoes.

Also be forewarned about the locked gate at the Narrows in Mill Fork Canyon. It doesn't open up until the snow is melted from the road to Loop Campgrounds. Exactly when this happens depends on the snow season, I suppose. We were there in May, and it was still locked. Contact the Forest Service if you need to know. Otherwise, be prepared to hike the extra four miles to the trailhead at the base of the peak. Not a bad walk, but might be nice to know about in advance.