Sunday, January 27, 2013

Utah Places: Revisiting Mt Nebo

Recollections of my last hike on Mt Nebo.  I followed the blue trail.

I started fairly late in the morning at the Bear Canyon trailhead.

The trip up the east shoulder of Nebo is full of delights, ranging from deciduous brush and assorted maples and cottonwoods to aspen groves, towering evergreens, and alpine meadows lush with wildflowers.

 The trail winds up the shoulder of Nebo, through the lower elevation thickets of deciduous brush, as it enters the designated Nebo Wilderness Area, with a sign marking the border...

On into higher ground, surrounded now by spruces and firs...

Just taking in the scenery looking to the east from high up on the side of Nebo...

 On the summit ridge looking south, you can tell that Nebo is more of a long, snaky ridge than a formal mountain summit.

Nebo does sport several more formal summits, but they don't rise far above the long ridge line.  I never made it to the actual tippy top of the mountain that day.

After long dallying all day in alpine meadows, enjoying fragrant wildflowers, I found myself on the summit ridge, the day spent and nearing sunset...


 It was about then that I started remembering, with some small degree of alarm, all the signs I had been seeing posted around the Bear Canyon Campground area, at the foot of the mountain.  Bear Canyon, it seems, is aptly named.  Bears do frequent the area.  I have never seen any, but apparently many other people have.

O, well.  The Forest Service has to post these warning signs to limit their own public liability.  Or so I told myself, as I prepared to venture down through the forbidding darkness.  The mountain of delights now did not seem quite so friendly.

Anyway, it seems like all of a sudden started to get amazingly dark.  I'm not sure why I was surprised - after all, it tends to get dark just about every night.  There was no moonlight.  The stars were twinkling coldly.  It also gets freezing cold as soon as the sun sets, just astoundingly fast,  at that high elevation.

 I had a small flashlight in my backpack, so I was prepared to make a dash for the trailhead in the dark.

As I was tromping down the mountainside in the dark, with my tiny, pitiful little LED flash trying to light my way over countless rocks and other hazards, I kept thinking about all the signs, warning about bears in the area.  I was certainly following the directions to make lots of noise.  My boots thundered down the trail, making noise that I'm sure could be heard from miles away.  No such thing as a surreptitious egress from the wilderness.  

The little circle of light I was casting ahead did not make much of an impression on that big, dark night.  I kept remembering all those damned signs, and thinking of how the bears would enjoy browsing on all those thickets of berry and sumac bushes I kept passing in the dark.

I would imagine around every turn that I heard something crashing through the brush, off in the distance.

Happily, the miles passed with no bears making their dread presence known.  I travelled the trail back to my car without incident, but heaving a final sigh of relief.

It was some substantial number of miles to travel back to Snail Hollow, so I was very late getting home that night.  When I finally arrived, I got several lectures about how worried they were that something might have happened to me.  I had taken only a light lunch, a little water, and very sparse gearage, so I was ill prepared to spend the night on the slopes of Nebo.  But I felt shameful about my cowardly headlong flight in the dark, down the precipitous mountainside.

I prudently restrained myself from telling anything about being frightened by bears in the night.

1 comment:

Jim Cobabe said...

Note: I haven't been back to Nebo since that night, nor have I ever heard any bear reports from that vicinity.