Dehydrated Rock Gardening

My daughter in law thinks it's a bit strange that I always, go hiking at Rock Canyon—this despite the fact that it was her father's favorite place to hike. “There are other hikes; places with destinations like waterfalls” she'll say! She's right and I've done a few and plan to do more, but walking along in Rock Canyon with towering cliffs on both side, the stream flowing and views of Utah Lake off in the distance seems the closest I can come to something to fill the loss of sitting in a kayak amongst the waves and the rocks. White water kayaking probably would be a great substitute and I was planing on doing some, but I found I left my wetsuit in CA and visions of Sean Morley popping up on the river to tell me I was completely inappropriately dressed for river kayaking has me scared to enter. So I've substituted dehydrated rock gardening in RC as my alternative.

The shady area is the way up!

Today I headed back up the scree field at the base of Squaw Peak, though now I know the proper term is talus gully! I was sad to find the stream had completely dried up, probably diverted somewhere up the mountain. I made a little earlier go of things and maybe it was the coolness of the morning that got me to the base of the TG feeling in good shape.

I used a different approach to avoid some of the loose stuff and get to the shade of the cliff quicker. It was linearly longer, but worth the time and shade. I walked by a two pair of shoes and a backpack and figured I must not be alone today and was also joined by a guy who walked up to the shade with an umbrella chair across the way from me and sat enjoying the view. I followed the base of the cliff to avoid the loose stuff as long as I could. When I finally had to hit it, I was glad to see I was quite close to my end point on my first hike. Barring wild animals, I would make it higher today.

Getting above the talus

Traversing to the other side of the TG, I climbed up the rock face to a small ledge to sit and rest before heading up. The lower trail was a lot busier today and across the way there were a couple climbers going up the vertical slope. Sissies with ropes, I call them!! Looking down from my ledge, I thought maybe a rope wouldn't be a bad idea; I was off the ground a bit!

My ledge brought me to a point just under my last stopping point and I was feeling good enough to just continue on. It was talus interspersed with large rocks and time to put my gloves on. Now I was trying to find sure foot holds and kicking away loose stuff next to the fixed boulders. I got up to where the goats had been last time to find there wasn't as much level ground as I thought. There were plenty of lines to pick and not having a clue, I just picked the closest. Finally I got to the place where the talus ended and all that was left were boulders, cliff and narrow channels in the rock. This had been my goal for the day and I got comfy for a bit of a rest.

Finally off the talus

I sat there enjoying the views, the train whistle making it's way up all the way from the other side of town. Now I could hear occasional human noises and figured it was probably the people with the shoes down at the bottom. Echoing around the cliffs, I couldn't pinpoint any direction. I left my poles where I sat and decided to make my way up the narrow V shaped channel. The best way seemed with my back on one side and my feet on the other. Now really in the rocks, I started contemplating the consequences.

Looking down the canyon, it was no short distance, but the talus was really rather forgiving. But I had been on some ledges this time from which a fall would only probably not be fatal! I'd done things rock gardening in the ocean that seemed much more dangerous and it was hard here on dry land to make a risk assessment.

Leaving the poles behind

Enjoying the view

On the water I always had Jack along to show what was possible, if not prudent! And on the water alone, I was always more circumspect than when I was around with other people. The rocks ahead of me seemed passable without real climbing skills, but I was still alone. I called an end to my upward development and figured maybe I could find out from someone with experience what awaited me any farther up. While I sat contemplating, I heard and saw people coming down on ropes from high on the cliff to my side. Now THAT looks dangerous!

The rest of the way up

I got back to my poles and started the slide down the talus with decent speed. Only once did I land on my posterior. With the poles and the sliding, it almost seemed like a form of skiing. I could have avoided the sun still, but I took the short path in the middle of the field, knowing I'd be down quick. At the top I had looked at my GPS to find I'd only walked half a mile from my car, but I did do a bit over a thousand feet in elevation overall. I was sad at home though, to find that if I'd climbed another 10 feet as I had contemplated, I would have made it to 6,000 feet. Still, I'd been staring at this climb ever since I started walking here, wondering how much of it was possible and not seeing many takers and now I had least made to the places that I thought were possible. How much more I can do will take some learning. Learning might cost money though: ignorance is bliss and free!