I was hoping to take each of my older girls on daddy-daughter trips in the Uintas, expecting most snow to be melted out early this year. That didn't happen. My oldest daughter, Willow, didn't want to drive that far either; and, I missed out on a loop hike up Grove Creek and down Battle Creek I had planned to do earlier in May due to my wife, Jess, going into a false labor with our infant son (born 2 weeks later). Rather than making the long drive into the wet and muddy Uintas, I took my oldest, Willow, and made the short drive to Grove Creek. Win - Win.
Tuesday - June 9, 2015
We arrived at Grove Creek trailhead and began our hike early in the evening. Somewhat surprisingly, there was a couple and their young daughter, around 4 years old, saddling up for an overnighter as well. We would pass each other numerous times on the way up as we each took breaks at different points.
After about a mile or so, the trail takes a turn back out toward the valley where we took in the view and a nice little cooling mountain breeze.
Grove Creek trail presents a little bit of exposure as it hugs against some cliffs on a few small sections, but Willow showed no fear of the heights. We pulled over for a snack break while watching the first of the two sizable waterfalls in the canyon.
Shortly after the first waterfall is the second waterfall worthy of another break at.
Flowers competed for our attention.
Back to the upper waterfall.
There is a bench that has been installed above the falls. It was placed in memory of Les Case and it appears he may have had a passion for biking.
The bench offers another great view back out toward the valley.
Feeling well rested, it was time to move along and make our way up the trail to Grove Creek Spring.
Soon we were walking the meadows leading up to the spring where the upper ridge of Mount Timpanogos comes into view.
The spring is always a happy sight. The water is as nice and refreshing as any. No filter needed.
The other family chose to camp up in a grove of trees close by. Our destination was Christ Flat, a little further up and beyond the meadows surrounding the spring. Willow enjoyed this little stretch of the hike. I did too. Perhaps it was the thought of our camp being only minutes away now or the beautiful lush green meadows followed by aspen groves.
After making our way up and through the aspens, we were gazing out across Christ Flat.
It was neat to see Willow following in the footsteps of her mother who walked the same trail here last year as we trekked from Park City to Provo.
The sun was setting and the glow cast on Mount Timpanogos above us made us feel like were were in a magical fairy tale world.
At the far end of Chris Flat was our campsite in a thick of aspens.
As always, it felt good to get our packs off for the night. Willow jumped right in at rounding up some bits of firewood.
She was also quick to notice that the fire-ring was shaped like a heart.
The setting sun quickly disappeared beneath the horizon and soon the valley out below was aglow and sparkling with city lights.
We wrapped up the evening with a colorful campfire and s'mores.
Wednesday - June 10, 2015
We awoke to this fantastic view.
Willow chose hammocks for our sleeping accommodations. She slept in my DIY hammock (upper) while I stayed in my Grand Trunk Ultralight (lower). She made it through the night without issue.
Our hammock setup from the other side.
Willow was quite tired when we went to bed so I let her sleep in a bit. I walked down the trail a bit and captured this shot looking down into Battle Creek.
I returned back to our camp and woke up Willow for breakfast. We got our stuff all packed up and noticed that one of the trees we had anchored to had a peculiar hole through the middle of it.
All packed up and ready to move on. Willow's pack is on the left, mine on the right.
The sky was overcast but nothing too threatening. We discussed making an attempt to get up on Big Baldy and taking up some binoculars to try and find our house.
We left our camp and made our way down to the junction with Battle Creek where we dropped our packs and took just a few small essentials for the side trip up to Big Baldy. Along the way, we enjoyed all the flowers and wildlife. Willow has a keen eye. She spotted many interesting little insects that I would have missed.
As we got close to the saddle, Willow decided she was too tired to keep going up. It was late in the morning and we wanted to get back down to the valley for lunch. The clouds were darkening up in spots too, so we made the U-turn and headed back down for our packs. Once again, Big Baldy would have to wait for another day. It was worth the side trip just to see all of the little creatures.
I was again taken away with how green everything was. Later in the summer, much of the grassy meadows along this side of the mountain will be browner.
We reunited with our packs at the Battle Creek junction and began the descent down through Battle Creek, pausing at times to view some more trailside wildlife.
Willow had to make a pit stop so we pulled over. After she was done she came over complaining about her arms itching really bad. Little bumps had appeared all over her forearms. I went over and inspected the area she had just come out of and found stingy nettle to be prominently growing through out. I felt like a bad dad for not surveying the spot first. We put some anti-itch cream on it and she toughed it out. She actually became enthusiastic to learn all about stingy nettle.
We moved on down Battle Creek looking forward to the popular waterfall near the mouth of the canyon.
The clouds had dissipated for a bit allowing the sun to come through and heat things up. This made the arrival at the waterfall even more rewarding. We took a good long break to recharge for the final push for the car.
More curious little geologic features and flowers along the trail were abundant as we exited the canyon and followed the foothill trails back over to Grove Creek.
At last, we were back at Grove Creek trailhead and our car. This time, I had remembered to take my car key with me.
A stop for lunch and milkshakes at Purple Turtle just down the road from the trailhead and a few blocks over was a must.
It was a pleasure to have Willow out. She doesn't often like the actual act of hiking, but when her mind turns to all the little details to see and study, she really enjoys it. She said her favorite parts of the trip were all the little stream crossings and the actual camping part.
Trailhead: Grove CreekDistance Hiked: 10.5 miles
Elevation Low: 5177 feet
Elevation High: 8300 feet