What started out as a walk around the block turned into a walk up to Slate Canyon Trailhead. That then turned into a walk all the way up Slate Canyon which then turned into a walk all the way up to Provo Peak. Given the distance, elevation gain and heat, it may be the most strenuous single day hike I've ever done.
Wednesday - June 8, 2016
Provo Peak sits at 11,068 feet. Last year was my first time bagging it when a group of friends and I hiked up Slate Canyon and camped closer up to the peak. You can read about that trip here.
On this day however, I woke up with the intent of hiking it once more, only this time, it would be all the way up to it right from my very front door. No driving to any trailheads and no camping to break up the distance. The most popular place for most people to begin a hike up Provo Peak is to drive up the Squaw Peak Road and park right at the base of it's west ridge, making it only about 1.5 miles up and 3 miles round trip. I figured that since it's probably a good hour's drive up to that spot, given the condition of the dirt road you have to take to get there, I thought I may as well just spend that same hour and a bit more hiking and see how much longer it would take me to reach that same point by foot. Well, its almost 6 miles to that point and well over 3000 feet higher from my house. It ended up taking me about 3 hours to get to that point and to get to it required that I hike up Slate Canyon, a canyon I live very close to the mouth of.
I walked out my front door at 6:30 a.m.. Not far up into the canyon, I noticed a rabbit having some breakfast right on the edge of the trail.
I thought for sure I'd scare it right away, but the critter just sat there and didn't mind me at all. It even sat up and posed for me as I knelt right down next to it. It was obviously used to humans and so I thought it had to be one that's either escaped its owner or was just simply released by someone.
Slate Canyon isn't quite as scenic as its neighboring canyons to the north of it, but it does present some nice towering cliffs and other interesting geological formations.
I stopped by a raspberry patch on the way up, but unfortunately, none of the fruit was ripe yet.
Wildflowers were abundant most of the way up.
Near the top of Slate Canyon sits a nice little meadow that offers a few nice spots for camping. It also serves as a great place to take a good rest.
It also features a "bathtub" style spring. This spring, in addition to one further down the canyon were key to my plans. I would rely on them for filling up my water bottles, making stops at them both on my way up and down.
Shortly after exiting up and out of the meadow, there is a pleasant little grove of aspens to hike through with lush green vegetation growing underneath the canopy.
The aspens and shade don't last long though. Then it's on up a steep but short section of trail into a clearing that takes you up to a junction with the top of Slide Canyon and Trail #62. Trail #62 was my turn-off point and it was about one more mile from there to the Squaw Peak Road or more technically, FR #27.
Ascending the trail from the junction, I was presented with some great views looking off onto Buffalo Peak, Timpanogos, and Cascade Mountain.
Then it was on through a fairly nice stand of conifers.
In good time, I reached the end of the connector trail and where most people drive up when seeking to bag Provo peak.
I stepped out across the dirt road and began the steep 1.5 mile ascent up the west ridge. I did not really stop to take any pictures or video on the way up because I was focused on just getting up as quick as I could so I could be on my way back down and closer to home before the heat of the day peaked itself.
In due time, I finally reached the end of the grueling route up and tagged the weathervane marking the top of the peak.
The views were wonderful.
After a good rest and some lunch, I descended as fast as my knees could safely and comfortably allow me to. I got back on the connector trail, #62, to take me back down into Slide Canyon. I took one last look back at Provo Peak before disappearing back out of sight from it.
On my way back to the junction with Slate Canyon trail, I was able to spy Squaw Peak through some aspens.
I made it back to the junction and then started the descent back down into Slate Canyon where I was presented with another great view of Corral Mountain and Buckley Mountain.
Getting back down into some shade was not to be taken for granted. It was HOT!
After another wonderfully refreshing stop at the spring in the upper meadows of Slate Canyon, I hastily made my way back down the rest of Slate Canyon. Along the way, I looked up and noticed a hole through one of the rock faces up above. I've hiked Slate numerous times now but had never noticed this little feature.
The rest of the hike back home was fairly uneventful. Just a few more nice views of Slate Canyon's towering walls with a breeze to tease me here and there.
This was quite a hike that totaled roughly 15 miles round trip and right around 7000 feet of total elevation gained and lost along the route up and back.