Submitted by John Runfeldt
If you’re reading Krysti’s blog then there’s a pretty good chance we have a few things in common. You probably love hiking, have an adventurous spirit, and you likely live in the northeast. While the northeast Appalachians behold countless hiking destinations full of beauty and splendor, you may have gotten the itch to experience those mighty mountains to the west; the Rocky Mountains.
Perhaps you’ve already considered making a trek out west but abandoned the idea, thinking it would be too difficult to plan. Maybe you thought it would take too much time, or that it would cost too much money. Well I’m here to tell you that you can make it happen. And it can be done with just a long weekend if you’re short on time, and you don’t have to spend a fortune.
How much time do you need?
When I took my trip in September, I only had two vacation days left at work and wanted to make them count. I sandwiched the weekend by taking off Friday and Monday giving me a four day weekend. Friday and Monday were my travel days; Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to hiking.
Where to go if you’re short on time?
The first thing I did was research the proximity of desirable hiking destinations to major airports. I decided to hike in the High Uinta Wilderness of northern Utah, which is less than an hour drive from Salt Lake City International Airport.
Another great option would be to fly into Boise and hike the Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho; also about an hour drive. As it turns out, Salt Lake City and Boise are two of the most affordable destinations to purchase airfare.
Unlike the National Parks of southern Utah which consist of desert and canyons (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches, and Capitol Reef), the Uintas are a sub-range of the Rockies consisting of aspen and alpine forests, wildflower meadows (in the Spring or Summer), mountain lakes, and towering talus slopes extending thousands of feet above tree line. On this trip, I hiked Mount Timpanogos on my first day. On my second day I hiked to Lake Blanche. With an early start on both days, I had some time to spare so I also hiked to the Timpanogos Cave National Monument, drove the scenic byway known as the Alpine Loop, and visited Bridal Veil Falls; a magnificent two-tiered waterfall measuring over 600’ tall. While this is what I chose to do, there are countless other options in the Uinta Wilderness.
Where to stay?
While a tent is always an option for hikers, I stayed at a motel to simplify things. This allowed me to leave my tent, stove, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, bear canister, and extra layers at home. That also meant I didn’t have to carry all that weight while hiking. I carried a light day pack with just my essentials for the day, water, snacks, light jacket, compass, and map.
So what was it like out there?
Images usually speak louder than words so I have included a video that I made with the footage from my trip. If you are thinking of planning a similar trip and would like to pick my brain, please feel free to contact me.