Return to Bald Mountain -- At the wrong time
Last year, this was the first hike I ever did in the Uintas, but I was not cheeseburger equipped at the time, so even though there are already 2 posts for this peak, I thought it would be a good first Uinta hike of 2014. The last time I did this I loved it -- easy to get to the trailhead right off of 150, 2 miles up, interesting topography, beautiful views from the summit, lots of wildlife, etc. The drive this morning did not disappoint, as I saw many deer and even 2 moose by the side of the road.
The guides say that hiking season for Bald Mountain is July to October. I figured, June 29 is close enough. As I pulled into the parking lot, I could see a fair amount of snow partway up the trail, but figured that it was probably not impacting the trail too much. Bad guess.
There were a few cars in the lot, but no people. I had the whole place to myself.
As it turns out, the snow was located directly along the trail towards the ridge in the picture above.
This is a narrow trail on the side of steep slope, and I did not feel comfortable walking 100 yards across the steep slope in the snow. But there was what appeared to be an alternate trail off to the right, with reasonably fresh boot prints, so I figured that was the official alternative route. The 3 mountain goats I saw climbing up indicated that at least some mammals could make it work. They are in this picture, but too small to see.
To make a long story short, this did not work out well. I don't rock climb, and I am not exactly famous for my sure footing. So, I was REALLY happy when I managed to somehow stumble across the trail again near the summit. From that point on it was easy going to the top, where I never found the benchmark, but the highest point was pretty obvious.
After wandering around the peak for awhile, admiring the views, I headed down, thinking that I now had an elevated vantage point to make finding the trail easier. Ha ha. The trip down was substantially more scary than the trip up, and exhausting, because I had to keep backtracking uphill whenever I encountered cliffs or snow fields. It seems that I am incredibly out of shape, probably from eating all of these cheeseburgers.
Next year, this is definitely going to be a mid-July hike.