Sunday, July 6, 2014

Albion Meadows Hike / Sugarloaf Hike in Alta, Utah 07-05-2014

On Saturday I was itching for an easy hike.  I had down an easy 7 miles in the morning so I didn't want a marathon of a hike later.  I figured that the wild flowers should be up and out up in Alta.  The village of Alta is located at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon.  You basically park at the ski lodge and you can either take a free shuttle to Cecret Lake or make the mile or two walk through the meadows.

I opted for the latter but sadly I was up there about a week or two too early.  There were some wildflowers up, but definitely not the massive bouquet that I remembered from last year.

I almost opted to go back and do White Pine or Red Pine, but I only wanted to spend a little bit of time up there and while I had brought plenty of fluids I was a little low on food.

I started to hike and was feeling a little let down.  I've been to Cecret Lake before (several times) and on weekends like this it is usually a mob fest of screaming kids.  There's little solitude at Cecret Lake unless you go very late in the season.

I made it about half way through the meadow when I saw the turnoff for Cecret Lake, or I could take a zig-ziagging trail up the side of the mountain.  I had never taken that trail before, so I opted for that one.  I ran into some people who told me the trail I was on would drop me into the backside of Cecret Lake, so I figured I'd make the loop, drop into the lake and come out through the way I had intended.  Along the way I spotted about 4 deer eating grass in the valley.  Luckily no moose sightings.

Once I got near the lake I ran into some other hikers who were coming from above the lake and I asked them what was up there.  They told me it was worth the extra effort and to make the climb and I'd be rewarded with a view of a valley and 2 mini lakes (actually puddles).  So I went up there and hung out at a shutdown ski lift and got a birds-eye view of Little Cottonwood Canyon as well as the village of Alta.

After that I ran into another hiker who told me to continue another mile and I'd see an even cooler view.  Despite my growing hunger and my lack of food, I hustled over the next ridge and was just shocked at what I saw: a huge panoramic view of the backside of the Wastach Mountains including Mount Timponogus.

My curiosity at this point was definitely piqued and I wound up climbing close to 11000 feet to the Snowbird lift.  I figured that my short couple of mile hike turned into an 8 - 10 mile adventure with about 3000 feet of elevation gain.

Luckily I had plenty of water and the food made due (I was ravenous by the time I got home though).  I definitely want to continue to explore the backside of that canyon and next time I'll probably pay for the shuttle up there so I can explore a bit further.  There was a whole mess of trails that led into valley.  I talked to a guide at Alta and he said in another 10 days that canyon will be filled with flowers.  Definitely on my todo list.

Looking at Devil's Castle from Albion Meadows

Snow melt / water fall

Ascending the trail

View of Alta as I climb out of Albion Meadows

View of Alta as I climb out of Albion Meadows

View of Alta as I climb out of Albion Meadows

Bed of wild flowers

Look closely, you'll see a deer in the middle left part of the photo

Looking down upon Cecret Lake

View of Alta -- still snow up there too

Continuing the climb, you can see Salt Lake Valley below

Hanging at the ski lift

The wildflowers were coming up here pretty good

The view of the back canyon. Timponogus is in the background

Some of the small lakes are in the background

Just shy of 11000.  Got some passerbys to take my picture

View of the Salt Lake Valley at 11,000 feet

Mount Baldy

More wild flowers

Map of the area

Map of the area

Quick visit to Cecret Lake

Another patch of wildflowers

Snow removal equipment

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