I had talked to Travis about getting out hiking, and hopefully summit a peak. For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to go to the Oquirrh range. So Travis came by my house and picked me up early in the morning, and we drove out to good ol Ophir. The weather was on the grim side as we drove through the old mining town. The cloud level was rather low and it was raining ever so softly. Past the town, the road turned to dirt, and we started keeping an eye out for our turnoff up the South Fork Ophir Canyon. Well, when the road ended, we knew we had gone too far. So we turned around and started looking a little harder. We found our road, but it was blocked off, closed to vehicles. Dang. This would add another 6 miles to our round trip distance. We shrugged it off with what I believe to be good style, and started hiking.
The terrain on the road was very easy, which was a bummer because Travis' blazer could have easily made it up the road. There was only one point where the road was more rugged, definitely preventing a passenger car from making it.
Clouds over Lewiston Peak
After 3 miles on the road we reached the saddle where we were going to park. The cloud level was only a few hundred feet above us, but they looked safe so we continued on. We started toward the ridge, and our hiking got significantly steeper within seconds. Neither of us could find a trail, so we figured it would be off trail hiking from this point on. We were hiking straight up the face, and it started snowing on us. We started joking about how people must think we're nuts for wanting to be out in conditions like this. The snow was sparse and didn't last long. After a particularly steep section of the hill I came to a realization. The kind of realization that you only get when you realize there is a trail and that you accidentally found it. This made the going much easier. There were actually switchbacks. It didn't take long before we were up the face and on the Lewiston ridge. We continued to follow the trail onto a plateau. I found the place rather enticing for some reason. There were a few patches of snow still on the ground here, but nothing stopping us from progressing. The trail took us onto some south facing slopes, and as we cut across them we saw a large herd of deer or antelope. It was a really cool sight. As we would cross a ridge spur, we would see them crossing the next one. The herd we were following made the hiking a little more interesting, and it distracted us from the terrain, which may have been a bad thing, because eventually, we lost the trail. There were areas that looked like they could be trail, but in all reality, they weren't. So We decided we must be close to Lewiston peak, and we headed up to a saddle. This was steep and covered in sage brush. No fun.
Flat Top in the sun
At the saddle, there was more realizing that we were completely lost. The clouds were thick and route finding was near impossible. We went to the east where we thought Lewiston might be, but we summited something too fast, and it had too little prominence to be anything. But this was a good place to stop and eat lunch, and hopefully the clouds would part and we could see our goal. There was a sun bleached skeleton of an elk that I had my meal with. I will forever call this point "Dead Elk Peak". Well, the clouds didn't part so much and we needed to get moving, so we went back west to the saddle. There was a much larger peak west of the saddle, and we started going up it, but decided it was unwise to continue not knowing where we were or where we were going. So, we retraced our path, planning on returning to the car. After dropping down the steep slope, and crossing a ridge spur we found the trail again, and followed it. As I led us, I noticed something wasn't right. We were going steadily uphill, and I couldn't recall going downhill like this. When we reached another saddle, I knew exactly what was going on. We had missed a switchback, and then accidentally taken it on the way back. I knew exactly where we were and where we had to go, and the clouds had even parted so I could see flat top. Unfortunately we had wasted too much time, and now had to go back anyway. So we did. We followed the trail back down, caught the switchback, and before long we were mindlessly walking down the dirt road. All in all, it was a fun experience. The Oquirrh range doesn't hold a lot of appeal to me, but it's always a thrill to hike with Travis. And besides, we got to visit the center of the Universe.