Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Mt. Olympus - Salt Lake City, UT
Seriously, don't do this hike. It's brutal.
You sure? You really want to? This is masochism at it's best. To get here you take the 4500 South exit off of I-215 in Salt Lake and then head south on Wasatch Blvd about 1.5 miles until you see a sign that reads "Mt. Olympus Trailhead" on the east side of the street. That's where the fun begins.
Don't let the first mile or so of meandering pathways through meadows and rocky outcroppings fool you. This trail really bares it's teeth at the very end. You'll know you're about to be punished once you reach the small creek that runs at about the half-way mark of the ascent.
You'll spend the next couple of hours on a thin trail through dense foliage. The climb is steep and unrelenting. The hike boasts a 7 mile trip out and back. You'll climb over 4000 feet in just 3.75 miles. Maybe it was just because I was getting more and more tired, but it seems to get continually steeper as you climb.
If I haven't scared you off yet, I will say this. It is beautiful. Once you get far enough up to escape the dull roar of the freeway, the arid landscape gives way to a lush and dense forest. This summit is no joke either. From the top you can see the northern part of Utah Lake over Point of the Mountain, as well as the majority of the Great Salt Lake. This would be an amazing view at night, but I don't recommend setting out for a sunset summit, as the terrain to the peak is very steep and somewhat treacherous. A misstep in the dark would likely lead to a long and deadly fall. During the day you'll be fine, just exercise caution and remember to keep three points of contact while climbing.
I was in no shape to being doing something like this (I actually had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started) but I was still able to make it. It took me about 4 hours to summit and about 2.5 to descend. Unless you hike a lot and are in pretty decent shape, be prepared for a beating. When you feel like giving up and turning back, just keep going until you really think you can't go any further. By that point you should be close enough to the summit that you'll convince yourself you might as well finish.
I'm not going to lie, I spent the last part of the ascent telling myself I should turn around. While the decent was faster, it was no less punishing. I spent the entire time cursing myself for not turning back. In the end though, it was worth it. I got back to my car and was amazed that I was even able to do it. Hopefully I keep this up and I can look back at this blog in a few months and laugh at what a wuss I was, because I was seriously pushed to my limit on this hike.
Bring lots of water. I packed 2 liters in my CamelBak and ran out on the summit. The water I left in my car was no less than 100 degrees, but the 7-11 down 45th South was selling ice cold Gatorade two for $3. Delicious.
If you think you're up for it, I say go for it. At the very least you'll end up with some seriously sore legs and a healthy sense of accomplishment.