January 25, 2003
Saturday morning a group of us participated in a strenuous ten-mile hike in Ophir Canyon, in the Oquirrh Mountains. This was a repeat of my Monday trip, with a goal to go all the way to the top. Victims included myself, Ed Johnson, Pablo Riboldi, and David Hansen. We hit the trail at 7:30 a.m. with snow flurries for the first hour. I was concerned about slick trails and my worry was confirmed as David Hansen fell down right after getting out of the car. The starting temperature was about 30 degrees. Two inches of additional snow had fallen since Monday.
We started out tentatively, going up the South Fork 4WD road. David hiked in boots, and never broke into a run during the hike, but traveled fast. Ed and I got the pace going, but would stop to wait for the others. I had bought another pair of “feet snow chains” for Ed to use and he offered them to Pablo, which greatly helped. Pablo was then able to join in the runs. We cruised through aspen groves and desert landscapes, waiting a couple times for David to catch up. The road became steeper so I hung back with David. Ed and Pablo kept the pace up. We covered the three miles to Halls Basin in about one hour and fifteen minutes, climbing 2000 vertical feet.
We then discussed how to reach a nearby summit. David Hansen, of course, helped us understand that the only correct strategy was to head straight up. David pulled us to the top, a 9830-foot unnamed summit on the Tooele/Utah counties border, about a mile northwest of Flat Top Mountain, and south of Dead Ox Pass. This climb was tough. I felt the elevation and became fatigued. We had to dodge scrub brush, and find footing in snow.
The clouds blew out and we had beautiful sunshine, with views into Salt Lake County to the northeast (Herriman), Utah County to the east (top of Timp poking through the clouds), and Tooele County to the west. We decided to take another route down from the summit and ended up plowing through some challenging stretches of knee-deep and waist-deep snow to Halls Basin. We found another cabin, a bigger one which was unlocked and very nice. We recovered from the snow hike, changed socks and prepared for the run down.
The rest of the way was a quick three-mile run. We finishing at 11 a.m, David arriving about 15 minutes later. The vertical feet up for this event was 3,100. We all survived well, stayed warm, and had a great time.