Headed up to Butterfield Peaks again, in the same area I hiked last week.
I actually did another Butterfield Canyon hike yesterday. I didn’t take my camera or GPS and so I didn’t write a blog for that hike. Yesterday’s hike wasn’t very long but I climbed for about an hour. Because of that, I initially thought I’d do a shorter hike today. However, I ended up pushing a little more today than I initially thought.
The first part of this hike is a great hike if you don’t want anything too major, but don’t mind a few steep slopes. You can either climb up to the ridge that includes what are known as the Butterfield Peaks. Or you can climb up about another 100 feet or so to the tallest of these peaks, which is home to a number of different kind of antennas.
So today I hiked up to the ridge that’s home to the Butterfield Peaks, but starting thinking about continuing on to Kelsey Peak. Reaching 10,373 feet, Kelsey Peak rivals many peaks along the Wasatch mountains. To reach Kelsey Peak from the Butterfield Peaks, you must first hike down about 400 feet before finally hiking up over 2,000 feet to the peak.
I’ve hiked up around Kelsey Peak a few times, but I’ve never successfully climbed it using this route–and I didn’t today either. The first time I tried to reach Kelsey Peak using this route, I got extremely close. There is a trail that climbs across the Eastern face of these mountains, which I took. However, this face becomes extremely steep. Near the top, much of the surface consists of a type of shale rock. Not only are your feet unable to dig into the rocky ground, but the shale is constantly flaking up, making it somewhat unstable.
As I neared the top in that attempt, I became very uneasy. I have a fear of heights that I’m not looking to get over. (The last thing I want is a fall.) Worse, as I neared the top, I looked up where it got even steeper and rockier and saw a big snow drift I’d also have to climb. That was enough for me, so I turned back. I don’t recommend this approach while there is still snow up there, or if you share my fear of heights. (And I wouldn’t exactly recommend it if you don’t have a fear of heights either.)
Today, I thought about trying to hike up along the ridge that runs down the North-eastern side of these mountains. So I gave it a try. This is a rough climb and extremely steep. You’ll spend a fair amount of time on “all fours” if you try it, and you need to be very careful to avoid a bad fall.
In the end, I actually stopped because my dog was overheating. She’s a German Shepherd and is built for cold weather. The high temperature today topped out at around 90 degrees, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky so the Sun beat down mercilessly.
As the dog lagged behind more and more, I really started becoming concerned. We headed a bit North where we got under the shade of a small tree. I tried to cool her down for a while before heading back down.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I would’ve reached the peak if I wasn’t worried about the dog. From where we sat, I couldn’t even see the last 100 feet we’d hiked. Instead, it looked like I was looking over a big cliff. But we were at about 9,500 feet and I could’ve continued on and seen what was higher up.
Heading down, I quickly ran out of water (most of it went to the dog), and I we headed down the mountain as quickly as we could.
(Once we got home, the dog was dead to the World and is still laying in front of the air conditioner. Of course, she can’t complain. But I suspect she may have had a bit of heat stroke today.)
This is a great hike. But if you plan to continue on to Kelsey Peak, expect to encounter advanced hiking conditions.
Highest Point Reached: 9,451 Feet
Elevation Gained: 2,657 Feet
Distance Traveled: 6.69 Miles
Time on Mountain: 3 Hours and 41 Minutes
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