Scout Tag-along Trip to Slide Canyon

This past weekend, the local scout troop in my neighborhood had made plans to go on a little backpacking trip up nearby Slide Canyon.  The campsite they had in mind was only a couple miles up trail.  Of course, I looked over my schedule, saw that I had the evening and morning free, and invited myself to tag along with them.  I had loaned out some gear for some others in the group to use and felt like it'd be good to be there in case any issues with the gear arose.  Really though...this was an opportunity to get another bag night in.

- Day 1 -
Friday - April 29, 2016

Most of the group had started up the trail at about 5:30 pm.  I was hoping to meet them at the trailhead, but ended up leaving work a little later than I had desired and still had to drive home to change and get my pack.  I took care of a few other household things, and didn't end up arriving at the trailhead until about 7 pm.  I didn't think I'd catch them before camp with how short the trail was, but then again, there'd be about 2000 feet of elevation gain in those two miles, and these were scouts, some of them young and on their first backpacking trip ever.

The weather all week had been raining and even for that afternoon, the forecast had shown lingering clouds and a chance of scattered showers.  I was a nervous for a moment starting out with how dark some of the clouds above were, but I hadn't seen any lightning or heard any thunder and with the direction the clouds were moving, my concerns quickly dissipated.

About a half hour from starting, I had arrived at the top of the Y and a few moments later, I was sitting at Eagle Pass where the trail turns a corner into Slide Canyon.  This is always a great place to take a little break and soak in some views of the valley below and survey Slide Canyon.

 The sun prepares to set over the valley

Looking north from Eagle Pass

Looking south from Eagle Pass

Looking east into Slide Canyon from Eagle Pass

After a few moments of rest, I set course for the final mile.  There were a few times I had to keep looking back to check on the how sunset was setting up.  There weren't ever any spectacular colors, but the clouds still set up some interesting shots.

Looking back down into the valley from Slide Canyon

Looking west from Slide Canyon trail

Within about a half mile, I ended up catching up to the tail end of the group: a couple adult leaders with all the beginners.  It started to rain lightly but that soon let up with no trace of precipitation thereafter.  The other two leaders with the more experienced boys had moved on, likely already setting up their camp.  I stuck with them and soon thereafter, we were walking into camp, a little meadow off the trail known as Bear Flat.

There was only a few minutes of decent daylight left and it was going fast with the cloud cover, so I hunted down a spot up in some pines just above the flat to hang my hammock.  I also sought out a place to hang bear bags.  I managed a suitable spot, but the trees weren't ideal for hanging a bear bag, which is pretty typical of many areas in Utah's Mountains.  By now it was dark and while dinner was rehydrating, I wandered down trail a few hundred feet to look down at the valley lights.

Valley lights

With dinner now done, the skies began to clear up and with that came a surge of coldness.  While cleaning up, another group, including some very young children ages 4 and 5 rolled into the meadow.  They were a family and with it being so late, dark, and cold, they went back down and began to establish their camp down by the bear hang at the lower edge of Bear Flat.  There was also another small group camping up above us just beyond the top of Bear Flat.  I can only imagine how many others would have been up there intent on camping at Bear Flat if the weather had been much more ideal.   I went down and retrieved the bear bag, opting to just trust the odor-proofness of my bear bag liner and rested it near our campfire.

Most of the boys had grown quite tired from the hike up and went to bed.  A few adults, including myself, huddled around the campfire for a while before calling it a night ourselves.

- Day 2 -
Saturday - April 30, 2016

The night remained quite cold with clear skies.  I never did deploy my tarp.  I had started out my sleep with a few chills here and there, but then realized, after getting out to do some business, my emergency blanket under-quilt had been bunched up on one side instead of fully wrapped around the bottom of the hammock.  After getting that adjusted and settling back in, I was able to get warm enough to have no more shivers.

My hammock

As the light of dawn filled in, I opted to wake up and get moving.  I wanted to take a stroll up to the true summit of Y Mountain and check out the view from up there.  I had hiked to the valley overlook at the top of Y Mountain, which is right near the true summit, once before, but never did make it over to the true summit which is several feet higher.  This was a golden opportunity to go do that and also get into some direct sunshine long before it would ever reach our camp.

As I exited the shelter of the trees, I beheld a camp that had received a serious visit from Jack Frost overnight.  Fortunately, that was also the only thing to affect the bear bags that night.

Bear Flat Camp

Looking back up at my hammock at Bear Flat

This is what happens when Jack Frost visits your camp

Bear bags

Frosted leaves

I saw no signs of anyone else getting up.  Apparently everyone else was going to stay snug in their bags where they could sleep in a bit.  I ventured on up the trail and out of the flat.

Leaving Bear Flat

Moments later, I took the trail forking north and only moments after that, I began to encounter some snow.  I was surprised to find so much snow along a trail facing the south.  I had not brought my spikes, but fortunately, I never needed them.  The snow proved to be frozen stiff and the texture of it was closer to that of pavement than of ice.  Easy treading.  As I got higher up, I was able to make out three distinct sets of foot prints that had gone before me and they only went the same direction I was traveling.  I assumed it was the smaller group of three that had camped a little further up above us and could tell they had not returned yet.

Arriving at snow level

Up and up

Looking back south. Provo Peak on the left, Maple Mountain on the right.

Looking back at Maple Mountain

After about a mile of hiking and another 1000 feet of elevation gain, I arrived at the fork where staying to the left would take me to the overlook and veering to the right would lead me up to the true summit.  I left the existing tracks that lead to the overlook to begin making fresh ones across an untouched flat of snow to the summit ridge.  There was no sign of anyone else having gone up to the summit since the last time it had snowed, that time likely being earlier in the week.

Veering off for the summit ridge

A couple more minutes later and I was at the ridge leading up to the summit and the view north really opened up where I could gaze out at Mount Timpanogos all aglow in morning light as she rose above some stray clouds in all her majesty.

Mount Timpanogos from Y Mountain ridge

Mount Timpanogos

A couple hundred more feet traversing the ridge and I was at the summit proper at last and had it all to myself.  Provo Peak, Cascade Mountain, Timpanogos, Lone Peak, Mount Nebo, Santaquin Peak, and Maple Mountain were all prominent mountains and peaks that could be seen both near and far.

Looking east at Provo Peak from Y Mountain Summit

Mount Timpanogos and Cascade Mountain

Looking north at Squaw Peak, Buffalo Peak, Mount Timpanogos and distant Lone Peak.

Looking west across Y Mountain Overlook from the summit

Looking south at Maple Mountain (left) with Santaquin Peak and Mount Nebo out in the distance.

A summit selfie

Once I had my fill of the beautiful views afforded to me, I descended the summit and strolled across to pay another visit out to Y Mountain overlook.

Looking north from Y Mountain Overlook trail

Rock pile at Y Mountain Overlook

Looking west at Utah Valley from Y Mountain Overlook

Looking north

Looking northwest

Looking southwest

By now it was about 8:30 a.m. and a good time to get heading back down to break camp and have breakfast.

Breakfast at camp

Some were wise to drag their tents over across the meadow into the sunlight where they could defrost and dry out before packing them away.

Relocating tents to defrost and dry

All packed up, we moved on down trail back into the civilization below.

Heading back down the trail

Getting closer to home. Eagle Pass in the middle right.

Part of the group stopping for a rest

Part of the group

Find all the deer!

Descending Slide Canyon

Another pause at Eagle Pass

Exiting Slide Canyon and approaching the Y

Utah Sweet Pea

Being a Saturday morning with blissful weather, the crowds really picked up, as expected, from the popular "Y" all the way down.  When you are so close to it, it is hard to capture and make out the full letter, but there is no missing it when looking up at the mountain on a clear day from most anywhere in the valley.

If I were to guess, I'd say that year to year, the "Y Trail" probably receives more foot traffic than any other trail in the county, the trails up Mount Timpanogos coming in at a distant second.  With it's easy accessibility at the edge of the valley, and its close proximity to the nation's largest private university for which the large block letter on the mountain side represents, and the views of the valley it offers, it's no wonder why it is such a popular trail to hike.  You wouldn't know it by the last couple pictures I took though.

History NoteThere had originally been plans to do all three letters of "BYU" but ended up as just a "Y".  I think it turned out for the better that way.

The top of the Y

Looking across the Y from one of the many switchbacks

Nine switchbacks later and I was back at my car and rushing out to a nearby park to catch one of my daughter's soccer game.  I arrived just in time to catch her score her first goal ever in a game.  What a morning and what a nice little trip!  It is such a blessing to be able to live and work at the feet of such beautiful mountains that make it possible for such quick little backpacking trips like this one was.


  1. Loved this trip report and all your attention to detail. I know these trails and love this part of the Wasatch!


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