High Mountain Trail and Oktoberfest at Brian Head

High Mountain Trail has been on my list since last fall but the trailhead was inaccessible before summer without a 4 wheel drive due to snow melt so we had to wait. Now that we’re back in Utah – and we were going to be in Brian Head later that day for Oktoberfest – Terry and Tom agreed with my suggestion to do the hike. The trail begins at 9,900 feet and descends down the south face of High Mountain into the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness and to the junction with the Rattlesnake Trail. We thus knew where it ended up, and knew it would be a steep, couple thousand foot descent. We had hoped we would all be a little more awake after the drive to the trailhead, but the 3 of us started hiking and concluded we all needed more sleep and were not really looking forward to the ascent on the return. So rather than continue following the trail we broke off after about a mile and scrambled a few hundred feet up to ridge. Before we left the trail however, we walked through multiple stands of dense aspen forest alight under the sun, sunny high meadows, passed a dead lake, and were able to enjoy views west to Brian Head and the eroding limestone formations of Cedar Breaks.

After we scrambled up the ridge, we continued west only to discover that the road we were on extended this far and that we were in the company of some people who were randomly shooting. We turned away from them and continued west for a bit longer in order to get views over Cedar Canyon but after a we’d been hiking for about 2 hours we decided to call it quits and head to Oktoberfest.

We took a slightly different route on the return though more aspen, many of which had old carvings in them. Someone commented on a picture I posted on Instagram that it was of concern that picturing these could encourage further vandalism and suggest tacit approval of defacing property which is a reasonable point. I won’t go into the debate here I would just like to say that I find it interesting to see carvings from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, bloated by the growth of the tree over the decades: something about seeing an etching from so long ago on something which is still living – and in which I can see that passage of time through the distortion of the script – is just kinda neat. So, that’s why I take pictures of these. That being said, while I had my camera out I noticed a ridiculous, slightly confusing, and kind of funny carving about bow hunting. If anyone knows what the word was that’s scratched out, I’d like to know.

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Anyway, onto Oktoberfest! We went to the celebration last year at Brian Head Ski Resort and had an awesome time so I was really looking forward to going this year. Luckily Terry could come with us which made it even better. After arriving we set up our lawn chairs and blankets and settled in for a few hours of live music, snacking, and beer drinking in the mountains. The yellow aspens provided a beautiful backdrop to the low-key fest and the mid-60s temperatures made it a perfect day to relax in the sunshine.

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