Hancock Peak Trail and Some Exploring Near Brian Head Peak

Abby and I set off to do the Hancock Peak Trail one afternoon when Tom was busy; he and Terry had hiked it a number of years ago and described as a bunch of rock hopping through a volcanic field with a lot of dead spruce trees. Though this description didn’t sound particularly appealing I wanted to try to hike up the peak – which is a steep cinder cone – in order to get views over the valley. It didn’t quite work out that way. At about mile 2 I figured out that the trail was going to lead me around the peak, not up it nor even that close to it. Under normal circumstances I would just navigate by sight and scramble up but there were a lot of downed trees that made it really slow going. So I returned to the trail and attempted to follow it but as the path grew fainter the new aspen growth grew denser until the trail pretty much disappeared. Again, I don’t mind some extended bushwacking, but when the dog can’t find a reasonable route I almost always give in.

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The afternoon was cloudy but temperatures were pleasant so Abby and I returned to the car and headed back up towards a valley to the southeast of Brian Head that I knew was chock full of aspens. There is a settlement of cabins here in the forest and we mostly walked the dirt roads which gave me a 180 degree view of a mountainside full of aspens. We also explored a small creek whose brush was burnt yellow in color. I hadn’t quite had enough for the day however so we drove around to the west-southwest side of the peak in order to walk around what is probably my favorite little valley in the forest. Here the aspens turn in segments and there are times, such as that day, when you can see red, orange, yellow, and green leaves intermixed with the dark green of the fir trees and the mutlti-colored sandstone hoodoos of the Claron Formation. This visit however, Abby and I explored the south side of the valley in order to get view facing the hillside, unlike last year where I started on the Marathon Trail and got views looking down on it.

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