Broad’s Fork Twin Peaks

Saturday 16 June 2012 Solo hike of Broad’s Fork Twin Peaks from the Mill B Trailhead in Big Cottonwood Canyon from for 11 hours from 8:20am-7:20pm covering 9.6 miles with an elevation gain of 5,300′ over 5.1 miles in 5.2 hours from 8:20am to 1:30pm and an elevation loss of 6,100′ over 4.5 miles in 4.75 hours from 2:40pm to 7:25pm, with 70 minutes resting and crossing from one peak to the other. Susan delivered me to the Big Cottonwood park and ride lot at the mouth of the canyon where I was supposed to meet Pam Miller and her Wasatch Mountain Club friends at 8:00am, but she wasn’t there and wasn’t answering her cell phone, so concerned that we had miscommunicated about which parking lot to meet at and that she had meant the trailhead parking lot at Mill B (thus the lack of cell phone signal), I had Susan drop me off up the canyon. We didn’t find her there either, so after praying about it, I felt impressed to press on and try to catch up to them on the trail, so I departed the 6,190′ trailhead at 8:20am behind 3 other groups that had just started: a duo, a trio, and a soloist. Pushing myself up the hill to the Beaver Ponds in 70 minutes (half the time that I did it 2 weeks previously with Pam), I passed all three groups, and headed west around the ponds. I met a lone hiker in his 60s who had left at 7:15am and reached this point, claiming that there were no other hikers ahead of him. I continued along the trail that I assume heads up to the Robinson’s Cutoff ascent of Twin Peaks from the northwest, then veered off cross country back to the east onto the northeast trail that follows Broad’s Fork when the duo and the trio passed by me below. Along this primitive and seldom used trail that petered out, I found a water bottle which I deposited back at the trail, and a gaiter which I claimed to replace the one I lost in May in Red Pine Fork. Watching constantly for signs of Pam and other hikers coming up from the ponds, I donned chains and started the ascent of the snow field, about 1/4 mile further up than 2 weeks ago, while the duo followed the treacherous creek along the cliffs below me to the east. Only a few other male hikers followed up up. Reaching 9,400′, a lone hiker zoomed up and passed me by, and I last saw him at the pass, and I don’t think he was in trio plus one that were descending just as I reached the summit. The duo, Adam and a woman who is landscaper and hikes a lot, tagged along with me about 15 minutes behind.

The ascent of the last cirque southwest of the head of Broad’s Fork below Sunrise to the pass was very steep, and all of us used the same tracks to stairstep up the dense snow. Stepping off onto rock 20′ below the pass, I slipped into a crack and scrapped my shins through my slacks, but it could have been worse. It took me a while on the sharp pass to regain my balance, fascinated by the views from 10,800′ on this knife edge of the Cottonwood ridge overlooking both Cottonwood Canyons, the Alpine Crest, with Timpanogos looming behind, and the High Uintah’s on the horizon. The water roaring down White Pine, Red Pine, Maybird, and especially Hogum Fork could be heard from this summit. I called Susan at 12:26pm to report that it had taken me 4 hours to reach this high pass, and that I would press on and call from the Twin Peaks summit. I stopped to feed, hungry after no breakfast and little snacks with only some supplements and green drink in my belly. I had definitely slowed down once I started the steep ascent from the head of Broad’s Fork, taking 3 hours to reach the pass from the beaver ponds. Scrambling the ridge was challenging, especially the ascent up a crack to the base of the East Peak, and took another hour, but I wasn’t in a rush along this dramatic divide. The views were stupendous! It was a clear cloudless day with no fires, so the clarity was perfect. I could see north and east to the red scar of Big Mountain Pass, and the scar under Grandview Peak in City Creek Canyon. The Wasatch north to Ogden and Logan and Promontory point and the expanse of the Great Salt Lake impressed me as I could see white beaches to either side of Promontory Point where the left beach is the Spiral Jetty. Looking west over the Oquirrh’s to the Granstsville peaks and beyond, I was likely looking at Deseret Peak. The south view was blocked by the Apline Ridge mentioned previously, and Traverse Mountain and Bluffdale looked miniscule. Peering south and southeast, I had clear views of the Alpine Ridge from the Snowbird Tram summit, American Forks Twin Peaks, Red Top, Red and White Baldy’s Pfeifferhorn, Thunder Ridge, and Lone Peak, with Mt Timpanogos looming above and behind. East along the Cottonwood Ridge, the views over Dromedary and Sunrise onto gleaming Lake Blanche and a diminutive Sundial ridge, with little view down into Mineral Fork, and much of Monte Cristo and Cardiac Ridge dominating the vista beyond. North and northeast, the length of the Millcreek/Cottonwood ridge was far below, from Mt. Olympus along the Hellcat ridge to Mt. Raymond, Gobbler’s knob, and the Wasatch Crest from Mt Murdock to Mt. Clayton. Over these, Millvue peak beyond that, the familiar transmitter-tower peak beyond Kimball Junction, and the High Uintah skyline on the horizon.

Visiting with the duo on top of the 11,330′ East Twin peak, I decided to take the Deaf Smith descent west off of West Twin (11,328′), and called Susan to report my plans at 2:40pm from West Twin, expecting to descend in 3, possibly 4 hours. Boy, was I wrong! It took another full 5 hours! Following the instructions in the guide the duo had lent me, I followed a southwest descent off West Twin peak into a basin that eventually wound north and back into Deaf Smith. The upper basin was fun and easy, but Deaf Smith was a pain. The trail was intermittant, and I searched frequently on both sides of the creek to regain the faint path, cutting through a lot of sparse shrubbery and burned out timber on a rough descent through multiple hollows. At one point, I spooked a rattler, and I squealed as I jumped aside, but he was too fast in his retreat for me to get a shot. About 1.5 miles from the mouth of the canyon, I followed a side trail near a trashed campsite to a high point where I could see the valley and get a signal at 5:40pm, advising Susan that I would be down by 6:30pm. I called her again at 6:45pm to report that it would take another hour as I cut through the plunging curves of Deaf Smith gorge, often in the water, until I finally met two hikers with three dogs about a mile from the trailhead. I immediately lost the trail again, but soon figured it must be on the south side, and managed fairly well from then on despite many times when the trail disappeared under debris and landslides, dumping me back into the creek. I reached the trailhead off of Golden Hills Canyon Road at Kings Hill Drive at 7:25pm. Before I called Susan, who was parked at the end of King’s Hill Drive, I dug out my water pouch to drink the last dregs. She brought me two 28oz bottles of Gatorade, and I quickly downed one. This is the first time in a long time that I packed a full 2.5 liters of water in my Camelpack, and drank it all. I didn’t finish all my nut mix, but the chocolate was consumed in stages on at the summit and the descent. We spent the evening at the Venture Outdoors festival with Rachel. I slept from 9:30pm until 3:30am, then started writing this account. My feet are sore from several sharp rocks and all the miles, but not quite hamburger. I only roll a little…

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