Monday, November 7, 2011

Notch Peak, Utah - Hiking

The rain had changed to snow by the time I went to bed Friday night and I wasn't particularly looking forward to waking up at 5am to head off to the west desert with Zach and Joseph.  Bad weather is a relative term, and had this been January the weather would have been considered OK.  Since it's early in the winter season, my cold weather tolerance is weak.  I decided, however, that a cold and snowy trip would still be better than no trip at all.

We decided to check out Notch Peak, west of Delta, UT, to do an overnight backpacking trip and hike to the summit of the peak.  Notch peak rise to over 9,600 feet, but the main attraction of this peak is the 2,200 foot vertical cliff facing west.

Notch Peak

Notch Peak Wilderness Study Area

The weather improved significantly as we headed west.  Several inches of snow had fallen along the I-15 corridor, but after we left Delta, UT the sun came out and the snow disappeared from the ground.  After a several mile drive on dirt roads north of highway 6, we arrived at the trail head in Sawtooth Canyon.

Heading off into Sawtooth Canyon with some portable heat for the cold night

Unexpected and welcomed blue sky

We hiked for a few miles into Sawtooth Canyon before finding a suitable site to set up camp.  The sun was out and the temperature was mild, so we enjoyed some time at camp before heading up the canyon to reach the summit.

Joseph and Zach

My tent on somewhat flat ground

The trail mainly followed the bottom of Sawtooth Canyon but there were a few places where the trail left the canyon to bypass some steep cliffs.  Unfortunately we lost the trail at this point because of the fresh snow and the fact that the trail is not heavily worn.  Had we traveled back down into Sawtooth Canyon we probably would have found our way to Notch Peak, but the dwindling hours of daylight forced us to pick an alternate destination before we headed back to camp.  We hiked to a peak near the top of the ridge to check out the views of the Great Basin Desert and Sevier Lake.  There were some bristlecone pine trees near the peak as well.

 Looking out towards Sevier Lake

Zack enjoying the views

Some bristlecone pine trees

The afternoon was surprisingly mild and dry, but the temperature plummeted after sunset.  Fortunately we had carried some wood and Zach started a great fire that kept us warm until it was time for bed.

Keeping warm

Before heading back to Salt Lake, we decided to check out Painter Springs on the west side of Notch Peak.  There were some interesting rock formations and the spring created a nice green oasis in the otherwise barren desert canyon.  This would be an excellent place to camp during the summer.

 Near Painter Spring

Some interesting boulders and rock formations in the area around Painter Spring