Hiking Butler Fork from the trail-head in Big Cottonwood Canyon up to Baker’s Pass on the ridge between Big Cottonwood and Millcreek Canyons provides magnificent views of the surrounding mountains…. From left to right, those are Dromedary, Sunrise, and Broads Fork Twin Peaks…all part of the Wasatch Mountains that provide the natural, eastern geographic boundary for the Salt Lake Valley in Utah, USA.
The most prominent peak of the Wasatch Mountains that form the eastern geographical boundary of the greater Salt Lake Valley is actually a set of peaks named “Twin Peaks.” There is only a two-foot difference in their elevation and they lie in a somewhat east/west orientation and are often referred to with the designations of “East Twin” and “West Twin.” Located about 100 yards apart, the peaks measure 11,330 and 11,328 feet respectively, east and west, and rise approximately 7,000 feet from the valley floor.
You might remember a photo similar to the one below in my post “It’s great to be alive in the West” from March of this year. When I made this photo, I was located about 4-5 miles south of the front, or western face of the mountain, so we can only actually see the west peak from this view.
The peaks are often referred to as the Broads Fork Twin Peaks, as this is the most common approach to the peaks…and the below photo shows what they look like from Broads Fork. You might remember similar photos from my two posts on the area last summer. The saddle is located in the deepest part of the ridge-line toward the left of the image…which is still a bit of a hike from the beaver pond.
This is Sunrise Peak to the left and the southern edge of the west Twin Peak to the right…with the saddle right there in the middle.
And this photo below is right about where I ended my foray into the area last year…it should be photo #8 in the post, “Broads Fork – Part II.” Actually, I think I was a little further up the trail last year…about where you can see the people…to the right of the left-leaning stick, just down from the mass of trees…just left of the middle of the image.
There’s a man and woman toward the bottom of the below photo…the woman is wearing the neon green shirt and turquoise shorts…we’ll see them again later….
We can still see the woman and her neon clothing in the below image…just down a little and over to the right of the huge rock that is a little ways below the horizon…if it’s hard to find her, keep the rock and where the woman should be in the center third of the photo…. She’s there….
About one-third of the way up the slope, I was wondering if I was crazy…wondering if I really needed to keep going upwards…so I found a flat stone for a seat and turned around while I had another drink and an apple…….wondering…..
If you noticed the yellow hue to the side of the highest peak toward the left of the above image, here’s a closer look at it…from miles away, literally, you can see the color of thousands (and millions?) of sunflowers that covered Mt. Raymond…some of which I have already featured here.
One can only sit on the side of a mountain for so long eating an apple and having a drink before one has to decide whether to keep climbing up or to head back down to the truck…so I turned and looked up again…and up again…and figured “What the hell,” and kept climbing…one step at a time…this isn’t a race, right…….? And you can tell that we’re looking UP, right? There’s a bit of a trickle of water in that darker spot…down and to the right of the big rock that is now on the horizon….
How many of you have been to a gym or fitness center and tried their “Stair Master?” We’re still looking UP in the below photo….
Remember the man and woman from the earlier photos? I had asked them if there was a clear trail to the top…the woman said “yes” and the man said “no.” He said there’s no trail, but “you’ll know where to go.” It seemed that I needed to head toward that bit of a notch in the rock between the middle and left spots of snow….
In the notch now and still moving upward…hanging-on to cracks in the side of the rock, scrambling on hands and feet….
Looking toward the right of the notch…the lighter peak is the west twin….
…and after another bit of a scramble and a climb, I’m sitting on the saddle…
Wow! Looking toward the south, I see the southern ridges of Little Cottonwood Canyon….
…looking toward the west I can see out over the Salt Lake Valley…. Those are the Oquirrh Mountains out there, the western geographical boundary…and that lighter-colored, damnable open-pit mine is toward the right edge of the mountains.
Back south again at the Pfefferhorn on the left…
and the Lone Peak ridge….
…and now a self-portrait looking toward the east again…with that beaver pond from the earlier photo…a little bit above the tip of my boot…waaaay down there.
You can see the woman in her neon-colored clothing and her hiking companion near the top of the lower peak, down in the right-hand corner of the below image…rather tiny…. They were actually coming back DOWN from being up on Twin Peaks…already coming down and I just made it to the saddle……
After the slippery and slow climb back down from the saddle, it was nice to make it to the spring again…such clean and cold and refreshing water. I refilled my two empty bottles and headed on my way.
One last look at Broads Fork Twin Peaks before climbing a small, final rise and then hiking down the remaining three miles of trail back to the truck. If you’d like to read more about Twin Peaks and the various ways one can reach the summits, you can click right here to be taken to Summit Post, one of the leading web-sites for climbing and hiking enthusiasts…not just for Utah, but for all over the world….
If you’d like to see where Broads Fork and the Twin Peaks are located on the map I recently shared on the blog, click here, and then find the second yellow pin up from the bottom of the map in the first image…it’s just to the left of center in the photo…and then it happens to be the only yellow pin, also near the bottom, on the second photo. Also, as a reminder to help with orientation/direction, the view of the map is looking eastward up the canyons…so the right side of the map is toward the south, the left is toward the north, and behind you (not on the map) is toward the west.
Thank you, yet again, for spending a bit of your time with me…for accompanying me on another hike into the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
I would guess that there is some historical significance to the name, but I haven’t been able to identify it yet…but Broads Fork itself is located about four miles into Big Cottonwood Canyon, which is just south and east of Salt Lake City, and is one of the three or four main canyons that lead into the Wasatch Mountain front that is the eastern border for the Salt Lake Valley. The trail is reported to be just over four and a half miles in length from the parking lot to the cirque, or bowl-shaped meadow at the end, and gains just over 2,000 feet in elevation.
I’m not sure of the exact length of this portion of the trail, but it starts out as something resembling a logging trail and then turns into a single track that winds through very thick brush that is often waist to shoulder high….
I haven’t been able to identify these flowers in any of the sources I have at hand, but they look like a variation of hops to me….
UPDATE: While I was out hiking yesterday, Sunday July 15, I met Knick Knickerbocker from the Wasatch Mountain Club and gave him one of my blog cards. He emailed me this morning after reading this post to tell me that these flowers are called Mountain Horsemint…and the taxonomic name is something like Agastache urticifolia…if anyone wanted to know that. Thank you again, Knick. 🙂
This was the first view of what the on-line literature calls the “lower meadow” in Broads Fork. After climbing through old-growth pine forest and then a thick stand of aspen and the brush that I mentioned above, the trail makes a sharp turn around a rise in the terrain and this panorama is suddenly in front of you…it is so unexpected…breath-taking, jaw-dropping, however you want to describe it.
This is the view looking to the left of the above meadow….
The trail proceeds through the meadow and immediately into a stand of aspen and pines, again with the thick brush on each side…slowly climbing higher and higher as it makes its way out of this lower meadow and on toward the upper meadow.
When I’m hiking, especially when I’m on a trail for the first time, I frequently stop and turn around to take a look at the trail coming from the opposite direction…it helps with orientation on the way back if I will be taking the same route. It’s amazing sometimes to see what’s behind you as you come out of the woods, arrive at the top of a ridge, or otherwise gain a dramatically different view of your surroundings than you had only moments before…. This is the view I encountered upon leaving the thick aspen that covers the side of the bowl where the lower meadow is situated. I stood on the rise in the trail as it makes its entry into the upper meadow and turned around….
Here’s an infrequent “people picture” offered to demonstrate scale…. It’s rather difficult to feel significant or important out here…the notions of “Self” and “Me” seem to disolve somewhere between the first few steps on the trail…. This photo was taken near that rise in the trail mentioned above, but a little further down and facing into the second meadow, and with a nearly full view of the rest of the fork or gulch.
And this is a wider view that encompasses more of the area to the right of the location in the above photograph…I understand the peak in the middle to be Sunrise Peak, the one on the left to be Dromedary Peak, and the one in the upper right of the photo to be the western peak of the Twin Peaks set. The western summit has been measured at 11,330 ft and the eastern summit at 11,328 ft in elevation. These peaks are reported to be the tallest of the Wasatch Mountains that border Salt Lake City.
More to follow…in Broads Fork – Park II.