Meandering to the Meadow

Last year in August, I took my first journey up to Mt. Timpanogos. The hike is beautiful. While it is 14 miles, it is not too hard. Afterward, my feet were screaming, but I had a terrific sense of accomplishment for having climbed that high while at the same time having a horrible hear of heights.

Looking south toward the peak of Mt. Timpanogos from the northern end of the meadow.

The highlight of the hike for me, was reaching the meadow in between miles 5 and 6. It is a huge open space where the summit casts its shadow and the fields are covered in wildflowers. Since I didn’t go until late August last year, we missed the peak of the wildlflowers. After talking with folks who know, I committed to hike again this year on July 31st. The plan would be to catch the wildflowers at their peak.

Another similar shot to the one above. I didn’t quite get the multicolored one I was seeking.

To be totally transparent, I had abandoned plans to climb on the 31st. I had not seen any really good pictures from the meadow this season. I was wondering what the impact of the drought was on the wildflowers. My main motivation is to go and get a kick-butt meadow full of wildflowers pick with Mt. Timp in the background.

On Friday (7/30) night, I went to bed thinking that I might get up early in the morning and head up to the trailhead and maybe do 4-5 miles on the Timpanookee Trail. I went to bed, fell asleep quickly, but woke up shortly after 1a. I got up to use the bathroom. When I laid back down, I picked up my phone to see what time it was. When I turned on the phone, it was on the TikTok app. The video that popped up first was a freshly posted video from Mt. Timpanogos the day before. (see below)

@daniellerenrenee

Love where you live, live where you love 🌞#utah #adventure #nature

♬ Awaken – Big Wild

After watching the video and seeing the short snippet of the wildflowers, I got stoked. It gave me hope. So at 1a I decided that I was going to climb up all the way to the meadow.

I could barely fall back asleep!

I woke up without an alarm at 4:30a. I sprung out of bed and got to work. Now that I was going to be doing an 11-12 mile hike, I had to pack differently.

Water. Bars. Lights. Apple. Jacket. Solar charger. More water. Hat. Sunglasses. TP. Gu. Camera. Lenses.

The early morning light shortly after starting the hike.

I left the house at 4:45a and arrived at the trailhead around 5:10a. The parking lot was already full. In fact, some of the pullout parking 1/3 of a mile away was almost full. Fortunately, I got one of the last spots.

I threw my gear on, walked down the section of the Alpine Loop and then up the access road to the trailhead.

The scene at the trailhead parking lot before sunrise.

When I got to the trailhead, there were a good number of people making final preparations for their hike. There was a line at the bathroom of about 8 people.

I immediately hopped on the trail and started the 5 mile climb to the meadow. The elevation change is about 3,500 feet.

The trail was very crowded. Even at that time, there were people coming down off the mountain.

I love the hike up. There is so much beauty and nature to enjoy. There are dozens of wonderful vistas. And there was plenty wildlife and wildflowers. I saw fawns, 6 mountain sheep, dozens of chipmunks, and butterflies everywhere.

Below are some of the pix and videos I captured on the journey.

The beginning of the sunrise about 30 mins into the hike.
A few hikers enjoying the morning light on what I call the early meadow, which is about 2 miles in.
Campers found a nice place to spend the night. Shown from the cliffs of the early meadow.
I know this is not a great pic, but there was a family of 4 mountain sheep feed way up on one of the eastern cliffs of the early meadow. The shot was hard to make because it was looking directly into the sun peeking over the mountaintop.
The Early Meadow panarama

From the early meadow, the climb gets a little more intense. There is a series of switchbacks that gets the elevation going. The higher we got, the more the wildflowers and other friends came into play. The following pix show some of the beauty along this section of the trail.

I LOVE this shot. It looks back down over the valley.
The view from around mile 4 on the trail
I hiked a portion of a trail with nice lady. She took this shot for me.

After the early meadow, the chipmunks and some other small rodent like animal were all over the rocks. When I came out to one narrow portion of the trail that had a cliff on one side, I saw this little fellow enjoying this red berry. It look like he was eating it, but I am not sure. He was making a chirping noise.

He almost looks like he is ready to go bowling with the red berry.
One of his friends posing on a rock.
There were certain plush areas of the trail that were mesmerizing. This was one of them.
Looking back down as I approached the last sections of climbs into the meadow.
The hikers above are taking what I call the final climb into the meadow area. It is about 1.4 mile of scree. Technically, there is another smaller climb once this one is over, but this one seems more challenging because of the scree.
This lady carrier her ski boots and skiis all the way up. She is almost into the meadow.
However, there was no skiable snow that I could see.

THE MEADOW

This was one of the first things I noticed as soon as I made it into the meadow.
I loved this patch of wildflowers, I had to sit down with them for this pic. It was the only time I sat down all day.
Showing the trail that leads to the saddle of Mt. Timpaogos from the north side of the meadow.
This shows the “glacier” on the south side of the summit. It usually snow-covered year round. Last year I saw people sliding down the glacier after making the summit to Timpanogos. Not this year. Another impact of the drought.
Wildflowers border the trail on the meadow.
Hikers coming down from the summit.
The views from the meadow are instense!
Another crazy meadow view, lookin north.
The view looking east.

As I was leaving the meadow, the clouds were starting to roll in.

THE WAY DOWN

This shot seems a bit mysterious. I love the light and darkness.

I feel confident I saw several thousand butterfies on the hike. On the way down, I saw the biggest one I have ever seen. The first photo below shows that one.

This butterfly was almost as big as my hand. I have big hands!
This scene reminded me of Maui. The richness of color is wonderful.

This hike is simply fabulous. It has so much diversity. It is challenging at points but not too hard. It is certainly one of my all-time faves. The only drawback was that I did it on a Saturday and it was super crowded. I recommend a mid-week journey if you want less people around.

Last year I struggled on the way down. I was tired and my feet and knees were killing me. I was totally whacked when done. However, after having a strong hiking season so far, I handled this hike quite well. I am writing this the next day. My feet and ankles are sore. Even so, I would do it again.

And I think I will again in the next few weeks.

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