Saturday, July 19, 2014

Desolation and Dog Lake- Big Cottonwood Canyon

Welcome to my online blog of day hikes.  The Dalai Lama once said "Once a year go someplace you've never been before".  Wise, wise words.  Hiking will get you places that many people have not been.  Places that no car, train, motorcycle, plane, or other transportation will ever be able to take you.  What a great feeling it is to accomplish a hike.  Even small ones usually take you to a beautiful destination whether it be a lookout, a lake, a beach, or a waterfall.  Being out in nature creates endorphins.  And as the wise Elle Woods once said "Exercise gives you endorphins.  Endorphins make you happy."  If the whole world went hiking, we'd probably have world peace.  Just sayin' :D  This  blog will discuss stats about hikes as well as my little adventures along the trails.  I'll talk about the trail and what I think you may or may not need to know.  There are of course plenty of hiking blogs out there, but none as fun as mine :)

I've been hiking for several years, but since last February I've gotten more into it.  I was in a bad car accident the day after Thanksgiving last year and was out of commission for a while.  I always enjoyed hiking a lot, but also would go to the gym to get a workout in or did Insanity videos at home since hiking wasn't always as convenient as I would have liked.  After the accident though, I had to take a few months off.  I'd try to do small workouts, but anything I did caused my neck and back pain.  So I started hiking almost every day instead.  I found that it didn't hurt me (unless I slipped and fell in which case OW!) and I absolutely loved being able to trade in gym time for quality time with mother nature.  At the point I was living on Oahu.  I didn't think there would possibly be that many hikes around because I wasn't in a mountainous state.  Boy oh boy was I wrong.  It's amazing how once you start researching something you find out so much information.  I found Oahu to have tons of amazing hikes. I got to hike 5-6 days a week. I was fortunate enough to be able to explore many of them before I had to move to Utah to finish school.  Now I focus on hiking at least 3-4 days a week and rock climb a couple days as well.  Something about being out in nature makes you naturally happy.  It blows going to the gym out of the water (no offense gym rats) :)  Utah is known for having amazing hikes.  So I am going to be exploring and discovering as many as I can.  I'll be using this blog to post about ones that are noteworthy.  Typically I try to stick to more advanced hikes, but I'll add some others in as well.  Maybe it will even motivate you to boost your hiking level :)

Desolation and Dog Lake have the same trailhead and at about 1.6 miles up it splits.  I first chose to go to Desolation since it is best to get the more difficult of the two over first.  It was in the 90's in the city, but the 70's on the trail; nice little break from the heat.  There were only two people I saw on this trail, but watch out for mountain bikers coming down.  They are speedy and you will be road (trail) kill if you don't move out of the way.  It was beautiful and had a stream running parallel to the trail for a good part of it.  Beautiful flowers, but be careful for the prickly white ones.  I learned that one the hard way.  Got a good picture out of it though.  There were a lot of flat parts to this trail however there were also a few rather difficult inclines.  The trail was smooth though for the most part.  Nice if you like to trail run.  Once you get to the lake it is beautiful.  Mountains surrounding it.  It's small so you can easily walk around it.  The water is clear.  Don't go swim in it though.  People usually camp here on the weekend.  On my way down I saw a dad with his sons going up to camp.  This lake was so nice for some peace and quiet.  Who doesn't enjoy a beautiful lake all to themselves.  The trail is exposed all around though, so if you need to use nature's restroom be careful ;)  There was a trail runner that probably got an eye full.  Not sure where he came from :-O The incline on this hike is 2500 ft in 3.7 miles so you can kind of judge for yourself the difficulty coming down.  Make sure to wear sunscreen or bring a hat.   Of course you'll need a decent amount of water as well.  This lake is great if you want to have a picnic.  Just make sure to pick up after yourself.
On the descent you will go 1.9 miles til you hit the sign for Dog Lake.  It is only .6 miles to get there, soooo why not?  However this .6 miles will be be a tooshy toner.  I even had to stop a few times to rest for a minute (this is a rare occasion for me to stop unless it's to take a picture).  There was a poor mountain biker that was walking his bike up.  Now that is a workout :-/  Finally I got to the lake (and by finally I mean like 15 minutes, but a rough 15 minutes).  This "lake" was a disappointment compared to Desolation.  The water is very brown and the lake is tiny.  However, it is still a beautiful view with all the mountains and trees.  You can access this lake from Millcreek parking lot as well.  It is 3 miles each way.  Happy with myself that I accomplished both hikes I headed back to the car.  It was a little rough on my knees from the elevation decline being a wee bit intense, but the trail is smooth enough once you pass the lakes split sign, that you can run most of it.  The views of Big Cottonwood are gorgeous to look at as you exit.  There are some lucky sons-of-guns that have nice big cabins overlooking the view parallel to the beginning of the trail.  I'll just throw it out there that if any of them read this that I am more than willing to house sit for you.  Ya, I know…I'm so thoughtful ;)
I finally reached my car, 9.2 miles later.  Couldn't believe I had gone that far.  It was an enjoyable hike and time flew by.  The funny thing about this hike was that I never even knew about it.  I had accidentally gone up Big Cottonwood instead of Little Cottonwood while looking for another hike.  After I turned around and was heading down the canyon I noticed a sign that said trailhead.  I hopped out of my car to just see what it was.  It looked like fun so I figured why not.  Two lakes in one hike always sounds like fun right?  Right :)  I recommend if you ever get lost and find a random trail, check it out.  Maybe it was meant to be your adventure for that day :)

My stats for the hike:
*9.2 miles total
*2,600 ft elevation gain
*2 hrs and 24 min
*Moderate (in my humble opinion)
*(for those you concerned with this aspect) 1,103 calories

Internet stats:
Desolation Lake:
*7.4 miles roundtrip
*2,500 ft elevation gain
*9,230 elevation at destination
*Difficulty level 5 (moderate)
Dog Lake:
*5 miles roundtrip
*1,640 ft elevation gain
*8,745 elevation at destination
*Difficulty level 4 (moderate)

This is the sign about 1.8 miles up where the trail splits.
Little creek running parallel
along the beginning of the trail.
Prickly little flowers all over.  They are secretly out to get you
with their sticky poking powers. 

Even getting 2 pokies in me, I still
managed to get the beautiful creek
pic.  Take that prickly flowers! 

Desolation Lake

The water was beautiful especially when you saw the breeze blowing across it. 
These were just some of the colorful flowers surrounding the lake. 

When you get to here you are almost to the lake.  Stay right. 
On the way to Dog from Desolation this was the insane view.So many mountains, not enough hiking time. 

I spy with my little eye a killer
cabin that is calling for me to visit.

Dog Lake.  Best pic I got of it.  There were mountains and trees surrounding the whole lake.  Small, but beautiful. 

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