Friday, July 31, 2009

Freehiking Near Tooele Utah - Aug. 2006

Freehiking Utah Group’s local hike was as fun and exciting as always. Eight members participated - Ken and PJ, Steve and Dee, Ben, Steve from up north, Bill, and Mark. Again, we met near the Great Salt Lake to share rides to the trailhead. It was a beautiful, warm day with magnificently clear blue skies.

We undressed at the trailhead, and started up the single-track path. For the first 15 minutes or so we hiked up an open hillside, with beautiful views of the valley below. The hot sun caressed our naked bodies, and a light breeze occasionally cooled us. How indescribable it all feels – body, sun, sweat, nature, breeze - when you hike nude.

Soon we entered the canyon which was bordered by beautiful mountains (see the photos taken of the area: ), and the trail was canopied by shrub oak and maple trees, offering lots of shade. The ascent was moderate; perfect for exercise.

We hiked fairly steadily on this hike with fewer stops because some members had to leave early. Still, we enjoyed lots of nice conversation. Ken pointed out many butterflies along the way.

Ben and Ken tried out some Hiker Kilts PJ had made. They’re light to carry, and designed to be quickly and easily put on if you happen to meet someone on the trail who might be offended by nudity.

What a wonderful experience it is to hike natural with your best friends. This freehike felt a little nostalgic, almost sad; as it will be the last hike for several members this season (work is starting up again). Ken and PJ had to turn back early to get to work. The other members continued on to see more shaded and canopied trail as it gains elevation at an increasingly greater rate of ascent up the canyon. Along the way, we passed a spring, which Ben thinks is drinkable (he's done it and he's not dead yet).

After hiking about 1.5 hours and about 2.5 miles, with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain, peaking at around 7,500 feet, all of the group members turned around, except for Ben. Ben figured many members of the group were very capable hikers and that the remaining group would be more than fine, but decided he needed more and secretly hoped he could finish the nearly 4 mile long trail to the nearly 9,000 foot ridge line and still meet the rest of the group back at the trail head (however unwise, given his leg which has been recovering from a stress fracture in recent months and bothering him just a bit in recent days, that idea may have been). Although only Ben got to see it, and has yet to haul a camera up there to document it, the views of two valleys from the ridge line is spectacular. Ben didn't see much of the hike back down because he was running too fast, trying to meet back up with the group. But, for everyone else, the hike down the trail presented amazing, unique views of the Great Salt Lake. Upon approaching the trailhead, Ben initially thought everyone had already gone, but pleasantly realized they were just getting into a vehicle and taking off - he had made it, very, very barely. He bid another fond and quick farewell to some wonderful friends, as remarkably (stupidly?) he still hadn't had enough and decided to and did go for another couple of miles before returning home. This was another fun trail we’ll want to hike again.

As we dressed at the trailhead, we were again reminded how amazing freehiking feels – by far the worst part of each hike is getting dressed again. How wonderful it would be for other members to join with us and share this experience.

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