Jay Meehan: Thermodynamics
Park Record columnist
It was a week or so back and not quite as hot as it has become. But, still, from the horse corrals up in the northeast Heber foothills, the snow pack on “Timp” looked pretty much like it was well on its way out.
The snowfield that hosts the horse-head profile up on North Peak had recently entered the skeletal stage, and — with a heat-wave forecast to get underway the following week — it didn’t seem to be a good bet that it would reach August.
History has shown, however, that things are much different when you get up close and personal with the massif, itself. And, that was the plan.
I’m out with the nags more frequently these days. The water troughs need more attention, of course, but it’s also nice to just keep my finger on the collective pulse of the place.
My man Romeo, the pinto and the least Alpha of the bunch, is just getting over a change-of-season cold and Fire, who pretty much runs things, has been irritable as all get out. Midnight also shows little sign of vacating his comfort zone, which, of late, has been the snort-and-glare stage.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say they keep track of the ever-evolving white stuff up on Mt. Timpanogos even more so than I. I’m sure, to them, it looks to be much cooler in them parts. So, I kept the fact that I would be nosin’ around the lower reaches of Cascade Cirque in little more than a couple of hours to myself. No sense gloating.
As the default guide to a pair of visitors from southern California, my plan was to get on the Stewart Falls trail as early as possible while the shadows were still relatively long and my back was less “stove up.” Its morning routine negotiates the sine wave of bent over to upright and back again.
As we approached the trailhead, the runoff from the cirque was busy displaying more attitude than maybe I’d ever seen. It obviously had people to see and places to go. My plan that, if it got too hot, we could always wade in the stream got more problematic with each upward stride.
No worries, as it turned out. The temperatures remained relatively moderate and we hung out longer in the shadier spots when needed. Now, if that had been this week, all bets would have been, as they say, “off.”
As we neared the falls and the Wilderness Area boundary, talk turned to Trump and his administration’s inclinations toward the “trimming” of designated public lands. You just can’t escape it. Especially when you’re in the “back of beyond” and its adjacent landscapes.
The always looming cloud that is our president provides, as you no doubt have learned, little, if any, shade. We had very little trouble locating nooks out of the sun near the base of the falls for water guzzling and snacking purposes, however.
We figured that we had stumbled on to the perfect site for a Gondola-base terminal restaurant and were actually somewhat taken aback that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and his Sagebrush Rebellion Bundy Bunch hadn’t already staked out a proposed lift line. I know. Cynicism gets you nowhere.
As is most always the case, snow was much more abundant up on the mountain than it appeared from across the valley. Not on the lower Stewart Falls Trail, of course, but certainly up in Big Provo Hole and Cascade Cirque. Same with the switchbacks of the Aspen Grove Trail below Hidden Lake and above.
It’s all about the exhilaration of altitude and attitude, of course. Time and the glaciations of the mind will scour away the negativity of our current cultural predicaments, it is hoped. Sacred space of the interior and exterior reaches well beyond the boardroom. If nothing else, this mountain makes the “heart” feel at home.
The 300 million-year-old limestone and quartzite will no doubt shrug off our ill-suited species in the geological near-term. Mother Earth will be fine. We, on the other hand, will reap what we sow and have sown. And, no doubt, the Climate Deniers in our midst will find a way to blame the “left” once push comes to shove. It’s their Gospel and they are stickin’ to it.
What a gorgeous hunk of rock! How fortunate we are!
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.
Netflix’s “Our Planet” illustrates the world we need to fight for, Amy Roberts writes.