“I am absolutely certain that the Forest Service website said that the gate opened on June 1,”I stated matter-of-factly, which a touch of indignation thrown in for good measure. “It’s supposed to be open. I read it on the website.”
Which didn’t change the fact that the gate to the upper reaches of Mill Creek Canyon was plainly shut and locked. Torin, Nick, and I stared blankly at each other, slow to come to the realization that the locked gate meant an extra three miles of hiking. Which isn’t the end of the world, I realize, but it was 7pm and getting to the top of Gobbler’s Knob from Mill Creek Canyon was already going to burn the rest of our daylight and then some.
Torin and Nick are always up for it, though (Note to self: I love people who are always up for it and should be more like them). So we shouldered our packs and started up. The road, closed to vehicle traffic, was nice enough to hike on and before long we came to our trail, hung a right, and started up Alexander Basin. The lush stream gurgled and babbled right next to us. The evening shade offered the ideal temperature after a scorching Salt Lake City afternoon.
We hiked through aspen and over patches of snow, kept plenty warm by Torin’s ridiculous pace. Dark finally overtook us as we approached the saddle just to the south. The final ascent up the snowslope to the saddle was just steep enough to keep us on our A-game. A slip would have resulted in a speedy descent into the rocks below.
Headlamps were turned on. Above the saddle the terrain turned to 3rd-class scramble, and finally, a completely level summit perfect for camping. We fired up the jetboil and ate some mac and cheese by starlight.
After crawling in my tent I started to hear laughing. Women laughing. It was 1:00am and a posse of UofU students had arrived to the ridgeline just several hundred feet away. Having heard that Nick, Torin, and I were going to be up there, they decided to go for their own midnight adventure and join us. We didn’t meet until the next morning, though, and I dozed off to sleep wondering who was having so much fun.
The next morning they walked over, groggy, happy, and hungry. The nine of us ate breakfast together, content watching the sky grow brighter and enjoying a gentle breeze. We said our farewells and descended Gobbler’s Knob, and then up Mt Raymond.
The East Ridge of Mt. Raymond was spectacular. Varied, rocky terrain and ridges formed aesthetic, scrambly aretes. Atop Raymond, we descended back into Mill Creek Canyon via Porter Fork and went back to Salt Lake.
I checked the Forest Service website again, and sure enough: it said that the gate was scheduled to open on July 1, not June 1. #oops