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Travel Diary: Hiking Trip To Salt Lake City, Utah (August 2021)

Hi there! I'll start this blog off by saying that it's been a long time goal of mine to take a solo hiking trip. I've always been a pretty independent person and there's something about spending time in nature that soothes the soul. So I figured, what better time than the present and decided to book this trip out to Salt Lake City, Utah to go hiking for a few days. I had plenty of miles saved up on Delta from the travel job I had a few years back so that covered a bulk of the cost. So the only other big expenses were the rental car, AirBnB and food!


 

Day 1: Wednesday August 11th, 2021

This was the first official day of the trip! My flight out to SLC started at 6am so I was up at 4:15. I had booked an Uber ahead of time to drop me off at the airport, which I HIGHLY recommend if you have an early flight. Both flights were smooth thankfully! Once I got to Salt Lake City, I had to pick up the rental car! I rented a car from Nu, but it was off site so I had to take their shuttle to get there. The drive was less than 5 min and the whole process was smooth. This company had mixed reviews online, but were the cheapest by a couple hundred dollars so I decided to take my chances LOL.


Once I was outside and looked around I noticed how much smoke was sitting around the mountains due to the California fires. I had been checking the weather and there were no severe air quality alerts, but definitely some smoke sitting around the area. My weather app said it would clear up by 4 and stay clear for the rest of the week so I was hoping that would hold! Fingers crossed! I didn't have any big hike plans for this day to give myself the day to relax and adjust to the altitude. But, I did have planned to check out the Bonneville Salt Flats! So that worked out pretty well and I was on my way by 11:30am! (After stopping for Starbucks because I had been up since 4:15 with no good cup of coffee. 😅)


The drive to the salt flats was peaceful and smooth! I don't mind driving, so I use it as a time to listen to podcasts and just zen out to the open road. There were so many beautiful sunflower patches on the highway too! The drive to the Salt Flats took about an hour and a half but once I got there, I quickly realized why people love it- IT WAS SO COOL! Honestly it's a great picture spot, but truthfully not much else to do other than walk around lol. I maybe spent 15 minutes there? Maybe if I was in my own car I would have drove out onto the flats a little, but I didn't want to take the chance being in a rental. Pictures were 100% worth it though! After hanging out there for a little I started the drive back to Salt Lake City. I had a tentative hike planned on Antelope island state park depending on how I felt and what timing looked like. I made decent time back and decided to pick a short hike around the island and test out the tracking on the AllTrails app! Antelope park was a fun spot, but you had to pay $15 to get in which wasn't a big deal. I did a short hike as the sun started to set- it was beautiful! After that I stopped at the store to pick up some groceries and headed to the AirBnB.


 

Day 2: Thursday August 12th, 2021

Today was my first full day of the trip and I wanted to make the most of the time I had! All of the research I did prior said to start your hikes early to beat the mid-day heat. I planned the hikes to do a longer, but less elevation gain today, a shorter and higher elevation gain for Friday and then the finale on Saturday! So I got up at 6am and got to the trail head of Mt. Pfeifferhorn via. the Red Pine Lake Trail around 6:45am. I knew this trail was going to be long and grueling so I took my time and went at a steady pace.


The first part of the trail went though the forest with lots of coverage so that was nice! It was cooler too which helped a ton with the steady climb up. Once the trail opened up to Red Pine Lake the view was absolutely breathtaking! The still of the water, the cool breeze and the sun slowly rising up over the mountains. The trail was quiet this morning and I didn't see anyone until I got to the lake. From there... the climb really began. It was a straight uphill trek up a steep rock-side to the saddle of the mountain. That part was grueling due to the altitude, but doable. Shortly after the saddle there was a point in the trail where you had to boulder climb across a VERY exposed section of rock with cliff drop offs on both side. I had read about this part online, and everyone said it was the most nerve wracking part of the trail... they weren't kidding lol.


I started to move through it when I realized this might be too much for me to handle. So I stopped, moved back a little and took a break to decide what I wanted to do. Just as I was breathing a couple older hikers came up from another trail route- Debra and John. They were headed to the summit and John had been to the top before. I decided to ask if I could tag along behind them and they said yes! So onward we went! We made across the boulder ridge and continued scrambled our way to the top. It was absolutely breathtaking with a full 360 degree view at the top.


I know they won't see this but I wouldn't have made it without their guidance and I feel so thankful to have run into them! I'm a pretty confident person, but that trail absolutely tested my comfort zone. I am so proud of myself for completing it! Accord to AllTrails, this hike took me 7 hours with breaks, was 17.6 km long with an elevation gain of 1,193 meters and my average pace was 20:37. Once I got back to the car, I headed to a local quick hike called Cecret Lake for a cool down and to dip my poor blistered feet in the cold water!



 

Day 3: Friday August 13th, 2021

For this day, I had tentatively planned to hike Mt. Olympus. My feet were SO beat up from the day before I wasn't sure if I wanted to give myself a day to rest and do something easier, or attempt the climb. I decided to give it a go, but in my sandals since my feet were so blistered up. 😅 I was up again at 6am and got to the parking lot at 6:45am.


This trail was a no joke uphill climb the ENTIRE time. Pretty much a stair stepper for 5 hours and the only flat point is the parking lot. I moved through a majority of the trail at a steady place, and surprisingly my sandals were great to hike in! There were a handful of cars in the parking lot and I eventually passed 2 other groups of hikers on my way up. As I was moving through the top portion of the trail, a girl named Natalie came up behind me. I said she could go ahead but she said my pace was good and we continued on together! She was a local from about an hour north and we chatted with good conversation as we continued the trek to the top.


We finished up the through the switchbacks up the canyon to reach the saddle and base of Mount Olympus. From there we figured out the trail because it became a little hard to read and rock climbed our way up to the top. This trail was SO much fun! It's right outside of Salt Lake City and gave you some incredible views. The downhill part was not as fun because your knees start screaming at you, so I HIGHLY recommend hiking pokes for this trail. You'll thank me later! According to AllTrails this hike took me a total of 5.5 hours with breaks, was 12.5 km long, had an elevation gain of 1,134 meters and my average pace was a 25:16!


From there I went up to a small ski town called Brighton and did the Lake Mary trial to finish up the day and soak my (again) poor blistered feet in the water. I even saw a moose 20 feet off the trail on my way back! In the evening I went downtown to shop around at some local boutiques (everything Utah was my favorite) and stopped at a local cidery!



 

Day 4: Saturday August 14th, 2021

This day was my final full day of the trip in Utah and I wanted to attempt the Mt. Timpanogos via. the Timpooneke Trail. This trail had some incredible reviews online and was rated as one of the most difficult, but worth it trails in the Salt Lake City area. My feet were pretty blistered up still, so I packed my hiking boots and chose to wear my sandals for a majority of the trail. I also read online that this trail can be pretty crazy on the weekend and to start early if you can.


So, I got up at 5:15am and was on the road at 5:45. The trail head was the longest drive I'd done being 45 minutes away and zero cell service once you got into the mountains, just so you have a heads up! For all the other trails I had done, I'd had cell service for 95% of the hikes. I made it to the trail head at 6:30 and the parking lot was already so packed that I had to park .5 mile down the road just to find a spot. When you're parking along the road, make sure that all 4 tires are off the street otherwise they will ticket you. There was a park ranger taking down everyones name as you entered the trail head, I'm assuming to keep track of everyone on the hike.


This trail was the longest one I had attempted not only on this trip, but in my life at a total of 18 miles round trip. The nice part though is that the elevation gain is spread out so well across the trail that it never feels like your really exerting yourself. It's mostly a gentle uphill walk for a majority of the trail until you start to get to the base of the mountain.


From that point, the elevation starts to kick in as you climb up the switchbacks to the saddle. From there... just make sure you're okay with heights because its a pretty intimidating climb/scramble to the summit. It's definitely a doable hike, as long as you're okay with longer mileage and the heights. My anxiety was through the roof climbing up to and at the summit because you're literally sitting on top of a mountain, but after a few minutes and a lot of water I was able to calm down and the light headedness as well as shakes subsided. The views were absolutely incredible and this might have been my favorite hike of all time. I did hike this entire trail in my sandals, but put my boots back on to climb down from the summit for some extra grip. As long as your footing is good across loose gravel you'll be okay. Hiking poles definitely came in handy for the downhill part of this hike as well. According to AllTrails, this hike took me 9.5 hours to complete with breaks, was 25.8 km long with an elevation gain of 1,456m and my average pace was 19:03. My moving time was close to 8 hours, but I did take quite a bit of breaks at the summit and on my way back to enjoy the breath taking views. Worth every step.



 

Day 5: Sunday August 15th, 2021

Sunday was an uneventful travel day back to Florida, but left me with a lot of time to mentally, emotionally and physically start to recap from the trip. I feel like I realized so much more about myself from spending so many hours alone in the mountains...


My personally makes me feel like I need to be productive 24/7. Is it a coping mechanism for not wanting to be still? Probably, but taking this trip made me realize how much I need that still, quiet, alone time to recharge. My soul started to breathe for the first time in months and my mind felt clear. Almost like I finally had space to stop for a second and think. When I had finished climbing that final hike and made it to the summit on Saturday, I can't begin to explain the overwhelming emotions that came over me. I felt like I had exhausted myself to a point where there was nothing left I could do to try and keep myself busy with. I just sat there with my emotions and let myself be. I gave myself space to simply be present with whatever feelings I had in me, which I haven't done in... probably forever. I didn't realize how stressed out I had been and how much my soul needed this trip.


I feel like I had found a version of myself I didn't realize I had lost touch with.


This trip made me realize that I am so much stronger mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually than I had ever thought possible.


Thank you body for taking care of me all 49.27 miles.


Thank you legs for carrying me every step.


Thank you heart for not giving out on me.


I know it wasn't easy.


If there's anything you can take away from this... amazing things are always right outside of your comfort zone. Don't get in your own way of finding them.





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