I'VE LIVED IN Sandy for 15 years. It's a nice place. Plenty of parks, close shopping and quick access to the canyons. So it is no surprise that I've become familiar with the Twin Peaks. Every morning for the past 15 years I've looked out my window and there they were.
And every morning I've said to myself: I ought to climb those things.Eventually my neighbor, Mike Candrian - who I am blaming in this story - talked me into it. We decided we may as well get it over with. Fifteen years is a long time to be mocked by a mountain.
There were times when the Twin Peaks and I just co-existed by ignoring one another. Other times we were at each other's throats. I would say I could go the rest of my life without climbing them
and they would smirk back. Finally they got the best of me.
The Twin Peaks got their name because, despite what you can see from Sandy, there are two of them. Like Sonny and Cher, there's a famous one that everyone notices, and one you just don't. Behind the west peak there's an evil twin lurking in the background. It's like trying to get past Mike Tyson, only to find a young Joe Frazier on the other side.
We started the hike as prepared as you can get. We had our packs, rain ponchos and enough water to hydrate the Gobi Desert. I had two sandwiches, dried fruit, two Cliff Bars and a package of cinnamon bears to keep us warm in case we had to stay the night. We had sunscreen, flashlights, matches, emergency whistles and first aid supplies. We even had pepper mace, in case we encountered a grizzly bear or Rick Majerus foraging for food. We checked the weather and no rain was predicted.
Didn't matter. The mountain had an attitude.
One drawback to the Twin Peaks is that only about half the hike has a trail. The rest of the way, you're making like Lewis and Clark. You spend the first part hiking and the second part acting like you're in a Mountain Dew commercial. I got out my dog-eared copy of "Hiking the Wasatch" and noted, as we came to the Broads Fork Meadow, that we could go right or left, depending on the type of ascent we preferred.
With the trail soon gone, and only an occasional cairn as a guide, we went right, making our way up to about 10,500 feet. I was keeping my mind occupied by trying to convert elevation gain into frequent flyer miles when we made a crucial mistake: We went the way that looked easier, rather than the way the book suggested. Two hours later we were maybe 300 feet from the summit and stuck. We had reached a place where we couldn't climb back down the way we came and we couldn't go higher. So, naturally, it started to rain.
We made an executive decision: We would abandon plans to reach the summit. No need to take unnecessary risks. We inched laterally for awhile and finally started to work our way down, dropping into a steep field of shale, which moved us along at a rapid rate - even when we didn't want to move.
The good part was we were getting down the mountain, the bad part was we were doing so on our elbows and back ends. I kept wondering if this hike was somehow affiliated with the American Orthopedic Association. Then the rain turned into a torrent. It started to thunder and lightning.
By the time we were back to the Broads Fork meadow again, we knew at least we wouldn't fall to our deaths. Electrocution was another matter entirely. We waded through a stream that wasn't there on the way up. When we finally got back to the trail head, the rain had stopped. I had lost my hat and sunglasses and my watch was ruined. My camera was wet inside its bag. I had to cut my shoelaces off and throw away the socks. My boots were history. My arms and legs were skinned, my shoulder making funny noises, both thumbs were sprained and I had an ominous pain in my right knee. Mike's left thigh was swollen and tender four days later. His bad knee, the one he wears a brace on when he hikes, was still quivering when he went to work the next day. He was picking thistles out of his hands for days.
Other than that, it wasn't expensive.
I got up this morning, as usual, and the Twin Peaks hadn't moved.
They're still mocking me.