A sport of sorts for us hikers is to watch snow recede and try to get up into it.
First of all, my dogs love to eat it and play in it.
As for me, I have always been fascinated by hydrology and what happens to water as it seeps into the ground.
Where do springs appear? What was the source of the water? What geologic features moved the water there?
It’s a puzzle to contemplate while working my way up deer trails to a patch of snow in a crevice shielded from the sun’s rays.
The strategy is usually fairly simple.
Climb up the dry slope of a south-facing ridge to get to a shady, north-facing ridge. Along the way, enjoy the color provided by wildflowers that carpet the ground, and take in the smells of the curl-leaf mahogany, Stansbury cliff rose, and other fragrant rose relatives in bloom.
May and June are particularly scenic times to traverse our hills.
The contrasts between snow-capped peaks and leafing out trees — with various shades of blue, white and gray in the unsettled late spring/early summer weather — make for a striking background.
Coupled with the foreground of yellow, red and blue from wildflowers, nature creates much more than my iPhone 10’s camera can capture, and more than my aging senses can fully take in.
Ultimately, you want to see just how high you can get. Not just for the views, but also to prepare for July and August.
Acclimating the heart and lungs to higher elevation is essential if you are going to the highest peaks later in the summer. I set goals so when July comes along, Deseret Peak, South Willow Lake, and Kelsey Peak are within the range of my cardio capacity.
But back to May and June, this is the time to capture the beauty of the mountains.
The flowing water creates so much sound and feel in the landscape. Areas recently cleared of snow have many of my favorite wildflowers.
Yellow bells and glacier lilies are some of the first flowers to bloom before deciduous trees have a chance to shade them out.
As the trees leaf out, shade tolerant flowers such as columbines, bluebells, and coyote mints, will bloom in turn. Drier slopes reward you with Indian paintbrush, balsam root, evening primrose, and mule’s ears. And keep a lookout from June through July for Utah’s state flower, the sego lily.
Enjoy the majestic scenery we have here and leave as small a footprint as possible. There are wild places within our reach, but they will remain wild only if we preserve them.
From a young age David Swan’s natural curiosity led him to explore and study the outdoor wonders of the place where he was born and raised. He currently lives on the southeast side of Tooele City with a view of the Oquirrh Mountains from his backyard.