Into the La Sals

When the mercury rises to 100F or more here in Moab, I start to think of the mountains.

I desire the alpine terrain with patches of snow still lingering and with wildflowers near flowing streams.

When it is hot and dry in the desert, the mountains call.

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And the specific mountains? The La Sals.  The mountains we see from our backyard and our frequent after-dinner stroll in the neighborhood.

Only an hour away from the front door to many trailheads, they are a favorite place.  With several peaks over 12k feet, the La Sals offer something different from our typical High Desert haunts. Though not an extensive range overall, they do add much richness to our outdoor pursuits in Moab.

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With Joan out of town for a few days, I took the opportunity to walk a connecting ridge between Mt. Peale and “Mt. Tuk.”  Once I finished the ridge, I’d walk over to the lightly visited 12er of Mt. Mellenthin (called Middle La Sal in some sources), make it to a pass between the southern and northern part of the La Sals, and then make way back to the first pass with my waiting vehicle.

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“The Razor Fang” features some jagged rocks with some exposure, but a cairned route offered an easy enough bypass just below the fang and for those wishing to connect peaks and hike along the ridge, enjoy the views, rather than the climb itself as a goal.

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With a calm and temperate day in the alpine zone, the hiking proved nothing short of pleasant.

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Eventually, I made it to the ridge that connected Peale and Mellenthin, and the rounded, more accessible tundra walking returned.

On the lonely summit of the peak that forms the backdrop to my home,  I had an encompassing view from north to the south and could spy the desert below.

And if I squinted enough I could even see our mailbox. 😉

I left the alpine terrain behind, bushwhacked to the pass, and joined the single-track trails. From Moonlight Meadows, I could see where I hiked earlier in the day.

The connecting trail that leads back to my truck gave more impressive views of the valley below.

Not long after, I made camp for the evening nestled in the aspens.

The following morning I did a gradual climb back to the first pass. No one out and about. Just the quiet of the mountains in the morning air.

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I did startle a black bear who ran away before I could take a photo. I wonder how many people pass this bear in a day without realizing it?

I soon reached the pass and then drove back to the desert floor—a thirty-degree difference in temperature. But also a lot busier than the quiet mountain backdrop of our home.

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Jeffrey Olson
Jeffrey Olson
3 months ago

Oh Paul. I’ve followed your work for years, and usually enjoy what your share. This one caught me. thanks…