“Late in August the lure of the mountains becomes irresistible. Seared by the everlasting sunfire, I want to see running water again, embrace a pine tree, cut my initials in the bark of an aspen, get bit by a mosquito, see a mountain bluebird, find a big blue columbine, get lost in the firs, hike above timberline, sunbathe on snow and eat some ice, climb the rocks and stand in the wind at the top of the world on the peak of Tukuhnikivatz.” –Ed Abbey, DESERT SOLITAIRE
One benefit of choosing to stay local this year means exploring our local mountains. The Abajos (locally called “The Blues”) and the La Sals provide us some places to escape the desert heat, climb ridges, see wildflowers, and count butterflies. The La Sals, in particular, form the 12k+ foot dramatic backdrop of our desert town. When it is over 100F on the high desert floor, the mountains beckon with their streams, shade, and 65F temperatures with cool sleeping weather at night.
These small mountain ranges provide an outlet for us while we wait for the more temperate weather’s return.
Over the holiday weekend, we made a quick camping trip for the night and camped at a favorite spot tucked in the shadow of Mt. Peale and Tukuhnikivatz (“Mt. Tuk”).
Though Peale is the highest peak of just over 12700′, the slightly lower “Mt Tuk” not only makes a more dramatic view but arguably has more storied mythology.
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“Late in August the lure of the mountains becomes irresistible. Seared by the everlasting sunfire, I want to see running water again, embrace a pine tree, cut my initials in the bark of an aspen, get bit by a mosquito, see a mountain bluebird, find a big blue columbine, get lost in the firs, hike above timberline, sunbathe on snow and eat some ice, climb the rocks and stand in the wind at the top of the world on the peak of Tukuhnikivatz.” …. And so @ramblinghemlock and I climbed up to this storied peak (Joan to saddle for her chasing butterflies quest) above our little desert town. “Mt Tuk” provides part of the dramatic backdrop for Moab and, of course, the peaks we see on Joan’s EPIC MAILBOX hike! …. After a night of camping, we made our way to the summit and enjoyed the sky island above the desert. We celebrated our hike with lunch on the tailgate (which I’ve missed after five years of owning an S-10 quite some time ago!) of the truck and did another hike before making our way home. .. A good day indeed! #hiking #camping #lasals #edabbey #moab #moabutah #utah #emb100
The name is said to mean “The mountain where the Sun sets last” in the Ute language—and further mythologized in our modern times by Ed Abbey.
The summit boasts expansive views to the red rocks of Moab below and takes in our world. If you look up from Delicate Arch, or nearly every place in town, you’ll see this peak on the horizon.
After our hike, we made our way back to the waiting vehicle and decided to hike some more. A healthy eight-mile walk that went through the aspen and pine forests dotted with Colorado-like mountain lakes with summer wildflowers in full bloom.
And the flowers seemed to provide the appropriate amount of “Red, white, and blue” for the holiday weekend.
Joan had a volunteer project on Saturday, and I had some volunteer work later that evening.
But we made plans to go to another 12k foot peak. No name on the USGS maps, but a well-accepted local name. Combined with some old jeep track, cross country travel, and some single track, we made a full day of hiking. All in our “backyard.”
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This peak offered a lot of ridge walking delights. And the weather proved about perfect with a slight breeze cooling us off and letting us enjoy the view from the summit.
We could see the Paradox Valley and off to the Colorado San Juans. The mountains beckoned for future hiking.
And our home town’s hikes beckoned for when the weather cools off.
Joan seemed especially pleased to see a butterfly at 12000′ in the rocks and well above treeline.
After enjoying the summit, we headed down the talus slope. And I spied some “Old Man of the Mountain” flowers with the peaks we explored just recently looming in the background.
We made it a lightly explore basin dotted with a couple of old miner cabins neat he edge of the talus.
We made our way back to complete the loop and followed a route I last saw on skis. Much different than from the heart of the summer!
We completed our loop. A thoroughly enjoyable one at that. Not too strenuous, but long enough to feel we did something. But, more importantly, an excellent way to see the variety of the La Sal Mountains.
As I told many times lately, I’m not happy right now. I’m something better – content. Meaning, I feel we are living a satisfying and sustainable life. Not just a one-off moment of “OOH!“, but something that brings satisfaction. We spend our weekends exploring the backcountry, we live a life mainly free of stress, and we’ve made a life that works for us—all with someone who is both a close friend and someone I love.
What more can I ask?