The Wasatch Crest Trail (page 1)I had heard about the Wasatch Crest Trail well before arriving in Park City. Touted as an “Epic” Trail by many, I could hardly wait for a chance to explore it. The Spiro and Powerline Trails, along with the Comstock Mine Road had taken me to this point. I was finally to the beginning of the Wasatch Trail. The Wasatch Trail was the third leg of my 30+ mile mountain bike ride from Park City to Salt Lake City, Utah. To visit any other segment of this ride click below.
Click below for any part of my Wasatch Crest Ride.
I had stopped to sniff and photograph some wonderful wildflowers along the top of the Comstock Mine road. Just a little farther and I found myself approaching a clearing. Different patches of dirt converged to one big oval.
As I cruised (west) up to the junction I noticed three other guys approaching on bikes from the opposite direction (east). We all stopped to examine the signs, each other, and the extreme vertical climb we were about to embark upon… nicknamed “Puke Hill.” The worker in Cole Sports had told me this climb was named Puke Hill since many a rider had “lost their breakfast” due to the excessive stress put upon the muscles of their bodies while ascending.
WASATCH CREST INTERACTIVE MAP
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I figured most of those “pukers” must have taken the short route ((via Guardsman Pass). I was pretty sure I wouldn’t see my cereal again since I’d already been on the trail for 2 1/2 hours and climbed 2,647 vertical feet.
I asked the fellow closest to me where he was riding from. He told me he had ridden from Salt Lake City already that morning, a distance of 25 miles. He mentioned the trails they had ridden but I didn’t recognize a single one. He said he was training for the Trans-Andes ride later in the month. I asked him how many miles he was going to ride that day to which he said, “somewhere around 50.” I looked at the two other riders and thought… they were not riding partners with him, or he had been doing a lot of waiting.
Puke Hill climbs close to 350 feet in less than a quarter mile. The climb would not be so bad except that 350 foot gain starts at 9,480 feet and ends at 9,830 feet. As a matter of fact, once at the top of Puke Hill the Wasatch Crest Trail stays quite close to 10,000 feet and heads almost dead north.
I watched the other three guys attack the hill as I drank some Gatorade and put a fresh battery in my video camera. All three riders made it about a third of the way before the two slowest dismounted and began walking. The “Trans-Andes” guy just kept on motoring up the incline.
After I got myself mentally prepared I mounted up and began my assault on Puke Hill. The first two switchbacks weren’t too steep, but the third made up for the prior ones. I caught up with the two walkers about 2/3 of the way to the top. I was gassed at that point. All three of us hoofed-it the rest of the way together. Not much was said as we were still panting hard due to the elevation and the climb. Maybe everyone was trying hard not to puke. I didn’t.
Twenty minutes after hurtling myself at Puke Hill I reached the top. There were several people at the top. Among them were a middle aged man and woman. Among them wasn’t the Trans-Andes rider. The fact that the other two riders were with me convinced me they were not riding partners with the “Trans-Andes” guy.
The first geographical feature I noticed was a large patch of snow on the mountain to the north. To the east and directly below me lay ski runs, with the Park City Resort and the city of Park City at the bottom in the valley beyond. The only thing visible to the south was the top portion of the hill we had just been climbing, Puke Hill.
The view to the west was superior. From left to right I was looking at Brighton and Solitude Ski Resorts. Looming up behind the mountains of Solitude were some skyscraping peaks of the Alta and Snowbird Ski Resorts.
I sat, ate a Cliff Bar, and drank from my hydration pack. At home I prefer to read something while I eat. On a trail I always look for a place with a view. On this particular trail I need not look for a place. I was surrounded by beauty.
Between the mountainous ski resorts and the ridge I was sitting lay a deep canyon, stretching northwest toward Salt Lake City. I wanted to see the view toward the south, so after I finished my “meal” I hiked to the top of Puke Hill. From the apex of Puke Hill I could see the valley I had come up (Thaynes Canyon) to the east, but the view to the south was blocked by another hill.
After a few photos I returned to my bike and found everyone else… gone. I breathed deep to suck in some cool air and released it real slow, all the time thinking about how lucky I was to be alone in that spot.
As I prepared to mount-up, a biker emerged from Puke Hill and rode over to me. Learn about this incredible rider by clicking on Wasatch Trail (page 2)… or select another segment of this fantastic 30+ mile ride.
The video below will give you an idea of what the climb to the Comstock Mine and farther up to the Wasatch Crest was like. To watch the video on a full screen click the icon in the lower right corner just to the right of the YouTube emblem.
Click below for any part of my Wasatch Crest Ride.
Click Park City Mountain Biking to see an overview of all the rides in this area.