Saturday’s epic adventure began at 5:30 am when the alarm went off and Mr. Mo and I stumbled around half asleep preparing for our second ‘long run’ event organized by the Utah Running Club. This time we were running over the mountain from North Salt Lake to Ensign Peak. The group was meeting at 7:00 am, and since they are much faster runners than us, our plan was to start the trail at 6:00 am so we could basically reach the Peak together (yes, we are that slow).
Here is a recap with lots of photos (click to enlarge).
Follow The Light
We found the trail-head at Tunnel Springs Park, and were grateful we had fresh batteries in our headlamps since it was very dark and there was only a faint glow from the city lights reflecting on the clouds ahead. About 15 minutes later we got our first glimpse of the pretty valley lights.
Finding Our Way
Although I had studied a Google map of the trail using “Satellite View” – I quickly learned the actual trail on the ground looks nothing like a zoomed-in view from outer space! For one thing, HILLS! For another thing, running in the dark adds a new layer of mystery. There are multiple ancillary trails in this hilly area so it is rather easy to take a different path and wander off. But, luckily I have a good Spidey-sense for finding my way, and we only started down a wrong track once.
Due to rain on Friday night, combined with a big drop in temperature we saw our first light dusting of snow and ice of the season. It is definitely chilly now, and even warm-blooded Mr. Mo wished he had worn another layer. But, this is our favorite kind of running weather. By about mile 2 we were seeing light in the sky and the twinkling lights in the valley faded. At one point we encountered a couple of bow hunters with an animal in their sights (apparently, it’s the season), so we tried to tread softly [and quickly] away.
Our destination point was at 3.2 miles. There is a well traveled 1 mile hike from SLC to the peak, however since we were approaching from the opposite direction over the mountain we actually had to navigate a steep decent to the monument. Ensign Peak is an historic Mormon Pioneer site above downtown Salt Lake City. On July 26, 1847 – just two days after arriving in the valley – the prophet leader Brigham Young hiked this mountain with several of his counselors. They erected a US flag on the hill as a Biblical symbol for this valley to become “an Ensign for the nations” (see Isaiah 11:12)
Check out this short video!
On a clear day, the view of the entire Salt Lake Valley is stunning, and thanks to the rain we were blessed with a very clear view! I have lived in Utah and the SLC area my whole life and I have never been to the top of this peak. I was impressed with all of the nice plaques that have been placed pointing out landmarks of the valley view.
I highly recommend putting this on your “must see” list if you are in Salt Lake!
Sure enough, about 10 minutes after we arrived at the monument, here came our Club friends down the hill! Our early start plan had timed out perfectly and we got to have a group photo to commemorate the event.
Our journey also included some treasure hunting! The RAGNAR organization had placed a Geocached Rock in the area, with some hints and coordinates online. We found it! I followed the contest rules, posting a pic on my Instagram account with proper hashtag, and emailed the race organizers. Everyone that finds the rock gets a discounted RAGNAR race entry, and the first five people win a free pair of running shoes. I might have a chance – fingers crossed! 🙂
As we headed back, it was fun to see the trail we had navigated in the dark, and enjoy an an entirely new view.
In total, we “ran” [hiked, walked, climbed…] 7 hilly miles round trip. This trail was a real treasure! We look forward to exploring more trails on this mountain in the future. A wonderful morning spent with my dear husband and some lovely friends, breathing fresh air and enjoying God’s beautiful earth! – MoSop