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Hiking Happenings August 2006

Cool Up
by Rory Tyler

Moab sits at 4,000 feet above sea level. Geyser Pass, in the La Sal Mountains, is a forty-five minute drive from town and sits at 10,500 feet. It is significantly cooler than the searing canyons far below. At Geyser Pass there are lovely meadow walks and direct routes to some higher peaks.

But, even before you arrive at the Pass, you have excellent hiking opportunities in Gold Basin. To get on the Geyser Pass Road take the La Sal Loop Road 23 miles from town and turn right at the sign. The Geyser Pass Road is graded gravel and passable for all vehicles. The Gold Basin Road is 7 miles from the Loop Road and Geyser Pass is 8.

Gold Basin is a good place to go if you want to climb a peak. Take the Gold Basin Road .9 miles from the junction and look for the “No Snowmobiles” symbol on your left. That’s the trailhead…an old dozer track. This is the access to Brumley Ridge, which takes you to Laurel Peak, the hub of the three-peak complex comprising the central La Sals. The route is straightforward if you hold to the ridgeline. It takes at least an hour and a half of robust hiking to get to Laurel Peak. From there it takes another half-hour to ascend Mt. Mellenthin (Mel), to the north, and at least an hour for Mt. Peale or Mt.

Tukhanikivats (Tuk, rhymes with uke) to the south. While Peale is a straightforward slog, the ridge leading to Tuk is rather treacherous and should not be attempted by the less-than-intrepid. Nor do I suggest a descent down any of the rocky slopes and ridges that radiate from these three peaks, or any of the La Sals for that matter. This scree is nothing but megatons of sharp, tippy granite on steep, unstable angles. Nasty.

If exorbitant effort doesn’t appeal to you, you can drive another mile to the Gold Basin Trailhead and mosey along the streamside through the woods and meadows. It’s about two miles to the lovely central cirque. The main trail heads left after you cross the fallen aspen a quarter mile from the parking lot.

At Geyser Pass the main fork of the road goes right. Hikers go left toward Moonlight Meadows and Burro Pass. You encounter Moonlight Meadows immediately. The road (4WD) goes another half mile to the base of Burro Ridge. It’s an hour and a thousand feet up to the top of Haystack Mountain to the west, which has a great view of the canyons and the mountains. The first forty minutes is a piece of cake, but the last twenty is abominable scree.

It’s a mile drive from the Geyser Pass to the Burro Pass Trailhead. From here you can easily access the northern La Sal Peaks. It’s about a mile walk to Burro Pass with a thousand foot climb, and another hour and thousand feet to Mann’s Peak to the north. The footing is excellent. From Mann’s Peak you can connect along the ridgeline with the summits of the north range, an excellent place to be you if want to make a long day of it.

Rory Tyler is available for cowboy poetry/campfire song gatherings which include lore, science, history and lies of the Moab area. (Suitable for all age groups). Rates are negotiable. Give Rory a call at 435-260-8496.

Cryptobiotic soil garden
Cryptobiotic soil garden

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