Blurry eyed I get out of bed and stumble upstairs. I brush my teeth and don hiking clothes. Two cups of fresh home roasted Tanzanian Peaberry/Zanzabar blend coffee provides me the boost I need to finish loading my pack, lacing up my well worn hiking boots and grabbing a bag of GU energy gels.
I jump in my truck and drive the 25 minutes to the prearrange meeting spot that my best bro Spencer and I use as a staging area for mountain adventures. Spencer is a new father of twins , and hasn't had a good nights sleep in the 3 months since his kids were born. He looks as haggard as I.
We wait ten minutes for a buddy of his to show, and then try calling him, but the call goes straight to voice mail. Looks like it was be just the two of us like normal.
We search the Salt Lake Valley for an open Einsteins Bagel shop, but turn up empty handed. We reluctantly stop at a 7-11, buy Red Bulls, apple fritters, and a 'gourmet' pre-packaged breakfast bagel sandwich. We accurately predict we will later regret having eaten the bagel sandwich-like substance.
Spencer drives us up Big Cottonwood Canyon and we arrive at the trailhead in the pre-dawn dark.
After a quick stretch, we start up the trail to Broads Fork and our destination: Twin Peaks (el. 11330 ft).
We hike quickly and make good time despite my aggravated back pain, and make conversation with other hikes along the trail. Two miles in, we stop at a meadow and grab a snack as we take in the breath taking view of the valley.
Broads Fork is a glacial carved canyon with brown-orange quartzite cliffs and shingle like slabs of gray slate. We can see Twin Peaks summits rising skyward approximately 3000 feet above the valley floor and can even pick out a few mountain goats on the cliffs.
This would be my 4th or 5th ascent of Twin Peaks, but I hadn't been up there since 2005 and I've lost a lot of brain cells since then (due to having children and old age), so it will be like doing the hike for the first time again. While scoping out the route, we make conversation with two other solo hikers at the meadow. Spencer and I invite both of them to join us on the hike as neither of them had been up the peak and were relatively new to off trail hiking and peak bagging.
The four of us start up the talus slope following cairns through shrubs and bushes, over and around boulders and quickly loose one of the other hikers, who had decided the trail was too rough for his taste. The other hiker, Jim, keeps up with us and we all make casual conversation sharing outdoor adventure stories.
The route we are taking is referred to as the Robison Couloir, and is a bit steep with little more than goat trails to follow. The steep slope and thin air slows our conversation, but not our motivation. After a few hours of sweating, we reach the ridge and get our first views into the valley to the west below us, bustling with cars and people in the urban sprawl known as Salt Lake City.
We drink some fluids, munch snacks and put on wind breakers to prevent the breeze on the ridge from stealing the warmth from our sweaty thermals. After a short standing break (I rarely sit while taking breaks), we begin the adventuresome portion of the hike. The ridge from this saddle to Twin Peaks is block quartzite with some nice cliffs, loose rock and good exposure. We are forced to do a good bit of class 4 climbing and a few easy 5.4 or so moves. I am totally in my comfort zone, but neither Spencer nor Jim have much experience being un-roped on such an exposed arete. They are cautious and slow, but make it through the sketchy parts without issue.
As we near the east summit, dark clouds move in and a slight drizzle begins to fall. Now I have a very healthy respect for lightning, having had more experience with it than desired, especially in the mountains, so I feel a slight bit of apprehension. But I quickly realize that there is no electricity in these initial clouds and I feel secure enough to continue on.
At last, after many hours of being on the move, Spencer, Jim and myself stand atop East Twin Peak, sweaty, fatigued and breathing hard. We rest very briefly, eat some snacks, put on warm layers and get some fluids into out bodies. After about 10 minutes, we make the obligatory 15 minute excursion to West Twin Peak and take the required summit pics and shake hands all around.
The clouds are getting darker, so we backtrack to the East summit and elect to descend a different route to minimize out time on the exposed ridgeline, and to see a different route.
We descend the common route between O'Sullivan Peak and East Twin Peak and find the down climbing and traversing a bit slick due to the light rain. We hear a few blasts of thunder above us and are thankful to be off the ridge. We follow climbers trails and make the steep loose descent into the Broads Fork Valley.
It is obvious Spencer is dragging due to getting very few hours of sleep the past week, and the unpleasant effects of the 7-11 breakfast sandwich, audibly gurgling in his digestive tract. You can tell Spencer was a Marine though, because he toughs it out and does not stop or whine about his issues
At last, we get down the seemingly never ending talus fields and onto some smooth dirt trails which take us full circle back to the meadow where we first met up with Jim. We continue down the trail, slightly blistered, quite tired and ready for a real meal. We laugh and share more stories and philosophies until we get to Jim's camp, which was about a mile from the trailhead. We say our goodbyes and hope to meet up again in the future for another adventure. Jim, who was a total stranger just 5 or 6 hours earlier, has become a friend and had shared himself with us and made the hike just that much better and more meaningful.
Spencer and I continue to his truck and back to our own worlds. Our combat bond further cemented together after another day of sweat, fear, fatigue and fun.