Box Elder Peak

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I have a hiking book that refers to Box Elder Peak as the red-headed stepchild of the central Wasatch Range. This is true: Box Elder is a lonely 11,000′ mountain stuck right in between the big and impressive Timpanogos and Lone Peak massifs. The other day Dave Hanscom and I decided to climb it. Neither of us was at full power: Dave had done a long trail run two days earlier and wasn’t totally recovered; I had spent much of the previous month either traveling at sea level or mildly ill — becoming weak either way.

We started at the trailhead near the Granite Flat campground in American Fork Canyon and hiked to a saddle on Box Elder’s north ridge that overlooks Dry Fork. From there, we followed a faint trail along the ridge to the summit, for a total elevation gain of about 4300′. The wildflowers on the summit ridge were great — they showed up very late this year but are making up for lost time. We had planned to hike over the sub-peak just south of Box Elder, meeting a trail on the other side. However, when we got to the saddle between the two peaks, the gully heading east looked inviting. If it had been filled with snow we’d have needed axes, but the top was melted out and lower down we walked on low-angled avalanche remnants until our trail crossed the gully. Total time was 6 hours — I guess the nice thing about being slow is that we got to spend longer on a nice mountain.

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