Ascent of Thurston Peak on 2018-06-03

Climber: Andrew Watson

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Sunday, June 3, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Thurston Peak
    Elevation:9706 ft / 2958 m

Ascent Trip Report

The Ascent

I decided on the shorter but steeper route up Adam's Canyon for the ascent. Originally I had planned on ascending via the longer Kay's Creek route, and descending on Adam's, but ultimately decided I'd rather do the ascent on the steeper trail. Charlee and I started around 8:15am, and the first 1.5 miles was a pleasant rolling (but mostly flat) walk along the BST over to the base of the trail up Adam's Canyon. There were some runners and walkers out enjoying the cool morning air. The very start of the Adam's Canyon trail gave me a good indication of how my day was going to go. The turnoff of the BST was nearly invisible, and the trail dove straight into the brush. It was clear that very few people travel this way, as the trail was quite faint in places, and overgrown with grass and encroaching brush. The trail seemed more like a game trail than one created by humans. Eventually we reached the ridgeline, and connected with a more well-defined trail. We had the pleasure of following this trail for a few minutes, before the trail up to Thurston again branched off to the left directly into the underbrush once again. Immediately after turning, we encountered probably the steepest grades and most difficult hiking of the day. The difficulty was compounded by the loose dirt and gravel covering the trail. Luckily navigation was relatively easy, even though the trail got progressively harder to follow. All that was required was to hike up along the ridge. Eventually we gave up on trying to follow the trail at all, and just made our own way up. Close to the top, we found a clear trail once again: the Great Western Trail! We proceeded southward along the GWT for a few minutes, in the shadow of Thurston, before turning upwards towards the summit. We began encountering snow fields along the summit ridge, which Charlee greatly enjoyed. She rolled and scampered around for a minute, and ate her fill of snow. At the top, there are amazing unobstructed views in all directions. To the south are Francis peak and the Central and Southern Wasatch. To the southeast are the high Uintas, and to the west, the Great Salt Lake and the many ranges of western Utah.

The Descent

We descended via the Kay's Creek route. The first order of business was to pick our way down from the summit to the GWT, and then follow the GWT for a couple miles just below the ridgeline. Following this trail was a bit harder than I anticipated. In particular, the trail descended a rocky slope at one point that was still covered in snow. I didn't want to risk going down this way, so I detoured a few hundred yards to circumvent this slope, and then had to make a slow bushwhack back up to the trail on the other side. Eventually we regained the trail, and from here it was a relatively straightforward descent along a clearly defined trail. We slowly descended back into the furnace of the Salt Lake Valley, and passed a few other hikers. At the foot of the mountains, we had to make our way back south over a few small ridges to our car parked at the Fernwood Trailhead. Mercifully this trail was pretty well shaded by trees, providing a welcome break from the intense afternoon sun. We made it back to the car tired, but happy.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4495 ft / 1370 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4495 ft / 1370 m
    Round-Trip Distance:12.2 mi / 19.6 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Hot, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4495 ft / 1370 m
    Distance:4.9 mi / 7.9 km
    Route:Adams Canyon
    Start Trailhead:5211 ft / 1588 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:4495 ft / 1370 m
    Distance:7.3 mi / 11.7 km
    Route:Kay's Creek
    End Trailhead:5211 ft / 1588 m

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