"The bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain..." was a ditty my father used to sing to me back in New Jersey. The only mountains there were the Englewood Cliffs overlooking the Hudson River and across in Manhattan.
I was 12 when we moved to Ogden in the fall of 1961. I was fascinated at the closeness and immensity of the mountains, just three city blocks from my house. I ended up playing in the foothills from then on, riding bikes, camping out (really roughing it in Jersey terms), floating in the old, now covered over, irrigation culvert, and subsequently taking my children up there when visiting.
I hiked many times to Malan's Peak and even Mt. Ogden, both south of Taylor's Canyon. North of the canyon I hiked into Hidden Valley but never south to the top of the ridge over to Ogden Canyon and the back way to Cold Water Canyon. It's something I've always wanted to do but never got around to it.
Five years ago, upon request of my oldest daughter and when about to turn 60, I ran a marathon. With another significant birthday approaching, what to do now? It was time.
I tried two weeks ago but failed. I twisted my knee doing morning yard work, started late, and even took the wrong trail. I didn't make it half way but did run into Dave from South Ogden who recommended I get some hiking boots instead of running shoes. Good advice.
Preparing a little better last weekend, I had my boots on, brought along some water, and made sure I got the right trail head. Right off the bat, I ran into a gentleman with his dog, another couple walking their dog, and right before the mouth to Hidden Valley, a young lady was already coming back down. This about 0945 and she didn't want to scare me.
The hike traversing the mountain side was relatively easy, a gradual altitude climb from 4,800 to 7,000 feet at the top. The season is changing, as upon entering the Hidden Valley mouth at the saddle, a brisk, cold breeze hit me in the face and the bright white frost on the ground hit my eyes. It was beautiful.
Making a sharp left turn heading north into shrub oak and various other vegetation, I headed up the southern slope. There is a great lacunae between looking up at a mountain and actually being on the mountain. After some rock climbing I hit the summit and was amazed at the panorama that assaulted all my senses. What a beautiful, wild, wide, and wonderful view in all directions.
I'll admit I felt so good at my personal accomplishment I did my own version of Jack Dawson. The weather was perfect, the sky cloudless, and the temperature ideal at that elevation. A Piper Cub flew over and I felt I could have given it a high five. I could see north to Willard Bay and beyond, thought I could see Reno (OK, at least over Wendover) to the west, and down to Kennecott and south of there. The pine trees and other leaves were turning their red and yellow to the east. It was the wilderness, just gorgeous.
What a truly terrific place we have the good fortune to live in. If you haven't been out of the neighborhood (trees are great but sometimes they block the forest) for awhile I really recommend to heading east and enjoy and appreciate the outstanding outdoors we have, literally in our own back yard.
I have a personal satisfaction of completing this challenge and except for a sore and twisted right knee, a little pain in the left hip, and from a tumble or two some scratches on the arms, I'm no worst for wear. I'll remember next time the gloves (holding onto branches and sharp rocks) and neoprene knee brace (mainly for the walk, sometimes fall) coming down the mountain.
If you do venture out and find a gold Timex watch or Marine Corps coin, I'm offering a reward for their return. Otherwise, as usual, my dad was right as to what the bear found over the mountain ... another mountain! Can't wait until I turn 70.
Thompson lives in Ogden.