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I'd spent the night camped at 10,000ft in the Manti - La Sal NF in Central Utah, a very nice camp after the less-than-ideal camping the previous night at the Ibapah Peak TH in Granite Canyon. I had two County highpoints on the agenda today, then a whole lot of driving to get me to Colorado where I was to meet Tom. The NF is quite large, stretching some 70mi north to south with only a few paved roads. The slogan "Land of Many Uses" for the USFS could have been invented here. Almost all of the forest is open to cattle and sheep grazing, logging, extensive ATV and OHV use, camping, boating, and even hiking.
The hike is a very pleasant one, about 4.5mi roundtrip with less than 1,000ft of gain. You can follow the ridgeline directly, the route shown on the topo map, or use the gated TH where I parked. I started on this second option, but when the trail seemed to head downhill, I abandoned it and went up to the ridge. What I didn't realized was there's a 400-foot drop on this ridge. The two routes join at the saddle about 2/3mi from the start. The ridge is very green but not brushy at all. There was a tremendous amount of wildflowers, giving it a look more like Colorado than the other Utah summits I've been to. The trail skirts around the east side of the summit, so the last quarter mile is cross-country, pleasant enough. I made my way up through a small cliff band to reach the large summit area. The benchmark is found at the far north end with open views in most directions. I had expected to find a register here considering it's CoHP status, but found none. I'm guessing it gets regularly visited by non-peakbaggers and one probably wouldn't last too long. I was back shortly after 8a, having spent a bit under two hours on the venture.
In descending from South Tent, I had intended to drop off the west side to meet up with a spur road on that side that I could walk back to the car (Dean had used this spur road for a more direct climb to South Tent). The descent was steep and again modestly brushy with ungulate trails to make it easier. I saw what looked like a higher road to the northwest as I was descending, so I started traversing in that direction to intersect it near a green meadow that I descended to. It turned out to be a manmade watercourse called Becks Ditch. The hillside along the south side of North Tent seeps a good deal of water and the ditch collects this to redirect it. The dirt that had been piled on the downhill side of the ditch made a decent walking path - the cattle had evidently been using it for years, and I was able to follow it nearly back to where I had parked.
As I was walking up the last 1/5mi slope to the jeep, a few sprinkles started to come down. When I reached the jeep, I started to take my boots off while I was outside, but a sudden downpour drove me quickly inside. Good timing, I thought. It lasted less than five minutes, but it was enough to give the roads a good soaking. As I started driving north on Skyline Drive, it was less than a minute before I found the jeep slipping and sliding across the roadway. I got out to examine an inch-thick slab of sticky mud coating all four tires, making the tread pretty useless. Even in 4WD drive, I had very poor control. I used the rear locker to help some, but those first three miles were very nerve-wracking. Once I reached the Oak Creek Rd which descends to Spring City, the road changed from mud to gravel and the tires quickly cleaned themselves. Clearly the road engineers used gravel for just this reason - a steep, muddy road would be disasterous for the many OHV users that frequent the area.
After descending to Spring City, I found a self-serve car wash where I spent 15min with a high-pressure hose cleaning all the thick mud out of the wheelwells. Only three days out and I'm already tired of dust, dirt and mud...
For more information see these SummitPost pages: East Mountain - South Tent Mountain
This page last updated: Wed Feb 2 17:26:57 2022
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