East Mountain P1K
Sanpete 2 BM P500
Swasey Ridge
North Tent Mountain P300
South Tent Mountain P2K

Thu, Jul 16, 2020
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profiles: 1 2


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.

East Mountain

At over 10,700ft, East Mountain is the highpoint of Emery County. I followed the route from the south described by others on PB. The TH is found at the north end of East Mtn Rd, a good gravel road that any vehicle can manage. When I pulled up in the early morning hour, A herd of maybe 300 sheep blocked the last 100yds to the TH. Three large sheep dogs ran up to see what the disturbance was about, barking, but not with any menace. I turned off the jeep and waited a few minutes for the sheepherder on horseback to move them off to one side. I parked and headed out while they were still busy with the flock, not wanting to draw the attention of the sheepdogs a second time.

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.

Sanpete 2 BM - Swasey Ridge

Though the two CoHPs where less than 10mi apart, I would spend almost two hours driving between them. The road up from Joes Valley Reservoir was particularly wash-boarded and rough going. The reward is reaching the Wasatch Plateau, a beautiful high country area on the western side of the national forest. It is characterized by high alpine meadows, fewer trees and expansive views. Skyline Drive runs south to north along the western escarpment of the plateau and makes for an unforgettable drive. I stopped enroute to South Tent Mtn to pay a visit to a few bonus summits. Sanpete 2 BM has more than 500ft of prominence but is an easy 5min walk from Skyline Drive. Dean Gaudet had recorded an ascent on LoJ a year earlier. I thought it was funny that the only other recorded ascent on this UT summit was another Californian. I left a register here because I thought the views outstanding. Swasey Ridge, about a mile to the southeast, is even easier - a drive up - though it does require driving a rough spur road (a hike from the main road would still be pretty easy, about half a mile each way). It has a fine view of North/South Tent Mtn a few miles to the north.

North Tent - South Tent

South Tent Mtn is the highpoint of Sanpete County and the national forest, with more than 3,000ft of prominence. The effort to climb both summits was about the same as for East Mtn, around 2hrs in an all cross-country loop of less than 4mi. I parked just off the main road at a saddle west of North Tent, climbing the modestly brushy slopes on the southwest side. There was no real bushwhacking needed, because one simply has to look for the paths taken by the sheep and cattle through the brush. There are two summits to North Tent, the highpoint found at the north end of the connecting ridgeline. After visiting the summit, I followed the ridgeline to South Tent, going over the south summit of North Tent to start. There are vestiges of a use trail along the ridge that can be helpful to avoid blocky boulder fields or places with heavy brush. It's a very pleasant hike with swell views to the left looking over Black Canyon, everything very green. South Tent had a benchmark and a summit register dating back to 2003. The most recent visitor was only a day earlier - another popular summit.

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...


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