4000 foot gain
So I found myself in Salt Lake City, UT last week for a conference. Driving there, and arriving a day early, I looked for a solid morning hike/run that would get me somewhere up above treeline. I drove down Big Cottonwood Canyon from Park City to SLC the night before, looking for someplace to sleep, but learned that the campgrounds closed at 10pm (with one-way spikes to prevent driving in after-hours!) and there isn't much in the way of accessible, public land otherwise. As it was, I found a parking spot in a dirt pull-off near a campground, and got some restless sleep during the night.
Anyway, I eventually made my way to the Butler Fork TH, about 10 miles up the canyon. The trail started out a bit steep, and I had no problems practicing hiking for most of the uphill. Quickly ascending from the canyon, the trail switchbacked through thick forest, before popping out in the wildflower display of Mill Basin.
The trail winds its way to Baker Pass, which is between the lumpy, almost non-descript but comically-named Gobbler's Knob, and the more impressive-looking Mount Raymond. I headed climber's left to Raymond, first.
A little less than half-way on the climb along the ridge is this "mini knife edge:"
The rock is absolutely solid, and it's easy to get along the top, but a fall to the left would still be unpleasant, if not fatal. I know people can get across these things without thinking (I met a few people on the way to the summit), but it still gave me pause. I worried about downclimbing it on the way back, but it was quite easy, so I think I just need to get some confidence back. Anyway, fun scrambling, then a little looser but easy hike right up to the top. Great views all around!
One could skip the knife-edge (and/or make a faster descent) by bombing straight down to the basin, but I decided to check out the Knob as well, which was just a grunt up a false summit or so. I actually went past the summit and then realized the next lump afterward was most certainly lower. Although I think it's the more popular and slightly higher point, it's not as interesting or nice of views as Raymond, but it has a nice view of Raymond. A good way to survey your route.
I understand it's a good backcountry ski destination, and I can see why, with nice grassy slopes facing several different aspects, with the steeper approach being safely ensconsced in the trees. There are also some classic ridge-run routes involving some of these peaks, connecting between the major canyons. Finally, the trail goes near Dog Lake, which is on the Wasatch 100 route -- I can definitely see the appeal, having known almost nothing about the area previously.
Anyway, the trail down was very runnable, and I had a blast opening up the throttle. I caught up to the other folks I had seen, accidentally startling a couple, and then also exchanged greetings with a grey-bearded man wearing a kilt. Cool place!