There are many mountains that we have climbed – some are physical places and some are emotional places. I have climbed many and do not have what it takes to physically reach the top of some mountains. Knowing my limits does not stop my love of challenges and places. When I need a rest I think of mountains – that I have seen, that I love, and that I have yet to see.
This morning I give you a mountain from my childhood – come walk with me or sit with me and enjoy the sunrise.
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Mount Timpanogos is the second largest mountain in the Wasatch Range of Utah. The mountain has an elevation of 12,008 ft (3,662 meters). I will do a separate diary on the Wasatch Range – this one is dedicated to a unique mountain. I have chosen this as my first diary on the mountains of the west that I love based on my family roots.
Mt. Timpanogos is seen towering over Utah Valley, including the cities of Provo and Orem, and others. Named after the early name of the Provo River, Timpanogotzis, so named for the group of Ute Indians living along its banks. The river was later renamed for the French-Canadian trapper Etienne Provost, and the original name was transferred to the mountain. Timpanogos is a derivative of a Ute word that refers a canyon from which water flows.
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From a distance Mount Timpanogos has the profile of a sleeping woman. There are 2 legends from my childhood regarding the mountain. No story of the mountain would be complete without the legends.
** One legend says the young Indian Princess Utahna, who was given as a sacrifice to the Great God Timpanogos. As such her sleeping repose on top of the mountain is recognition for her sacrifice.
**The second legend follows with the mountain god Timpanogos demanding the sacrifice of the young maiden Utahna. But Red Eagle, a brave from a neighboring tribe, follows the beautiful maiden to the summit of the mountain and saves her by posing as Timpanogos. Red Eagle and Utahna live happily together in Timpanogos Cave until Utahna discovers that her benefactor is mortal. She then scales the mountain once again and throws herself to her death.
Devastated, Red Eagle carries her body into the cave where he dies. The mountain god joins their hearts and raises them to the cave’s ceiling, creating the rock formation known as the Great Heart of Timpanogos Cave.
Both are interesting – but a word of caution it is believed that both were written and told by settlers in the area, not by local tribes.
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Mt. Timpanogos is one of Utah’s most popular hiking destinations, and has been so for many years. There are two main trails to the top. One starts at Aspen Grove with a trailhead elevation of 6,910 feet, and the other starts at Timpooneke campground in American Fork Canyon at 7,170 feet. They are about 8 and 9 miles to the summit respectively. Hikers see a general alpine environment marked by waterfalls, pine trees, rocky slopes and ridges, mountain goats, and a small lake called Emerald Lake (10,380 feet).
There are also wonderful and less strenuous hikes near the base of the mountain and just wonderful places to sit and be at one with nature. Within the mountain are multiple cave formations. There is a small cave that is open to the public and gives many people an up close encounter with stalactites and stalagmites. The mountains are alive in the spring with columbines and sego lilies and mountain lupines. On a clear day the air is so pure your lungs almost don’t know how to work. My favorite time of year is autumn. The hills are ablaze with the gold of Aspen trees.
Sometimes we just need to take hike in the mountains, literally or virtually to get away from whatever is emotionally draining us. Today I give you this mountain to sit and observe, the pathways to walk, or just to sit and absorb the strength of the hills.
This diary is dedicated to the following people:
**My mother for being independent before her time, and teaching me that independent spirit. My mother hiked the mountain with a youth group in the early 1940’s.
**My great-great grandparents who were the first to settle the town of Orem
**My uncle that taught me the love of the mountains and Utah lake
**My cousin that lost his life on the mountain during a hiking accident before he turned 18
Thank you for visiting this mountain of my youth.