6 am comes early some days and not soon enough on others. On this occasion it wasn't soon enough as I woke up at 4 am unable to sleep any more as I anxiously awaited the days events to follow. 6 am was the designated time for the Deacons, Teachers and there leaders to meet at the church followed by a swift departure to the Chimney Rock trailhead. I was excited for this hike, not only was it to be my first as the new Young mens counselor and scout master, but I had only seen Chimney Rock from the distance and couldn't wait to be able the to see it up close and personal. Remarkable everyone showed up on time, the last boy arriving at 6:03 am which was well within the limits of Mormon standard time.
After a prayer we were off. Riding with me in my subaru (which I have now officially named the "old Goat" since it doesn't go very fast but can climb up a shear rock cliff with ease) was Jacob, Daniel and Troy. We had some good conversations on sports, music and how the light of christ in indivuals is affected by the decisions we make. It took about an hour to wind are way up the Pack River road to the trail head. Upon ariving we were quick to get on the trail not only because we needed to be back at the church by 2 pm but it was cold and the only way to warm up was to get moving. The trail started by crossing the Pack River via a bridge then ascended slowly in a south westerly direction. The boys devised some walking sticks from downed tree branches to assist them on the hike. Yet despite their best efforts (or worst depending on how you look at it) all the hiking stick that were created were way to big to be affecting but would definitely build some arm muscles as the were 8 - 10 feet tall and 4 - 6 inches in diameter.
The Trail continued in the same direction for about 2 miles there it then took a big right turn and headed northwest. The farther we went the steeper the trail got. From the trail we could see glimpses of lake Pend orelle and the Pack river valley. About 3 miles in to the hike the trail basically ended into large granite slabs and we had to use cairns (piles of rocks that mark the trail for those not familiar with the term and yes it is spelled correctly) to make it up the next mile or so where the trail reappeared. From that point on the trail disappeared and reappeared as it ran through and along side giant boulder fields.
As we reached 6200' Chimney Rock first appeared briefly through the mist of clouds that had blocked our view of the surrounding peaks all morning, then as quickly as it came into view it was gone. Yet as we drew nearer to the base the clouds parted and allowed us a fully view of the beauty of not only Chimney Rock but many of the peaks that make up what is called the Seven Sisters. Most of the boys broke for lunch a couple hundred yards before the actual base deeming that they had come far enough and were tired. Jonathan (the other leader) and I were the only two to make it to the actual base and its northeast saddle. I even rock climbed a little way up the "chimney" but turned back before it got too technical, plus it was freezing cold up there. The views of the northern valley were spectacular as the clouds wisped their way through the northern peaks of the Seven Sisters. Unfortunately due to time constraints and cold, tired boys we didn't stay long and soon I found myself on my way back down the trail.
On the way down the boys had a fascination of heaving large rocks over cliffs, watching them beak into a thousand pieces. This distraction gave me time to run and bound over bolder fields and rock faces which only fueled my desire to run in the mountains even more (I have not been able to do much for two months now, as I have suffered from a string of overuse injuries that occurred as a result of my last ultra) and for once my knee/legs didn't hurt while running down hill. We finally had to put an end to the rock rolling as we need to get down to the cars. On the way down one of the boys had rubbed his "cheeks" the wrong way during the hike and had a very interesting gate for the last few miles. His slower duck like pace allowed some of the rest of us to enjoy a waterfall that was hidden from the trail. We finally arrived back at the cars shortly after 1pm. I was given the chore of taking Jacob and his brother Eric home, manly because Jonathan had to suffer through Eric's ever present ramblings on the drive up. But I am pleased to report that Eric fell asleep soon after departure and didn't wake up till I doped him off at this door step.
Overall it was an amazing hike one I would love to do again with a little more time to be able to explore some of the peaks that surround the trail, but for now it was a great experience to share with the young men of our Ward.