Timpooneke at 3amOK, who votes I never try another solo nighttime hike of Mount Timpanogos? I’m with you. It really seemed like a good idea to me. Some good alone time and a chance to maybe watch the sunrise from the peak. I left at 3am friday morning. It was a beautiful out and I saw several baby deer running awkwardly on the side of the road as I drove to the trailhead by Timpooneke campground. I have never hiked Timp before and I was really excited. It was pitch black and the trees were pretty thick and there was mist glowing in my headlamp as I headed up the trail. It was beautiful, but I have to admit that knowing there had been bear trouble in the area not long ago, along with all the signs telling you how to avoid a bear attack made it feel a little creepy too.

I was making good time and feeling great. I combatted my nervousness and the danger of surprising a bear by hiking loudly. I sumo-stomped my way up the trail and, like a Shinto priest, I blessed corners and particularly dark and dense areas with hand claps. When I reached an area of switchbacks with boardwalks next to a stream I took the opportunity to pound them with my feet like drums. As I stomped across one of the boardwalks I noticed that there were muddy splashes of water at regular intervals on it. “Hmmm… I wonder if someone is on the trail ahead of me…?” They were still completely wet, so whoever it was was probably close by, and though the shapes were not very clear, they looked a lot more like paw or huge hoof prints than people prints. I glanced back at where I had crossed the stream and my blobby footprint had pushed the mud down about half an inch. Next to it, a big mushy print a good 3 inches deep. As I stood there playing animal tracker something very big crashed through the brush in front of me.

My heart pounded and I stomped my feet and clapped my hands and whatever it was started moving again. I couldn’t tell if it was towards me or away from me, but it was for sure a very large animal. It sounded like it was knocking trees over. “Hey!” Stomp! Stomp! Stomp! I pounded my feet on the boardwalk. Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! It moved away from me a little and stopped again. “Don’t make me kick you in the face!” Stomp! Stomp! Stomp! Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! It moved a little further. It was hard to tell, in the pitch black, how far away it was now. Maybe 50 feet? I scanned the trees and brush with my headlamp trying to catch a glimpse of whatever was out there… GLOWING EYES stared back at me. I am sure I gasped audibly. My split second thought process was, Moose? Bear? If moose I should not antagonize it any further unless I wanted to be trampled. If a bear I should antagonize it as much as possible so as not to be mauled. The eyes weren’t as high as I imagined a moose’s should be, though who are we kidding, it was pitch black and I wasn’t exactly calmly measuring the thing. I went with the bear plan and clapped my hands and yelled, “Move it!” The eyes disappeared and I heard it move off a bit further.

I stood on the trail still frozen. I really wasn’t expecting to see those large glowing eyes so close to me and I couldn’t tell exactly where moosebearbigfoot had gone, but it seemed to be right on the corner of the switchback where I needed to go and I couldn’t tell if it had anywhere to go from there or if I had just cornered it. I now understand better how people die climbing mountains in storms that would cause a reasonable person to turn back. In spite of the large unseen animal in my path, I really didn’t want to turn back.

I thought I would check how far it had gone and if I could drive it off a little further so I could pass. I took a step forward and clapped. It ANSWERED ME with a short, very loud, growly snort/roar! Just picture for a moment that coming out of the blackness. A solid sheet of sweat poured from my forehead. If animals really can smell fear I may have been safe because my stench would have overpowered him. “You win!” I shouted as I tried to walk backwards slowly and not turn and run. It was hard to walk backwards down a mountain over rocky streams and I gave up fairly quickly and settled for walking at a moderate pace while slamming my feet down so hard that I must have crushed rocks. I sneaked glances over my shoulder every couple of steps while laughing nervously and taunting moosebear so it would know I was not afraid, that I was just walking back down the mountain because it turned out the mountain sucked and only a stupid moosebear would want to be on it anyway, and since I am not afraid it would be a really bad idea to come stomp and/or claw me to death.

Right before I hit the save button on this my brothers-in-law called and asked if I wanted to try hiking it again tomorrow morning. Of course I do. Look out moosebear, here we come.

PS – I stand by what I wrote here. If it had been a lion things would have been totally different.

PPS – Here are some pics of Timp so you understand why I need to climb it. Timp

Office View Two

Early Morning Timpanogos

9 responses for snort

  1. Josh says:

    No John, it wasn’t a squirrel. (Thought I would beat you to the punch)

  2. Mark says:

    Here is how I read the story:

    “I started hiking, but it was really hard, so I sat in the car for a while at the trailhead and thought up this great story.”

  3. john says:

    Squirrel? That’s just silly. I’m thinking more The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog, lucky you turned around because it a vicious streak a mile wide, and nasty, big, pointy teeth!

  4. rich says:

    hey – take the pepper spray…nothing pisses off a bear like bland white meat…give him some seasoning.

  5. mark says:

    They say the chupacabra was seen north of the 40th parallel in the last 6 months.

  6. s'mee says:

    Years later, after the search for his tattered remains had ended, a voice, strange and eery, offered up a theory on how Josh had dissapeared:

    “Maybe the dingo ate your baby.”

  7. Anonymous says:

    It was a Grizzly-cow for sure!

  8. Anonymous says:

    probably just a Side-hill Gink

  9. Grant says:

    Awesome, I really wanted to climb timp, but now you scared the crap out of me. Come play volleyball with us before we lose the summer.