Guest Post: Hiking the Oquirrh Ridge Ascension Line (O.R.A.L.)
Today’s blog post is from our guests Nick Carnahan and Alex Lawhun. They completed an 18 mile day hike along the Oquirrh Ridgeline – a rarely hiked and unknown route to many. What they encountered was more than they bargained for. Here is their story.
Hiking The O.R.A.L. – Oquirrh Ridge Ascension Line
Butterfield Canyon Trailhead to the Ophir Canyon Trailhead
“What a long day we have ahead of us,” was the only thought that crossed both of our minds. Tuesday October 18th, 2016 was the day Nick and I decided to make this epic hike happen. I got a text from him while I’m at work around noon saying, “Alex, I want to do Flat Top Mountain after work, think that will happen?” I kind of chuckled when I read it because I know how long of a hike and day that would be. I told him no, but if he wanted to do it over the weekend I would go with him and show him the way.
The night before the hike, we parked my car at the TH and were surrounded by hunters immediately. They didn’t ask us any questions but looked as us with questioning glares. They did not want any hikers intruding on their hunt since this weekend was the first weekend of the hunting season. We then proceeded to drive Nick’s car to the starting point of our hike and figure out how long it would take us to get to the TH at the top of Butterfield Canyon on the following morning. Sunday morning came and I woke up to Nick’s text daying that he was on his way – it was only 4am. We left my house and got to the TH around 5am. Keep in mind that the winter gate for Butterfield Canyon is only open from July 1 – October 31st. Summer and Fall will be the best time to hike this route.
5:45 AM. We summited Butterfield Peaks. 35F degrees with a wind chill of about 25F degrees. We moved on from there towards our next destination which would be our 2nd and 3rd peaks of the day. We starting moving along the ridge and started to descent in to a little valley where I saw a light moving along the ridgeline. I mentioned it to Nick and we both thought that this was going to be our first encounter with the Ault Family, who claims they own most of the Oquirrh Range we were hiking through.
7:00 AM. We started walking along a barbed wire and came across the hunters early in the morning. They had shot a deer and asked us to help, but we just looked at them with a “are you serious” look. They weren’t apart of the Ault Family, but they had some funny things to say about them. We asked them if they really owned all the land and they said, “Hell no, those f#ckers just think they own the land because they own a small part down there,” as he pointed towards the valley which we were standing atop of.
11:35 AM. Summit of Lowe Peak. I arrived at Lowe Peak just a few minutes prior to Nick, and we signed the register and then hid behind what seemed to be a lookout point. It was a small shed that had some old food and old coffee grounds inside. Nick and I decided to stay here and hide from the wind and eat as much food as we could. We stayed here until about noon before we decided to carry on towards Flat Top Mountain and our end goal.
3:45 PM. Arriving on the summit of Flat Top Mountain, I yelled a triumphant “YES!”
5:00 PM. On the summit of Lewiston Peak! We sat at the summit, signed the register and left all within 5 minutes. We had our sights on the finish line and started to head down the mountain.
7:00 PM. Car. Done. We both wanted to throw away our hiking boots and never see this hike again…
This was the hardest hike Nick and I have ever done. We hiked a grand total of 17 miles, with 7,936 ft elevation gain, and 8,848 ft of loss. The entire hike took around 13 hours in total with stops, not counting towards our time. Our average speed of hiking was 2.2 MPH. The best part of the hike was summiting all of the peaks very few people have summited or even touched. The worst part of the hike was dealing with the mountains that didn’t have good trails throughout.
If you are interested in becoming a peak bagger, be sure to check out the group Utah Peak Baggers Instagram!
Alex Lawhun is an amazing peak bagger. This is his first year peak bagging and has fallen in love with it. He recently graduated from Dixie State with a Bachelor’s in Mass Communications. When he is not hiking, he is either with his dog Brutus, rollerblading, or playing soccer. You can follow him on Instagram @alex_lawhun.
Nick Carnahan is a 23 year old single farther to a beautiful daughter named Brooklyn. This is his fourth year peak bagging, and has over 60 peaks this 2016 season alone. When Nick isn’t hiking, he is either with his daughter or his puppy, Moros. You can follow him on Instagram @HighElevationMountaineering.