Wednesday Night Hike
August 24, 2011
Germania Pass

  Little Cottonwood Canyon

A signpost at the head of the Cecret Lake trail.
There is no mention of Boreal toads.
Click on an image if you want a larger version.
Information sign at the head of the trail to Cecret Lake.

Weather:  A few scattered clouds, in the mid 90's, little or no wind.
Present were:
  Bryan, W7CBM;  Clint, KA7OEI;  Gordon, K7HFV;  Ron, K7RJ;  Don, AE7MG;  Mike, K7DOU and Bruce, KI7OM

Destination:  Germania Pass.  That's the one above Cecret Lake and below Sugarloaf Peak.
Question(s) of the day:  "Do you know why there are so many rocks on this trail?"
Total distance (GPS):   3.7 miles
Times:  Departed vehicles:  1900;  Arrived at Cecret Lake:  1930;  Departed Cecret Lake:  1936;  Cecret Pass:  1959;  Arrived at Germania Pass:  2016;  Departed Pass:  2043;  Returned to Cecret Lake:  2113;  Departed Cecret Lake:  2143;  Returned to vehicles:  2207;  Rest of group arrived and departed:  2221
Altitudes in feet ASL (GPS):  Vehicles:  9430;  Cecret Lake:  9900;  Cecret Pass:  10140;  Germania Pass:  10490 
Altitude gain/loss in feet (GPS approx.):  1060
Local sunset on this date:  On this day, the sun set at 2013, about 10 minutes earlier than last week, at an azimuth of 285° -  about three degrees farther south than last weekThe 24th of August had 13:26:13 of daylight at this location - more than 17 minutes less than a week ago and the sunset was about 50 minutes earlier than at the solstice.
Total 2011 WNH mileage (if you had gone where I did on the hikes that I did this year):  47.1
Total number of footsteps:  The estimated step count, assuming a gait of approximately 27 inches/step, was about 8682 steps for an estimated total of 114805 steps hiked by me during this season on the hikes that I attended.


Panoramas from the area:
Many vistas and panoramæ were observed, but these made it to silicon:
Video clips from this hike:

Notes from 8/24:

Another "red air" day in the valley due to ozone, but a good excuse to escape to the mountains for a while - not that we need an excuse!

Gathering at the parking lot, we heard once again from Mike who was still stuck at home, but requested that we let him know where we were going so that he could join us - even if he would be a bit late in starting.  We also heard from - and saw briefly - Dale:  He had intended to go on the hike, but upon returning home from work, a painful rash - probably an allergic reaction of unknown origin - flared up and he decided to play it safe and go home and be miserable rather than be miserable in the mountains with us...

Since there was a slight threat of static electricity from the sky, we decided to refrain from a mountaintop destination this time - ignoring the fact that we probably didn't have enough daylight to do one, anyway, and we decided on Germania Pass - that's the one above Cecret Lake, next to Sugarloaf Peak near Albion Basin in Little Cottonwood Canyon.  Since our numbers were small enough, we piled into Bryan's Hummer and buzzed our way up the canyon, bouncing over the gravel road to the parking lot near the Albion Basin campground, arriving at the moment that a couple of parking spaces suddenly became available.

As usual, there were fairly large crowds of people wandering along the trail, working their way up toward Cecret Lake and a surprisingly large number of them were carrying infants:  We wondered if this was a growing trend at first, but we then remembered that we were in Utah.  About 1/3rd of the way across the meadow to the base of the trail segment that leads up to Cecret Lake, I called Mike on the radio and he answered immediately saying that he'd just started on the gravel portion of the road into Albion Basin.

The late-season flower show was still continuing in full force.  Along the road, driving to the trailhead, we saw several photographic shoots in progress taking advantage of the wildflower bloom in all of its splendor, and such was the case along the trail as well.  By this time the sun had set over much of Albion Basin, being blocked by the nearby land mass.  In the reflected sky lighting, the blue flowers were particularly vibrant while the reds of desert paintbrush were rendered somewhat paler than normal with the yellows of some of the other flowers seemingly unaffected.  Moving through this landscape we crossed several snow-fed streams that crossed the trail and we finally arrived at the base of the trail that switchbacks its way up the side of the rock mass toward the lake.

Making our way back and forth up the trail we arrived at Cecret Lake and saw that its water level was surprisingly low, exposing peninsulas of granite along its northern shore.  In the air we could hear the sounds of people talking, children whooping and insects buzzing so we applied our DEET - which, by the way, had no discernible effect on the children - while waiting for Gordon and Don to catch up.  Just as they did, we resumed our trek toward Germania Pass at about the time Mike reported being most of the way across the traverse to the bottom of the Cecret Lake ascent.

West of Cecret Lake there is another bowl and to get there one can either take the right-hand "low" route and intercept a service road, or taking a left and go up the more-direct path that traverses the face of the hill to a place called "Cecret Pass":  Gordon, Don and I took the latter while everyone else stayed low and intercepted the road.  Making the traversng climb, I took my time, stopping to take several pictures and pointing out to Gordon and Don the path that Bruce, Chris and I took several years ago that took us to Sugarloaf Peak via the "east route", taking us straight up the face of the mountain.

Upon arriving at Cecret Pass I noted that there had been quite a few changes since last year.  Finished where the projects to upgrade the infrastructure and the ski lift itself and instead of open trenches ready for the laying of pipes, nylon mesh had been laid and stapled to the ground to stabilize it.  Remnants of the older access road had also been erased with the former track smoothed-over to better-match the terrain and also covered with mesh, leaving only the road on the far west side of the bowl to access the pass - and up this road I spotted a Sheriff's SUV making its way to a building on the far side.

Shortly after entering the bowl I departed from the roadway and struck out up the hill, generally following the path of the water line that had been buried the year before.  Wet with ongoing snow melt, the area was verdant and, in places, covered with a carpet of moss and my upward progress disturbed a small flock of grouse that wandered in the general direction of away from me as I made my way up the slope.  Calling Ron on the radio, he reported that they had just made it to the pass and I could see that they were being joined by the sheriff's SUVs (there were two now!) that wandered from the distant building and toward the pass.  A couple more minutes of climbing brought me to the ski lift where I could see Ron, Bruce and Bryan talking to the officers who were surveying the view to the south across Mineral Flat with Timpanogas in the background.

I reached them at about the time that the officers departed and we watched as the last bits of sunlight disappeared from the mountain peaks and on the road below, I spotted the tiny figures of Don and Gordon making their way toward us and we settled down to enjoy the scenery as the sky darkened with deepening blue, yellow and magenta hues.  Sitting down to eat our snacks, Gordon and Don finally arrived and only a few minutes later, I spotted a lone figure coming toward us from the direction of the ski lift - indicating that he'd followed roughly the same path that I'd taken, limping slightly.  It was Mike.

With the entire group assembled, we took the obligatory group picture in the gathering darkness, dug out of flashlights and then started down the road with Mike and Bruce bringing down the rear.  During our descent we decided to stick to the road - for the most part - rather than attempt to follow the path of the now-scrubbed old road, departing only at the point where we had the choice of either going still-farther down or cutting across toward Cecret Pass:  We chose the latter, tripping our way cross the ground-laid net in places and soon finding our way at the pass, overlooking Cecret Lake and Albion Basin.  Bryan, Ron and I made our way down the rocky traverse while Don and Gordon, being a bit more cautious, took their time and when we arrived at near the shore of Cecret Lake we looked back and could see Gordon's tell-tale green flashlight slowly bobbing about as they continued their descent.

By this time, Cecret Lake was mostly deserted with the last group departing soon after we'd arrived.  Overhead, clouds obscured parts of the sky reflecting the pale glow of city lights while the landscape was occasionally lit up by the reflected flash of an unseen and un-heard thunderstorm somewhere to the south and west.  Looking back toward the ridge, I could see another set of lights near the bottom and slowly, the two groups of lights merged as Gordon and Don were reunited with Bruce and Mike who'd followed the road all of the way down - and the entire herd made there way to our location.

As is tradition on this hike, we decided to hurl rocks onto the ground - but we soon discovered that where we were sitting there were scant few to cast about so Ron and Bryan went foraging, soon returning with armloads of stones and we watched in simple amusement as we demonstrated to Don the propensity of the rocks in this area to spark as they were scraped against each other or thrown onto the ground.  After a few more minutes of this, we decided that we should really make our way back to the car, so we started back down the trail.  In the darkness, we stumbled along the flashlight-lit rocky trail and I asked Gordon if he knew why this trail was so rough:  The response was, of course, because we'd thrown so many rock down onto it over the past several years demonstrating the sparking phenomenon.

Wandering back down the trail in the darkness, we splashed through the streams and managed to keep to the main trail rather than taking a brief detour above or below the campground.  Near the entry booth, we caught the strong smell of herbivore, but in looking around we didn't see any pairs of eyes looking back at us as had happened in years past.  Upon reaching the vehicles, we sat and waited for few minutes under the wheeling sky, watching as the distant, bobbing flashlights drew near.

The group reunited, Gordon, Don and Mike formulated a plan to head down together in Mike's car and grab a "dime lime" at the Porcupine - the restaurant near the 7-11 at the mouth of Big Cottonwood, hoping to make it before they closed at 11 PM.  Winding our way down and avoiding a few deer, our path was diverted by a police blockade at the mouth of the canyon requiring us to divert to the left, rejoining Wasatch at about 9400 south with the delay putting the epicurean intents of Mike and company in some jeopardy:  Gordon later reported that they were happily served when they arrived at the eatery.

If you have Google Earth installed but your browser doesn't automatically launch it when you click on the .kmz file, right-click to save this file to your computer to a known location and then open it with Google Earth.

About the ascent/descent/profile graph: 
When stopped - as is often done when we get to the hike's destination or even at the end, after returning to the trailhead but before I shut off the GPS receiver - the GPS receiver will, over time, continue to update and average the location and elevation - but since it is not moving, this data isn't logged.  It is only when the GPS receiver is moved again (sometimes by just a few feet as I walk around) that this new, updated information is logged.  During this averaging period it is very likely that the elevation reading will have changed (usually becoming more accurate) and this explains the spikes in the data at around the time that we stopped and, occasionally, at the very end.  The "unsmoothed" numbers are taken from snapshots of two pieces of data - 5 entries before and 5 entries after the current data while the "smoothed" numbers are the median of +/- 10 entries from the current.  Because of the way the logging is done (e.g. it stops when I stop) only long-duration stops tend to show "zero" ascent rate (and only if the receiver is moved a bit during the stop) and shorter stops do not.  It is possible that some day, I may work more on the spreadsheet calculation that generates this graph to make it a bit more selective...

About Cecret Lake:
According to Keller, Cecret Lake gets its peculiar spelling from mining claims made in the area in 1905.  At that time, this body of water was known as "Flora Lake" - a name used on county maps at least until 1937 and even some local maps as late as 1980.  The "Flora" name (precise origin unknown) was one of several names for this lake:  In the 1860's, it was also known as "Mountain Lake" as well as "Little Cottonwood Lake" - not to mention "Lake Minnie" named by Lambourne and Culmer who had been wandering around the Wasatch naming things.  After about 1885, it was also known as "Case's Lake" after George Case, a long-time miner in the area.

The "Cecret" name comes from a number of claims filed in the area by the "Secret Mining and Milling Company."  Since many of the people making the claims weren't particularly literate, it wasn't all that unusual that some of the names were "creatively spelled" - and since it was recorded in that way in the mining recorder's books, it was etched in stone, surviving much longer than the company that (almost) bore its name.

I'm not sure where the name "Germania" comes from, but it's worth noting that a large smelter of the same name was built in Murray in 1872, close to the site of the former Murray smokestacks (approx. 4900 South and West Temple - roughly where the Intermountain Medical Center is today.)

About Albion Basin:

The basin is named after the Albion Mining Company, incorporated in 1898 from other mining properties in the area left abandoned or little-used after being repeatedly wiped out by snowslides in the 1870's.  This company was extant until 1921 when its name disappeared, having been absorbed by the newly-formed Hecla Mines Company.
Much of the above information is from the book "The Lady in the Ore Bucket" by Charles Keller.

Comments about pictures/video/audio taken by Clint:

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