July 21, 1997
Location: Birch Springs, Utah - Between East Canyon State Park and This is the Place State Park.
Summary: East Canyon Lake to the top of Emigration Canyon -- The bear went over the mountain.
Journal entry: Today was the long-awaited climb over Big Mountain. We were all antsy to get on the road, and there have been a lot of preparations and precautions made. For example, ferriers and teamsters worked all day yesterday putting special horse shoes (drill tack) to help give the animals more traction going up and down the steep hills. We have tied ropes on the back of our handcarts to use for brakes when we go downhill. We have even emptied out our carts so that they will be easier to push up the mountain.
Our first 100 yards presented a challenge -- a very steep descent down a dirt road. We used the ropes to pull back, but the footing was very loose, and I slipped a couple of times. Barb even slipped and landed right on her caboose. But she held on to the ropes and, like water skiing, got pulled right back onto her feet. This is the same hill where Val Robins' Wagon Disintegrated about an hour later. By that time, we were 4 miles down the road and didn't see or hear a thing.
Going up the Big Mountain proved to be enjoyable, if not a breeze. There were some steep climbs, but nothing that caused us to break down. As we climbed, we passed groves of aspen and then pine. The summit was soon in sight, and before we knew it, we were at the top of Big Mountain. Everyone cheered and some cried. This was our first time to view the Salt Lake valley below, and it appeared a bit different than when the original pioneer companies saw it. The brown of mountains off in the distance was interrupted by the chalky white of the Bingham Copper mine. Windows and windshields made the valley floor much more reflective than sagebrush would have. Skies were blue, though, and the view was clear.
We paused at the summit to eat lunch and hear a historical explanation by Steward Glasier. After a few photos and drinks of water, we were ready for the steep descent down the other side of the mountain. We had ropes to help for brakes, but one family even tied a small log to their cart to help slow it down. The sun beat down and made the asphalt like an oven, roasting our feet in their shoes.
After the switchbacks, the rest of the road was gradually downhill until we made a slight rise to the top of Emigration Canyon. After a day entirely on asphalt, my feet were hamburger. I didn't want to move anywhere or do anything more than eat supper and go to sleep. Tomorrow will be an emotionally draining day, and I am already physically drained. But, all is well.