Hiking the Y in Provo

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December 19th 2018
Published: December 22nd 2018
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Provo was an adventure. It didn’t really start out that way, but the possibility was there, and we took it. The biggest thing, or perhaps I should say the longest or highest thing, was hiking to the Y on Y Mountain. I had seen that it was a ‘thing’ to do in town, but I wanted to see for myself how feasible it was before I committed to doing it. While we did other things in town, that was the most time-consuming.

We left Salt Lake City after the organ recital in the Tabernacle. The drive from Salt Lake City to Provo was all interstate, but the views were magnificent. I guess we still haven’t gotten used to the mountains being everywhere. It was less than 45 minutes to get there, and our first stop was the BYU campus store, for my pennant wall. Unfortunately, they only had two pennants, and there were both the crappy big pennants. I bought one, though I’m not sure the condition it will be in once we get back to Georgia. It doesn’t exactly fit into my bag, and it’s not felt, so it doesn’t roll up either.

Fun story: when we got to the campus to park, we found the Visitor Lot, and there was a guard station at the entrance. Signs said to check in with them before we entered, so I rolled down the window and this security guard opened his. It was cold. All I said was, “We’re just visiting.” His only response was “okay.” Then we proceeded to find a parking space. Um, sure. Not exactly sure why we had to check in. Maybe the fact that both Nick and I were wearing red UGA sweatshirts was all the convincing he needed. The only real warning on the sign was that it was not for students. Guess we didn’t look like BYU students.

Anyway, we got our BYU swag and moved on to the BYU Creamery, which I had been told I needed to visit. This was no lie. There are several locations, but the one we visited was only 1 block away from our parked car. It’s more than just ice cream, though. They have a full restaurant with sandwiches, burgers, etc. And that’s only half the building. The other half is like a mini mart, so we took the opportunity to buy a couple cans of canned food, since the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl website said that we wouldn’t have to pay to park at the game if we brought canned goods to donate. So we crossed that off the list and managed to check out of the store with the only clerk in all of BYU from Georgia. She saw our sweatshirts and asked, so we told her our story. And she told us she was from Dahlonega. Naturally.

The ice cream, by the way, was fantastic. Nick and I both got milkshakes, which just made the ice cream more portable. I can fully recommend this place. But while we were there, we saw a mural on the wall about hiking up to the Y. And of course there was the hashtag #HikeTheY. Nick asked if I wanted to do it, and I said it was tempting. So I used the GPS to see how long it would take to get there. Walking from the Creamery would supposedly take an hour, so that was out of the question—2 hours round trip plus any time up at the top to enjoy the views. It would be dark by then. But there just happened to be a parking lot at the “base” of the “Y trail,” and from there, GPS said the hike would only be maybe 30 minutes. Just under a mile of hiking. That was entirely doable. At least I thought.

Let’s just say that was the roughest mile I have ever hiked. We drove up to the parking lot and determined that, if we had walked all the way from the Creamery to the parking lot, we would’ve been already done in. So that was a nice save. The hike itself is basically entirely uphill and consists of several “turns” along the way—9 if you want to get to the bottom of the Y, 10 if you choose to go to the top. The turns give you a mocking sense of accomplishment, since they tell you how far you've gone when you get to each one. They're almost 90-degree turns, but they at least break up the trail from being a direct one mile up the mountain. There's not much flat land in this trail at all. But it's still the best way to get to the big Y. This Y, by the way, is made of gunnite, and is much larger in person than it looks from the bottom. It’s painted white and can be seen for miles. Anyway, we got up to the first turn, and we were already 1/5 of the way to the top! I was a little winded, since it was pretty steep, and it had taken us about 8 minutes. There’s some ice in patches, mostly in the middle of the trail, so you have to walk on the edges of it. It’s wide enough for a vehicle to ascend (or descend), if necessary. But not much wider than that. And when you encounter people coming down, you must get out of their way, because gravity is on their side. If they get on the ice, there’s a good chance they’ll make it down even faster, and not in good shape.

By the time we got to the 2nd turn, I was rethinking this escapade. I could feel my heart pounding in my ears, and I thought of Sofia Petrillo. It was also becoming much more difficult to breathe. So we took a little longer at this turn to catch our breaths. They usually have a bench to sit back and enjoy the view, or catch your breath. And we took every one of them. The sign said we had made it up 1/3 of the way now, and the it also encouraged us to “Keep it up!” Thanks.

After the third turn, the stretches became shorter but steeper. I think it was around the 6th turn when I had to make a choice between continuing to the Y or death. But we finally made it. Nobody passed us on the way up, so at least there’s that. But we learned that we were very much out of shape. It took about 50 minutes to get to the Y; while we were at turn 7, I saw a pair of girls coming up the trail below, and thy were probably at turn 2 when I spotted them. We had been at the top for only about 5 minutes when they showed up to join us. And I was still trying to keep my heart from racing. My breath had been caught, but the heart took a while to slow down. But I did enjoy the views of the town, the lake, and the mountains on the other side of it. Nick decided he needed to climb to the top of the Y, so off he went. When those girls got there, they also decided they needed to do that. Not me. I enjoyed my “bottom of the Y” existence, and we were there probably about 20 minutes. A college girl in a Wyoming hoodie showed up with her dad just as Nick was getting back to the bottom, and they agreed to take our picture if we would take theirs. And guess what: they were from Alabama. The dad even said "roll tide," and Nick and I both rolled our eyes. What luck.

The hike back down was less adventurous and probably took 20 minutes. So, all in all, we had made the trek up and back down in about 90 minutes. And we had lived to tell about it.

On our way out of town, we stopped by the BYU football stadium (of course), and this one was open. We got to check out the field, and it had some nice views of the mountains behind it. We couldn’t go on the field itself—there was a barricade that said the field was “alarmed,” so we didn’t want to scare it any more than it already was. After that, we got back on the interstate to head back to Salt Lake City. The traffic was less than stellar. In fact, whereas it had taken us less than 45 minutes to get to Provo, it took us almost 2 hours to get back to Salt Lake City.

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