Timpanogos hiking badge tradition alive again thanks to new Provo business | News, Sports, Jobs

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Joe Vogel, center, of Timpanogos Hiking Co. and employees Kai Bradford and Delaney Sell.

Courtesy Joe Vogel

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Mount Timpanogos hikers Kim and Brian Black came to Timpanogos Hiking Co. to get their collectors badge.

Courtesy Joe Vogel

Old traditions die hard, they say. But some get a second life, like the famous “Timp Hike” badge being offered to those who brave the climb of Mount Timpanogos.

Joe Vogel opened up his Timpanogos Hiking Co. on Memorial Day. The shop is located at 252 N. University Ave. in Provo. To add something special to the store, Vogel decided to bring back a tradition started in 1912.

Vogel is a native of Provo but recently moved from New York back home to help his aging parents, who became ill during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The badges Vogel is giving out are made of cloth and can be sewn on jackets, backpacks and other items.

According to Brigham Young University professor Ed Carter, Eugene Lusk Roberts started a yearly hike up the mountain, but the idea didn’t begin in Provo. Carter wrote about “Timp” Roberts in the Y Magazine of fall 1998.

Carter noted, “The event which perhaps most focused the spotlight on Brigham Young University during the middle decades of this (the 20th) century wasn’t conceived in Provo, or even in Utah, but somewhere near Einsiedeln, Switzerland, as 5,000 worshipers made their way to a hilltop shrine. In 1908 Eugene Lusk Roberts, an LDS missionary from Provo, watched those Swiss pilgrims and envisioned for his hometown a similar tradition–the Timpanogos Hike.”

For Roberts, the annual hike to the summit of Utah County’s 11,750-foot “Wonder Mountain,” as he called it, always had religious underpinnings, according to Carter. “Roberts’ purpose in starting the community climb, which brought thousands to the mountain from 1912 to 1971, was nothing less than helping others worship at the great outdoor shrine,” he wrote.

“Roberts and his wife, Sytha Brown, left for an LDS mission in Europe just days after they were married in 1906. While there, Gene became an unofficial guide for American tourists and had many opportunities to trek the Swiss and Italian Alps. His visit to the shrine near Einsiedeln came on one of these excursions. The scene of a long line of worshipers carrying candles and chanting as they climbed the hill impressed Roberts deeply. As he watched, a vision of the Timpanogos Hike unfolded in his mind. It included dramatic performances, fireworks displays, music, bonfires, stunts to surprise hikers along the trail, and instruction about geology, flora, fauna, and history. Within a few short years, Roberts’ vision would take the form of one of the most prominent community mountain climbs in the United States,” Carter added.

And so the annual hike was born.

The concern was during those early decades there were no groomed trails. It was a yearly event that saw thousands climbing. Women would climb in dresses. They would start at Stewart Falls in Provo Canyon past Sundance and eventually they used the Aspen Trail further up above what is now Sundance Ski Resort.

“It was a fun tradition,” Vogle said. “The tradition is inspiring and I have heard many individuals tell their stories and their connection to the mountain.”

Now those hiking up the mountain are more spread out during the days, weeks and months throughout the year.

Vogle noted that recently a hiker came in and told him he was climbing Timpanogos for the 50th time and wanted to buy some new hiking gear.

The Timp badges are given to those who have climbed to the summit and down, with one badge per year.

“There will be a new and unique badge designed each year so people can collect (them),” Vogel said.

According to Vogel, climbing and hiking isn’t for the faint of heart. “Hiking wasn’t a thing for fun in the early days, until the trails were groomed,” he said.


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