HHP 012: Reach Higher! Y Mount Hike, Hike Healthy Podcast

Finally! We get to start on our 4 hike series of the state of Utah. In the last episode we talked about reaching our goals step-by-step I was preparing for these Utah hikes and now we are going on our first hike along the Wasatch Front in the Rocky Mountains.  In this episode of the Hike Healthy Podcast, we visit about reaching higher.  We do this by climbing to the top of a 380-foot tall letter on the side of a mountain.  Hiking Y Mount presents the concept of stretching ourselves and not just settling for mundane, everyday life without variety or change or improvement.  Go along on this podcast journey and Click Read more below to continue

Click here to subscribe to this podcast in iTunes

For other devices like Android and the like, click here to subscribe on Stitcher!

you will get a renewed desire to push your boundaries, reach higher and achieve your potential!  Also, make sure to check below for directions to the Y Mount trailhead and plenty of pictures of the journey.

48 Days Personality Profiles

Foreign Language Clip of the Day from this podcast episode:

This is a translation of the subtitle of the Hike Healthy Podcast: “helping you take control of your lifestyle!”

The foreign language spoken in this episode is: Arabic

 Quotes from this episode:  
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. Harriet Tubman


Here’s a link to my brother, Matt’s blog “Matt’s Basic Life & Occasional Adventure”

GPS tracing of Y Mount trail  overlaid on Google Earth image

GPS tracing of Y Mount trail overlaid on Google Earth image

Map to the Y Mount trailhead parking area

Map to the Y Mount trailhead parking area (click to enlarge)

To get to the trailhead for the Y Mount trail.  Go to 900 East in Provo, Utah.  900 East is a north-south running street that parallels the mountain range.  If you learn how the grid street system is laid out in many Utah towns, you should be able to find your way around fairly well.  On 900 East, go to 820 North and turn east (toward the mountains).  Continue up the road as it climbs in elevation.  It will turn into Oakmont Lane.  Continue to Oak Cliff Drive and take a right, still climbing up the hill.  Take a right on Terrace Drive then a left into the Y Mount trailhead parking area.  Here, you’ll find plenty of paved parking (if its not too busy).  You’ll also find restrooms and a drinking fountain, plus a little taste of the views which await as you head up the trail.

Panorama looking west over Utah Valley from the top of the Y

Panorama looking west over Utah Valley from the top of the Y

To find out more about the story of the “Y” you can watch this video.  There is more about the Y in the story below.

History of the Y (from sign at trailhead):  In 1906, the class of 1907 whitewashed their graduating year on the hill east of campus.  When other students saw these numbers on the mountain, a massive invasion against the offenders began.  The 1907’s held out as long as they could, but they were finally obliterated.  To prevent further clashes, President Brimhall consented to sent Ernest Patridge and three of his students, Elmer Jacobs, Clarence Jacobs, and Harvey Fletcher to survey the letters “B”, “Y”, and “U” on the mountain.  After the letters were laid out on the mountain, the entire student body joined together for the first “Y-Day” to whitewash the letters.  Harvey Fletcher recalled: “The students stood in a zig zag line about 8 feet apart stretching from the bottom of the hill to the site of the Y. The first man took the bag of lime, sand or rocks and carried it 8 feet and handed it to the next man. The second carried it another 8 feet and handed it to the third man and thus the bag went up the hill, each man shuttling back and forth along his 8-foot portion of the trail.  All the students started with enthusiasm as they expected to be through by 10 o’clock a.m. But it was a much bigger job than anyone expected. It was 4 p.m. before the Y was covered, and then only by a thin layer. So no attempt was made to cover the other two letters.  It was very hard work and most of the boys had had no breakfast and no dinner. No one dared to quit as it would break up the line. In the afternoon it was more than some of them could take and they fainted and had to be helped down the hill.  I am sure those who worked in that line that day will never forget it. They were somewhat rewarded when they got back to campus and looked at the beautiful white Y on the mountainside in just the right proportions. It looked like it was standing in the air just above the ground.”

The letter Y, composed of a thin coat of lime needed constant repair which the students wholeheartedly took on as a challenge.  in 1908, the students added a layer of rock to the face of the letter.  Around 1910 or 11, the blocks or serifs were added, transforming it into the block letter we recognize today.  In the fall of every year, as part of their freshman orientation activities, the freshman students would bow everyday at 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. in anticipation of climbing to the letter and removing brush from the area.

On Y-day, the men met early in the morning for roll-call.  They would head up to the “Y” and the women would stay behind to prepare lunch.  The faculty cleared the trail, the freshman hauled water from a spring, sophomores carried up the white wash and mixed it in wooden troughs, the juniors and seniors poured it on the large letter.  The band played music all day to keep the spirits of the workers up.  The job required a minimum of 500 pounds of salt, 110 bags of lime, and 3000 gallons of water.

This tradition continued until 1972, when the university began using helicopters to carry the whitewash up the mountain.  This change was made to reduce the environmental impact on the mountain caused by the yearly bucket brigade.  In 1978, the face of the Y was coated with gunnite, a mixture of sand and white cement.  Over 100 yards of sand, 56,400 pounds of cement and 10,000 gallons of water were used on the project which took 10 days to complete.  After the gunnite was applied, the yearly whitewashings were no longer needed.  The block letter “Y” is now painted every 2-5 years as needed.  It takes 3 people 10 hours to apply 155 gallons of paint which is transported by helicopter.

In 1923, the “Y” was lit for the first time to burn back the vegetation which had overgrown the area.  It was originally lit with cotton bales or mattress stuffing dipped in pitch.  It is now let by 1000, 25-watt bulbs powered by a generator.  It takes 3 people 6 hours to set the lights up and 3 hours to take them back down.

What a site to see, the majestic “Y” greeting all who arrive in the Utah Valley.  Even more spectacular is the huge, illuminated letter which gives light to all the world.  Although the “Y” is lit annually on special occasions, it has special meaning for our new students who, upon entering BYU have the letter lit especially for them.  By the same token, a student’s college career culminates with the lighting of the “Y” at graduation.  Like the sun with her spectacular sunrise and glowing sunset,  The glowing “Y” represents the sunrise of the incoming new student, and the sunset of a graduating senior.  A gift from BYU students.

Me at the top of the Y, Reaching Higher!

Me at the top of the Y, Reaching Higher!

Parking lot, restroom, and water fountain at the Y Mount trailhead

Parking lot, restroom, and water fountain at the Y Mount trailhead

photo 2 (46)


Billowey clouds over Y Mount

Billowy clouds over Y Mount

Paragliders catching some thermals over Y Mountain

Paragliders catching some thermals over Y Mountain

Gate at the Y Mount trailhead

Gate at the Y Mount trailhead


Utah Valley and Utah Lake from the top of the Y

Utah Valley and Utah Lake from the top of the Y

Rules of the Trail

The west slope of Y Mount is a fragile ecosystem that deserves our respect.  All who can are invited to continue the tradition of viewing the Brigham Young University campus and Utah Valley from the Y.  However, as a guest, you are entering controlled land.  Your compliance with the following rules will help preserve the tradition for generations to come.

  • No mountain bikes
  • No mechanized vehicles of any kind
  • Foot traffic must stay on marked trails
  • All waste must be brought back off the mountain
  • The Y is a fragile surface and walking on it causes unnecessary wear and is extremely dangerous.  Please contain your activities to surrounding area.
  • No firearms allowed
  • No explosives of any type, including fireworks, allowed
  • Violators will be subject to substantial fines

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One thought on “HHP 012: Reach Higher! Y Mount Hike, Hike Healthy Podcast