Payson Junior High School Students Summit Loafer
In the early morning hours of September 4, 35 students and a few teachers, including this teacher—Mr. Burton, from Payson Junior High woke up earlier than usual to be at the school for a bus loading. The bus we loaded was bound for the Loafer Mountain trailhead in Payson Canyon. All in attendance seemed very excited to be a part of the school’s annual Loafer Mountain summit push led by Mr. Archer (a P.E. Teacher at Payson Junior High). Mr. Archer has led a group of students to the top of Loafer Mountain each fall for the last five years and this year he would do it again.
Mr. Archer, the founder of the annual hike, shared how the hike came to be: “The first time I hiked the mountain an experienced hiker of the mountain (Brad Warren) was teaching at Payson Junior High. After he took me to the summit, I was hooked. Being down in the valley and always looking up at the mountains, I thought it would be a neat experience for kids to get the other perspective by having the opportunity to be up at the top and looking down at the valley.” And so was born the Payson Junior High Loafer Mountain Hike.
This annual event includes 30-35 hikers and has been a great success. Mr. Archer requires all interested students to complete a battery of tests to be eligible. They must attend a hike procedure/back-country safety class and pass a written test prior to making the hike. Students must also pass a physical test. The physical test is administered at 5:30 AM, and students are required to go three miles in 39 minutes, or less, and then complete 30 bleachers at the Payson High School football field, all with their packs on.
“The 5:30 in the morning deters a lot of the kids from participating, but if we don’t leave that early, there’s not enough time to reach the summit and get back for the bus,” said Archer.
The hike is a twelve-mile hike, six miles to the summit and six miles back to the trailhead. Most students made the summit, and with the exception of a few bumps and bruises, the climb went smoothly. Some students completed the summit of the peak for the third time (once a year for each year they’ve been a student at Payson Junior High); they became members of the ‘elite’ three-timer club. In addition to Mr. Archer, I was joined by Mrs. Frandsen (an English teacher at Payson Junior High); we were all impressed with the teamwork and determination demonstrated by the students as they helped one another to the summit and back. Lander Crook, a member of the ‘elite’ three-timer club, may have put it best when he said, “It is an awesome enlightening experience.” I couldn’t agree more.