Lehi City Councilman Paul Hancock lives in Traverse Mountain and has raised his four children in Lehi with his wife, Cindy. Hancock has served on the Lehi City Council since 2013 and is up for reelection in 2021.
Hancock is an avid hiker and has shared his many adventures with friends and family on social media over the years, most recently surpassing his initial personal goal of ascending 100,000 feet of elevation gain in 2020. He’s now challenging himself to 250,000 feet by year’s end.
Lehi Free Press: Why and how did you get started in hiking?
Hancock: I actually got started with running back in 2018 when I signed up for my first half marathon as a way to stay in shape. In October of that year I did my first hike up to Big Baldy in Pleasant Grove, and while I thought I was in good shape at the time having run several half marathons to that point, not only was it exhausting but the views at the top were amazing.
That’s probably when I was first hit with the hiking bug. In July 2019 I focused on hiking some locations that I could take my kids, place likes Fifth Water Hot Springs, Scout Falls, Stewart Falls and Horsetail Falls. I then went with a friend to hike my first peak, Sunset Peak, which again I was blown away by the views that you just can’t get in a car or running on the roads.
LFP: Who do you go hiking with?
Hancock: There are probably 10 or more different people that I go with on a regular basis. While there have been some larger groups, especially early on in the year, most of the time it’s only one to three other people joining me with an occasional solo excursion. It makes for a good therapy session with all the craziness (COVID and politics) going on in the world right now.
LFP: What do you attribute your 100,000 feet elevation goal success to? Especially with it only being August.
Hancock: I’d say a few things. First, I had a plan, while it was almost 40,000 feet more in elevation gain than I had done in 2019, I had a plan on how to get some hikes in every week and then sprinkle in a longer adventure once or twice a month to close the gap.
Second,, I invested in some gear (trekking poles, waterproof hiking boots, gaiters, and spikes) so I could still get some hikes in during the winter months like doing Squaw Peak, Grandeur Peak, and Mt. Olympus all while the trails were covered in snow.
Lastly, COVID-19. Honestly, the biggest thing was probably the fact that due to COVID-19 almost all of the races I had registered for and was training for were cancelled. With no races to train for, I just pivoted over to hiking, and it’s been really nice to focus on destinations and not on my times. Since Corona hit in March my full month elevation gains have been as follows:
April – 25,025 (my first month over 25K)
May – 28,234
July – 31,213 (my first month over 30K)
Those four months alone put me at 111,461’ of elevation gain and I’m already over 15,000 in August, so I should have another similar month as I did in July.
LFP: What have been your favorite hikes so far?
Hancock: This year my 3 favorites have been, Roberts Horn via Aspen Grove/Emerald Lake that looks across at Mt. Timpanogos. You can’t beat the waterfalls and wildflowers on the way up and having the almost 11,000’ summit all to ourselves.
I’m not sure if there is an official name but starting at Brighton and going up past Lake Mary, Lake Martha, and Lake Catherine and then hitting four 10,000’+ summits with lots of fun ridge-line scrambling, before completing the loop past Twin Lakes Reservoir.
Lastly, Mt. Nebo, the tallest peak on the Wasatch Front at 11,928’, almost 200’ higher than Mt Timpanogos, providing stunning views from the south end of the valley.
LFP: What would you like to share with others about your passion for hiking?
Hancock: One of the things I’ve loved about hiking is seeing the wide demographic of people out on the trails from young kids through retirement ages and quite often those older folks are just cruising by me. While I’m a data junky, and that’s why I’ve been keeping track of my elevation gain, there’s something liberating coming from running where you’re not concerned about your pace but rather enjoying other people’s company and the amazing vistas presented after a strenuous climb.