My late father-in-law, Gary, lived in the western United States for all but one or two years of his life. He was born in Montana and then headed down to Arizona to follow the love of his life when he was in his early 20′s. Gary traveled the West extensively while racing and riding motorcycles and dune-buggies, and flying hang-gliders and airplanes…he was an independent spirit who loved life. My sons remember working with their grandfather, painting the house or building a fence…out in the Arizona heat…and making comments about how hot it was outside…and Grandpa used to say “Yep…it’s great to be alive in the West, isn’t it?”
If you’ve been following or visiting my blog for any length of time, you might know or remember that I lived in the Phoenix area for over 20 years before moving to Salt Lake City a couple of years ago…leaving part of my family behind, and bringing another part of it with me. Those who remained in Arizona love the desert and its heat…and most of those who came with me, love the cooler, mountainous region that we now call home. So, while I have left the cactus, tumbleweed, and ungodly heat behind, I can still think fondly of Dad and my desert-dwelling sons and say that yes, it’s great to be alive in the West…but this is my view when doing so.
The mountain to the left of the cloud is Twin Peaks…the opening below the cloud is the entrance to Little Cottonwood Canyon…and the area that you can see below the ridge-line to the right of the cloud is Bells Canyon. I made the photo this morning while hiking/walking along the Dimple Dell Trail, a preserved natural area that runs from near the base of the mountains and into the southern neighborhoods of the Salt Lake Valley.
My older son and I noticed these ice climbers last Sunday as we were heading up the Little Cottonwood Canyon trail from the Mormon Temple Quarry near the mouth of the canyon. While I have never participated in the sport, I have found myself up near their location on the side of the mountain when I was collecting images for the posts Life on a Rock, Scale or perspective… and Little Cottonwood Canyon Vistas.
If you are having difficulty finding the three climbers, they are just to the right and below of the center of the above photograph…three climbers, two at the top, and one in blue toward the bottom of the icy cascade that is near the horizontal middle of the image.
You might remember the post from December, 2011, when I shared my first encounter/discovery of ice climbers in the Little Cottonwood Canyon. The location from I Found a Frozen Waterfall is probably another mile up into the canyon and on the same side of the mountain, or canyon wall.
The first four images were from the beginning of our hike, shortly after 9:00 a.m. …and before the sun had made its way over the canyon walls…and the last two photos were taken at the end of the hike, close to four hours later. While it was still an overcast day, the light had changed the appearance of the snow and canyon from the blue hues to the more gray and subdued colors that are not uncommon for our winter mountains.
My son, with his more-than-slightly younger ears, could hear the climbers’ picks smacking into the icy walls, just a “tick…tick……tick” from across the hundreds of yards that separated us, the sound traveling easily in the quiet mountain air, from however many feet above us.
This is the drainage from the two/three lakes waaay up at the top of the trail…maybe not technically called “Red Pine Stream,” but that’s what it is, so…. I took this a couple of weeks ago when Fall was barely making its presence known in our Wasatch Mountains….
These photographs were taken somewhere between one and two miles up into Little Cottonwood Canyon along the shore of its very own stream or creek. The running body of water actually begins about nine miles east of where these pictures were made…up into the canyon, just past the ski town of Alta, at a small-ish alpine lake called Cecret Lake…with that spelling. The lake is situated at about 11,500 feet in elevation…and eleven miles down from there, at around 4,500 feet, the stream enters the Salt Lake City metropolitan area…. So, these pieces of wood may have traveled all of those miles or only some of them…and maybe came from around 7,000 feet higher than where I found them…at any rate, I think they’re rather pretty…rich in color the way the earth is…from whence they came…and where they shall return in their elemental forms….
I’ve mentioned before that the Little Cottonwood Canyon stream is empty for part of the year, as the water is diverted into collection points, sent to treatment facilities, and then included in the municipal water supplies for the greater Salt Lake City metropolitan area. There is a time of the year, however, when the stream is allowed to run, as it contains too much water from the snow-melt to be collected in its entirety. I rather enjoy the stark contrast in the images of the empty stream-bed and the full and rushing stream.
This photo was taken in April, 2012 before the season’s snow-melt…
And this photo was taken at the same location in July, 2011 during the height of the season’s snow-melt…
The trail alongside the stream that runs much of the length of Little Cottonwood Canyon has become a favorite hiking destination of mine since I moved to the Salt Lake City area almost two years ago. While there are things about the trail that I find to be less than wonderful (being able to hear the vehicle traffic that also goes up into the canyon, being a wide enough trail that allows for mountain-bikers to come flying around a corner with but a second’s notice, and being close enough to that same roadway and the nearby city so that idiots with cans of spray-paint can come out into the beautiful wild and tag the cement water-courses and picnic pavilion), there are more than enough awe-inspiring views and soul-fulfilling experiences to be had, that those detractors quickly fade into the background and become non-issues. It is literally a 15 minute drive from my house to the trail-head that leads to this natural wonder…and I simply cannot get there often enough.
There is a water pipe, or two of them maybe, that run(s) from two water collection points in Little Cottonwood Canyon and down into the greater Salt Lake City metropolitan area, where the water that it transports is treated and then used in the municipal water supply. Sometimes the pipe is underground, sometimes running directly next to the stream on the bank, crossing the stream suspended by steel cables, on pylons from one creek bank to a nearby hillside where it disappears again, or somewhere else between stream and trail, tucked away among the various trees and brush that populate the wooded area on the mountain-side. I’m not sure when the water collection points were built, but it appears to have been several decades ago.
On one of my hikes this past winter, I found a sheet of muddy ice that extended down the trail for 30 or 40 yards, until it veered off into the brush. Continuing up the trail, I discovered that the pipe had burst and the water ran unchecked for some time. I don’t know if the controllers at the main water collection point downstream noticed a decrease in pressure, or if a hiker notified the authorities that they had sprung a serious leak, or what, but I saw that the pipe had been repaired, and after examining it, didn’t think much more about it. The technicians used a novel method that did not involve removing the split pipe and replacing it with another section. It was composed of a metal band that appeared to press a rubberized material against the gash, all bolted down secure and working as designed.
So…where am I going with all of this? A couple of weekends ago, one of my older sons and I were returning from a hike up into the canyon and my son happened to see a large section of pipe that had been removed from the main pipeline. It had been tossed into the brush and allowed to remain there…for what appears to have been many, many years. The section of pipe was likely removed because of a leak that refused to remain repaired…. The failed old-school repair has provided a beautiful nursery for life….
And lastly, this is the repair from winter of 2011…quite an advance in pipe-repair technology….
It’s nice sometimes, and necessary at other times, to take a step back…or up, to get another view of the objects of our attention…. It’s amazing what we can see when we’re not so focused on the one single thing…but on the whole and big/huge picture…. I hope you’ll enjoy these photos of one of my favorite places here in the canyons and mountains near Salt Lake City, Utah, USA….
This is what appears to be an old water-wheel house on the banks of the stream in Little Cottonwood Canyon. If you were to peer inside the window, you could see the old spooned wheel that used to turn with the flow of water to generate electricity many years ago.
Here’s another view from a little farther away…. I’m actually standing in the middle of the stream-bed taking the picture. The stream is empty right now, as the entirety of the water is being captured upstream and diverted into the water supply for the metropolitan Salt Lake City area. It will be flowing bank to bank in a couple of months when the water from the snow-melt is running.
This shot is from the slope heading up the side of the mountain that is on the south side of the canyon…you can see the empty stream-bed.
And lastly, this one is from way up on the side of the mountain. You can see the wheel-house on the stream bank near the lower right-hand corner of the photo….
In my attempts to find suitable names for the specimens that I have captured in these photos, I Googled “moss.” I was rewarded with many pictures of green clumps of plant life…and other pictures of a skinny woman with dirty-blonde hair and an American football player. So…I have pretty pictures without names…. I hope you enjoy images of the various types of moss and other rock-dwelling plant forms that I found on the side of the granite mountain in Little Cottonwood Canyon, just south and east of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA…another beautiful piece of life in the Wasatch Mountains.
Little Cottonwood Canyon has become something of a treasure trove of subject-matter for my winter-snow-ice photography. Upstream from the Mormon Temple Quarry, and situated in the Wasatch Resort area proper, there is a water-plant (?) where water from the stream is captured and diverted into huge pipes and transported into Salt Lake City and surrounding cities for further processing and eventual incorporation into the cities’ water supply.
After I had taken the photos of the ice crystals standing upright on the white granite boulders in the empty stream bed…and had taken the pictures of the evolving ice-tubes, I continued up-stream to the water-plant and found this nice bit of frozen water coming down the chute from the plant. I thought it was a pretty sizeable chunk of ice….
Looking rather large up close…
If we continue up the trail that follows the course of the stream, we will come to a huge rock…and behind this rock is another cement chute that has been touched by taggers…an unsettling find out in the middle of the forest. We will come back to this rock in a moment, but this is what it looks from the front side -
Probably another half to three-quarters of a mile up the trail, there is another collection point that gathers water from the main stream and another pipe that seems to bring water in from another smaller stream that comes from one of the gulches or draws further up and away in the canyon. I had thought that the bit of ice from the first picture was rather large until I saw this chunk growing out from the pipe at the second water collection point. This mass of ice might not actually be as large as the first one, but it does appear to be somewhat more dramatic…or unusual -
And now if we turn around and go back down the trail to that huge rock, we will see something that makes this chunk of ice appear less awesome…
This was actually the first time that I have been on the left side of the stream and behind the huge rock. All other ventures to this location have been from the right side of the stream and essentially behind the massive rock. The water level of the stream was low enough this time that I could step or jump from stone to stone and make it to the other side relatively safely; on other occasions, the stream has been flowing more forcefully and there would be no way to cross the stream at this location; it could only be gained by parking off the road in the canyon and then hiking down to the stream….or crossing the bridge another mile up-stream and going off-trail all the way back. At any rate, this bit of water has created a huge ice curtain…and invited me to engage in further explorations “on the other side.” More to follow….
I will grant that this is an unusual reference for the literal substance that will follow in the photos, but I was struck by the parallel when looking at the images by themselves. The forming ice actually has the appearance of cells…me thinks…and the accompanying photo array demonstrates the allegory or likeness of life forming in a womb.
If the page you are viewing has the graffitied water chute with the beautiful ice formations in the header photo, the “nursery” for these ice babies is located toward the far right side of that picture, at the bottom of the smaller water fall…
I suppose I should add a photo of the graffitied chute in case it doesn’t randomly appear when you’re viewing the page…so here it is…or a large portion of it…the part that I’m referring to anyway….
…and then this is the close-up of the nursery itself….
This next photo has the appearance of the inside of a fallopian tube where the wonder of fertilization takes place…you can almost imagine the cilia inside the tube pushing the little egg along on its journey…
…and these could be little ice cells dividing and making more of themselves, stem-cells that differentiate into their programmed forms…
…with the mass developing into tissues that will flesh-out the body in whole…
…until we can see it in embryo-form…
…and lastly the little buds where the limbs will grow…
…or maybe not…but that’s what came to My mind the first time I looked at the photos.
I think this is one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever beheld while out on one of my winter hikes…or any of them, maybe….
Feathers and forests and peaks and waves in icy textures and hues and….