I was visiting one of my favorite bloggers from the United Kingdom, James at Walking with a smacked Pentax, and noticed some very familiar flowers in one of his photos…one of his photos taken in Yorkshire…in northern England. Take a look at the flowers in the third photo of this post and tell me if they don’t look just like the ones pictured below….
I don’t know the proper name of the little guys, as I’ve had no luck finding them in my wildflower resources yet, but I refer to them as “Dr Seuss flowers” because they remind me of the flowers in the movie, Horton Hears a Who! I realize they’re not the same color as the flowers in the movie, but seeing a huge field of them quickly brought the movie to my mind.
Anyway…it appears that James’ flowers from Yorkshire are the same (or at least incredibly similar) as the ones I have found along the shore of Bells Canyon Upper Reservoir here in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, USA…at approximately 9,400 feet in elevation…where they spend the winters buried beneath 6-10 feet of snow, if not more. In the below photo, the flowers are the bits of brown that are scattered among the green, just beneath and to the right of the two large, two-toned tree stumps toward the left of the image.
Quite possibly my favorite flower ever…ever…
You might remember the lake from last year when I did the posts on the Sister Lakes of the Wasatch Mountains. You can click on “Sister Lakes – Lake Florence” to learn more about this lake. The earlier post also has links to the other Sister Lakes if you’re interested in the more complete history of the area.
You saw the mountainside flower garden just below the other side of the ridge here…and the image below is what you can see when you look down the ridge in the opposite direction. From approximately 9,600 feet in elevation, you can see out through Millcreek Canyon, clear across the Salt Lake Valley, and visualize the open pit mine on the eastern face of the Oquirrh Mountains…the western geographical boundary of the Valley….
I suppose this is right about where we left off at the end of the other post, “Cardiff Fork…beginning….” You can see my son standing on the remaining basement wall of the bunkhouse where the miners used to live and sleep. That bit of a brown line near the stumps or logs in the foreground of the image, the part that looks something like a saw-dust trail, is actually a decomposing tree that is headed back into the ground.
We found about a half-dozen established camping areas throughout our hike in the largely privately-owned canyon of Cardiff Fork. This was something very unusual, given that all of the other hiking locations in the canyons of our local Wasatch Mountains are essentially wilderness areas and the most we might find is a recently used fire-ring. My son is examining a metal arrowhead that he found laying atop the stump/post next to him. It seems the landowners have put quite a bit of work into having a nice place to sit and cook for their camping/hunting excursions.
The below photo is looking further, or deeper into the fork…
…and this next photo is looking back at the trail from somewhere near the base of the trees in the above image.
I would imagine that the hole was larger when the mine was being worked, but it seems to have been filled-in a bit, either naturally or intentionally, over the years since it was in operation. There was a bit of a cool and wetly metallic breeze coming out of the ground here….
The boiler and bit of a foundation with re-bar sticking up from the ground is all that remains of the Baby McKee mine.
I’m not sure why, but it was kind of neat walking across these huge slabs of rock on the hillside. I’ve not encountered anything like them in the dozens of other locations I’ve hiked here in the Wasatch….
It’s fascinating to contemplate the geological forces that must have combined to cause the canyon to appear as it does today…such mind-boggling power coming from inside the earth.
We were nearing the end of the Cardiff Fork canyon at this point. You can see that there’s a bit of a bowl up there above the wormy line of trees near the upper center of the photo. We actually headed up the slope on the left side of the rock slabs toward the right of the image…our goal being to make it to the top, or right side of the line of trees and then to look down into the bowl or cirque. We imagined that there might be another mine up there, although there were no roads leading up to it…so maybe there was no mine.
My son and I couldn’t see it from the vantage point where I made the above photo, but if you’ll look at that darker spot of rock just down from nearly the very center of the line of trees in the photo, that’s where we found the shaft and broken rock structure that are in the next two photos.
Stay tuned for the next and final post in the Cardiff Fork series.
I mentioned in an earlier post how my little one and I went fishing at Scofield Reservoir, about 100 miles south and east of Salt Lake City…and how we didn’t come home with any fish. We did come home with some photos of birds that we had never seen, though. Below is a Western Grebe, not to be confused with a Craig’s Grebe. The most significant difference, to my novice birder’s eye, is that the black hood goes below the eyes on the Western Grebe and remains above the eyes on the Craig’s Grebe.
The next two photos are of Sandhill Cranes…. It was unusual to see such large birds walking near a lake/reservoir way up in the Mountain West area of Utah. I have read that our region is along the migratory routes of many types of birds, but just hadn’t seen much of anything that fit the definition of such birds yet.
One of the sources that helped me identify the birds showed photos of large gray birds with the red forehead, so I thought I was wrong about their name, but then they also showed other photos similar to these guys, indicating that the migratory cranes are usually scruffier and brown, while still keeping their red forehead.
And lastly, here’s an American White Pelican…way the hell out in the mountains and hundreds of miles away from any ocean. The link states that they breed on lakes throughout the northern Great Plains and in the mountain west, but winter along the coast. I guess they can pretty much go wherever they want to. I thought it was nice to find them where we did. There appeared to be a huge flock of the large birds waaaay off in the distance, but this one was the closest I could capture for a clear photo.
When hiking in the Wasatch Mountains, depending upon one’s elevation, one can see past the mountaintops and into the beyond…and in this case, out into the Great Salt Lake…where one can discern the familiar silhouette image of Antelope Island…approximately 30 miles to the north and west.
I made this image from the mountainside in Bowman Fork, one of the tributary drainages that run south from Millcreek Canyon…just east of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
The house was quiet, as everyone else was asleep or gone to work already…the back door and windows were open and it was only 56 degrees outside. I sat at my desk to check my email and turned to look out the back window…and this is what greeted me. I was just going to sit and look at it, not mess-up the moment with taking out the camera, etc…but then I thought it was too pretty to not capture. So, here it is…a glimpse of my morning. Happy Friday, everyone. 🙂
At this time of year, it’s nearly impossible to hike anywhere in the Wasatch Mountains and not find wildflowers of some sort or other growing in near profusion along the trails, out in the meadows, or up on the literal sides of the mountains. Cardiff Fork is no exception. My older, hiking son and I found ourselves deep in the canyons toward the end of June and this group of flowers is what greeted us on our happy Sunday morning. The above photo shows Horsemint, Agastache urticifolia (the bottle brush looking flowers), Leafy Jacob’s Ladder, Polemonium foliosissimum (the ones in white), and Sticky Purple Geranium, Geranium viscosissimum (the purple ones). The below image has some of the same Leafy Jacob’s Ladder with a bit of the reddish-pink Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja, thrown into the mix. I’m pretty sure that the yellow flowers in the below photo are not Arrowleaf Balsamroot, Balsamohriza sagittata, but I do feel rather confident suggesting that they are part of the Sunflower family, Asteraceae. You might have noticed the uiae ad metalla in the second photo, the roads leading to the mines, and wondered at the Latin name for that, too, so I provided it for you at no extra cost. And with that, I’ll pronounce myself finished with the high-highfalutin, Google-translated, proper names…… Cardiff Fork, also referred to as Mill D South, is one of the tributary drainages that heads south from Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains just east of Salt Lake City, Utah. If you’ll click here to go back to the map that I shared in an earlier post, you can find Cardiff Fork at the third pink pin from the top of the map, in the center area of the image, just below the pink and yellow pins that are close together. It is also the pink pin at the top of the second image in that post, the close-up of the canyons. So now you know where we are…heading back into Utah’s mining history. My son is looking into one of the abandoned and filled-in shaft openings in the above photo…. And while it may appear that he’s surveying the aftermath of his own destructive forces in the above image, my son is simply standing there in the middle of the ruins that were likely a cabin in another time. There was an electric water-heater off to the right of the image, so, while we know the enterprise existed and functioned in the past, we also know that it was recent enough that the people had some fairly modern amenities. The information that I’ve been able to find in various sources indicates that mining activity was conducted in the area beginning in the 1870s and continued, off and on, until about 1967. As you can see from the sign in the photo above, the land of Cardiff Fork is privately owned…rather, much of it is…and some of it is owned by Salt Lake City…and some of it is also National Forest property…and there have been longstanding legal conflicts over who gets to do what in the area. The Salt Lake Tribune reported in May of last year that the National Forest Service and the Cardiff Canyon Owners’ Association had come to an agreement that allowed hikers and skiers access to the private property for recreational purposes, while they respected the landowners’ property and their right to operate their motorized vehicles on the roadways of the canyon. During my two explorations of Cardiff Fork, I’ve yet to see someone riding an ATV and have only seen a handful of hikers this far up into the canyon. You can see the large tailings pile in the above photo, and the remains of what I believe is the main Cardiff Mine in the below photo. The Cardiff Mine is located a bit to the left and up the mountain from this tailings pile that is from actually from another mine site. In the below photo, you can see the basement remains of the old two-story bunkhouse where the miners lived/slept when they weren’t working. The bunkhouse is located between 200-300 yards to the right of the main mine that’s shown above. I read somewhere that there was actually a tunnel connecting the bunkhouse to the mine that the workers used during the winter months. I believe it was in Charles L. Keller’s book, The Lady in the Ore Bucket, which I’ve used as a reference in several other posts.To give us a little historical context, my son found this bottle bottom with the date of August 5th, 1919 in the bunkhouse. It was actually sitting on the windowsill of the middle window facing us in the above photo.
And the below image shows us the old boiler that would/may have been used to heat the water in the bunkhouse…among other things, as it appears to have been connected to some other apparatus near the bottom right side of it.
More to follow in a little bit….
Yes, sometimes…after a very long hike when I’m falling asleep and it feels like my boots are still on and the trail is still beneath my feet…when the sounds of the forest whisper quietly in my mind…chuckling streams and the breeze flowing through pine needles and leaves…sometimes then…sometimes in the middle of the day after a Yesterday’s hike, images come unbidden, scenes flash before my mind’s eye as I’m reaching for a pen or typing words into the screen…a flower-speckled meadow, silvery snail tracks across the trail and morning dew on a spider’s web, white broad-petaled flowers tucked into the shadows swaying…craggy skylines, and waterfalls drumming-up a mist before my eyes….yes…sometimes….
Yet another fishing trip with my Little One that didn’t bring home any fish…didn’t bring home any tales of fish caught, or tales of fish that got away….
But we did find this Rocky Mountain Bee Plant, something that I had never seen before…the name seems like something that a passing traveler would have made-up on a whim…but there it is…and you can Google it.
Wikipedia says that it can be found in western North America, up into British Columbia, east into Minnesota and Illinois, and down into New Mexico and on to northern California. I happened to find this little patch of Cleome serrulata along Utah State Highway 96 as it travels past Scofield State Park…about 100 miles south and east of the Salt Lake Valley.
In addition to finding the little treasure of the Rocky Mountain Bee Plant, my Little One and I also spotted some pelicans, a Western Grebe, and a pair of Sandhill Cranes with their young…which I might share in another post.