Dog Lake…and Lakes Mary, Martha, and Catherine

These aren’t necessarily from the archives proper, but the photos are from a little while ago.  August of last year found me visiting my Utah kids and then visiting the mountains and canyons south and east of Salt Lake City.  You might remember that I lived there for a few years…a few years ago now…and that I spent most weekends hiking in those nearby Wasatch Mountains.

Of the many hikes that I took while living in Utah, I never went to the lakes that I am presenting in this post.  They are situated in the conjoined space at the far eastern end of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.  In fact, one can walk up to the lakes from the Big Cottonwood side, at the Brighton ski resort, and continue on the trail back down to the Alta ski resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon, or vice versa.

I didn’t visit the lakes for the precise reason that I described above…their proximity to potentially great quantities of people.  To give a small example of how many people one might encounter there, let me say that there were five vehicles, including mine, when I arrived in the parking lot at 5:55 am, and over 50 when I returned to my truck at 10:30 am…and that was on a Monday morning in the middle of summer.  When I lived there, I hiked on weekend mornings…so I avoided the place…in hopes of avoiding the above mentioned “great quantities of people.”

I didn’t study a map of the mountains before leaving for the hike, so I was a little surprised that I would encounter Dog Lake on the near approach to Lake Mary.  The little body of water in the second photo is Dog Lake.  There is another Dog Lake in Millcreek Canyon, just north of Big Cottonwood Canyon…and back when I used to study my mountain map of the area, I knew of both of these Dog Lakes…but had forgotten about this one.  You might remember a black and white rendition of the above photo….

The photo below is from the close approach to Lake Mary…just a little ways further into the mountains from Dog Lake.  As you can see the concrete wall in this image, you can tell that this is actually a reservoir, not a true lake.

Not that it matters much, what we call it…especially when we get up to the mountain-reflecting body of water and look out over it….

I had a sense of being home again when I was out on the trail heading up to the lakes…off in the mountains…very few people around…the smells of mountain earth, forest, flowers, grasses, and maybe even the water…all of it flooding my head…rejuvenating the muscle-memories and the actual physical sense of “being” in those surroundings.

I would have to confess then, too, that my body also knew it was only visiting, that it had been existing in the desert at maybe 1,200 feet in elevation…and that it was now hiking from over 8,700 feet up to 9,200 feet…and I felt that difference in my lack of wind and the need to “pull over” every now and then to catch my breath…heart pounding as it was rejoicing….

You can see the top of the reservoir wall in the below image.

There were three or four people sitting around Lake Mary and their voices carried loudly over the water and in the thinner air, so I made my few photographs and then headed back up the trail…up a little further to Lake Martha.

The bluebells were in a huge clump, almost like a grove, actually, if that’s possible…a rather large swath of near boggy forest floor that was covered in great, dark green leaves of some familiar plant whose name I didn’t know…with pink sparks of Indian paintbrush…and then almost purple gray smudges of what became bluebells as I got closer.

Life in passing…in waiting…in anticipation….

Between Lakes Martha and Catherine, there is a something like a minor cirque on the south side of the trail…it rather resembled an amphitheater…an almost bowl-like depression in the ground like some huge something had reached down and scooped out a chunk of earth and then littered the ground with grass and wildflowers and pine cones and rock litter from the hills above….

I sat in the grass and flowers for several minutes with my elbows propped on my knees, making photo after photo of the flowers…with my head and heart lost in the present and the past and wanting to stay there…right there…for fucking ever.


The bowl of Lake Catherine from the left…

…the middle…

…and the right….

This little guy has a bite of my chocolate brownie Cliff’s bar in his hands….

Now heading away from the lake…

Encountering another little squirrel-person eating what he’s supposed to eat…and appearing more fit and trim for doing so….

Lake Mary from above….

Yes…my favorite flower, ever…the Colorado Columbine in its various opening stages.

Below…red, white, and blue Wasatch Mountain wildflowers.

And the trail back down from Lake Mary with its patch of near hedge-like accompaniment of yellow flowers…and the forest beyond….

Thank you for enduring the longer post…for going home again with me to my beloved Wasatch Mountains…even if it was only for a few minutes.  If you enjoyed the hike even half as much as I did, I know you absolutely loved it.


14 responses

  1. Awesome

    April 4, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    • Thank you, Phyllis…the place strikes me as “awesome,” as well. 🙂

      April 12, 2020 at 3:08 pm

  2. Wow, I feel like I’ve been on that long hike with you–quite took my breath away. What a great memory!

    April 4, 2020 at 7:45 pm

    • Thank you for going with me, Gary…and yes, it is a great memory!

      April 12, 2020 at 3:08 pm

  3. Awesome locations and photos. And, I do remember the excellent B&W rendition.

    Here, I especially like the near-perfect reflections, something I’m still looking to capture (but then, I don’t hike as much as you do).

    Great post; thanks.

    April 5, 2020 at 11:21 am

    • Those high mountain lakes seem to be a good place to capture those near-perfect reflections, Emilio…that’s been my experience, anyway. Those reflections can be rather mesmerizing, too…makes you want to stand there all day and make images of them.

      Thank you…and you’re welcome, too.

      April 12, 2020 at 3:10 pm

  4. Reading this reminds me of a flash exploring adventure I enjoyed many years ago, climbing part way up Mt Timpanogos, while on a 2 day business trip to the USA Today print site in SLC. I just might try to do a short post about that interesting day. Beautiful images from up by the lakes! M 🙂

    April 5, 2020 at 7:02 pm

    • I’ve not been even part way up Mt Timpanogos, MV…I’m sure I’d enjoy the post.

      And thank you. 🙂

      April 12, 2020 at 3:11 pm

  5. I did love it. I learned all too well that problem of increased altitude. We camped near Wheeler Peak a few years ago at Great Basin NP in NV. It’s where I discovered how awful altitude sickness can be. Seems that living at or near sea level tends to make 10,000 ft a rather unpleasant challenge.

    I’m so very glad that you had this chance to revisit your beloved fucking Wasatch mountains again! 😉

    April 7, 2020 at 11:00 pm

    • I’m glad you loved it, Gunta…part of your “home” so many years ago. I’ve not experienced the awfulness of altitude sickness, but did have a rather serious headache after making it to the summit of Humphrey’s Peak a few years ago…something that was unusual for me after a hike, so maybe it was related….?

      And yes, it was wonderful for me, too, Gunta, to be back in my beloved fucking Wasatch Mountains again!!! 🙂

      April 12, 2020 at 3:14 pm

  6. Exquisite photographs! Thank you especially in this time of craziness…

    April 8, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    • Thank you, Bonnie…and you’re very welcome…in this time of craziness…..

      April 12, 2020 at 3:15 pm

  7. Wow, what a treasure these images are! But oh, so many vehicles! Ouch. I do remember when you lived and hiked in Utah, and what a treat it is to take this walk…the lupines, the path ahead, the clear reflection in the lake/reservoir, your description of how it felt to be hiking there. I like seeing the photo of the pine cones and rock litter too. And those are squirrels? It ‘s funny how different they look in different places – I know they’re different species, but still. The pure white columbine, no wonder it’s your favorite. Exquisite. That’s the word for the whole post. Thank you, Scott!

    April 11, 2020 at 8:02 pm

    • Thank you, Lynn…they strike me as a treasure, too, the images do. And yes, it was horrible to see so many vehicles…but I already figured they’d be there when I got down there, as I encountered their occupants coming up the trail as I was going down it. 😦

      I had to wait a few months to put together the post…needed to let it simmer and quell some of the emotion…it remains so richly present in my head, heart, soul, core…all of it…

      And yes, I do believe those are squirrels, Lynn. I reviewed all of the other photos I made of the guys and can’t imagine that they’re anything other than Rock squirrels (Otospermophilus variegatus)…but I could certainly be wrong. 🙂

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post…thank you again for the exquisite comment. 🙂

      April 12, 2020 at 3:21 pm

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