Posts tagged “Bells Canyon Upper Reservoir

A Glimpse at Bells Canyon’s Upper Falls

After my daughter and I hiked to the lower falls, as featured in this post, we continued up the trail for about another hour and then arrived at the upper falls.  Amid the spray and the treacherous footing on the soaked boulders and ground, it was difficult to manage another angle that would have provided a better or more clear perspective or presentation of this natural water-feature.

We stood in literal awe for several minutes, shifted our positions to gain different perspectives, stayed there again for several more minutes, and then retreated a bit into the woods that we had just come through to approach the falls.

You can still see the falling water through the trees to the right and behind my daughter in the above photo, so you can probably imagine how loud it must have been to be so close.  There was a pervasive serenity, sitting there in the woods, even with the roaring of the falls as near as they were…with the crashing water on the granite boulders and then the rushing of the stream in front of us….

White patches up in the trees caught my eye….

What a refreshing spray after the steep hike to get there…melted snow…living water….

Just a little further downstream is a bridge that has been chained to the trees on both sides of the bank to prevent the rising and rushing stream from carrying it away.  There is a trail that you can take off into the shoulder-high brush that will lead you in a near circular manner out and up to the area just upstream from the top of the falls…and will also eventually lead you to the upper reservoir and beyond.

If you’d like to see an image of the falls later in the season, you can click here to see what they looked like in August of 2013.

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calm

At 9,400 feet in elevation, this is under several feet of snow right now, but this is what Bells Canyon upper reservoir looked like in August, 2013.  After a moderately strenuous, four-hour hike to reach the location, there is peace to be found along the shore of this desolate, alpine lake.  While there is no snow on the Salt Lake Valley floor, it will be another few months before the trails are clear enough for me to make the venture this far up into the mountains…and I can’t wait…..

Calm water of Bells Canyon upper reservoir


Also found in Yorkshire, England…?

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….

Dr Seuss Flowers at Bells Canyon Upper Reservoir

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.

Dr Seuss Flowers again at Bells Canyon Upper Reservoir

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.

Bells Canyon Upper Reservoir August 2013

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Boulder Field

There is just something about walking, hopping, and crawling across massive boulders that freaks me out.  It is difficult to put into words the sensation I feel when stepping onto a rock that weighs several hundreds of pounds, and more, and having it tip with my weight.  Ever since I climbed the draw between White Pine Lake and Red Pine Lakes and had to cross a similar boulder field that was literally between 400-500 yards across (and after having watched the movie 127 Hours), I have found them to be incredibly anxiety-provoking.  You would think that rocks of this size simply would not even budge with just a person’s weight moving on them…but they do….

I took this photo of a fellow hiker, Raj, on the way back from visiting Bells Canyon Upper Reservoir.  We had to cross the boulder field twice during the hike, once each way, up and down, and it was unsettling each time.  I had actually made the same hike two weeks earlier by myself, and it was even more nerve-wracking….


Bells Canyon Upper Reservoir

I have not been able to learn much about the history of Bells Canyon and its reservoirs, lower and upper.  The canyon is not even listed in the index of the book, The Lady in the Ore Bucket, that details the history of logging, mining, and hydro-electric efforts in the three Wasatch Mountain canyons that border metropolitan Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.  There’s probably a good reason for that, too, given that this canyon is south of the most southern of those three canyons, Little Cottonwood, and does not connect to it by any means.

What I do know, however, is that the lower reservoir is only a 15-20 minute hike from the trailhead…and it takes right around five hours to reach this upper reservoir.  The trail is somewhere between four and five miles in length and gains right around 4,000 feet in elevation from start to finish.

I only recently discovered (on-line, before making the hike) that there was a dam at the upper reservoir…and even more recently (after arriving at the lake), learned that this dam has also been breached, similar to the dams at the Sister Lakes in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Construction and modification of those dams occurred between 1908-1934 and they were breached in 1972.  While conducting a little more research for this post, I did find a digitized picture of the dam being built in 1914…and I’m still looking for more….

If the Bells Canyon reservoirs were built for the same reasons that the Sister Lakes were dammed, it was so that the water from the snow-melt could be held until it was needed for irrigation and other purposes later in the year when the mountain streams were running low.

I made this hike a couple of weeks ago by myself, but on this particular occasion, Son #3 was able to join me and helped provide some perspective for the scenery in the photographs.

My son is right about six feet tall…which means that the water lines on those two trees are about 10-12 feet above the ground…which means that the water in this lake has been significantly deeper than it was on the day of our visit.

Above is another shot provided for perspective’s sake…there’s a man next to the boulder in the lower right corner of the picture….

And below is a last photo provided specifically for perspective, there are two figures sitting on the left side of the opening in the damn.  I shot this one from the mountainside on the opposite side of the lake, so it may lose a bit of its resolution if you attempt to zoom-in too closely on the figures.

The below photograph shows a much wider perspective of the northward view, taken from the same location.

And you’ve seen me before….

This was the last view of the lake before we rounded the bend in the trail, dropped down behind the retaining wall of the dam, and could no longer see it….