My older son and I made our first snow-hike of the season a few Sundays ago…we made the familiar trek up the canyon to Lake Blanche. I know I’ve shared many photos of the area over the past couple of years, but there is a timeless beauty to be captured and appreciated up there, so it’s difficult to get tired of the views and the sheer wonderfulness that Nature has to offer to those who will endure the hike up into the mountains to partake of the feast. You can click on any of the images to be taken to a slide show where you might see them in a larger format.
Hiking Butler Fork from the trail-head in Big Cottonwood Canyon up to Baker’s Pass on the ridge between Big Cottonwood and Millcreek Canyons provides magnificent views of the surrounding mountains…. From left to right, those are Dromedary, Sunrise, and Broads Fork Twin Peaks…all part of the Wasatch Mountains that provide the natural, eastern geographic boundary for the Salt Lake Valley in Utah, USA.
This is an early-June, 2013 photograph of one of the iconic mountains that provide a backdrop to the Sister Lakes in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. Found at the terminus of the drainage or tributary canyon, Mill B South, it is a frequent site and common reference when trying to orient one’s self while hiking in this area of Big Cottonwood Canyon. If you’d like to see other images of Dromedary Peak, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and type its name in the search widget to be provided with a list of other posts that contain photos from other seasons.
It looks a little different than it did in this earlier post…but I believe it’s still full of an incredible and natural beauty….
A few months ago, I hiked up Porter Fork from its trail-head in Millcreek Canyon, essentially did the loop or horseshoe-shaped trail around Mt. Raymond, and then went down Bowman Fork back to its trail-head in Millcreek Canyon. Near the base of Mt. Raymond, which is technically on the north side of Big Cottonwood Canyon and faces south, you can see into the other drainages or tributary canyons that lie perpendicular and head in a southerly direction from Big Cottonwood Canyon, which runs east and west; I hope all of that makes sense. At any rate, you can see Twin Peaks (11,330/11,328 ft) near the top center of this image…the drainage that is down and slightly to the left of the peaks is Broads Fork…and if you take the ridge-line to the left, you might notice Dromedary Peak (11,107 ft) as the last prominence…which you might remember is just above and to the right/west of Lake Blanche and the other Sister Lakes…and lie in the drainage called, Mill B South. When I’m out hiking, I always find it fascinating to encounter new views or perspectives of the places I’ve visited in the mountains and canyons…such wonderful and beautiful places…..
To see more images of Twin Peaks, Broads Fork, Dromedary Peak, and Lake Blanche, you can scroll down and utilize the “Search” feature near the end of the page to locate several posts about those subjects.
This is the third and final post in the Sister Lakes series. It’s a bit longer than the earlier posts, too, as it has a handful of photos from July of 2011 that demonstrate a higher water level and another few photos dedicated to the dam, which I feel is a significant part of the related landscape. If you’d like to visit the posts on Lake Blanche and Lake Florence, you can click on their highlighted names and be taken back to them. In those earlier posts, I described how these naturally formed lakes were dammed back in the early 1900’s so that their water resources could be preserved and then released to the Salt Lake Valley as they were needed during the later summer seasons for irrigation and other purposes. The dams were breached in 1972, once again allowing the water from the winter seasons’ snow-melt to flow down into the valley unabated…where coincidentally, much of it is then captured from the waters of the Big Cottonwood Stream and used by the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. The portion that isn’t used is allowed to flow into the Jordan River, which then flows into the Great Salt Lake at the far north-west corner of the Salt Lake Valley.
The first image is actually the drainage from Lake Florence that leads into Lake Lillian…so this is the drainage or waterway leading from the higher lake down into the lower one. I’ve mentioned in the comment section on the Lake Florence post that, while these are not man-made lakes, they were modified with dams and outlets that caused the snow-melt waters to be captured and then diverted from the higher lakes directly to the lower lakes, and then down into the natural drainage (stream) that leads all the way back down into Big Cottonwood Canyon from this tributary canyon, Mill B South. Before the dams were built, the water from the snow-melt simply drained from the surrounding mountain-sides and was captured in the lakes…as the level of the water rose above the natural rims of the lakes, it simply overflowed into channels that it had made over time…and naturally made its way from one lake to the next and then down into the larger drainage that led down into the canyon. If you haven’t yet visited the other posts, understand that Lake Blanche is the largest lake and at the highest elevation of the three. Its waters flow downhill, maybe 200 yards, and into the medium-sized Lake Florence…and then a little further down in elevation, and probably less than 100 yards, to the smaller Lake Lillian.
One of the most appealing characteristics of Lake Lillian, in my opinion, is the setting in which it is found…right up next to the magnificent rocks of the ridge below Dromedary Peak, in the above photo. I’ve spent several hours hiking around the lake on different occasions and absolutely love being there…it’s a visual feast of colors and textures…. If you were to be standing at the side of the lake (and facing the lake) in the above photo and simply turn a little to the left, you would behold the view in the below photograph. The massive rock on the left side of the photo is the side-view of Sundial Peak…which you can see more extensively in the Lake Blanche post.
I took the below photograph while standing directly beneath the three dark trees near the left-center of the above photo…so between the two images, we’re able to see the perspectives afforded from each side of the lake…if a round-ish lake can be said to have two sides, that is….
The prominence of Sundial Peak seems to lend itself to being in more images than one might intend…the above photo was taken to the right-side of Lake Lillian, directly below Dromedary Peak and looking toward the east, which is back toward Sundial Peak…and the below image is from the north shore of the lake and looking south-east…again at the magnificent Sundial Peak….
The below photo was taken below and outside of the dam, looking down the drainage and back out into Big Cottonwood Canyon. When there is more water in the lake, this area is a bit of a chute and creates an impressive waterfall…which you can see in the fifth photo below….
The next four photographs were taken in July, 2011…exactly one year earlier than the other photos…and after a winter season that had record amounts of snowfall for our Wasatch Mountains. Aside from the difference provided by the presence of the snow, you can tell that the level of the water is significantly higher than it is in the other photos.
The water was right at the breach-point in the dam…and flowing wonderfully from the lake, creating crazy waterfalls on the other side….
Compare the water level in the above photo to what you can see in the fourth photo below…that’s quite a difference.
This is only one section of the magnificent falls created by the abundance of water flowing from the lake….
The last set of photos is of the dam itself. As I mentioned in the first paragraph of the post, I feel that it is a significant element in the visual presentation of Lake Lillian’s landscape. While it is obviously not a naturally occurring feature, it was crafted of native stone and still contains the textures and colors of the surrounding rocks and mountains.
My son is right about six feet tall…which means that the wall is probably more than 20 feet at its highest point…which we would find out-of-frame and to the left of the above photo.
So…the water is down, what…10-12 feet or more from the same time last year…?
The below photograph shows only a portion of the top and back-side of the dam…and you can also see a bit of Sundial Peak in the upper left-hand corner…and Dromedary Peak is a little beyond the upper right-hand corner….
And lastly, a significant portion of the back-side of the dam…with Sundial Peak in the background, of course…as it is nearly and wonderfully unavoidable when making photos in the area. I believe I mentioned it in the other two posts, as well, but the dams on the Sister Lakes were built and modified over the period of 1905-1934…. You can see different layers of rock in the above photos, maybe indicating separate phases of construction/modification. I would imagine that a significant portion of the dam was removed from the back-side when it was breached in 1972…or it has been carried away by the flowing waters of the past 40 years….
When I look at the front of the dam, I think it’s amazing that men built this by hand over 100 years ago…and when I look at the back-side of the dam, I think it’s freaking incredible…what an architectural and engineering feat…no, it’s not one of the pyramids of Egypt, but it’s still pretty fantastic.
I know this post was a bit long…but I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing in my adventures among the Sister Lakes in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. If you’re interested, the canyon itself is just south and east of Salt Lake City proper and is part of the Wasatch Mountains that comprise the eastern border of the greater Salt Lake Valley. It takes about a 4-5 mile drive into the canyon to come to the “Mill B South” trail-head, and then another roughly three miles of hiking (2-2.5 hours) with an elevation gain of about 2,600 ft to reach Lake Blanche. It only takes a few minutes to reach Lake Florence and Lake Lillian once you’ve reached Lake Blanche. Again, if you’d like to view the earlier two posts, you can click on the highlighted names of the lakes in the previous sentence to do so. Thank you for visiting…and for spending a bit of your time with me….
You might remember from my earlier post about Lake Blanche that there are three sister lakes situated in what has been referred to as the Hidden Valley…at the end of a drainage or tributary canyon, Mill B South, which extends off of Big Cottonwood Canyon, just south and east of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
I think I’ve probably already provided as much of the interesting history of the area as I might, so the remainder of this post and the following one on Lake Lillian will be simply sharing the natural beauty of the area. You might recognize Dromedary Peak in the photo above from another earlier post…as you can see here, it provides an appealing backdrop for Lake Florence…and Lake Lillian, as well.
The above photograph shows another side of Sundial Peak, which you might have seen in a couple of other posts, but probably most significantly in the Lake Blanche post referred to earlier. The rocky and beautifully treed ridge above is what you would find between Lakes Blanche and Florence…and in the below photo (taken in July, 2011), you see the waterfall/drainage that leads from L. Blanche to L. Florence. With the greatly diminished snowfall this past winter season, there was very little water flowing between the lakes this year.
The next three photos are very similar, but demonstrate slightly different perspectives of Lake Florence and the rocky backdrop of Dromedary Peak. You might notice a couple of people toward the right side of the second photo below…I don’t know who those folks are, but they had camped at the location overnight and help to add a bit of dimension to the beautiful orange/red rocks that form a portion of the bowl for the lake.
As I mentioned in the Lake Blanche post, dams were built on each of the lakes to preserve a certain amount of water per year…water that was collected from the snow-melt that occurred each spring. The dams were built over a period of several years, started in 1905…completed in 1934…and then breached in 1972 when they were deemed no longer necessary.
If you look closely, you can see a small portion of Lake Lillian…right behind the skinny finger of a dead tree immediately to the left of the dam…on the far left side of the above photo.
For those who are interested, the trail that leads to the Sister Lakes is approximately three miles/4.8 km in length and has an elevation gain of about 2,600 ft/792 meters, with Lake Blanche being at about 8,900 ft/2,713 m and Lake Florence, 200 yards/183 meters to the west at 120 feet/37 meters lower. Sundial Peak is measured at 10,320 ft/3,146 m, Dromedary Peak is at 11,107 ft/3,385 m. The entire Sister Lakes area falls within several thousands of acres that are designated as the Twin Peaks Wilderness Area, which is part of the Wasatch National Forest.
Aside from the beautiful reflection of the ridge in the above photo, you can also see where the waterfall is missing (mentioned in regard to photo #3) in the rocky cleft near the middle of the image.
Wildflowers on the little ridge behind the dam on the far west side of the lake…I checked six on-line resources and can’t identify them properly, but I’m guessing that they’re from somewhere in the Sunflower family….
Similar images, above and below, but from different perspectives….
I’ve included this last photo from July, 2011, so you can see Lake Florence with a bit more water in it…and with a nice snow-patched mountain back-drop…you can also see Lake Lillian in the background.
I hope you’ve enjoyed visiting Lake Florence in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. The next post in the series will focus on Lake Lillian, the smallest of the Sister Lakes in the Hidden Valley area of Mill B South, in Big Cottonwood Canyon….
I would guess that there is some historical significance to the name, but I haven’t been able to identify it yet…but Broads Fork itself is located about four miles into Big Cottonwood Canyon, which is just south and east of Salt Lake City, and is one of the three or four main canyons that lead into the Wasatch Mountain front that is the eastern border for the Salt Lake Valley. The trail is reported to be just over four and a half miles in length from the parking lot to the cirque, or bowl-shaped meadow at the end, and gains just over 2,000 feet in elevation.
I’m not sure of the exact length of this portion of the trail, but it starts out as something resembling a logging trail and then turns into a single track that winds through very thick brush that is often waist to shoulder high….
I haven’t been able to identify these flowers in any of the sources I have at hand, but they look like a variation of hops to me….
UPDATE: While I was out hiking yesterday, Sunday July 15, I met Knick Knickerbocker from the Wasatch Mountain Club and gave him one of my blog cards. He emailed me this morning after reading this post to tell me that these flowers are called Mountain Horsemint…and the taxonomic name is something like Agastache urticifolia…if anyone wanted to know that. Thank you again, Knick. 🙂
This was the first view of what the on-line literature calls the “lower meadow” in Broads Fork. After climbing through old-growth pine forest and then a thick stand of aspen and the brush that I mentioned above, the trail makes a sharp turn around a rise in the terrain and this panorama is suddenly in front of you…it is so unexpected…breath-taking, jaw-dropping, however you want to describe it.
This is the view looking to the left of the above meadow….
The trail proceeds through the meadow and immediately into a stand of aspen and pines, again with the thick brush on each side…slowly climbing higher and higher as it makes its way out of this lower meadow and on toward the upper meadow.
When I’m hiking, especially when I’m on a trail for the first time, I frequently stop and turn around to take a look at the trail coming from the opposite direction…it helps with orientation on the way back if I will be taking the same route. It’s amazing sometimes to see what’s behind you as you come out of the woods, arrive at the top of a ridge, or otherwise gain a dramatically different view of your surroundings than you had only moments before…. This is the view I encountered upon leaving the thick aspen that covers the side of the bowl where the lower meadow is situated. I stood on the rise in the trail as it makes its entry into the upper meadow and turned around….
Here’s an infrequent “people picture” offered to demonstrate scale…. It’s rather difficult to feel significant or important out here…the notions of “Self” and “Me” seem to disolve somewhere between the first few steps on the trail…. This photo was taken near that rise in the trail mentioned above, but a little further down and facing into the second meadow, and with a nearly full view of the rest of the fork or gulch.
And this is a wider view that encompasses more of the area to the right of the location in the above photograph…I understand the peak in the middle to be Sunrise Peak, the one on the left to be Dromedary Peak, and the one in the upper right of the photo to be the western peak of the Twin Peaks set. The western summit has been measured at 11,330 ft and the eastern summit at 11,328 ft in elevation. These peaks are reported to be the tallest of the Wasatch Mountains that border Salt Lake City.
More to follow…in Broads Fork – Park II.