Exactly six years ago today…in another world.
The camera-phone six hundred and some miles away clicked in my daughter’s hand…fingers poked a message into the screen, and the image was transported across digital waves of something/nothingness and caused a small vibration from my phone…and I found it, many hours later, a tiny treasure…full of meaning and memories…of little ones cuddling on my lap, whispered words of “Papa’s mountains,” and the feel of a trail underfoot…images cascading in flashes of recall…sounds of water crashing or quietly rolling down the canyon…a scent of warm summer pine and wildflower…or the comforting wood-smoke on an icy morning while snow crunched underfoot….
I have crossed that bridge dozens of times…under the thick canopy of spring and summer fullness in the trees above, while the heady aroma of the mountains blew light or strong down the canyon….or atop a foot or more of snow piled high and reassuring, while I stood or knelt and made images of Christmas-tree-like reflections in the ice and snow rimmed stream…and then gone home to little one’s arms around my neck…”Did you have a nice hike, Papa…?”
*Iphound treasure courtesy of K. Brill, 8/31/16, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Salt Lake City, Utah.
It’s been almost a full year since I drove away from the Salt Lake City area to return to my former and current home in Phoenix, Arizona. During this year, I have longed for a return to “my mountains” and the canyons and trails that occupied so many of my weekends when I lived there….and while I haven’t actually made the drive or taken a flight to make it back up there yet, I have visited it often in my mind and through the medium of the hundreds and thousands of images that I made while I was there.
I just made a rough count of my photo library, and if it’s anywhere near correct, I went on hikes or exploratory excursions into the Wasatch Mountains at least 140 times during my 3.75 years of living in the Salt Lake area. I forgot (I don’t know how!!) my camera on one occasion, but it was with me on the other 99.21% of those hikes. And, of those 140 ventures into the mountains and canyons in my “back-yard,” I visited Little Cottonwood Canyon at least 27 times…sometimes hiking only the first half, other times just the second half, sometimes hiking to a specific spot on the winter stream to capture images of the magical ice patterns and formations, and on other occasions hiking from one end to the other and then exploring further into the area beyond what was considered part of the formal trail…further away from the tracks and traces of people, into what we might consider the “wilderness,” both figuratively and literally, as certain areas of this section of the Wasatch Mountains had been designated official Wilderness Areas by the federal government.
The western-most trail-head to Little Cottonwood Trail is located at the eastern-most end of the parking-lot for the Temple Quarry nature trail….and it was roughly a 15 minute drive from my home…. I visited the canyon during all seasons, as you can see from the three galleries…Spring and Summer in the first, Fall in the second, and magical Winter in the third.
Having lived in the urban desert of Arizona for more than 20 years before moving to Utah, it was amazing and wonderful to my mountain-loving soul to find myself is such an environment…every vista made my heart soar…and near every glance around made me want to capture its image for safekeeping against a day when I might not be able to view it again. And…it was a thrill to bring those photographs back home and look at them again on the computer…and then share them with you here on the blog….so you might recognize some, or many of these images.
And finally, the beauty and magic of Winter in the Wasatch Mountains…Little Cottonwood Canyon viewed from afar and from very close. While it was often incredibly cold, I enjoyed being out and in the canyon at this time of year. It was so captivating visually, that even with freezing fingers, I stayed out there for several hours at a time, slowly walking the trail, perching precariously over the ice-cold stream, and climbing over boulders in the forest and in some portions of the winter dry stream-bed (most of the water being captured upstream to be piped into town for drinking water).
While this post is for everyone to enjoy, I brought these images together specifically for one of my dear blog friends, George Weaver, at She Kept a Parrot and The Fuzzy Foto. Ever since George and I stumbled across each other’s blogs, shortly after I moved to Utah almost five years ago, she has been a constant blog companion, following me on hikes through the mountains and canyons, and admiring the treasures of photos that I brought home to share. At first, she said the mountains looked fearsome, but she came to love them and looked forward to seeing them week after week. George came to especially enjoy Little Cottonwood Canyon…and we have agreed that if we were ever to meet in the Hereafter, it was going to be on the trail in this little piece of mountain heaven.
Thank you for your encouragement and companionship, George….sending you peaceful thoughts and a warm embrace.
Those are Broads Fork Twin Peaks behind the larger tree and just to the right of the center of the image…they are the highest peaks in the portion of the Wasatch Mountains that form the eastern geographic boundary of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
It was probably a Sunday, because it usually was…September 23 of two years ago…hiking in the mountains of Little Cottonwood Canyon, just south and east of Salt Lake City, Utah…the Wasatch Mountains in Fall. I would say that it feels like a lifetime ago…with so many changes since then, but it was in my life…then…consistently, richly…and now it is in memories only.
It can all look so different, depending upon one’s location and the season in which one is doing the looking. The peak to the right is named “Sugarloaf” and has a ski-lift and run just outside of the frame to the right. In August of 2011, I found myself standing atop Sugarloaf and then walking the ridge to the point right about in the center of the photo…in that little dip in the ridge just before it begins to climb up into the Devil’s Castle, just left of center. If you’d like to take a look down into Albion Basin from up on that ridge, click on this highlighted link – Cecret Lake and Surround, which is the post I shared after the hike. I made the image below on September 29 of this year…while standing on another ridge on the opposite side of the valley.
I went for a hike this past Sunday and serendipitously found myself on the ridge over Alta, Utah. When I started at the trail-head several miles north, I had no idea that the essentially new-to-me trail would take me all the way over here. I’m glad I followed the footsteps in the snow…..
For those of you interested, the ski village of Alta is located about 9.5 miles up, and at the near-terminus of Little Cottonwood Canyon, one of the three major canyons (the furthest south) that stretch east into the Wasatch Mountains, which form the natural, eastern geographic boundary for the Salt Lake Valley in Utah, USA. To make the photo, I was standing on the ridge at about 9,800 feet in elevation and looking down onto Alta, which is right around 8,600 ft.
My hike started in Days Fork, which is actually in Big Cottonowood Canyon, the next major canyon north of Little Cottonwood. I took the side trail toward Silver Fork Pass, went around the bowl at the terminus of Silver Fork, and found myself along the ridge that provides the northern wall of Little Cottonwood Canyon, and as you can see below, looking down into Alta.