The trail alongside the stream that runs much of the length of Little Cottonwood Canyon has become a favorite hiking destination of mine since I moved to the Salt Lake City area almost two years ago. While there are things about the trail that I find to be less than wonderful (being able to hear the vehicle traffic that also goes up into the canyon, being a wide enough trail that allows for mountain-bikers to come flying around a corner with but a second’s notice, and being close enough to that same roadway and the nearby city so that idiots with cans of spray-paint can come out into the beautiful wild and tag the cement water-courses and picnic pavilion), there are more than enough awe-inspiring views and soul-fulfilling experiences to be had, that those detractors quickly fade into the background and become non-issues. It is literally a 15 minute drive from my house to the trail-head that leads to this natural wonder…and I simply cannot get there often enough.
There is a water pipe, or two of them maybe, that run(s) from two water collection points in Little Cottonwood Canyon and down into the greater Salt Lake City metropolitan area, where the water that it transports is treated and then used in the municipal water supply. Sometimes the pipe is underground, sometimes running directly next to the stream on the bank, crossing the stream suspended by steel cables, on pylons from one creek bank to a nearby hillside where it disappears again, or somewhere else between stream and trail, tucked away among the various trees and brush that populate the wooded area on the mountain-side. I’m not sure when the water collection points were built, but it appears to have been several decades ago.
On one of my hikes this past winter, I found a sheet of muddy ice that extended down the trail for 30 or 40 yards, until it veered off into the brush. Continuing up the trail, I discovered that the pipe had burst and the water ran unchecked for some time. I don’t know if the controllers at the main water collection point downstream noticed a decrease in pressure, or if a hiker notified the authorities that they had sprung a serious leak, or what, but I saw that the pipe had been repaired, and after examining it, didn’t think much more about it. The technicians used a novel method that did not involve removing the split pipe and replacing it with another section. It was composed of a metal band that appeared to press a rubberized material against the gash, all bolted down secure and working as designed.
So…where am I going with all of this? A couple of weekends ago, one of my older sons and I were returning from a hike up into the canyon and my son happened to see a large section of pipe that had been removed from the main pipeline. It had been tossed into the brush and allowed to remain there…for what appears to have been many, many years. The section of pipe was likely removed because of a leak that refused to remain repaired…. The failed old-school repair has provided a beautiful nursery for life….
And lastly, this is the repair from winter of 2011…quite an advance in pipe-repair technology….
It’s nice sometimes, and necessary at other times, to take a step back…or up, to get another view of the objects of our attention…. It’s amazing what we can see when we’re not so focused on the one single thing…but on the whole and big/huge picture…. I hope you’ll enjoy these photos of one of my favorite places here in the canyons and mountains near Salt Lake City, Utah, USA….
This is what appears to be an old water-wheel house on the banks of the stream in Little Cottonwood Canyon. If you were to peer inside the window, you could see the old spooned wheel that used to turn with the flow of water to generate electricity many years ago.
Here’s another view from a little farther away…. I’m actually standing in the middle of the stream-bed taking the picture. The stream is empty right now, as the entirety of the water is being captured upstream and diverted into the water supply for the metropolitan Salt Lake City area. It will be flowing bank to bank in a couple of months when the water from the snow-melt is running.
This shot is from the slope heading up the side of the mountain that is on the south side of the canyon…you can see the empty stream-bed.
And lastly, this one is from way up on the side of the mountain. You can see the wheel-house on the stream bank near the lower right-hand corner of the photo….
In my attempts to find suitable names for the specimens that I have captured in these photos, I Googled “moss.” I was rewarded with many pictures of green clumps of plant life…and other pictures of a skinny woman with dirty-blonde hair and an American football player. So…I have pretty pictures without names…. I hope you enjoy images of the various types of moss and other rock-dwelling plant forms that I found on the side of the granite mountain in Little Cottonwood Canyon, just south and east of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA…another beautiful piece of life in the Wasatch Mountains.
Little Cottonwood Canyon has become something of a treasure trove of subject-matter for my winter-snow-ice photography. Upstream from the Mormon Temple Quarry, and situated in the Wasatch Resort area proper, there is a water-plant (?) where water from the stream is captured and diverted into huge pipes and transported into Salt Lake City and surrounding cities for further processing and eventual incorporation into the cities’ water supply.
After I had taken the photos of the ice crystals standing upright on the white granite boulders in the empty stream bed…and had taken the pictures of the evolving ice-tubes, I continued up-stream to the water-plant and found this nice bit of frozen water coming down the chute from the plant. I thought it was a pretty sizeable chunk of ice….
Looking rather large up close…
If we continue up the trail that follows the course of the stream, we will come to a huge rock…and behind this rock is another cement chute that has been touched by taggers…an unsettling find out in the middle of the forest. We will come back to this rock in a moment, but this is what it looks from the front side –
Probably another half to three-quarters of a mile up the trail, there is another collection point that gathers water from the main stream and another pipe that seems to bring water in from another smaller stream that comes from one of the gulches or draws further up and away in the canyon. I had thought that the bit of ice from the first picture was rather large until I saw this chunk growing out from the pipe at the second water collection point. This mass of ice might not actually be as large as the first one, but it does appear to be somewhat more dramatic…or unusual –
And now if we turn around and go back down the trail to that huge rock, we will see something that makes this chunk of ice appear less awesome…
This was actually the first time that I have been on the left side of the stream and behind the huge rock. All other ventures to this location have been from the right side of the stream and essentially behind the massive rock. The water level of the stream was low enough this time that I could step or jump from stone to stone and make it to the other side relatively safely; on other occasions, the stream has been flowing more forcefully and there would be no way to cross the stream at this location; it could only be gained by parking off the road in the canyon and then hiking down to the stream….or crossing the bridge another mile up-stream and going off-trail all the way back. At any rate, this bit of water has created a huge ice curtain…and invited me to engage in further explorations “on the other side.” More to follow….
I will grant that this is an unusual reference for the literal substance that will follow in the photos, but I was struck by the parallel when looking at the images by themselves. The forming ice actually has the appearance of cells…me thinks…and the accompanying photo array demonstrates the allegory or likeness of life forming in a womb.
If the page you are viewing has the graffitied water chute with the beautiful ice formations in the header photo, the “nursery” for these ice babies is located toward the far right side of that picture, at the bottom of the smaller water fall…
I suppose I should add a photo of the graffitied chute in case it doesn’t randomly appear when you’re viewing the page…so here it is…or a large portion of it…the part that I’m referring to anyway….
…and then this is the close-up of the nursery itself….
This next photo has the appearance of the inside of a fallopian tube where the wonder of fertilization takes place…you can almost imagine the cilia inside the tube pushing the little egg along on its journey…
…and these could be little ice cells dividing and making more of themselves, stem-cells that differentiate into their programmed forms…
…with the mass developing into tissues that will flesh-out the body in whole…
…until we can see it in embryo-form…
…and lastly the little buds where the limbs will grow…
…or maybe not…but that’s what came to My mind the first time I looked at the photos.
I think this is one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever beheld while out on one of my winter hikes…or any of them, maybe….
Feathers and forests and peaks and waves in icy textures and hues and….
I found these little treasures while walking the trail in Little Cottonwood Canyon and couldn’t resist bringing them home with me!
Just over two weeks ago, I found an ice tube in the stream in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Maybe it should be called a “chute” instead of a tube…because it performs the function of a chute…with water passing through it from one level down to another. At any rate, one tube was complete and it appeared as if another tube was forming to the left of the completed one. I took a few photos of the tube/chute to preserve it and hoped to return to take more pictures to see how it might have changed over time. Please press the highlighted number for December 17, 2011 on the calendar to the right to see the earlier post. For some reason, I am unable to create a link in the text at this time.
I thought I remembered the tube on the right as being smaller and less opened at the bottom…or maybe it changed a bit over the weeks. As you will see in the last photos of this series, there is an icy lace or filigree on the right tube that wasn’t there in the earlier photos.
I had to go to the other side of the stream and come in from the right to get these last photos. The two previous shots and the ones from the earlier post were taken from the left side of the stream as you’re looking at the water-fall.
Either that or maybe a suspended crystal jelly-fish?
This post is for my blog-friend, Pattu, who loves the snow…and doesn’t get to see much of it where she lives in India. You can visit Pattu’s gardening blog by clicking on the name: “Gardenerat60.”
When you stand on this bridge and face to your right, you will see a snow-covered European Mountain Ash tree with its beautiful red berries hanging over the stream –
All of these photos were taken along the stream in Little Cottonwood Canyon, which is to the south and east of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The photos were taken after the first significant snowfall of the season, which happened to be in the first week of November of this year. If you are familiar with the trail, you might notice that the photos start near the beginning of the trail by the Mormon Temple Quarry and progress toward the end, which is beyond the power-plant ruins, approximately three miles into the canyon.
This last photo was taken at one of a few spots along the stream where the trail is significantly above and perpendicular to the stream. This vantage point allows you to see a relatively lengthy stretch of the waterway and its accompanying natural beauty. Few other locations afford such a clear and unobstructed view of the stream.
I hope you have a happy Christmas, Pattu. 🙂
Natural Christmas ornaments, somehow…bright winter berries for the birds…they turn dark and black by the end of the season, but they’re bright and beautiful for now….
I believe I mentioned in an earlier post how the stream in Little Cottonwood Canyon is greatly diminished during the winter months when the annual snow-melt is finished and when most of the remaining water is diverted into the local cities’ water reservoirs. To take these pictures from the front angle, I was stepping/crouching on rocks that were in the middle of the stream bed. You can tell from the pictures that the stream is not flowing with any significant force or quantity of water. During the rush of the snow-melt months, the stream is usually flowing with several thousands of cubic meters of water per minute…and it would be impossible to capture pictures from the middle of the stream during those times.
When I first saw the ice formation from the side of the stream, it appeared to just be a bunch of ice that had formed near the flow of water. The closer I was able to make it to the actual waterfall, the more I could see that ice had formed in the shape of a tunnel or tube and the water was channeling through it from the rock above and into the little pool beneath…another crazy little marvel of nature…and a beautiful one at that.
It seems that the flow on the left is forming another tube…with the outer edges eventually coming together to completely enclose the water channel…maybe. It would be interesting to return in a few weeks and see if it happened…provided nothing destroys it in the interim.
This last picture is my favorite….
I believe this is a Subalpine Fir with the upright and silvery needles. Its cones also grow upright along the branches. These photos were taken along the stream in Little Cottonwood Canyon, in the Wasatch Mountains, to the south and east of Salt Lake City, Utah.
I stood there on the opposite bank and searched for a way across, a way to get to the other side without soaking my feet in the stream, and finding none in my purview, I settled for looking for a way to cross time. I thought that might be easier, somehow.
I found a place where the snow could be cleared from a sizeable rock, one that would support me in my leaning against the bank, one that would hold me, whole, and almost comfortably as I chose to sit there in the freezing air and try to pass through eons of time, years that had passed, a century and more.
I stared into the windows and at the fallen beams, trying to see the rocks all back in their places, the carved and solid arches back over the window frames, glass reflecting the day’s gray light, or even some candles there, on the various sills, or on the mantle over the wood stove that might have been tucked into the far corner of long ago.
I heard notes floating in the icy air, these from a tinny piano that had been brought out from back east in a mule-drawn wagon for someone’s home and later donated to the church, the congregation, to His people, so it might accompany their country and refined voices as they lifted their praise and worship on those mountained Sunday mornings of then and gone.
I heard notes and the scuff of leather work boots on the lumbered floor…and then I heard a car horn honk in the canyon roadway, an engine roar, and a fading note. The cold was reaching into my muscles on the rock by the stream as I closed my eyes again and listened hard to what might have been, to what might still be there in spirit form, to what might still be living there in the rocks and beams from that other time.
The rocky stream wore icicles on her edges and snow on her banks and silver-gray clouds hung low in the air and I thought I smelled wood smoke, that piney richness that even curls in your mind when you smell it again after it has been so long. Women’s voices, high and low, some children at their sides, tiny voices singing, too, as fathers and single men stood at the sides and in the rear of the white granite building with hats in their hands as they growled and hummed the hymns’ refrains and shuffled their boots and scuffed the floor…as the stream still rolls and the water is cold and the trees sway in a growing wind…that carries notes and wood smoke out into the mountains and draws and tucks them away into moments of time that will live again in my imagination and then….
Please follow this link for an update on the history of these ruins in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, USA.
I left the trail and was preparing to cross the Little Cottonwood Canyon stream-bed where it lies beyond the Temple Quarry nature-trail and was surprised at the crystal nursery that I found in front of me. The stream is empty at this time of year, as the remaining water coming down from the canyon is mostly diverted and captured for use by the local cities. When I was finished taking photos at this location, it was almost hard to make myself step between the rocks and proceed on my way, knowing that I would be crushing some of this natural wonder with each move of my foot. Hopefully I will be forgiven for my destruction, as I will be preserving these crystal images forever…or as long as they exist in the ether of the world-wide-web….
I heard somewhere that adventure seekers often participate in the winter sport of ice-climbing in Little Cottonwood Canyon, just east of Salt Lake City. I knew that there was at least one set of falls in the canyon, Lisa Falls, but had never seen it in the winter, so I couldn’t imagine what it might look like. Today, as I was hiking through Little Cottonwood Canyon, I happened upon an odd trail that led off into the woods, away from the main trail that continued for almost three miles and terminated at the ruins at the far end. Since I had started my hike late in the day, I figured I would follow the trail and explore a little more of the canyon that I hadn’t seen, instead of continuing on toward the ruins at the end of the trail. The well-worn trail led to the base of a frozen waterfall…and I could still hear the water from the moving and living stream beneath the ice. I will have to return to this spot after Spring returns so that I can see the wonderful waterfall in action.
This was the first glimpse I had of the falls –
After a few more minutes of climbing, I reached the base of the falls, a sheet of ice covering a huge rock…and strangely, I could see the water still “flowing” under the ice at the far left edge –
I had to move around a bit on the side of the mountain in order to find a better, or more complete view of the falls. It appears that there are essentially three segments –
When I was standing at the base of the falls, I noticed a backpack sitting against one of the trees. I hadn’t seen or heard anyone on the trail above me when I was hiking up toward the falls, so I imagined that there must have been someone above me. His red coat made it easier to spot him with my camera –
I had to move to still another location, more to the left of the falls, in order to get a better picture of the upper section of the falls –
And then with the fantastic zoom lens on my new camera, I was able to see the greater detail of the upper section of the falls…quite amazing, actually –
It wasn’t until I returned home and looked more closely at the pictures on the computer that I saw the second climber at the top of the falls –
The Spirit of Winter moved across the face of the waters and caused tiny miracles to happen wherever she placed her fingers…sometimes flat and smooth with crystals forming in abstract covers over tiny pools where the water still ran smooth and deep, other times in long and fragile wands hanging from rocks or branches or trees, and still other times growing upright and outward, curling from the spray of moving waters beneath, forming into little orbs of icy glass, jewels all, delicate, temporal…and vanishing with the passing of time and warm currents and breezes.