Here we are again, picking up where we left-off at the end of the other post, Mineral Fork in June…part one…. This is the mining artifact that we couldn’t really see at the end of the trail in the next to last photo of the other post…and this is also the location where I was standing when looking down upon the person and trail in the very last photo of the previous post.
And another “people shot” below to help add some perspective to the grandness of the location….
The below photo shows the trail in August of last year, 2012…taken at essentially the same location…so you can see how much of it is covered with snow in the above photo.
This is my first sighting of a mountain goat out in the wild, ever. I’ve heard and read that they were in the area….and are usually found very high in the more rocky aspects of the Wasatch Mountains…. This one happened to be waaaaaay up on the side of the cirque, or bowl, at the end of the fork/valley….and I was waaaaaay down on the trail, so this is the best photo that I could get…but you can still tell what it is…right?
Below, my son is sitting on a rock about 50-75 yards down from the head-water, or origin, of the stream that runs the entire length of Mineral Fork and joins Big Cottonwood Stream at the other end, roughly four miles away. Imagine walking about that distance back up into the bowl that is behind him and listening to water running under the rocks…. It was quite loud…almost rushing, as it passed beneath the scree and finally made its way out from under the rock and became a recognizable stream…..and Holy Buddha, that was some cold water!
And here I am on a rock in the middle of the nascent stream…loving my little spot in the mountains…..
My son and I followed this lower switchback trail up to the higher switchbacks (that you can see in the earlier post), but went off trail and followed the stream through its windings and droppings in elevation back down to a a similar location on the opposite side of the canyon…which affords us this distant look at the trail as it begins to climb upward. These prominent switchbacks cause this trail to be referred to as the “zigzag trail” in various literature on the area…and can be seen clearly from the mountain ridges several miles to the north.
Here’s another view of the zigzag trail, below, that I’ve provided to help with scale and proportion again…. Can you see the two people highlighted against the snow…slightly below and to the left of the center of the photo?
This is the eastern ridge of Mineral Fork…facing south…and illuminated with the full brightness of the afternoon sun.
And this is a final look at Mineral Fork…looking backwards, though, toward its beginning at Big Cottonwood Canyon.
If you’d like to see a visual reference to where Mineral Fork is situated in Big Cottonwood Canyon itself, you can click on this link to be taken to my last post that includes a map of the area….find the central spine of mountains in the approximate middle of the map and then find the second purple pin up from the bottom of the image.
As always, thank you for being here, for spending a bit of your time with me…I hope you’ve enjoyed exploring another section of the Wasatch Mountains, just east of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
In the grand scheme of things, I’ve not lived near the trails and canyons of the Wasatch Mountains for very long…but it seems that I have lived here long enough to hike on some of the trails more than a few times now. I have a map above my desk at work and I place a colored pin at the terminus of each hike I’ve made over the last few years…a yellow pin for a place that I’ve been only once, pink for the second time, and purple for three or more times. I’m thinking about a red pin for places that I’ve been ten or more times, but so far, I have only one place that I could use it and have simply not gotten around to actually doing so yet.
At any rate, this hike into Mineral Fork allowed me to place a purple pin on my map…it was my third venture into the area, this tributary canyon or drainage that runs south from Big Cottonwood Canyon. My first adventure was in the fall of 2011 and it was crazy beautiful with the changing colors of the aspen and other deciduous trees and bushes. You can view some of the photos from that trip by clicking here. Did you notice the person in the below photo…? He’s about 2/3 of the way up the trail from where it comes out of the shadow…and a little bit before the trail turns sharply back to the left at that first switchback….
My second trip into Mineral Fork was in August of last year and I didn’t do much of a post on it, just shared some images of the wildflowers, which you can see here.
On those first two hikes, I traveled alone and stopped often to marvel at the mass of nature that surrounded me…and stopped to take some photos so that I would have proof of my journeys and something to share with my family and friends who didn’t accompany me out and into the canyons. My older son joined me on this most recent trip…and aside from the utility of having a constant human-sized reference to add perspective to some of my photos, it was nice to have a companion join me in seeing the area for his first time…which caused me to see and notice things that I hadn’t seen on my other adventures.
Even though we made the hike during the third week of June, we still encountered the lingering mountain snow on the trails. The switchback trail is usually wide enough for two people to walk side by side….
…but as you can see in the next two photos, we were often down to only a single track of exposed rock….
…and at a couple of points along the way, we actually had to make new tracks into the crusted and melting snow so that we could continue down the trail. If you zoom-in a bit on the below photo, you might be able to see an artifact of the abandoned Regulator-Johnson mine at the far end of the trail……or maybe not….
The view from the last photo is looking toward the north-east from the end of the trail…the cone of rock to the right of the image is Kessler Peak, and the mountains off in the distance is the northern ridge or slope of Big Cottonwood Canyon…and there’s another person in the below photo, as well…he’s sitting on a rock on the left side of the trail, just above the snow at the bottom of the image.
Stay tuned for the second part….coming soon…..
The “winter gate” is still closed in Millcreek Canyon…allowing pedestrian and bicycle traffic clear passage to the end of the road without the interference of motor vehicles, excepting the occasional motorist who actually lives or stays at one of the cabins further into the greenwood. The road is closed from the first of November until the first of July…or I could say that it’s only open from the first of July to the first of November…at any rate, here’s another glimpse into the marvelousness of full Spring in Millcreek Canyon…the snow is gone and the Green has returned…and it’s a beautiful place to take a walk….. If you’d like another look at the green explosion that is MillCreek Canyon in season, you can visit my post from last July for another saturated view of the place, Millcreek Canyon in Green.