Posts tagged “outdoors

Bells Canyon Stream

Three levels of falls down Bells Canyon Stream…along a favored trail that goes up, up, up into the mountains.  The first photograph was taken in the middle of June, 2012….

And the second shot, with a slightly different perspective, is from near the end of August, 2012…about nine weeks later….


Bells Canyon Lower Falls


Days Fork – II

This photo picks-up exactly where we left of in the earlier post, Days Fork I…the image is only slightly different, providing just a touch of another perspective…anyway, here we are, heading toward the mine near the end of the road/trail…and we are enjoying the journey…because that’s what it’s all about….

I think I turned around and looked behind me more on this hike than I have on most others.  This is the only trail that I’ve been on in the Wasatch Mountain canyons that border Salt Lake City where I’ve seen a sign warning that this was BEAR COUNTRY.  The sign was posted in the Spruce’s Campground area where the Days Fork trail actually starts.  So it was a little freaky for a bit of the hike, especially walking on the trail that skirted the woods…and then went into the meadow…and then skirted the woods again.  I was trying to imagine where I would be more likely to see one…would it be in the open meadow, on the mostly clear hillside, similar to where I saw the moose in Cardiff Fork…or would it be in the thicker pine woods…?  I mentioned all of that to say that this is a shot of my back-trail.  The tree in the immediate right foreground is the same smaller tree that you saw in the above photo, just to the left of center.

And the beautifully textured bark in this photo is from the tree that you can see to the left of the trail in the above picture….

This almost looks like some of the red rocks that one can see in Kanab, Utah…or in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Forest in the southern part of our state.  If you’d like to see some beautiful photographs of those last two areas, stop-by for a visit with Kerry Liebowitz at his Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog.  He just completed a series of his twelve-day photo-excursion to southern Utah and northern Nevada…stunning photography.  The below photo is my version of a red-rock canyon wall…but from the inside of a decaying tree stump….

Indian Paintbrush flowers come in at least two varieties here in our Utah mountains…this wide-petalled version and another with more spikey petals.  I’ve noticed the spikey version at higher altitudes than the other….  Wikipedia says that there are around 200 species of the flower, ranging from Alaska down to the Andes Mountains in South America, as well as in northern Asia and Siberia….

I want to say that this is a White Pine laying in a bed of Lupine, but I could be wrong on both counts….  Whatever they are, they struck me as beautiful…and notice the “baby” pine tree tucked against the side of the downed tree…more of that fascinating circle-of-life stuff.

I would say that this was essentially the first sign of the mine after I rounded a bend and came up the hill a bit….  You can see the pile of tailings there in the middle of the photo.  It’s my understanding that all of that dirt and rock came out of the mountain, shovel-full piled upon shovel-full and after a bit, it became a platform upon which the men worked as they dug their mine…or in this case, dug a shaft a couple of hundred feet down to a tunnel that had already been dug into the area from the other side of the ridge.

Remains of something…maybe just a retaining wall to prevent the earth from spilling back down onto the now almost non-existent road.

In his book, The Lady in the Ore Bucket, author Charles L. Keller tells us that mining activities were conducted in Days Fork for many years.  He also mentions that the “best-known remnant from those days is the remains of the Eclipse Mine” (p. 205)…the rusted contraptions of what-not that we can see in the following photos.  While there was something about all of this that I found (and still find) incredibly fascinating and interesting, I still had the thoughts going through my head about why it was all still out there….  It struck me as being analogous to “space junk,” all of our left-over pioneer, trail-blazing garbage that we just didn’t want to drag back home with us.  But then I kept taking pictures, and kept walking around, kept getting eye-ball-close to the tangible remains of a history that helped make the place what it is today.  Keller said that the mine operated from late 1877 until early 1888 when it was reported to have burned to the ground…nothing remained but what you see in the photos of this and the next post, along with some huge timbers and cord-wood that managed to return to the earth in one fashion or another.

I understand that these are the remains of the hoist motor that lowered lumber and supplies down into the tunnels that connected with those of the Flagstaff Mine that was being operated on the other side of the ridge that you can see in the background.  Within a couple of years of this mine’s discovery and subsequent addition to the other mine’s tunnel complex, about 10 tons of ore were being extracted from this mine per day…none of it came up this shaft and out through Days Fork, but it was extracted from this mine.

Below is another view of the hoist motor (probably/maybe?), one of the three remaining boilers, and some miscellaneous pipe.

More to follow….


On the wall – prequel

The earlier two posts, On the wall, and On the wall, too, were taken 13 months after this picture.  This one is from July, 2011…after a winter/spring with record snowfall in our Wasatch Mountains…and the two earlier photographs were from August, 2012…after a winter/spring with much less snow.

Just for fun, I found this website that maintains snowfall records for Alta, Utah (at the end of Little Cottonwood Canyon, at 8,530 ft elevation)…which is just over the ridge and up the road a couple of miles from where this picture was taken at Lake Lillian, at approximately 8,900 feet elevation, in Big Cottonwood Canyon.  The snow season of November, 2010 to April, 2011 had 723.5 inches of the white stuff and the snow season of November, 2011 to April, 2012 had 390.5 inches.  I guess that explains why there was still so much snow on the mountains in July, 2011, as opposed to no snow at the same location this year.

The wall-walker in this photo is Son #2…it was Son #3 in the two earlier posts.


On water….


Days Fork – I

Big Cottonwood Canyon is one of the three major canyons in the Wasatch Mountain range that creates a beautiful and natural eastern boundary for the greater Salt Lake City metropolitan area.  The early years of pioneer settlement saw the canyons being ravaged for their lumber…stands of pristine forest with pine and fir trees that had diameters between three and four feet across were taken down to build houses, supply wood for stoves and furnaces, and for developing industry.

As the years passed, and as the political climate of the Salt Lake area changed, exploitation of the canyon’s natural resources continued in the form of mining for precious metals.  The early 1860s saw numerous individuals and companies filing claims with the local courts so they could dig into the mountainsides and remove what they might…often packing the ore down their constructed roadways with wagons and mule-carts, and later with narrow-gauge railcars, depending on their location.  The pretty flower shown below is a Sticky Geranium.

If you looked at a map of the area’s canyons today, you would be able to identify gulches, tributary canyons, and various forks in the mountains by the names of people who had filed either mining or lumber claims in the particular areas…or had built a road into the woods and charged a toll for each wagon load of lumber…or who had been the “first” (Anglo?) to explore particular peaks or ridges…or had been a mine superintendant…or….  Albion Basin, near Alta, at the end of Little Cottonwood Canyon, received its name from the Albion Mining Company; Alexander Basin in Millcreek Canyon was named after a man and his sons who harvested trees from a particular slope…and Days Fork was likely named after one of the Mormon settlers who filed a mining claim in the area.  Day was a common name among the pioneers, but it is not known which particular one filed the claim in this tributary canyon of Big Cottonwood Canyon proper.

Those blurred and brownish cone-looking things in the below photo are Western Coneflowers…they’re part of the Sunflower family.

The eventual goal of this and the next two posts is to share my hike up the three-plus mountain miles that lead to the Days Fork mine near the canyon’s terminus; I could just share the pictures of the abandoned mine site, but as with many other pursuits in life, it’s not so much the destination that counts, as it is the journey that takes us there….  I’m told that the brownish, chewed-off branches or sticks that you can see in the photo below are actually young willow trees…a favorite snack/meal of the moose who wander the area.

For those of you who are interested, the trail is reported to be three and a half miles in length and gains 2,000 feet in elevation from start to finish, ending at 9,400 feet.  I had hoped to capture interesting images of the rocks that you can see in the above trail…but ended-up with the below image of one part blurred rock, one part not-blurred rock, and one part beautiful water-droplets-on-grass-blades from the previous evening’s rain.

The historical information I mentioned above can be found in The Lady in the Ore Bucket, by Charles L. Keller…a retired engineer and an avocational historian who still leads hiking excursions into the local canyons…at more than 80 years of age….

I am still struck by the beautiful examples of the circle-of-life that I find on my canyon and mountainside hikes…like the sapling that is growing next to the broken trunk of an ancient tree that is slowly returning to the earth…its minerals nourishing the new tree that will take his place in the forest landscape, providing food and shelter for the small animal life and recycling life-sustaining elements that will be used again and again by his forest neighbors.

The above flower is a Colorado Columbine…a weighty name that evokes memories of a horrible event in our modern history of America….  I often find the flower standing alone, or with only a couple of blossoms on a single plant…making me wonder how it got there and why there are no others around it.  I understand seed dispersal through winds and bird/animal droppings, but it still strikes me as strange that there aren’t more together, or at least nearby, when I find one or two of these alluring and beautiful flowers.

I believe the flowers below are Mountain Daisies…although, some of the pictures I’ve found of flowers with that name show varieties with wider and fewer petals…and others with white and yellow petals…so I’m not absolutely certain…but they do look like daisies, and I did find them on a mountain…so they’re Mountain Daisies anyway….  🙂

You can see the large white patches of Cow Parsnip in the mountain meadow shown below…beautiful umbellifers that can grow to several feet in height after particularly wet winters and springs.  Can you imagine standing there on the trail with me…absolutely nobody else around for at least a couple of miles…or more…?  A slight breeze stirs the pine branches overhead…causes a ripple in the wild grass and flowers in the meadow…and brings the scent of wet forest mulch, like a natural perfume rising from the earth itself….

More to follow….


On Mirror Lake


To have drifted like these….

These photographs were taken somewhere between one and two miles up into Little Cottonwood Canyon along the shore of its very own stream or creek.  The running body of water actually begins about nine miles east of where these pictures were made…up into the canyon, just past the ski town of Alta, at a small-ish alpine lake called Cecret Lake…with that spelling.  The lake is situated at about 11,500 feet in elevation…and eleven miles down from there, at around 4,500 feet, the stream enters the Salt Lake City metropolitan area….  So, these pieces of wood may have traveled all of those miles or only some of them…and maybe came from around 7,000 feet higher than where I found them…at any rate, I think they’re rather pretty…rich in color the way the earth is…from whence they came…and where they shall return in their elemental forms….


Broads Fork – Part I

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.


Millcreek Canyon in Green

I have tried not to love this place as much as I do…

…but each time I go out, it becomes that much more difficult…

…and you may know that I lived in the desert of Arizona for more than 20 years before moving here to Salt Lake City…

…but I spent much of my childhood exploring and playing in forests similar to these…

…so it’s like returning to my origins to be in this type of environment again….

You might remember the bridge from an earlier post….

This is as beautiful with snow and ice along its banks…but in a much different way….

There are many places along the road in Millcreek Canyon where the trees envelope the road with a canopy of green….

These photos were taken the last weekend of June, which means that the canyon would be opening in a few days…and the road would be bustling with cars and motorcycles…so I relished in the quiet, hearing only my footsteps…and the stream and birds…and the slight wind in the tree-tops….


Collage

It was hard to decide…so I didn’t….


Did I love it…?

I went hiking today…it’s Sunday, and that’s typically what I do on Sundays….

And you might ask me…did I enjoy myself out there, did I have fun…did I like it…and maybe even, did I love it?  Well…I couldn’t have said it better myself….


One hike…and 23 wildflowers…part three

This is the last segment of wildflower photos from my hike from Millcreek Canyon, over the Lambs Canyon Pass, and down to Lambs Canyon.  To see the first two posts, click here and here…and, as always, thank you for visiting.


One hike…and 23 wildflowers…part two

…picking-up where we left-off in “One hike…and 23 wildflowers…part one“….

To be continued one more time….


On Granite

A couple of weeks ago, I finally managed to find the upper falls in Bells Canyon, just south and east of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.  My last ventures up into this particular part of the canyon had been in December and February, and there was still three and more feet of snow on the ground.  Accumulation of that amount makes it hard to find and follow the trails that are so evident at other times of the year.  The scene in this photograph is from an area above those upper falls…as I continued to explore, looking for the trail that leads to the upper reservoir.  As this was all new territory for me, it was all I could do sometimes to keep my eyes on the trail so that I would be going forward…I could have stood there for tens of minutes or more at each new vista and would have never made it anywhere on the hike…such a beautiful place….


One hike…and 23 wildflowers…part one

This was a longish hike, to Lambs Canyon Pass and beyond, part of which I had made before…once in the middle of January or February when I had turned around 30 yards shy of the pass, as the snow was over my knees and making the hike more work than fun.  At any rate, I set out this past Sunday to accomplish the entire trail, two miles along the Pipeline Trail in Millcreek Canyon to the trailhead just beyond Elbow Fork, two miles up to the pass, and then another two miles down to the road in Lambs Canyon…and then turned around and did it all in reverse order to make it home again.  As I began the hike, I noticed different flowers that appeared in single bunches or individual plants and then didn’t notice any others of their kind anywhere along the trail…so I started taking pictures of what I found…and as the hours and miles ticked by, I thought about all of the different flowers that I had encountered and couldn’t help but smile and think of Allen from New Hampshire Garden Solutions and his comments on earlier posts, something to the effect of “Wow…that looks like a good place to find a bunch of wildflowers.”  If you aren’t familiar with Allen’s blog, I highly recommend a visit…it’s chock-full of beautiful photographs of wildflowers and plants that he encounters during his own forays into the wild, as well as those from his garden and other New Hampshire locations that he frequents…each post of photographs also includes an interesting narrative about each plant.  So here you are, Allen…part one of three.  The photos aren’t of the best quality, as the morning sun was quite bright and caused a bit of over-exposure on some of them, but I think they are still a fair representation of the natural beauty of the flowers as they adorned the trail to Lambs Canyon.

to be continued….


Cloud Halo…?

Walking the Great Western Trail from above Desolation Lake toward Guardsman Pass in the Wasatch Mountains, I happened to uncautiously look up from the steeply slanted snowbank that I was crossing and had to quickly steady myself from falling backwards as I stood upright and gazed at the strange clouds above me….

Another mile or so down the trail, I happened to look up again and off to the east beyond the mountains and found that the cloud was slowly dispersing….


Dust to dust….

I had just crossed the empty stream-bed in Little Cottonwood Canyon and was making my way toward where I knew the trail was located…when I heard the sound of falling water.  To the left of this little waterfall is where I found the moss and other tiny plant life that I featured in my post “Life on a Rock.”

I had visited the same area in the past and wasn’t aware of any other streams nearby…but the canyon was/is still full of things that I haven’t seen, little treasures tucked-away beneath wind-blown trees, lying in the shadows of whole and broken boulders of fallen granite, and ever-changing scenes of Nature’s drama of unfolding life and death.  In my searching for the falling water, I had to go off-trail and deeper into the wild of the canyon forest.  Amid the waking plant life and the blanket of the previous season’s fallen leaves, I found what appeared to be the skeleton of a deer or other medium-sized vertebrate.

A great mind once posited that matter can neither be created nor destroyed…it simply changes form…becomes something other than what it was as the result of some greater force acting upon it.  As we find beauty in a decaying building, crumbling walls of barns and castles, trees whithering and rotting back into the forest floors of their cradles and graves, I believe we can find an equal beauty in the physical remains of a once living and breathing being as it returns to its elemental form where it will nourish the tiny creatures and plants that share its environment…for such is the stuff of life and death…regeneration…coming together in a new and other form….


Newlyweds…?

I had seen their sign on the way up the trail, huge hoof-prints, huge droppings, and bits of long, black, coarse hair…but not much else…no sounds, anyway.  It was hard to tell how old the marks and droppings were, but I kept looking to the sides of the trail for a bit…and then gradually didn’t think more about them.  I have seen their sign on other hikes and have only seen them once before…a solitary cow standing in the middle of the early morning trail….  On my return trip back down the trail, a couple of other hikers were stopped ahead of me, had their cameras out, and were pointing up the slope…all we could see was the female…laying there all large and sleepy in the woods.  I crept up the slope a couple of steps as the other hikers tucked their cameras away and started down the trail again.  As I kept zooming-in and taking increasingly closer shots, it seemed that I could see another ear flicker in the woods behind the cow.  The brush was too dense to see more than an outline of the other moose, so I tried to quietly head down the slope and over to the one side where I could see another access that might give me a better vantage point to see who else was back there.  Well…the couple of drops of Native American blood that I have remaining from my ancestors waaaay back did nothing to help me sneak-up on the creature that was hiding back there.  The bull moose heard me and slowly got up and started ambling through the brush, once or twice turning to look in my direction.  Again, the brush was thick and I only managed two non-blurry pictures that give a good indication as to what he looked like…with his antler buds starting to protrude from his forehead.


Trail-side Tree-house

A couple of weeks ago, I was out hiking the Desolation Trail in Millcreek Canyon, just east of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.  I wasn’t too far up the trail, either in time or distance, when right after I turned for a switchback, I noticed a shiny, golden-beaded necklace type thing hanging from one of the smaller trees just off the trail.

I think the only thing that would have been more surprising is if the door had suddenly opened and someone stepped out to say “hello.”


Morning Shower…


Empty and Full

I’ve mentioned before that the Little Cottonwood Canyon stream is empty for part of the year, as the water is diverted into collection points, sent to treatment facilities, and then included in the municipal water supplies for the greater Salt Lake City metropolitan area.  There is a time of the year, however, when the stream is allowed to run, as it contains too much water from the snow-melt to be collected in its entirety.  I rather enjoy the stark contrast in the images of the empty stream-bed and the full and rushing stream.

This photo was taken in April, 2012 before the season’s snow-melt…

And this photo was taken at the same location in July, 2011 during the height of the season’s snow-melt…


Little Cottonwood Canyon Vistas


Springtime on Little Cottonwood Canyon Stream

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.