A Glimpse at Bells Canyon’s Upper Falls
After my daughter and I hiked to the lower falls, as featured in this post, we continued up the trail for about another hour and then arrived at the upper falls. Amid the spray and the treacherous footing on the soaked boulders and ground, it was difficult to manage another angle that would have provided a better or more clear perspective or presentation of this natural water-feature.
We stood in literal awe for several minutes, shifted our positions to gain different perspectives, stayed there again for several more minutes, and then retreated a bit into the woods that we had just come through to approach the falls.
You can still see the falling water through the trees to the right and behind my daughter in the above photo, so you can probably imagine how loud it must have been to be so close. There was a pervasive serenity, sitting there in the woods, even with the roaring of the falls as near as they were…with the crashing water on the granite boulders and then the rushing of the stream in front of us….
White patches up in the trees caught my eye….
What a refreshing spray after the steep hike to get there…melted snow…living water….
Just a little further downstream is a bridge that has been chained to the trees on both sides of the bank to prevent the rising and rushing stream from carrying it away. There is a trail that you can take off into the shoulder-high brush that will lead you in a near circular manner out and up to the area just upstream from the top of the falls…and will also eventually lead you to the upper reservoir and beyond.
If you’d like to see an image of the falls later in the season, you can click here to see what they looked like in August of 2013.
come walk with me
on a sunday morning
feel the crisp air on your face and the warming sun on your back as we follow the trail off and into the waiting mountains
turn around and marvel at the white bark glowing in the sunrise
winter-bare aspen preparing for the cold
the rich greenery of summer’s forest floor has turned golden and brown and looks bleak without the morning’s sun
but we are here with the waking day
rejoicing at the trail beneath our feet and the burning in our legs and lungs as we press ever upward from valley floor to mountain top
come walk with me and sing our quiet sunday song
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….
Two years and two days ago….
I sat inside the steel and glass monstrosity and watched the people walking past. Everyone was going somewhere. They were returning or leaving and found themselves all there, as I did, waiting or having waited. We were dressed in our fineries, or not; we were in a hurry, or not. Our faces held an eagerness or impatience with too little time, or we were in a set and staid complacency, as we had surrendered ourselves to wait. Patience was no longer needed. We just were and our time would come as it had for the rest.
I looked out through the large windows and beyond the technology that was in the foreground, beyond and beyond the miles between here/there and the object of my gaze.
A few hours earlier, I was out and among the mountains and streams, walking down earthen pathways that were wet with life and rich and gray and sandy and mulched and fine, and trees of every and sundry sort shaded my walking and allowed, too, the sun to shine on my pathway, to illuminate the great undergrowth and broad leaves and needles, nettle-like weeds of slight and fine stalk and stem and little branches and huge, fallen and leaning and upright in their rotting and decay.
Life was full and birds drifted and alighted sometimes and not, and the stream/river crashed over rocks and boulders and ran into side pools in their clean-ness, the large mess of aquamarine and clear and green and blue and white in its rushing and crashing in tons and gallons and my heart and soul wanted to stand there and stay there forever, being fed as they were with a food or nourishment so strange and beautiful and foreign to my desert-living self.
The greens were rich and lush beyond the holding of our dreams and the air was fresh with some kind of natural perfume, a fragrance wrought in the heady blooms of wildflowers and shrubs that found their anchors or homes in shaded caves and coves beneath large and tall pines and firs and oaks and cottonwoods and aspens.
I don’t know if I had ever seen streams or rivers running down the sides of mountains before that day, but I had now, or then, on that day, twice even, in their similar crevices or ravines among the rocks and tree-lined and covered mountain, a green sheet or blanket of trees covering that rich and fertile whatever with those ribbons of white and clean ice-cold foaming and bubbling tide that crashed over hundreds of yards from their beginnings in the craggy heights above.
If this land were to be my home, would all of this cause me to be happy? Would it continue to nourish my soul when I was pressed and oppressed by life and money and the nothingness of work?
Would all of this add meaning to my temporal existence and make-up for areas that I felt were lacking? Would I be fulfilled, or would it make me want to escape that much more? Would its nearness make me yearn to leave hearth and home to be among the boulders and trees and rivers and deer and snakes and squirrels?
Would I crave their company more than others’? Would I be drawn inside and away from those in my surround, seeking the company of myself over them – seeking the company of myself and away over them? Or would they seek this hideaway from the everyday and nourish their arid souls here, too? Would they treasure this natural sanctuary as I would and want to be in its raging stillness as I would and be so comforted in their awe and treasure it beyond words, taking refuge, as I would, in its splendor and remove?
I hope they would….
This is a Favorite Re-post from July, 2010…written after a visit to Salt Lake for a job interview in preparation for our eventual move to the area. The words are from exactly two years ago today…and the photographs are from two days ago…. Thank you for visiting and for sharing in the natural beauty of my “new” home….
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.
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….
Photo by my daughter, KCM. Used with permission.
Back in a pool again for the first time in over a year, my little one ran and jumped and splashed and swam on top of the water and under the water and ran and jumped again and again and splashed his sister and sped away…and found time in the waning day to be still again…to be still again and enveloped in the quiet that informs our physical existence….
A tiny hand and arm used to clutch me tightly, and then less so as the minutes passed by and by. With my soft fur pressed against the little one’s flannel pajamas and fleece blanket, I could smell baby soap sometimes, and syrup, too, or the green of grass and the dusty rich gold and orange of fallen leaves…the rough and scrapey brown of tree bark on his little hands. I could hear his soft breathing, his tiny lips moving around his thumb…or the tiny baby snort when he moved again and grabbed for me absently, blindly in his sleep…. And then the car stopped…and the door opened…and I tumbled out…and away…and away…
…and now I find the sun rising and setting with the sounds of passing machines of large and small, with hard winds and whistling bugs and the grit and grime of flying things…
…and I wonder where his soft hand is now…and his smells….and I wonder if he’ll ever come back…or if I’ll always be lost…
…on the road, somewhere…between here and there….
Time finds us in different places and for various periods and then it brings us together again, sometimes, and the meeting is more than could be asked for; it fulfills the soul and rocks the body and leaves us exhausted and sated and wanting only to relish in the love and company of that other one, the one from whom we were separated for a time…and long to be with again and again.
May our separations be few and our love enduring….
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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.
So beautiful it almost hurts….
Mill Creek Canyon is one of the three main natural canyons in the Wasatch Mountains that provide the eastern border of Salt Lake City, Utah.
On the First of November of each year, the parks personnel close the road at the five-mile mark in the canyon and do not plow it beyond that point. The main road then becomes a favored location for cross-country skiers to practice their skills in climbing upward for six miles or more and then racing down the smooth pathway back toward the gate.
There are also numerous trails that lead up and into and along-side the various other mini-canyons and gulches that fill the mountain area to the sides of the canyon proper.
On this particular Sunday morning and afternoon, I took the Pipeline trail for about two miles until it reached Elbow Fork, and then took the trail that leads to Mount Aire and/or Lamb’s Canyon.
I chose to go to Lamb’s Canyon pass, which was close to another two miles up and into the mountains.
Lucky for me, I had my gaiters on, because the snow quickly became six to twelve inches deep, depending on where the trail lay under trees or in clearings where there was nothing to prevent more snow from accumulating.
After I came to what I thought might have been Lamb’s Canyon pass or the ridge that was my destination (where the previous hikers and snow-shoe-ers had turned around), I continued down and along what I perceived to still be the trail that actually led to Lamb’s Canyon. I followed some large deer or elk or moose tracks for another few hundred yards…until the snow was deep enough that my knees were getting cold from the snow above my gaiters….and decided that it was time to turn around.
At any rate, it was a beautiful hike into the snow-covered forests of Mill Creek Canyon.
So, it’s 18 degrees outside this morning and there is an icy blanket of frost covering the entire back yard…not only in that blanket form, but it appears that each blade of grass is wearing the sparkling finery and reflecting the glow of the porch light and waking sun. My wife’s old dog was still breathing as I walked past her, which is likely a good thing, even though the poor creature is blind and deaf and can barely make it down the stairs and into the yard for her morning relief. There is laundry tumbling in the dryer and another cup of coffee waiting in the pot on the counter as the rest of the house is still quiet and the marvel of my Saturday morning is rich and wonderful.
We’ve been together as a family up here in our new home for a year now. We’ve had some rough go of it making adjustments, learning new things and places, slowly letting go of that past where comfort and familiarity were solid and known and as dependable as a mourning dove on a fence post at a given hour…she might have not beeen there every morning at the same time, but she was there with enough regularity that we almost came to refer to her as family, a known and constant presence that meant things were right and proper and the way they should be. And in our 18 degrees this morning, there was another mourning dove on the fence post; she sat there for a moment after I opened the door and let the old dog outside, and then fluttered with her characteristic sound over into the Russian olive tree nearby and sat there for me, signifying or telling me that yes, things are kind of normal again…mostly, maybe, close enough probably…and it’s a good morning already and so far, as the boys are waking and causing their ruckus and stir down the hall…which means that my morning quiet is fleeing fast and running far away….
Old Doors and New
I was at first stunned by the clarity of the image and then by what I noticed when I actually looked at the keys and what they meant, what they were and are in their time. This is my wife’s key-ring and keys…and most of the keys belong to locks that she no longer opens…some of them no longer exist, literally, and others might still be there, somehwere, in a city and a time from not-so-long-ago, but because of the context of her life, and mine and ours, there is no reason to possess them, for they will no longer be used for anything…other than to add mass to her key-ring…or to open doors to memories of that other life in that other place where things were familiar and made sense, before they became what they are to her now, and then. But there are new keys, too, new keys to open new doors with new possibilities…and new memories….
Sometimes, alone is ok….
Yes, sometimes alone is good, for it can be and often is, when we are in that state of separation from others, that we have the liberty of thought and volition to see ourselves through our own eyes…and maybe find ourselves again. While input and feedback are good, as those others’ eyes can see things that we do not or cannot see in ourselves, self-reflection can be as healthy…and necessary.
In this alone-time, we can also find confidence to persevere in whatever circumstances, or to re-orient ourselves toward earlier and possibly more important goals, redirect ourselves, reprioritize…or even resign, let go after the stress of life and reflection, because we know or understand that further effort would be a waste or a surrendering, or even a sacrificing of ourselves for something or someone who is no longer worth the emotion and energy to do more, or to futilely attempt to do more. The quiet helps us regroup when a room is too loud, when our life is too loud, or even when it’s just too loud in our heads…our minds.
Sometimes alone is good, in that it allows us to empty our minds of the pressures or concerns that are so draining; we can remove those issues and simply be in a state of openness of mind that has nothing in it, maybe nothing other than an awareness of ourselves, or an awareness of nature and its awesome enormity that allows or urges us to see that our own concerns are nothing, or very minimal, in the grand scale of life and time that exists outside of ourselves, and out in the ever that is.
Solitude can also help us remember the precious or special things that exist in the people who people our lives; it helps us remember the things that drew us to them in the beginning and have sustained our desires to be with them since; it can give us a glimpse of absence and what comes after…. Sometimes, alone is good.