An image from another time and place, sitting in the draft folder for nearly two years…it holds memories that are fresh with a crisp mountain air that rides with the iron smell of a coming snow…the sound of booted footsteps on a narrow trail…and a companion named “Solitude.”
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.
I made this photo in August of 2013 on what was my third trip to the upper reservoir in Bells Canyon, just south and east of Salt Lake City, Utah…it was also my last trip to these falls and the reservoir beyond…which I didn’t know at the time…couldn’t have known at the time…. But it is and was, and that’s the way it goes. You might know that I’m living in the desert of Arizona now, again, and scenes like the one in this image are far from my experience in this new and old home of mine…they might exist, I just haven’t found them yet.
And why did I post the photo today….I don’t know…maybe a hankering or longing to be on the Wasatch trails again…thinking about where I’d be going if I was there. Anyway, aside from the nostalgia, this image (even with the blown-out water) shows some of the damnably gorgeous scenery of the Utah mountains and canyons. Enjoy….
I made this image while standing inside of the roofless bunkhouse and looking out onto what was the front porch and yard area of the bunkhouse ruins at the Cardiff Mine in Cardiff Fork, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, USA.
Nature has already invested some serious work in reclaiming the area…and time has begun to heal our deep wounds upon the Earth….
You might remember my earlier posts on Cardiff Fork, but if not, you can visit them by exploring the Categories widget below.
“Few are altogether deaf to the preaching of pine trees. Their sermons on the mountains go to our hearts; and if people in general could be got into the woods, even for once, to hear the trees speak for themselves, all difficulties in the way of forest preservation would vanish.”
– John Muir
Hmm…I suppose I should have gotten around to this one a while ago, as we’re approaching the end of the year and I made these images close to four months ago….the snow you see in some of the images is actually from last winter and we’re quickly approaching the snows from this coming winter. In fact, if I were to head back to Cardiff Fork today, I believe I’d encounter some new snow to share with you.
I don’t know how many of you have had the opportunity to hike into the mountains at the end of June, get all hot and sweaty, soaked shirt and everything, and then reach into a pile of snow and make a nice snow-ball to eat and cool yourselves down with, but it’s a wonderful treat! My son and I each had a large, grapefruit-sized snowball and it was fantastic…so refreshing!
The above photo was taken while we were sitting at the furthest end of the fork…about four miles into the mountains, inside of the cirque that was full of broken basalt-looking rock that has tumbled down from the ridges above over the years.
I don’t really have much more to tell you about the canyon/fork and its associated mining history, but I thought you might enjoy seeing a few more photos of the geography and beautiful landscape of the area. If we were to climb to the top of the ridge in the below photo, we would be looking west and into Mineral Fork….
If you can find the little finger of trees that is way down and to the left of the peak that is in the upper right corner (of the below photo), actually located between the center and right large pine/fir trees, that is where we were sitting while eating the snow-balls…where my son and I were sitting when I made the first and second photos above…we were just to the left of that little finger of trees….
Also in the above photo, if you were on the ridge just below the clouds in the upper left corner, you could look south and down into Little Cottonwood Canyon…the little ski town of Alta would be off toward the left…and the metropolitan area of the Salt Lake Valley would be way off to the right…..
The below photo is from the other side of the fork, looking across the valley area and onto the old Cardiff Mine area. If you’ll recall the photos from the first post in this series, Cardiff Fork…beginning…, photo #8, that’s the same mine area that you can see in this below photo, but from a distance now, and with the ore sorter in the foreground.
My son is providing a bit of perspective for us…he’s about 6’3″…so the ore sorter is rather large…..
While my son’s not in the below photo, he was standing near the lower right edge/corner of the sorter and his head came to right about the center of that large beam that is right above the tree….
…and this last photo is looking back up into Cardiff Fork as my son and I were nearing the end of the return hike out of the canyon……
That’s all folks…I hope you’ve enjoyed the hike through Cardiff Fork. If you’d like to view all three posts from the series in one continuous stream, you can go to the bottom of the page and click on “Cardiff Fork” under the Category widget…that will bring you all three posts together. Thank you again for visiting and for spending a bit of your time with me….