The parking lot was already mostly full when my son and I arrived at the trailhead, but that was okay, as we/I prefer to park just off the road in the canyon…it’s easier to leave that way…hours later when the hordes of people are milling about with their comings and goings…. Aside from simply driving up into the canyon, one of the first wonderful things about this particular trail is the bridge crossing over the Big Cottonwood Canyon stream. Whatever the month or season of the year, it’s an almost magical, soul-moving experience to stand on the bridge or next to the rushing stream, watching the water make its way down-canyon. This photo shows the crush of the snow-melt…those billions of flakes that have returned to their primal form, filtered through the mountain’s soils and rocks and the vegetation’s roots…and now come at last to the stream-bed where they will be carried away and out into the city below.
Can you hear it…the rushing liquid surge that sounds like a a storm of wind in the high trees…can you feel the chilled air rushing with it down the canyon and into your face…enveloping your body…marveling your mind…soothing your soul…?
It had been more than three years since I had hiked this path, and being honest with myself, I had forgotten how steep the trail was at times…had forgotten how the faces looked of the people struggling up it as I had come down it on my many returns over the years…. It was the roughest hike I had made in quite some time…and one that didn’t use to be such a challenge.
Wonderful life in its simpler forms…the magic of a coming transformation found along the trail.
We’re not there yet, but this is one of the first glimpses of Sundial Peak as viewed from down the canyon…with the brilliant greens of the new summer growth, the patches of snow still extant on the east-facing slopes of the surrounding mountains, and the white trail of the stream that I know is running in its fullness as it drains from Lake Lillian.
Still on the approach, we can see Dromedary Peak to the right and the “Play Doh” like red rock in the foreground whose surfaces were smoothed by the passing of ancient glaciers many millions of years ago….
Looking over those smooth red rocks and back down the canyon in the photo below.
Getting even closer now, preparing for the final ascent up to the flat land before the lake…with a couple of hikers for near perspective.
I never made it up to the top of Sundial Peak during my years of living in the Salt Lake valley, but it was always something I wanted to do…something that I thought I would get to do on some weekend jaunt up there when those mountains were in my every-day…when they were a steadfast part of my eastward view.
The clouds were alive and moving with the strong breezes and winds that blew through our morning up at the lakes…constantly causing shadows to move over the water and mountain peaks….
Below is the view further to the west of the above images…where we can see the breached dam a the far end of Lake Blanche…
…and we know that the water continues down to Lake Florence and Lake Lillian…seen below in their descending order…stair-steps of cascading wonder….
We didn’t have sufficient time to explore for hours and hours like we did the first time my son and I made the trip up here in 2011…but the reward at the end of our hike up there was rich enough in itself to have made the entire effort worthwhile.
Lake Blanche and Sundial Peak in memory form.
Thank you for being here….
I have stood in this exact same spot, on a bench mind you, overlooking the Bells Canyon lower reservoir so many times that I cannot begin to number them from memory.
…and I have walked this trail in all seasons, heading toward the lower and upper falls, and even toward the upper reservoir another couple of miles up into the mountains.
If you look closely, in the above and below photographs, you can see a tiny splash of white that is brighter than the rocks below and to the left of it…that white splash is what I perceive to be the lower falls…something that I have observed from several miles down the road, and even as far away as the back balcony of my children’s home in West Jordan on the other side of the Salt Lake Valley. Some might suggest that it is the upper falls, but there are no singular monstrous rocks beneath the upper ones, only the lower ones, where I and my hiking companion sons have rested and snacked after admiring the falls face to face.
Below is a favorite spot along the Bells Canyon stream…another special place that I have photographed multiple times…with snow on the banks and perched like cones or caps on top of the rocks with the water barely trickling among them, or with the rich greens of spring and summer when the water was crashing or running over the tiers of rocks like a flood.
It’s always such a pleasure to stand back and watch as someone beholds the falls for the first time…to see the delight in their eyes, and to watch the slight grin grow into a full-on smile as they are slowly christened with the over-spray and mist….
My daughter shared with me that someone had slipped into the falls a couple of weeks earlier while attempting to jump over the stream that led into them…and of the near futile efforts to locate and recover the body from under the logs where it was eventually found…a rescuer saw a flash of color in the crush of water that didn’t belong in the middle of it all…the red or yellow or blue jacket that was still on the the body….
In the last 100 yards or so climbing up to the falls, more than 30 hikers passed us on their way down the trail…and fortunately, there was only one other person up there when my daughter and I arrived…another quiet individual who we only glimpsed once or twice as we cherished the amazing wonderfulness that surrounded us.
The above photo is from near the spot above the falls where the individual likely attempted to jump across the stream. I have sat there in the past with at least one of my sons…admiring the view and the crush of the melted snow that thundered over the falls…while having a snack of a crisp apple and “Indulgent” trail mix.
My daughter and I continued up the trail to the upper falls (to be shared in a later post)…but this is what it looked like, in the above photo, facing back up the canyon on our return trip down to the reservoir….
And lastly, an afternoon view of the Bells Canyon lower reservoir…. It used to take me 15 minutes to drive to the trailhead for the trail that leads to the reservoir…now it takes more than 10 hours….
As some of you might recall, I recently returned to Salt Lake City for my first visit since leaving there almost three years ago. You might also recall that when I did live there, I frequented Liberty Park numerous times…it was a favorite destination for my lunch-time walks and Saturday morning drive-abouts.
Liberty Park was such a favorite place of mine that I even dedicated a separate “Category” to it because I made so many photographs there that I later featured here on the blog.
After having lived in the desert for over 20 years, before moving to Salt Lake City, it was nearly mind-bogglingly amazing (to me) to see trees of such stature…of such age…and in the Spring and Summer, so marvelously adorned with millions (?) of leaves that provided such excellent shade.
My return visit to the park found me staring skyward again, very likely looking like a tourist…again…amazed…and in awe….
I believe that I have shared this link in at least one other post on Liberty Park, but here it is again for those of you who might be interested in the park and its amenities…click here….
And if you’re interested in the trees themselves, you can click here to read a very small narrative about their presence in the park.
And lastly, you can click here to be taken to a continuous scroll of all of the posts that I have shared on Liberty Park, as found by clicking on the “Liberty Park” category at the far bottom right corner of this page. Coincidentally, the first post is from six years ago next week…April 9, 2011…..
Thanks for visiting….
Another visit to the archives brings this image from a hike I took on the Sunday before Thanksgiving two years ago. Exactly four weeks prior to this day, I was sitting atop that summit in the distance, Mt. Raymond, admiring the view of the canyons and mountains around me…360 degrees of wonderfulness…and a fantastic experience rivaled by few others….
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.
I’ve been traveling the streets of Phoenix for the past five months with a new eye that is open and welcoming of things that I had never noticed in my earlier years of living here. If you’ve been following this blog for at least a little while, you might know or recall that I’ve recently returned to this desert home after living in the Salt Lake City area for about four years…after having lived here in Phoenix for over 20 years…and you might remember, too, that I started a City Paint series in Phoenix that was similar to a series that I had going in Salt Lake for a couple of years. Well…this is the third post in my collection of graffiti and street art displays that I’ve discovered while driving about my new/old home.
This flower shop is located on the south-east corner of 5th Street and Roosevelt Street, just south of the center of town in an area that has become something of an art district over the last several years. From all appearances, the flower shop has closed its doors for business…the rooms were empty as I looked in from the street…and as you can tell by looking at this second image, the plaster is cracking on the wall and the paint is beginning to peel…which is understandable, given that the mural is on the west-facing wall of the building and in near constant exposure to the desert sun.
When I did a Google search of the artists (as provided by the names under the “E” in the first photo), I found that El Mac had created another image that I had seen in the past…which I had shared in another blog post almost three years ago. I featured the below photograph in In the Heart of the City and in City Paint 4 – Tucked-Away Alley-Way, and provided a third glimpse of it in the first image from City Paint 17 – Gallenson’s Gun-shop Elk Mural.
You can find these murals on El Mac’s web site at Ave Maria and Kofie and Mac…pages five and eight if you want to visit from going to his home-page. After you get to his home-page, click on the “Spraypaint” subheading…and be prepared to be amazed at what you’ll find. If you’d like to view more posts on the street art, building murals, and related graffiti that I’ve discovered in both the Salt Lake and Phoenix areas, you can scroll to the bottom of this page and click on Street Art – Graffiti under the Categories widget to see the earlier other posts.
I was visiting with Montucky at Montana Outdoors and noted that I had some images that were similar to his recently posted photographs of Skyrockets. I thought I remembered seeing some in white and pink, but could only find these in pink. They look like they could be the same flowers, but maybe they’re not…. If I’m not mistaken, the white flowers in this photo are Leafy Jacob’s Ladder.
I made this photograph in July of last year during a hike to Lake Desolation in Big Cottonwood Canyon of the Wasatch Mountains just south and east of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
…is not necessarily a bad thing. My son and I had just completed the half circle trail around the base of Mt Raymond, the prominence toward the right of the image, and were making our way down Bowman Fork and back into Millcreek Canyon. The slope where you can see my son walking is down from another mountain feature that has been named “Gobbler’s Knob” because of the wild turkeys that used to be found in the area.
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…..