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…..
As I was going through my back-log of blog posts this morning, I came across John M. Smith’s post, Bluebells and Beech, and remembered that I was going to do a similar post on some Utah wildflowers that I had noticed after viewing Andy Hooker’s post, Bluebells 2013.
My older son and I were on the way to one of our Sunday morning hiking destinations, walking the Pipeline Trail in Millcreek Canyon, just east of Salt Lake City proper. While I have walked this trail more than a dozen times over the past few years, I have never noticed the profusion of a single type of wildflower like I did on this particular morning….and it was too good to resist…taking a break in the early part of the hike to kneel in the wild grass and flowers for a few minutes to take a few (?) pictures…..
USWildflowers.com identifies these little beauties as being Dwarf Waterleaf, Bullhead Waterleaf…or Cat’s Breeches…with the scientific name of Hydrophyllum capitatum, for those of you interested in such things. I’m sorry I can’t name the trees…but here you are anyway with the blanket of spring wildflowers on a beautiful Spring morning….as my son and I were heading to our own version of Sunday services……
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.