Yes, sometimes…after a very long hike when I’m falling asleep and it feels like my boots are still on and the trail is still beneath my feet…when the sounds of the forest whisper quietly in my mind…chuckling streams and the breeze flowing through pine needles and leaves…sometimes then…sometimes in the middle of the day after a Yesterday’s hike, images come unbidden, scenes flash before my mind’s eye as I’m reaching for a pen or typing words into the screen…a flower-speckled meadow, silvery snail tracks across the trail and morning dew on a spider’s web, white broad-petaled flowers tucked into the shadows swaying…craggy skylines, and waterfalls drumming-up a mist before my eyes….yes…sometimes….
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….
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.
I took an unplanned hike this morning, on an unplanned day off in the middle of the week. As chance would have it, I found myself on the trail that I first hiked when visiting the Salt Lake area in preparation for my move from Phoenix.
I have hiked sections of this particular trail about six or seven times in the past year, and only twice now from start to finish. Shortly after crossing one of the trail’s bridges, it dawned on me that I haven’t been to this specific section since I was up here locating the apartment where I would stay until my family arrived a few months later.
There was an odd recollection-quality to being there again, remembering my excitement (and fear) at the coming relocation, my physically being out in the woods and along a rushing stream again for the first time in decades with all my senses noting the sights and sounds and scents of being out there…and the notion of standing on the ledge of time and change and wondering what the next step would hold for me and my family.
The past year has, more than anything else (of course) been one of incredible change and adjustment and prioritizing of resources, time, and emotions. We’ve cried happy and bitter and sad tears, and mourned the losses of a familiar life and loved ones and have hoped incredibly for normalcy in all of the realms of our lives where we’ve missed it, both individually and collectively.
We have also longed to sit again among our entire family on the weekends like we used to do, and to spend our weekdays with and among our long-time and beloved friends and coworkers whose absence still aches in our hearts after all this time.
And yes, we have considered, too, what life would be like if we could roll back time and return to that old and familiar place, to have never left…or to even return to it now, afresh, after being gone for this single and elapsed year…we have wondered so, and have measured our past against our present and our still hoped-for future and we still wonder if it was the right thing to do, while telling ourselves that it was.
And so there I was again, walking under the familiar and green canopy of beautiful trees, smelling the natural and alluring perfumes of forest mulch and wild flowers and grasses riding the cool mountain breezes and listening to the accompanying and ever rumbling stream that was sometimes loud and close and other times quieter and removed, but ever-present, depending on the trail’s nearness to that peaceful and natural water-feature.
I was there, looking for distraction and peace and comfort after a crazy and sad month, hoping for a calm to return, hoping that what my senses experienced on the hike would remove images and texted sentiments and echoes of angry and sad words from my rambling and disjointed mind…hoping again for peace to be restored…and my hopes were answered, in this sense. Peace did come and quiet a portion of the unquiet things in my mind…it was a good hike.
I know I have posted similar pictures many times over the past year, but these images, these snapshots of our local and natural beauty are just too good not to share again, in my thinking anyway.
Yes, it’s been a year, and while I still miss my old friends incredibly, miss having them as constants in my every-day…I’m still loving it here. I hope you enjoy the pictures….