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….
I should have investigated the little guys before just throwing a common name at them, but these are actually Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrels, Spermophilus lateralus. They do look very similar to Chipmunks, but they are lacking stripes on their faces, so they’re not. A special thank you to my friend who raised the question. 🙂
Quite possibly my favorite flower ever…ever…
You might remember the lake from last year when I did the posts on the Sister Lakes of the Wasatch Mountains. You can click on “Sister Lakes – Lake Florence” to learn more about this lake. The earlier post also has links to the other Sister Lakes if you’re interested in the more complete history of the area.
I suppose this is right about where we left off at the end of the other post, “Cardiff Fork…beginning….” You can see my son standing on the remaining basement wall of the bunkhouse where the miners used to live and sleep. That bit of a brown line near the stumps or logs in the foreground of the image, the part that looks something like a saw-dust trail, is actually a decomposing tree that is headed back into the ground.
We found about a half-dozen established camping areas throughout our hike in the largely privately-owned canyon of Cardiff Fork. This was something very unusual, given that all of the other hiking locations in the canyons of our local Wasatch Mountains are essentially wilderness areas and the most we might find is a recently used fire-ring. My son is examining a metal arrowhead that he found laying atop the stump/post next to him. It seems the landowners have put quite a bit of work into having a nice place to sit and cook for their camping/hunting excursions.
The below photo is looking further, or deeper into the fork…
…and this next photo is looking back at the trail from somewhere near the base of the trees in the above image.
I would imagine that the hole was larger when the mine was being worked, but it seems to have been filled-in a bit, either naturally or intentionally, over the years since it was in operation. There was a bit of a cool and wetly metallic breeze coming out of the ground here….
The boiler and bit of a foundation with re-bar sticking up from the ground is all that remains of the Baby McKee mine.
I’m not sure why, but it was kind of neat walking across these huge slabs of rock on the hillside. I’ve not encountered anything like them in the dozens of other locations I’ve hiked here in the Wasatch….
It’s fascinating to contemplate the geological forces that must have combined to cause the canyon to appear as it does today…such mind-boggling power coming from inside the earth.
We were nearing the end of the Cardiff Fork canyon at this point. You can see that there’s a bit of a bowl up there above the wormy line of trees near the upper center of the photo. We actually headed up the slope on the left side of the rock slabs toward the right of the image…our goal being to make it to the top, or right side of the line of trees and then to look down into the bowl or cirque. We imagined that there might be another mine up there, although there were no roads leading up to it…so maybe there was no mine.
My son and I couldn’t see it from the vantage point where I made the above photo, but if you’ll look at that darker spot of rock just down from nearly the very center of the line of trees in the photo, that’s where we found the shaft and broken rock structure that are in the next two photos.
Stay tuned for the next and final post in the Cardiff Fork series.
I mentioned in an earlier post how my little one and I went fishing at Scofield Reservoir, about 100 miles south and east of Salt Lake City…and how we didn’t come home with any fish. We did come home with some photos of birds that we had never seen, though. Below is a Western Grebe, not to be confused with a Craig’s Grebe. The most significant difference, to my novice birder’s eye, is that the black hood goes below the eyes on the Western Grebe and remains above the eyes on the Craig’s Grebe.
The next two photos are of Sandhill Cranes…. It was unusual to see such large birds walking near a lake/reservoir way up in the Mountain West area of Utah. I have read that our region is along the migratory routes of many types of birds, but just hadn’t seen much of anything that fit the definition of such birds yet.
One of the sources that helped me identify the birds showed photos of large gray birds with the red forehead, so I thought I was wrong about their name, but then they also showed other photos similar to these guys, indicating that the migratory cranes are usually scruffier and brown, while still keeping their red forehead.
And lastly, here’s an American White Pelican…way the hell out in the mountains and hundreds of miles away from any ocean. The link states that they breed on lakes throughout the northern Great Plains and in the mountain west, but winter along the coast. I guess they can pretty much go wherever they want to. I thought it was nice to find them where we did. There appeared to be a huge flock of the large birds waaaay off in the distance, but this one was the closest I could capture for a clear photo.
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…..