I think it looks different without being able to see Lake Blanche beneath it…. Perspective, point of view…vantage point…however we might phrase it…as with many things in life, our view or perception of things/situations is often effected by where we are…how close or far away we might be from the actual subject matter. Is it any wonder, sometimes, when we, or someone else says, “I just don’t see it that way…?” It doesn’t mean that either one of us is more right or wrong than the other, although we might truly be one or the other…we just happen to have another perspective…for whatever reason….
I spent several hours hiking the trails and mountainsides of Little Cottonwood Canyon this past Sunday…and was amazed at the sights that greeted me with nearly every turn of the trail…. I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into my corner of paradise, courtesy of the Wasatch Mountains, just east of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
This is the likely the last post from our little excursion up to Mirror Lake in Duchesne County, Utah, USA. If you’d like to view the other images again, you can click on these highlighted titles: On Water and On Mirror Lake.
The Sister Lakes are situated near the end of a drainage or tributary canyon that is referred to as “Mill B South” in Big Cottonwood Canyon, just east of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The canyon is one of three prominent canyons in the Wasatch Mountains that provide the eastern boundary of the Salt Lake Valley…and all of the canyons are part of the Wasatch National Forest.
On a technical note, all of the photographs in the post were taken between about 10:00 and 12:30 on two bright, sunny days that were about two weeks apart. I don’t have any filters for my camera, so you’ll notice that most of the clouds are a bit over-exposed. I had thought that there was an adjustment to +/- the exposures, but…I was mistaken. At any rate, I processed each of the photos with Picasa in an attempt to lessen the effect of the harsh light, sharpen the images, and to bring the colors back to what they were when I saw them that morning…and as you’ll see, also gave one or two of them a different finish. I hope you enjoy them.
The below image is of Sundial Peak over Lake Blanche….
The drainage has had this name since 1855 when construction of the saw mill was undertaken. It is my understanding that this mill, and other mills so named with letters of the alphabet, was initially owned by the Big Cottonwood Lumber Company…which was owned by one of Brigham Young’s sons and a few other people. As each mill was built in the canyon, it was given the next letter in the alphabet…but that doesn’t mean that they proceeded in alphabetical order as they progressed upwards in the canyon. The image in the below photo is from just left of Sundial Peak…I suppose that would be to the east.
If anyone is interested enough to search for Big Cottonwood Canyon on Google Earth, you will be able to find Mill B South on the right-hand side of the very distinct “S” in the road that is about 4-5 miles up into the canyon.
If you find that “S” in the road, just to the right of it will be a parking lot…on the upper (east) side of the parking lot, you will find the trailhead for Lake Blanche. On the lower (west) side, you will find the trailhead for Broads Fork…which you might remember from two posts back in July. The area in the below photo is to the right, or west, of Sundial Peak…and that little hump you can see near the middle is actually Dromedary Peak.
If you’re not familiar with the settling of the Salt Lake City area, I’ll provide very briefly that Brigham Young and his Mormon followers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in roughly July, 1847. I say roughly, because some folks arrived shortly before he did and many others continued to arrive for years afterward…from all parts of the country…and many parts of the globe.
The below photo shows the area a little more to the right of Dromedary Peak, and from a different perspective than the above shot. And yes, that wall is a dam that was breached after several years of the lake(s) being used as reservoirs for the Salt Lake Valley’s water supply. More on that subject in a bit….
After the pioneers and other settlers ravaged the forests in Millcreek Canyon, which is much closer to the early city center, they moved south and into Big Cottonwood Canyon to harvest what they might of the ancient forest that lived there, untouched by anything other than Nature’s hand. Some of the journals and notes from those loggers and saw-mill operators document pine and fir trees with diameters of three and four, and up to six feet across…huge trees.
If you’d like some perspective with the below photo, there are two people close to that igloo-shaped rock that is about 1/3 of the way up from the lower left corner…and again, this is the area to the left of Sundial Peak.
So…the area at the end of the Mill B South drainage has been called Hidden Valley…and in that valley are three lakes (referred to as the Three Sisters), Lake Blanche, Lake Florence, and Lake Lillian. The first lake that you come to at the end of approximately three miles of hiking is L. Blanche…and a few more minutes of hiking will take you to the other two lakes that I will feature in the next two posts in this series. The Hidden Valley has been a favored recreational hiking area since at least the 1880s. Two artist friends who frequented the area named L. Blanche after a mutual friend and the other two lakes after their daughters.
By the way, all of the historical information provided in this and the next two posts can be found in Charles L. Keller’s book, The Lady in the Ore Bucket.
The above and below photos were taken from the far side of the lake, from the shoreline just inside of the wall by the dam.
You have no doubt noticed the wall/dam in the fifth and ninth photos…and will see additional dams in photos for the other lakes that will be featured in this series. In 1905, the Brown and Sanford Irrigation Company applied to the US Forest Service to appropriate a certain amount of water from the drainage stream in Mill B South Fork. It took three years for the approval to be granted and another two years for the dam to be completed. Two years later, the company applied to raise the wall and double the storage capacity of the reservoir…. Evidently, this was quite an undertaking and the company had to apply to the forest service officials repeatedly to grant more and more time to complete the project. When the irrigation company had exhausted the time that the official could legally grant, they had to bring the issue to federal court…twice, each time being granted another four years’ time to complete the project. Finally, in 1934, the dam was finished.
Before the original wall/dam was built, when the snow-melt waters overwhelmed the natural holding capacity of the lake’s basin, the water spilled from its edges and eventually found its way into the stream that leads down the drainage and into the larger Big Cottonwood Canyon Stream. When the dam was being built, the engineers provided a spillway course that led from L. Blanche to L. Florence, and then to L. Lillian…that caused each lake/reservoir to be filled before the excess was directed into the drainage that led down the canyon. Over the years, Salt Lake City purchased the water rights from the federal government…and eventually the reservoirs were no longer needed to store surplus waters…and the dams were breached…that was in 1972.
My son actually made this next photo (below) with his cell-phone….
And just for fun, the next two photos are from July of 2011…they show a water level that is much higher than this year, due to record snow-fall in the mountains during the winter of 2010-2011.
Next in the series is Lake Florence…maybe you’ve seen enough of Sundial Peak by now….
You might remember the earlier post, Missing…. from several months ago….
You’ll find something similar if you visit Allen at New Hampshire Garden Solutions…but his has a door…out in the middle of the NH wilderness…scroll down to the bottom photo of his post…makes you wonder. 🙂
This hillside bunker might be related to the railroad work that was conducted in Little Cottonwood Canyon, just south and east of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA…you’ll see details of its likely history in the comments on the earlier post. Just click on the blue highlighted word “Missing….” above if you’d care to read a bit more about it.
You might remember a similar photo from a recent post…. Sometimes things look as beautiful, yet strikingly different, in black and white…they simply do.
There is just something about walking, hopping, and crawling across massive boulders that freaks me out. It is difficult to put into words the sensation I feel when stepping onto a rock that weighs several hundreds of pounds, and more, and having it tip with my weight. Ever since I climbed the draw between White Pine Lake and Red Pine Lakes and had to cross a similar boulder field that was literally between 400-500 yards across (and after having watched the movie 127 Hours), I have found them to be incredibly anxiety-provoking. You would think that rocks of this size simply would not even budge with just a person’s weight moving on them…but they do….
I took this photo of a fellow hiker, Raj, on the way back from visiting Bells Canyon Upper Reservoir. We had to cross the boulder field twice during the hike, once each way, up and down, and it was unsettling each time. I had actually made the same hike two weeks earlier by myself, and it was even more nerve-wracking….
I have not been able to learn much about the history of Bells Canyon and its reservoirs, lower and upper. The canyon is not even listed in the index of the book, The Lady in the Ore Bucket, that details the history of logging, mining, and hydro-electric efforts in the three Wasatch Mountain canyons that border metropolitan Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. There’s probably a good reason for that, too, given that this canyon is south of the most southern of those three canyons, Little Cottonwood, and does not connect to it by any means.
What I do know, however, is that the lower reservoir is only a 15-20 minute hike from the trailhead…and it takes right around five hours to reach this upper reservoir. The trail is somewhere between four and five miles in length and gains right around 4,000 feet in elevation from start to finish.
I only recently discovered (on-line, before making the hike) that there was a dam at the upper reservoir…and even more recently (after arriving at the lake), learned that this dam has also been breached, similar to the dams at the Sister Lakes in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Construction and modification of those dams occurred between 1908-1934 and they were breached in 1972. While conducting a little more research for this post, I did find a digitized picture of the dam being built in 1914…and I’m still looking for more….
If the Bells Canyon reservoirs were built for the same reasons that the Sister Lakes were dammed, it was so that the water from the snow-melt could be held until it was needed for irrigation and other purposes later in the year when the mountain streams were running low.
I made this hike a couple of weeks ago by myself, but on this particular occasion, Son #3 was able to join me and helped provide some perspective for the scenery in the photographs.
My son is right about six feet tall…which means that the water lines on those two trees are about 10-12 feet above the ground…which means that the water in this lake has been significantly deeper than it was on the day of our visit.
Above is another shot provided for perspective’s sake…there’s a man next to the boulder in the lower right corner of the picture….
And below is a last photo provided specifically for perspective, there are two figures sitting on the left side of the opening in the damn. I shot this one from the mountainside on the opposite side of the lake, so it may lose a bit of its resolution if you attempt to zoom-in too closely on the figures.
The below photograph shows a much wider perspective of the northward view, taken from the same location.
And you’ve seen me before….
This was the last view of the lake before we rounded the bend in the trail, dropped down behind the retaining wall of the dam, and could no longer see it….
Sundial Peak is the iconic backdrop for Lake Blanche, one of the Sister Lakes located at the end of one of the tributary canyons/drainages that extend south from Big Cottonwood Canyon, one of the three major canyons in the Wasatch Mountains that provide the eastern boundary for metropolitan Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. I suppose I said all of that to say…here it is…. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do….
The earlier two posts, On the wall, and On the wall, too, were taken 13 months after this picture. This one is from July, 2011…after a winter/spring with record snowfall in our Wasatch Mountains…and the two earlier photographs were from August, 2012…after a winter/spring with much less snow.
Just for fun, I found this website that maintains snowfall records for Alta, Utah (at the end of Little Cottonwood Canyon, at 8,530 ft elevation)…which is just over the ridge and up the road a couple of miles from where this picture was taken at Lake Lillian, at approximately 8,900 feet elevation, in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The snow season of November, 2010 to April, 2011 had 723.5 inches of the white stuff and the snow season of November, 2011 to April, 2012 had 390.5 inches. I guess that explains why there was still so much snow on the mountains in July, 2011, as opposed to no snow at the same location this year.
The wall-walker in this photo is Son #2…it was Son #3 in the two earlier posts.