I had visited the canyon probably multiple dozens of times during the three-plus years that I lived in the Salt Lake valley, but this was the first time I actually hiked/walked on this particular trail. It’s more of a nature walk…or even just a pathway going from one picnic area to another…in the forest, alongside a stream, in the mountains, alone, with an occasional car to be heard coming or going up or down the canyon road…no crowds, no yelling teenagers or smaller people, just the sound of the stream, the chilled air, and the smell of a wet forest floor caught riding the occasional breeze to make me feel that I was where I belonged.
Another glimpse of the locale from my trip north in June of this year….
Some of the images may look familiar, as I have already posted similar photos taken from different perspectives.
I will be heading back in a few days…a gift from my children…bringing me to the mountains…since they can’t come to me.
Fall in the Wasatch Mountains is awaiting…
…like granddaughters’ arms…to embrace me.
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….
After my daughter and I hiked to the lower falls, as featured in this post, we continued up the trail for about another hour and then arrived at the upper falls. Amid the spray and the treacherous footing on the soaked boulders and ground, it was difficult to manage another angle that would have provided a better or more clear perspective or presentation of this natural water-feature.
We stood in literal awe for several minutes, shifted our positions to gain different perspectives, stayed there again for several more minutes, and then retreated a bit into the woods that we had just come through to approach the falls.
You can still see the falling water through the trees to the right and behind my daughter in the above photo, so you can probably imagine how loud it must have been to be so close. There was a pervasive serenity, sitting there in the woods, even with the roaring of the falls as near as they were…with the crashing water on the granite boulders and then the rushing of the stream in front of us….
White patches up in the trees caught my eye….
What a refreshing spray after the steep hike to get there…melted snow…living water….
Just a little further downstream is a bridge that has been chained to the trees on both sides of the bank to prevent the rising and rushing stream from carrying it away. There is a trail that you can take off into the shoulder-high brush that will lead you in a near circular manner out and up to the area just upstream from the top of the falls…and will also eventually lead you to the upper reservoir and beyond.
If you’d like to see an image of the falls later in the season, you can click here to see what they looked like in August of 2013.
Another image made from outside of the Cougar Park Nature Preserve in West Jordan, Utah…facing west with the near-setting sun lighting the rails and providing shadow-forms for the posts. The evening’s walk provided an array of subject matter for photography, so I had to return to the house to retrieve my camera. I have been out of the habit of taking it with me on my infrequent walks through my Arizona neighborhood, but found it to be a welcome companion again as I ventured out into another sweet, Utah evening.
I found myself in Utah this weekend…tried to lose myself so I’d have an excuse not to return to the desert, but alas, I remained on known and numbered roadways and managed to get there and back…with one or two photos tucked into my camera for memory’s sake….
An image from another time and place, sitting in the draft folder for nearly two years…it holds memories that are fresh with a crisp mountain air that rides with the iron smell of a coming snow…the sound of booted footsteps on a narrow trail…and a companion named “Solitude.”
The following is yet another set of discoveries along the south shore of The Great Salt Lake…images made on a Saturday afternoon in late February, 2014…..depending on where you stand and where you are looking, you can see the Stansbury Mountains to the southwest, Stansbury Island to the west, Black Rock simply there in its curious prominence, or Antelope Island toward the north and east. For those interested, the pier pilings are the only remains of the Black Rock Resort. You can click here to be taken to a Deseret News article about the resorts that have come and gone from the shores of The Great Salt Lake…and, if you’d like, you can click on any photo in the following gallery to be taken to a slide-show that presents the images in a larger format.
…south and west from the south shore of The Great Salt Lake, actually…and there are more than just clouds and mountains in the reflections on the water…memories running in varied scripts and images recalling the day, smelling the salt and saturated gray earth of the increasingly visible lake bed and hearing the cries of gulls on the freezing wind.
I knew where I was going when I left the house that morning, but I can’t remember the time on the clock. I had been out to Antelope Island three weeks earlier and knew that I had to get to Stansbury Island, as well…it was just down the road, really, closer than Antelope…just head west on I-80…can’t miss it. From the house it would have been an easy 30-45 minute drive, maybe more….probably…..and five hours and almost 300 photos later, I was heading home again….I saw so many things that were new to me, walked in places that I had previously only seen on a map that was pinned to my cubicle wall at work or existed as ideas of potential things…notions…possibilities….places that filled my senses and soul with experiences that still live in tangible form these 15 months later.
This is one of the last images from that trip…taken at 2:20 on a Saturday afternoon in late February, 2014.
I made this photo in August of 2013 on what was my third trip to the upper reservoir in Bells Canyon, just south and east of Salt Lake City, Utah…it was also my last trip to these falls and the reservoir beyond…which I didn’t know at the time…couldn’t have known at the time…. But it is and was, and that’s the way it goes. You might know that I’m living in the desert of Arizona now, again, and scenes like the one in this image are far from my experience in this new and old home of mine…they might exist, I just haven’t found them yet.
And why did I post the photo today….I don’t know…maybe a hankering or longing to be on the Wasatch trails again…thinking about where I’d be going if I was there. Anyway, aside from the nostalgia, this image (even with the blown-out water) shows some of the damnably gorgeous scenery of the Utah mountains and canyons. Enjoy….