Monday, September 27, 2010

Willow Heights

Although mowing my lawn and taking kids to the park are great things to do on a perfectly beautiful autumn day, they didn't give the sense of satisfaction that I was looking for on one of the last good weekends of the year. I wanted to get into the canyon. I wanted to hike. I didn't leave Alicia's till almost 5 so I didn't have time to go anywhere far but I did have time for Willow Heights. I had the place to myself. I didn't see anything bigger than a duck till I was almost back to my car and passed 7 hikers on their way up. Though, the ducks were friendlier than any of the hikers I passed. I took my time and took lots of pictures and enjoyed the weather and the peaceful scenery. It was perfect. Willow Heights is such a pretty trail. It's a little less than a mile each way but steep. You hike most of the way through the most ideal and picturesque aspen forest I've ever seen. It's not just a pretty grove of aspens or a hillside, it's a forest of aspens that goes on forever in every direction. I love it, and they were just turning gold.
Suddenly the trail flattens out and the aspen forest ends. Abruptly. You step out into a wide open field. It's like the meadow in Bambi, although I hope this meadow doesn't experience such tragic horrible things as the one in Bambi does. The meadow isn't the prettiest thing in the fall, but I still like the sudden openness of it.
I'm getting good at taking my own picture. A useful skill when hiking alone.
Briefly you enter another grove of aspens and then...poof. You're at the lake. It's not a very glamorous lake with dramatic shorelines, but the reflections are serene and beautiful, especially in autumn.
Then the ducks came. I don't know what was up with these ducks. They were like little puppies that follow you to the bus stop. As soon as they saw me, they got in and swam over. I couldn't imagine that they get fed so much up here that they expected me to give them anything but they came over just the same. I decided to take pictures of them till they got scared...but they never got scared. They didn't expect food, they got out of the water and just stood by me like my cats do when I'm in the kitchen. They started eating by me and didn't run away when I stuck my camera right in their face to get a picture. I didn't ever have to zoom in, in fact I had to set the macro on my camera to focus as such a close distance. Sometimes I even had to snap my fingers to get them to look at me. They followed me around the lake and watched me go back down the trail when I left. I think they were just lonely and wanted someone to hang out with.
I started to walk around the lake, but about halfway I hit a wall of death. Something was rotting. The smell was so powerful I couldn't keep going. If I took one more step I'd vomit. I didn't even want to open my mouth to breath afraid I'd taste it. I don't know what was dead further up the trail but it smelled like about 5 moose and maybe a herd of elk. I was kind of curious to find out, maybe it was a person and I'd have to call the police, that would be exciting, but did I really want to be the one to find a dead body in the woods? What if it was a baby moose, I'd be so sad. I couldn't stand the smell anyway so I left and now I'll always wonder.
I was hoping these trees would be yellow so I could get the reflection, but they weren't yet.
A perfectly wonderful hike in Big Cottonwood Canyon and a great way to end my weekend.


I love taking pictures of kids in swings. I babysat Quinn and Zoe for Alicia on Monday and we went to Liberty Park. Quinn wanted to be pushed on the swing forever, so I took pictures of him. Doesn't it make you want to go to the park and go on the swings???
He got me on this one

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One more weekend of summer in the canyon

I spent the last weekend of the summer up at the cabin in Brighton. The fall colors were just starting to come out and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. Alicia and James came up with their family on Saturday and Nate and Carrie spent the night and Sunday morning there as well. I've always been scared to sleep up there alone, but I finally managed to do it on Sunday night and it wasn't so bad at all. Of course the highlight of the weekend was hiking everyday I was there. Saturday it took awhile just getting up the canyon because I was driving behind this car. Cool for the first mile or two and then just...incredibly...slow.I brought up some of the bounty I bought at the farmers market that morning and we ate some with our dinner and breakfast. I also brought up some of the stuff I've been making with the apples I picked in Idaho. An apple pie flavored with maple pumpkin butter and a deliciously moist apple cake. For the Saturday hike, Alicia, Quinn, Zoe and I hiked toward Solitude and came back around on the loop down to the Twin Lakes Trail. Alicia get's most the credit for carrying Zoe the whole way, Quinn climbed all the boulders, and I moseyed along taking pictures. I took so many of Quinn climbing I had to put them in a separate post. In a week or two all the hillsides in the background of this picture will be gold.
Sunday after church I decided I hadn't had enough. I hadn't unpacked the car yet, so I just got back in and drove back to the cabin, this time not behind an ancient car. I got there in time to take a hike up to Twin Lakes. It was so pretty in the evening. I took the picture at the beginning of this post on the way up and I love it. I swung by the overlook and sat down and enjoyed it for awhile while I let some other people on the trail pass me.
I loved sitting there looking at these peaks knowing I'd been on the tops of each of them.
I came back at twilight and just barely made it back to the cabin before I had to take out my headlamp.
I built myself a big fire, got out my books, and for the first time made it through the night alone. Like I said, usually I chicken out and go home just after it gets dark when I'm there alone.
On Monday, after sleeping on the porch till noon, eating a nice breakfast outside of some gigantic farmers market peaches and apple pie, then taking a nap till 3, I finally got out and took a hike to Lake Mary.
The trail to Lake Mary used to be my favorite when it weaved back and forth across the stream, but they changed it to go up the ugly ski slope to prevent erosion. I can understand that, but I still miss the old trail. I still like to go up there because I think of all the Brighton Lakes, Lake Mary, sitting in it's bowl of tall peaks with it's big granite boulder shoreline is by far the prettiest of all the lakes...
Don't you think it's gorgeous......??!?!?!!
This is all there was of Lake Mary, a mud puddle. Even the edge along the damn was dry. I've seen it really low before, but never empty. yuck.
Normally if you do swim up here (illegally) you can swim out from the top of the big granite boulder on the left or cliff jump off out of the trees on the shore opposite me. It's kind of nice to see that the cliff jumping area is plenty deep enough in normal conditions and even has water below it now.
But when Mary is gone, Lake Phoebe comes back. There used to be two lakes but when the damn was built it became one and is just called Lake Mary now. All the water can't be emptied from both of them through the damn so the original Lake Phoebe always remains when Mary gets emptied. This is what is used to look like...almost the same, except for all the trees. I'm always impressed to see the old stumps still rooted so firmly even though they're under water and ice most the year. These stumps were right in the middle of what was obviously the original division between the lakes. I wonder if they're in the old picture.
I walked out to one of the islands you normally have to swim to and took a nap in the sun.
I took off my shoes and soaked my feet in the water and made pictures out of the clouds.I thought this one looked like a mermaid but with kind of a long pointy head. Maybe like a broom handle homestarrunner's girlfriend. (What's her name?) I think because I thought the other one looked like a mermaid, it made me think this one looked like a merman...only without a hand...
I climbed up a lot of the big boulders along the shore that are usually covered. I was halfway up this one, to a spot I knew I wouldn't be able to get back down if I needed to and looking at a possible nasty fall when the idea of me being there alone finally got to me and I came back down and found something just a little bit safer to climb on by myself.
A family showed up with 6 kids who, I'm guessing, wanted to find out if anywhere around the lake would give off a good echo and went around yelling freakish noises as loud as they could from every direction. Sounds like a fun thing to do for a kid, but I took off.
I swung by Dog Lake on my way down. Every few years I forget how unexciting it is and walk over there only to remember that it's not really worth it.
And of course, I enjoyed the last of the wildflowers