Bells Canyon: The Waterfall Hike

Yesterday was a further sanity break: hiking in Bells Canyon. Elizabeth found the hike listed in the local paper’s “hike of the week”. This is a tight steep cirque valley between Big Cottonwood & Little Cottonwood Canyons (up where the ski areas are)- but this little gem opens straight into the valley. I have biked past the trailhead and not known it was there- it begins in a gated neighborhood near the valley floor. It is an exceptional little valley, the only places I can compare begin out of high parks in Colorado (Estes or Winter Park)- but the ecosystems here change fast from desert scrub to sage to scrub willow to Aspen and Pine woods wrapping far back into a tight sub-alpine hanging-valley with long waterfalls cascading from the surrounding cliff walls and a vigorous river washing the steep canyon with sound as it tumbles waterfall after waterfall after waterfall.

I left without breakfast, as walking Cmonster and treating her wound ate up time. I put a Pro-Bar in my camel-back, and some cherries, and headed out making the trailhead around 10am. I worked through the light-headed low-blood-sugar fits and ate up the miles instead. I burned down two pair of old recharable batteries taking movies of the various waterfalls with my little camera. I have posted a few of them on YouTube (the42the) and linked them to my facebook page, as I can’t seem to upload them here- it is worth a viewing if you like pretty waterfalls. I was so wound up with nature-giddies that I soon found myself in the high valley, broke off the fading trail and took the NW side of the river. The trail cuts to the other lower and saner side of the river- as I saw from up on a boulderfield on the opposite side. I trekked up the tight little valley with the river roaring along below me and two waterfalls cascading down the opposite side of the valley (the last few picts). There were lots of freshly crushed trees in the boulderfield I was moving through and snow up above- lots of snowmelt shifting things around. My disaster aversion alert had been moving from worried cricket to droning horsefly- so I took a break and finally had the snack bar for a much delayed 1pm breakfast, then began heading down.

It was hard to leave the moraine falls- where old glaciation had smoothed and rounded the granite bedrock with the river taking multiple forms as it slid over and flew off, but my own water level was getting low in the pack and the day was only getting hotter down there. Eventually the valley turned to a clear view of the vast Kennecot Copper Mine, Suburbia, the Great Salt Lake, and Antelope Island (with a dragonfly in the upper left corner). I made it back down to the hot desert flats just after I’d pulled down the last of my water. Before hitting the shower I stood on the scale- I’d dropped five pounds in water weight. I was a bit delerious with a blurring of time between years spent in the Colorado alpine wilderness and the day at hand.




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