Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Return Of The Muse

I know it has been more than two weeks since I sat down and wrote anything here, and it is not for lack of things to write about. I have been somewhat reticent to write lately, though I am unsure why that has been the case. Today, however, I sat down and wrote a piece to use include with my resume in an application to write for the Web site It is a long-shot at best, and it would only be a freelance kind of gig, but it would be writing about something I love and that would make it an idea job for me. Because I have no experience doing outdoors writing, I put together the piece and I suddenly found the words were flowing again. I decided to take advantage of the situation and post something here in a similar vein.

A little more than a week ago, Merilee (that's my wife, for those who may not know me) and I spent a couple of days hiking. Back on August 12th, we decided to take the Big Spring Trail (the one pictured above this paragraph) and go as far as we felt like going. It was a perfect day for a hike, and together we went almost to the spring itself. Merilee had to call it quits before the spring, but I continued on. I chose not to plow through the undergrowth to get to the actual spring, but I did see the streams coming in from it, one of which is pictured here.

I hesitate to share where this trail is located because when we have been, it has remained relatively lightly traveled and I tend to be a bit greedy with the quieter places I have found, but I would not even know about this place if not for some dear friends, so I'll share just a little. It is located at the top of Big Springs Park, which is up the south fork of Provo Canyon. If you reach the Girl Scout camp, you have gone too far. The trail offers a beautiful hike through trees and meadows. There is running water along mush of the trail, and even a beaver dam if you know where to look. It is one of our favorite spots for a late afternoon walk, or an early morning hike.

This time around, I was amazed to see how lush and green the area near the spring was. The last time we hiked up to the spring, it was easy to see many little seeps that lie a little way below the spring itself. Not so this time. There were large ferns and many other plants in abundance all along the trail. I decided not to venture off the trail in order to avoid the possibility of getting soggy feet. It was really quite beautiful. If I had been by myself, I may well have continued onward, but I did not want to leave Merilee wondering when I was going to come back. Besides, I have not been incredibly active this summer and the 3.6 mile round trip was the longest hike I had taken in some time.

Barely having recovered from our Big Spring jaunt, the following Thursday we headed off to the Timponeeke trailhead. I wanted to show Merilee the view from the hanging valley that lies just above Scout Falls. This is one of my favorite hikes in the area, if not in the state, for several reasons. The first is that it is a dirt trail that winds through trees and undergrowth, making the view highly varied. another is the waterfalls that cross the trail. I love the sound of running and falling water, and these small falls are a great way to cool your head off on a hot day.

The hanging valley is a fascinating place. For anyone wondering what I mean by a hanging valley, it is a valley that ends in a steep drop-off at its mouth. They are cut by glaciers and they look like a bowl in cross section. Put another way, it is as if there was a bowl-shaped valley on the side of Timp that was cut in half, leaving one half intact and one nothing but a sheer cliff. The floor of the valley is a layer of limestone that is filled with fossils. At you walk, you can look down at the bare rock at your feet and see crinoid (sea lilly) stems and brachiopods, which are small shellfish similar to clams. If you look very closely, you may even discover a crinoid head, or calyx. They are much rarer than the stems, which look like small white circles.

I also love the view from the hanging valley itself. The view from the edge of the valley is spectacular, not only out over the area below, but back up into the mountain as well. It is a great place to have a lunch, or take a break if you are continuing up to the summit. Even if I go no further, I always find myself continuing on to this spot. It is peaceful and I very rarely come across many people up there. I can't wait to get back up there when the leaves change.

I am so grateful for the beauty we have all around us here in this amazing place. I am not certain what I would do if I did not have these places to escape into; places that help me find peace in a world that seems to have gone mad so often. They are precious to me, as I am certain they are to many, many others.

One last view for the road....until next time.