When it comes to winter activities my enthusiasm is pretty limited. Anything besides skiing is considered less enjoyable than playing twister with a rabid porcupine. Usually during the winter, I am buried under four layers of blankets on my 8 foot lovesack playing Everquest 2. The most exercise I get is lifting the beer to my lips or making a mad dash to the bathroom after the morning coffee and whole wheat bagels have made their way through my system.
This winter, I wasn’t so fortunate as a good friend of mine, Shelly decided to invite me to her Bday event on facebook. Thanks to facebook’s “ass feature,” that lets people know when you have seen their invites, I let my conscience get the best of me and replied “going” to what sounded like a harmless winter hike.
A couple years previous, when Shelly and I were dating ,we had hiked part of the way up Bell’s Canyon. We hiked to the first bridge and I remembered it was pretty easy. I remember hanging out on the bridge and Shelly telling me that it was another couple miles to the waterfall. I could have been wrong but I thought she mentioned something about an escalator taking people most of the way. As much as I dreaded being cold, I thought we could have a great time anyway. I mean a beautiful day, great friends and a 2 mile- long escalator ride, right!
We met up at the parking lot and several people showed up to go on the adventure. I knew only a couple of them. They all seemed pretty nice. Most of them looked like hardcore hikers and I anticipated that most would kick my ass up the mountain. In all fairness ,we were in the middle of my hibernation cycle, I really didn’t get out last year and I am positive my level 70 dirge could kick their ass in a duel.
The first part of the hike starts with a lot of longer switchbacks that cut up the face of the mountain. There is nothing too steep and gets your heart- rate pumping. After a few minutes ,the switchbacks become a little longer, less steep and then reach all the way across a mountain range and end at the frozen lake. The views from here, are pretty spectacular as you can look back over the Salt Lake Valley and see the brown, smog cloud where the city skyline should be. This is a great opportunity to take your steampunkesque pictures if you only packed up your leather miniskirts and thigh -high leather buckle- boots.
From the lake, the trail continues up through the trees, alternating between steep and gentle. The views of the city become better as the mountains block out the downtown area and focus more on the smog -free south valley. The view ahead is pretty amazing as the sun reflects on the jagged rock of the mountains on your left. Eventually the alternating between gentle and steep gives way to a continual steep incline. Once this happens you are getting close.
About 15 minutes after the continual climbing begins,you will cross the stream and then come to a fork. If you go left, you will come to the lower falls, where we stopped. If you go right, you will go to the upper falls which is another mile of escalator- free hiking.
The people we were with described how much water comes down the falls during the summer. Judging from the amount of snow and the size of the ice, I can imagine. I would like to return in the late spring or early summer when the runoff is at its peak. The trailhead is easily accessible. I was extremely surprised by how busy it was during the winter, but then again, I am surprised by winter anything that doesn’t involve a lovesack, Everquest 2 and beer.
For a map and instructions, click here.