The chairlift assistant is buried in her romance novel. She almost fails to stop the chair! I chime “Is this where we get off for Stewart Falls?” and she jumps as if a wasp has bitten her bottom: “Ah! Oh, yes! Yes, ma’am! I am so sorry!” – as she throws to book to the ground.
We get off the lift we took from Sundance Resort, up to Ray’s Summit and we ask for directions for the Stewart Falls trail. My husband has wanted to show me these falls since I moved to Utah, a couple of years ago. Falls in the desert – you know they have to be something else!
She tells us that the trail loops around eventually taking us to the bottom of the mountain, where we just took the chairlift from. Yeah, right! It felt like the lift took us 6000 ft up! There is no way, under no kind of sky am I ever going to climb down that long of a distance!
But we take the trail. Most of it was narrow and brushy. We walk through tight spaces, up and down pastures and stretches of woods. We stop and shoot. We gasp when a valley opens up. It’s ever so quiet.
On one of the trails, just starting up ...
There is no lush freshness of the woods of Blueridge Parkway, but there is no humidity either. You give. And you take. That’s life! Tall, crisp, dry pine trees and aspens are bordering the trails.
Butterflies and 'hoppers
We go through “the meadows” and they feel like we just reached the place where The Wilderness Family would have pitched their abode. It’s remote, and there is nothing but grass, trees and mountains all around. You’re at the bottom of this valley, like in a cauldron. You’re trapped. It’s tomb-like tranquility.
Walking through the 'Robinson Meadows', as I nicknamed them
We climb up some more. The brush closes in on us and I am scared to death of snakes! I hear them. Swish-swish in the tall grasses! My skin crawls. I am always scared of snakes when I hike! I have never been bitten by one, but I never want to see one that close either! Yet, they are my biggest scare. Maybe even more than bears and wild cats. At least those you hear and see first. Snakes are elusive little devils. They are just there and you’re dead! I think.
I yell at Aa. to not leave me by myself, and protect me from snakes. He lags behind shooting yet another flower, yet another bush. There is not much he could do, really, to protect me. But being alone on the trail makes it that much more treacherous for me. Like a room closing in its walls, to a claustrophobic person. His closeness makes the walls move away.
The butterflies are wild today! They don’t seem to mind the scorching heat. They travel from bloom to bloom and are ever so friendly. So are the grasshoppers.
We make it to the falls, and like I expected, it is tiny (in water quantity), because of the desert and the dry summer, yet tall and majestic, and it falls with a big splash, from 230 feet. We sit on rocks and eat our sandwiches, watching a couple of Alaskan huskies taking a bath in the stream. They look so hot! We watch a family of six. All kids are huddled around the mom, who is carrying one infant on her back. The dad wanders off – looking bored and uninvolved. Typical. And sad, of course.
We hear thunder and get ready to head back. We walk through brush some more. Narrow trails and tall pines guide us towards Sundance. Yes, the trail seems to take us back down where we started. After a short while, we are seeing the villas of Sundance, and we know we’re on the right track. Then, the woods swallows us again, in its shade. I walk along the stream, chatting away, until all of a sudden I hear a ruffle to my left. I look down and see dry leaves move. I see the distinctive pattern of chained diamonds, on a skinny yellow-mustard frame. It moves as it swishes through the pine needles. I scream like a baby woken up by a nightmare! And I jump straight up into the air! Interesting how instincts work! Like, would gravity not factor in and pull me back down towards the ground?! No! At that moment, I am not thinking.
“A snake! A snake!”
‘Where?” – Aa. asks.
I point: “ Right there! His head is facing away from us!”
“Oh. There are two. Keep going”.
And I keep running like freaking hell is what I do! And I don’t stop running till I hit the road.
The hike was amazing - beautiful and awe-inspiring, refreshing, quiet and serene, long and tiresome. We were sore for a week after that. The rain never came.
Enjoy the pictures here. There is none of the snake.
Stewart Falls is almost at the bottom of Mount Timpanogos (11,000+ ft). This is Mount Timp, as seen from the chair lift in Sundance