Leaving the freeway, I stopped at McDonald's and bought my breakfast, taking advantage of the two for four dollars breakfast sandwich deal they have going on. I was going to need the energy and I would burn off the calories. I figured I could eat both.
I had gotten out the door later than I'd wanted after helping my wife with a few things. That seems to be my modus operandi the past year or so. Ideally, I like to get to a trailhead prior to the sun coming up, just in case there are some fabulous sunrise pics to be had. I could tell though that it was going to be a stellar day.
As I made the turn off toward Grantsville, the early morning sun highlighted the alfalfa fields and fields of other crops, instantly bringing back memories of times when I had walked through such towns, feeling the breeze on my face, smelling the soft odor of greenness. Early mornings in small towns and farm land are like that all over. But I couldn't linger. I was heading for the Stansburys, to satisfy curiosity, to have adventure, to collect memories, and to breathe in what God meant for me to breathe in.
|Same scene as at the top of my blog. That one with me in it was two years ago to the day.|
|These yellow flowers were everywhere. I don't know what they're called.|
Stansbury Front Trail, starts out immediately steep for about fifty yards. It had rained heavily the day before, and I found it even more challenging to hike up the muddy hill than it would normally be. Still, it's only a short, steep slog and after that it levels off a bit, with some gentle uphills and downhills. After ten to fifteen minutes, the trail heads sharply downwards into Mining Fork, then cuts across Mining Fork Road. It was the road I planned on following so I turned off the trail to head west and up. The road itself is little used now. As far as I can tell, it's only used by mountain bikers and motorcyclists, and a few people with ATVs or other 4-wheel drive vehicles who have access to it from their private land. I have tried unsuccessfully to find a way onto the road from below.
I had been on this part of the road two years before and as I checked the date earlier, found out that it was two years to the day. The other time had been on a Sunday. I had memories of that time. Meeting some turkey hunters coming down, eating my lunch up among the cliffs, the preponderance of yellow flowers that were there this time too. Like many trails, this one brought back memories that I will never forget. One just doesn't forget how Beautiful an area can be at certain times of year.
Nevertheless, this was two years later and I saw no one else on the trail. My goal was South Willow Lake which I knew was at the end of the road--or so I had heard. As I continued up through the deeply forested canyon, I passed the cliffs where I had eaten my lunch two years ago and was tempted to climb up there and check it out.
|Behind these trees is the rocky escarpment where I had my picnic in 2016.|
|Mining Fork Road goes mostly through a heavily forested area.|
|A lot of new green growth. I liked this so much, it's now my desktop wallpaper.|
|The lake is right at the base of the cliffs dead ahead.|
quakies had yet to get their leaves, and there began to be large patches of snow across the trail. The first one I tried to walk through and was sinking in to my knees, using a lot of energy in the process. I exited the snow and walked through the sage brush where there wasn't any snow. Further on, when I cam to a big patch, there were some tracks that had been made with snow shoes and I stepped in the footprints, which kept me from sinking in. The cliffs loomed above and soon I rounded a corner and saw the lake. It was still frozen over and I had to cast aside my plans of diving in. I wasn't going to fish either as this shallow lake freezes all the way to the bottom in the winter and there aren't any fish.
|When I saw this, I knew skinnydipping was out.|
|The trail visible crossing the ridge goes into North Willow Canyon.|
hiking while soaked, even if they do love a good downpour after a hot July day. Hot July day this wasn't and so even though I'd worked up a sweat on the way up and hadn't been able to jump in the lake, at this point I wanted to stay dry.
|Looking down into the Tooele Valley, the Oquirrh Mountains, and behind them, the Wasatch.|
|Bookends! I saw these deer on the way up.|
|Here they are with the rest, checking back to see how dangerous I was.|
When I stopped to check out the bridge, it ended up being a culvert. The stream was diverted underground at this point. I had wondered why I was following a dry stream bed up most of the way. I still don't know why the powers that be thought it was a good idea to hide the stream. It kinds of takes a way a bit of the ambiance.
|Clouds were rolling in. It was time to go down.|
|The stream above the culvert. It would be nice to have it all along the way.|
|This is the impressive fork that goes down to what I thought was a bridge.|
|A new cone forming on this tree.|
|You can see the trail going up the ridge line.|
|Gotta prove I was there, don't I?|