Thursday, August 12, 2010

Timpanogos Cave


I am excited to announce I finally managed to hike up to Timpanogos Cave. This of course was merely weeks after 2 separate accidents on the trail, one fatal. I can honestly say I was terrified of this trail because of that. So I was a very nervous climber. I think this was a good thing because I made a severely conscious decision that I would come to an absolute halt, ensure I had stable footing and not move when I went to take pictures. Over cautious, a bit, but I made it safely. – Side note, now that I have hiked up and back, I no longer fear this trail. As long as you are conscious of the fact that it is dangerous, and are aware of your surroundings, it is a perfectly safe trail.

Anyway, we made our appointment, met up with Monica and headed on out to Alpine, then up to American Fork Canyon. We paid the parks and rec fee’s and then proceeded to the visitor center.


Picked up the trail head tickets and proceeded to hike. Luckily the way it works is a lot different than I thought. By “guided tour” I thought that meant your group met at the bottom and you hiked as a group up. Thankfully no, they expect the hike up to take about 2 hours and you have a 2nd appointment at the top to have the guided tour through the caves. So we got to hike at our pace. Monica is a little slower than us as she has asthma, but I think that was a good thing. She kept us a slower pace so we didn’t kill ourselves. yay.

DSC_0210 View further up the canyon

DSC_0211 Cool tree

DSC_0215 Hole the trail goes through


DSC_0229 I was rather fascinated at the resiliency of tree’s. They grow out of solid rock here!

DSC_0234  View out of the canyon.

DSC_0244  After what seemed like forever, we finally get a glimpse of the cave opening, and it’s still WAY up there. hoy boy.

DSC_0253 (2) We all absolutely loved these birds. After Monica talked to her mom (a bird watcher) we determined them to be Steller Jay’s. Gorgeous birds!

We finally get to the cave entrance and proceed to wait for our scheduled tour. Apparently we made good time as we were over a half hour early.

DSC_0258 This is really a sweet picture isn’t it? I should probably just leave out what happened directly after. Meh it really is sweet the girl was wanting to pet her little friend who was curious about her, but was also nervous of it. So her “petting” was more like quick taps, or essentially hitting the poor chipmunk. I wanted to scream at her, but kept my mouth shut thinking well if it bites her, she had it coming. HAHA I am an evil person.

timpanogos Here we are at the top waiting to be let in. (thanks to Monica for the pic) We are exhausted, but anxious to go into the caves.

 DSC_0263 DSC_0265 One of the things that I was most impressed by was the fact that every single man made (blasted) opening they created in the cave system, a door was placed there. They explained that this was to keep the airflow as close to the natural flow as before they blasted, in an effort to keep features from drying up. I am so impressed that they thought of this and did this. As the cave system consists of 3 separate caves, connected by man made tunnels, all with doors on both ends. i.e when you left the first cave you opened the door, the group entered the man made tunnel, and before the door could be opened to the 2nd cave, the 1st one must be closed. Kind of like an airlock system. GO Spanish Fork Rangers! I am so proud!

Anyway, I got sidetracked, onto our tour Starting in the first (Hansen) Cave. Before entering the 2nd door in the little waiting room that showed the natural opening above our heads, the tour guide started out with the whole where is everybody from? We discovered that half of our group were from well, where they are from does not matter. The point is that these people would not shut up! and even though the ranger explicitly said do not touch the formations (because the oils on our skins stop the growth, essentially killing it) all of them touched everything! I wanted to scream at them, but what would it do? The old saying that American tourists are assholes? No it really should be just all tourists, no matter where they hail, are assholes. Sigh. Small irritation that did not overall ruin my trip.

DSC_0275  DSC_0278 DSC_0284DSC_0287 The next thing that impressed me was (as you will see in the various pictures) that they had lights on the various interesting features. To kind of point out and showcase what you were looking at. The ranger (in the parts I could hear him) would plan the various lights to go along with was he was speaking about. It’s like the worlds nerdiest light show! and I loved it. hehe. Now on to more cave shots:

DSC_0288 This is a cave lake, which is named, but I don’t recall it. Another random fact I learned was that the term “Lake” in a cave is kind of misleading. A lake is any body of water that is there year round. So this tiny, 8 foot max puddle is considered a lake.

DSC_0295 DSC_0299 DSC_0301 I think at this point we are in the 2nd or Middle Cave, but I really couldn’t tell you truthfully.

DSC_0305 DSC_0324 DSC_0342 Looking back through some of my pictures, I remember trying to get the natural (well not natural but lit by the cave lights) lighting and not using the flash. Well, that resulted in quite a few ruined shots as well, I don’t hold still enough for that. hehe. But some of them turned out really nicely.

DSC_0346 DSC_0353 DSC_0358 DSC_0364 DSC_0369 I believe this is another lake.

DSC_0377 “The Heart of Timpanogos.”DSC_0393 The Japanese room?, or something similar the small formations are called Soda Straws.

DSC_0406 DSC_0407 DSC_0409 By now I believe we are in the 3rd (Timpanogos) Cave.

DSC_0412 DSC_0437 There are 2 named formations in this shot, the Chocolate Sunday, and the Kimodo Dragon.DSC_0445 I wanna call this Pluto, but I guess it is just the Bassett Hound.

Then we made it out of the cave’s HOORAY! I survived! There were definitely some tight squeezes, enough that I was uncomfortable. I honestly have no idea how spelunkers can do caves that they barely fit in. I would absolutely have a panic attack.

 DSC_0457 The trip back down offers another amazing view of the valley below.


DSC_0468 Tree growing out of the wall

DSC_0480 Cute chipmunk let me get super close!

DSC_0490DSC_0496 The power of nature

DSC_0502 And stable steady ground at last. Looking back at the sign I can’t believe I just hiked that!

DSC_0506 Spanish Fork River.

Sigh. I really enjoyed this hike. Absolutely gorgeous, the most amazing end prize and plenty of wildlife. I would give this trail a perfect 10 except for two things: The fee’s (park and trail) Park fee was $6.00 per car, trail was $7.50 a person. And of course how crowded it was. So my final score will be: 9 squirrels out of 10. Even with the crowds and the fee’s it is so worth doing. I loved it.

Upon seeing the amount of people on the way down I will say this. Basing the decision off of what I saw this day, the latest trip offered on Sunday seems to be a good bet. There were not very many folks coming up on our trip down so you might have a nice smaller tour. Something to think about.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Andrew’s Waterfall


Now officially known as Lost Canyon, but before the development in the area this was always known to my friends and I as Andrew’s Waterfall. I have been hiking this magical trail since I was 12 all the way up to about 7 or so years ago.

Last Sunday I returned to my personally spiritual waterfall and experienced a wide range of emotions from my original spiritual moments, to downright outrage and sadness.

In my early years of life this was my oasis. My spiritual connection to nature. When everything in the world seemed wrong, and life was at its worst (during the angsty teenage years anyway) this is where I went to meditate. to find my zen. To reconnect with nature. Every single time I came back rejuvenated, and with a renewed sense of peace. This was my waterfall.

I remember slowly watching with increasing concern, as the area just below was developed into a high class ritzy neighborhood with huge homes. I knew things were going to change. It started slowly enough. After the homes were built, a man made rock dam was built below my falls. This was ultimately removed due to man or nature I know not. Then a fence was installed with a gate. I remember specifically a few times showing up to hike my falls only to discover it was closed for the season.

Today’s adventure proved to be my hardest challenge. After meeting up with Monica we went to the last know place of parking to discover signs banning the activity. Apparently the people with the overtly expensive homes were not happy people were parking on the street by their homes. Seriously? If you don’t want random peeps parking by your home, don’t build one in front of a beautiful natural area. Sigh. Luckily they have built a parking area below the neighborhood.

DSC_0192 So after a short trek through the neighborhood we arrived at the gate for the trailhead.

The hike up is definitely harder than I remember as I child. For oh a half mile or so it is UP. They have installed some make shift stairs to help control the erosion the encroachment caused, but they are still steep.

DSC_0144 It does offer some great view of Dimple Dell Canyon though.

DSC_0146  After this the trail gets easier offering simple ups and downs in the lovely forested area next to the stream.


DSC_0147 The first little cave.

DSC_0186  And the 2nd. I honestly do not recall this being walled off, but I could be wrong.

DSC_0177  The remains of the rock dam.

DSC_0185  And the first glimpse of the falls.

DSC_0149DSC_0151DSC_0161   The falls.

Keep in mind this is during low flow. It can be rather impressive during spring runoff.


DSC_0170 Judging by Landis next the the falls I would say this is probably between 15 and 20 feet to the lower ledge, then another 8 feet to the bottom. I used to scramble up and climb all over this thing. Today I could barely bring myself to the ledge just below where Landis is before feeling like I would cliff myself. (it is really wet and slick so climbing would not be recommended)

DSC_0172View of the pool in the lower ledge. (that was as high as I could muster.)

 DSC_0175 I love it here.

DSC_0176 This now broken tree used to hang out over the stream. I remember that it seemed like the tree had shaped itself to perfectly fit my body and I would lay across it while watching the falls.

The above picture is looking away from the falls. If you hang a right after the tree you can scramble up a pretty steep slope to get above the falls, which offers an amazing view of the valley. (I didn’t attempt this trip, and am unsure if I can still even do it.) If you continue further up it continues to Bells Canyon Reservoir. I haven't done it since I was way young, but if my memory serves me right its steep for another quarter to half mile then levels out. I don’t think this is the best route to get to the reservoir but you can.

We continued back down the trail and out to the car. My biggest complaint was the graffiti I saw in the area, this was new. It’s bad enough that people tag man made buildings, but it really is heart breaking to see it on beautiful natural areas. I would not be surprised if it was the children living in the ritzy development below. Then of course there was the loss of my tree. And finally the crowds. I used to hike up all the time without seeing anybody else, and this Sunday we saw multiple people. Sigh, the word is out.

So all the emotions aside, this trail still achieves a perfect 10. For several reasons. It is the perfect “I need some nature but don’t have much time hike.” you can make it up and back within an hour. It’s also a good one for beginners, and offers an amazing final prize. Well worth doing.

10 Squirrels out of 10.

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