Wednesday, October 7, 2009

3 hikes with kids; 3 cool, non-cycling-related things about my neighborhood; and 3 animal sightings I never expected

Although I promised this post a few days ago, I’ve been putting it off for a while due to two unresolved issues. As the title and my promise hinted, I want to mention some animal sightings, one in particular that I have video footage of. I’ve been waiting to do this post until I could post the video.

Here’s the problem—I took the footage in 2003 with a digital video camera. First issue, now resolved, was that I didn’t know where the videotape was until I found it last night. Second issue, still unresolved, is that for some reason my circa 2001 video camera I used to take the footage doesn’t want to talk with my computer via USB. Go figure.

So until the fire wire cable I ordered this morning arrives, the video will have to wait. Frankly, the story of seeing a bear in the wild while hiking with my four-year-old daughter is worth a post in and of itself, so it will get one. But that was unexpected animal sighting number one.

The second one happened a couple weekends ago when Alex, Junkie Girl, the Trifecta, and I hiked Bald Mountain in the Uintas. If you’re looking for a great hike to do with kids, this is it. You get great vistas and a really fun hike that takes you to nearly 12,000 feet, but the hike only takes about three hours. We timed it just right, as we got there the second last weekend before the first snow of the season. I imagine it’s still hikable, but I probably wouldn’t assume it’s safe for kids right now.

The kids loved hiking around the moonscape on the summit.

Alex and I enjoyed taking in the views of the surrounding peaks.

Twin A seems to have been caught up in the majesty of it all as well.

While on the summit, we saw something we really didn’t expect. At least I didn’t expect it: a wolf. Or more precisely, a wolf hybrid. 3/4 wolf, 1/4 German Shepherd. It was someone’s pet, and he was hiking with it.

I’ll be honest that these things scare me. I’ve heard too many stories of wolf hybrids being a bad combination: killer instinct of wolves, but no fear of humans thanks to the domestic dog DNA. The kids are too young to know this stuff. All they saw was a beautiful animal eager to eat treats from their hands.


The second hike, sorry no pics, was with my two younger kids, “Junkie Boy” and “Keiki.” (I like that Alex uses pseudonyms for his kids. I don’t know if it’s paranoia or what, but I’m apprehensive about putting my kids’ names along with their photos on the Internet. Alex already branded my oldest daughter “Junkie Girl;” hereafter, my son is “Junkie Boy,” and my youngest is “Keiki,” which means “baby” or “youngest” in Hawaiian.)

The hike started and ended in our neighborhood, which make this as good a time as any to mention three cool, non-cycling-related things about my neighborhood.

  1. First, in addition to the proximity of Corner Canyon and its trail network, there are a number of other trails originating in the neighborhood that are terrific, kid-friendly hikes. And nobody is on these trails. Ever.
  2. Second, in the winter time when the valley is smothered with inversion, we’re sitting above it, breathing clean mountain air and seeing stars at night.
  3. Third, in the summer, when it’s stifling hot in the valley, it’s comfortable and nice at home. Like sit on the porch and read a book nice. Utah summer nights are something special in their own right. We just don’t have to wait all the way until night to enjoy the pleasantness.

We enjoyed the first and third items on the list during this hike. The maples had already changed color. I enjoyed views of orange and red against the green of the Gambel Oak. The kids were more fascinated by the surveying marker on the summit.

The third hike was on Saturday with Junkie Boy. I took him up Big Cottonwood Canyon to hike to Donut Falls. I’m pretty sure nearly everyone in Salt Lake who has done any hiking at all in the Wasatch has hiked to Donut Falls at least once. It’s a short hike, super easy to get to, and the namesake falls is cool because it pours through a hole in the rock, hence the “donut” moniker. You can just see the water pouring into said hole in the photo below.


For these reasons, it’s a great hike with kids, even when there’s snow on the ground. It also has some “technical” features that make it just challenging enough to be exciting, like this stream crossing.

If you’re a not-very-adventurous type, these features may be too much, as we saw someone turn around rather than climb down this rock staircase.

Doing this hike late in the season meant we didn’t deal with the high season crowds and got to enjoy aspens in beautiful fall colors.

Up high on Mt. Superior, it looked like there was enough snow to ski on. Probably was, but just barely. I’m going to let it fill in a bit more before busting out the skis.

After the hike to Donut Falls and a brief sojourn up Mill D North on the other side of the street, Rachel, her mom, and the kids met us at the Birches where we enjoyed a picnic.

And encountered the third unexpected animal sighting, a feral rabbit. This guy was friendly enough and appeared to be well-fed, living as he did at a picnic area. We also discovered that rabbits are omnivorous, as he gladly ate a scrap of turkey that fell from the picnic table.

I imagine this was someone’s Easter bunny that they got tired of caring for. We don’t have pets simply because we’ve discovered that we’re unfit pet owners. (We learned this the hard way when we left Junkie Girl’s betta in the car overnight when moving from California to Idaho. It got down to 9 degrees that night in Elko, and there was a layer of ice on the fish bowl the next morning.)

In light of what I’ve just told you, I’m the pot calling the kettle black for criticizing anyone else’s care for their pets, but it still made me sad to see this little bunny up there, knowing full well he’ll likely not survive the winter. The kids of course wanted to take him home and may have shed a tear or two over it.

The most amazing thing to me about all of these hikes is their proximity to a major metropolitan area. The majority of Wasatch Front residents never set foot in the canyons surrounding their home. And I’m just fine with that. Please, stay home. I’m glad your lawn is greener than mine and that you have a nice home theater system. I hope you continue enjoying them.


  1. I like that wolf-dog. A wolf (assuming he never went crazy) would make a cool pet. But then, if we are talking about wild animals that would make great pets (again, assuming they never attack you or anyone else) I'd think a mountain lion or a grizzly bear would be pretty sweet.

  2. I wish I had photos of the coyote that ran across upper Corner Canyon road a couple of weeks ago. Looked like a very skinny ugly dog. I have often had the feeling something was following me up Clark's just waiting for me to die on the trail. Now I know what has been following me.

    I did not know the trails went that high above Corner Canyon. My kids love to hike I may have to go and do that one.

  3. It amazes me that you have that kind of scenery at your disposal. It is awe inspiring. I am stuck in this concrete jungle. The mere sight of a tree and grass and we think we are in "the country".

  4. Blackdog, Jacob's Ladder goes all the way to the summit of Lone Peak. From there, there are trails connecting corner canyon with Bells canyon, Lightning Ridge, and the Great Western trail, which will take you to Canada or Mexico if you want. Corner canyon is the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

    The trail we were on, however, starts from the top of the Draper DH (crack cocaine) trail at the other end of Suncrest and goes up to the high point of the ridge, where the surveying tower is. If you and the kids ever want to hike it, I'll gladly go along.

  5. I had no idea that rabbits would eat meat. You learn something new every day!

  6. We would love to go. It will probably have to be next year though. We are booked up until mid November when there will hopefully be too much snow.

  7. You know, the thing the Bald Mtn pictures just don't capture somehow is how much it looked like a wolf. Looking at the pics now, it just looks like a dog, but when we saw it live, it somehow looked way more like a wolf...