The Cold Trail to Donut Falls

I’ve never been much for hiking, or the outdoors, or… physical activity in general. But I’ve also committed to spend more time saying “yes” to things that I would normally skip out on, which is why I spent President’s Day evening walking along a snowy winter trail to Donut Falls up Big Cottonwood Canyon.

I say we went “along” the trail, but it’s probably more accurate to say we asked several feet “above” it. As in a good foot or two of snowpack above where the trail would normally be. Oh, there was a good wide path of compressed snow, packed down by the feet of winter hikers much more enthusiastic and numerous than I’d imagine such a foolhardy population would be able to maintain before Darwin’s Law took effect. Still, if we ever took a single step to either side of the trail, we’d to sink up to our knees and sob as our socks got soggy.

We made it to the falls, after a good hour or so of wintry plodding followed by around twenty minutes of trying to scramble up the side of a slushy slope, made even more slippery by the warm holiday temperatures. We had to drop through a hole in the ground to get inside the cave, where it was now warm enough that the falls were flowing. My butt was soggy from slipping in the snow, my hands red and chapped from the cold, and my knees sore from being an old man out in the winter wilderness way past his bedtime.

Complaining aside (for the moment), we actually had a pretty good view inside the cave. We turned on our flashlights and watched the torrent of water pour through the ice. The falls were so loud we couldn’t quite hear what anyone else was saying. I mean, I could make myself heard, but I’m way louder than most people, especially my stupid adventurous soft-spoken former friends who dragged me out for this miserable excuse for a…

Bad Braddy! I said complaining aside!

All in all, it was a scenic night. The air up the canyons was much cleaner than the usually crusty brown sludge we inhale in the valley, and, every now and again, an opening would appear in the clouds and the moon would shine through. Even a measly half moon cast enough light on the trail that we could see the whole clearing around us. In the city, you almost forget how bright the moon really can be.

As we walked, I took the opportunity to try and remember some of the Robert Frost poetry I’d once memorized:

“Whose woods these are, I think I know.”

“Oh Star! The fairest one in sight.”

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.”

As it turns out, I know a lot of first lines of poems.

Like a few other experiences I could mention, the hike to Donut Falls was a sodden, miserable mess, one full of discomforts, yet the sort of thing I should do more of: partially to build character, as they say, and partially because even the soggiest of experiences are wonderful when shared, even when the people you’re sharing them with wall so much faster than you, leaving you alone with your half-remembered poems in a frozen wilderness…

Aside, darn you, ASIDE!

3 thoughts on “The Cold Trail to Donut Falls

  1. And look! No Mr. Peck to blame or anything! Or your OWN ACCORD AND VOLITION you hiked IN THE SNOW to a CAVE with a WATERFALL…cue, magical winter unciorn siting! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also, I learned today that in New Zealand they say “tramped” instead of “hiked.” As in, I went tramping to Donut Falls…and that just sounds so much better than our northern hemisphere equivalent. ๐Ÿ™‚



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