cliffs and fallen rock in upper ute canyon

All the Way Up Upper Ute Canyon

“She made beauty all round her. When she trod on mud, the mud was beautiful; when she ran in the rain, the rain was silver. When she picked up a toad – she had the strangest and, I thought, unchanciest love for all manner of brutes – the toad became beautiful.”
C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

“Whenever you should doubt your self-worth, remember the lotus flower. Even though it plunges to life from beneath the mud, it does not allow the dirt that surrounds it to affect its growth or beauty.”
Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

Ever since we found the waterfall pouring its self over the edge of Upper Ute Canyon we have been wanting to explore these upper reaches.

On this early Spring day we did just that.

Down…down…down into the canyon we went, the elder children in the lead. Wizened they are from past experience, and thus waited for the parental figures at the faintest depiction of a trail junction.

Oh wise ones.

From thence, we drifted north, not knowing which path was the one to lead us, but knowing that all paths headed in this general direction would lead us true.

Overgrown and yet just in blossom, the unimproved trail only slightly bewildered us, leading us to question our route forward. Yet onward we travailed. Up and over the overgrowth we worked our way.

Matt explored an upper valley. Connor and I watched a squirrel playing in a tree. Timothy climbed a rocky slope, a challenge.

When we eventually came to the alcove we knew would be the indication of the end of our route, we did not discover a spring run-off waterfall as we had hoped.

Those hopes found a swift demise.

Yet, we did find mud.

Thick, varied, layers of mud in all its glory…awaiting a pummeling from rocks that we would throw with gusto upon its surface.

Rock were thence vaulted from our grips and plunged into the murky depths…their wasting excrement then leaping forth to spot our clothing.

Trinity, eldest and bravest daughter ever known, circumvented the muddy pool only to become bespectacled by the cast offs of rocks Matt, Timothy, and myself tossed into the pond for the very purpose of soiling her beautiful, gentle demeanor.

No one can tell what time we spent in thorough enjoyment of exercising filth in the epicenter of this canyon. Yet when we departed, no cloth remained unspoiled, no soul remained weary or dejected. Only happiness pervaded our countenance. Only camaraderie and love filled our every emotion.

On the return journey, I held back for a time, appreciating and soaking in the moment. I heard a rustling in the willows and stopped to watch and listen. I assumed…deer. When nothing presented its self, I moved on.

At the junction, our stalwart children pressed on, climbing the 700+ft ascent. I went a bit slower, accompanied by my lovely fiance.

Half way up we crossed paths with another couple. They were staring down into the canyon and asked us…had we seen the bear?

No. We had not seen a bear.

They said a small black bear had exited the willows at the bottom of the canyon [the very same willows into which I had peered, anticipating the sighting of a deer], and had fled down the canyon.

Hmmmmmmm…..

Remarking that I had suspected a large animal in the reeds, Matt was duly impressed at our near miss sighting of a bear.

Upon reaching the the canyon rim we found 3 strong [if overheated] children, whom we promptly took home and nursed back to trail-readiness again. With ice cream. And movies.