Elisa Jones snow hiking big springs provo canyon winter



noun : pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again”

Drove to Utah through a snow storm last night. I am thankful for my Jeep, my knowledge of the route, and the other drivers who were not as insane as they probably could have gotten away with being.

Risky? Certainly. Worth it? Absolutely. Not sure I want to get into details, but I had a business meeting with a Utah State rep for Outdoor Recreation for Orbital View, Inc.

While there I just HAD to get my trail on, yo. So I made my way up the icy Provo Canyon road, turned up the familiar South Fork, past Vivian Park, and parked at the Big Springs Trailhead. Took a nap. Needed it. Then got out the snowshoes.


Temps were frigid: 17 on the f-scale (that’s about -8 for you who live by metric standard). The sun was shining, the clouds low, misty, and clinging in bits to the hills around me. The snow was fresh and sparkled insanely. I was only the third person up the trail since the fresh powder had stripped the hollow of color.

This not being my first time snowshoeing up Big Springs I knew precisely what to expect. And I was not disappointed. It was a bit of frozen heaven on Earth. And as I marveled at the outstanding beauty, I allowed my mind to wander, to recollect on the other times I had been snowshoeing up this same route. I’d done it alone, with a large group of friends (when BOTH sets of my snowshoes broke and I had to pack them down the canyon), with my three-month-old baby strapped on my front, with my sister, Wendy…. Each experience flooding me with that plague: Nostalgia.

But no. My brain didn’t stop there. This trail had been a part of my life for more than ten years. I had hiked it pre-baby, with my husband. I had mountain biked on this trail when I was in my mountain-biking infancy; this was my nursery. I had trail run here- laughing to tears as I flew down through the meadow, wildflowers kissing my fingertips. I had watched sunrises, sunsets, and been sunburned on this trail. I had taken one, two, three and four children (the last being my younger sister) on hikes up this trail.

In short, this trail, this place, these trees, the sound of the creek, have assaulted my senses again and again over the years. And each time I traveled this route, I was different. I had grown, or shrunk, or changed. Ugh! Curse  you Nostalgia! And bless you, too, for reminding me of how special a place this was and what an under-played part of my life it had been. I had laughed here, cried here, sang here, and almost died here (thanks to my asthma, yo).

I then had to wonder: why was I the only one here? This trail, this Eden, was less than a 30 minute drive from the major metropolitan area of Utah County. This area has 4 TIMES the population of the Grand Valley, but fewer miles of trails. Yet here was the road less-taken. Was this simply an evidence that the culture of Utah County is less-trail-oriented than Grand Junction, Colorado? I think so. Here, there is a trail culture. I noticed that when I first moved here. In Utah County it was extremely rare for me to see another trail runner. Here it is almost common-place. Yet with completely different ratios of population to trails…Not sure I have a point here, just an interesting observation. Not even close to a complaint.

So there it is. Trail life 101. Where has your trail life taken you?

Sunny day
Sunny day
Tracks up the trail
Tracks up the trail
The little stream that descends from Big Springs
The little stream that descends from Big Springs