Taking the Provo Canyon Road (Route 189) along the meandering Provo River, we then turn left onto the Aspen Scenic Highway (Route 92) towards Mount Timpanogos, past Sundance and Aspen Grove to the state park ranger station.
In mid-June this year (2011), the road over Mt. Timpanogos is closed due to the snowpack. The ranger warns us that snows will make hiking a challenge this afternoon. Immediately after parking, we suit up with fanny packs of trail mix and water, and head to Stewart Falls, some two miles away. Immediately we discover that a mini-avalanche has covered the trail. Sixty foot pine trees have been toppled and are strewn about as we step over and under some serious trunks in this heavily forested part of the trail.
Hiking a meandering trail through pine forests, which is as much downhill as up, we spot a 100 yard snowfield that adds to the excitement of the trail. We slip and slide across it helping others who pass in the opposite direction.
One young woman said to me, I need your hand. We connect as a community of hikers. Today we are again aware that we are not alone and didn’t get to where we are going by ourselves.
A popular family hike on this Sunday, Stewart Falls gives us many opportunities to interact with others. Not 45 minutes after we start, we arrive at the soaring falls, majestically falling to the snowfield below.
Once back to the parking lot, we look to Mount Timpanogos. Wide and welcoming at the start, the trail up Mt. Timpanogos has us quickly sidestepping a boot-soaking impromptu steam and sloshing over mushy snowfields. With another snowfield ahead, we turn back after 25 minutes of hiking. Hiking in snow is akin to hiking in sand. We step and slide, two steps forward one step back. It’s joyless unless you are training for the Olympics or some insane ultra-marathon. We side-saddle through the snowfields where we see a family “ski” down the snowpack in their boots.
Pleased and satisfied with our afternoon on the trails in central Utah, we drive down the canyon and stop at Sundance to see what it’s all about. As we stroll through the grounds, I can’t believe it, but I spot the Sundance Kid. The one and only Robert Redford is literally sitting twenty-five feet away being interviewed outside a screening room on this elegant campus for film folk that he has created. Star struck, I can’t wait to tell someone. Three women in their fifties approach. I say, Have you seen who’s here? They look and have such joy on their faces. We are five teenagers.
Once home I immediately borrow the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) at the York Public Library, released during Dan and Hannah’s senior year of college. Initially the screenplay was titled, the Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy. But with Paul Newman the bigger name and playing the part of Butch, the title was reversed.
Initially, Steve McQueen was wanted for the Sundance role, but he and Newman couldn’t agree on who would get top billing. Let me tell you, the movie is timeless and features Katherine Ross riding on a one-speed bike with Newman to the Academy Award winning tune of Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head (B.J. Thomas).
2021 Update – As you can see by the top picture Hannah and I returned to Stewart Falls in 2017. After Covid-19 postponed both a 2020 and 2021 trip to Utah with our daughter Molly’s family, we hope to once again hike to Stewart Falls with them in 2022. Today Robert Redford is 84 and lives full-time in Santa Monica, California but who knows where he might be in nine months.