Physically, it has not been a good morning. Wa, wa, wa. Cue the violins. In fact, bring on the whole string section. I can’t be the only one whose body starts to turn on them in their late sixties.
My patellar (knee cap) tendon lets me know that he is not going to play nice today. I admit I haven’t been easy on the ole boy, this being the sixth day of our seven-day hiking and pickleballing adventures in Utah. At the neighborhood pickleball courts this morning, he showed me who’s boss. I am hesitant in my court movements as Hannah and I play with our friend Nancy, her daughter Cara, and Nancy’s grandson Milo.
Then walking the mile back to Nancy’s place on the 90F morning, I walk haltingly, not quite limping, even with my compression sleeve. Bad news is on the doorstep, I couldn’t take one more step. (You got to love the appropriateness of this classic line from Don McLean’s American Pie.)
The bad news is that our hike to Stewart Falls with our friend Dixie this afternoon is looking like it’ll be sans dear ole Dan. There’s no way you should go and risk injury, my rationale side speaks up. Don’t be an even bigger fool!
By noon, with no improvement, it is clear, I will sit this hike out. But things are never as simple as they seem. Sweet as ever, Hannah lets me know if there is any way I could make this hike happen, she would love me to go.
She offers the possibility that I drive out with them 25 minutes to the trailhead and just give it a shot. If it’s a no go, I can take my iPhone and some reading and hang out at the trailhead while the others hike. Who could say no to such a sensible option and that smile? Pas moi!
Popping Tylenol and packing my compression sleeve, I suck it up and do it for the love of my life. In fact, giving the hike a shot turns out to be no sacrifice at all. If I hadn’t gone, I would have missed a sparkling afternoon with new friends. Let me explain and show you in pictures.
Dixie arrives just after three with her bf Scot. Hannah and I have not seen Dixie since February 2015, when we met her and her then 12-year-old daughter Jocelyn on Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. I mean, we were hiking the last half mile of the “hanging on to chains” part of the trail, 1500’ above the Virgin River Valley when we met them! Click here for the link to that hike. https://over60hiker.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/dan-and-hannah-wonder-about-angels-landing-in-zion-national-park/
As we four hiked the last half mile to Angel’s Landing itself that day, I was impressed with Jocelyn’s cool-as-a-cucumber-ness and with Dixie’s parenting, believing in her daughter and encouraging her along the way. Think Seb to Mia in La La Land.
After the hike, Hannah and Dixie exchanged contact information, kept in touch regularly, and here we are more than two years later ready to hike together near Dixie’s home in central Utah.
At the Emery Grove State Park, Stewart Falls at 7000’ is three miles above the Sundance Resort to the west of Provo, UT. Six years ago, Hannah and I came here to hike in the area. Once done hiking, we walked around the Sundance complex of studios, restaurants, and grounds. Stunningly that Sunday afternoon, we saw The one and only Robert Redford being interviewed. Respecting his privacy but star struck nonetheless, we stole glances and made excuses to walk nearby. If you are of a certain age, Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) is about as cool as it gets. He was then cool squared in The Sting (1973).
The trail to Stewart Falls climbs a few hundred feet of elevation and then down to the falls 1.7 miles in total from the trailhead, which makes it family-friendly and, indeed, an enjoyable walk-in-the-park for those of us over-60. In the distance, we see the majestic, snow-laced Mount Timpanogos at 11,752’.
Hiking in pairs through the forest, Dixie and Hannah up front, Scot and me trailing behind, my conversation with Scot is easy: first sports, then family, then work (him), retirement (me). I then learn that he is a lawyer.
Sizing people up with uncanny accuracy, I take him for one who enjoys a good lawyer joke. So, I jump into the deep end; my “go to” lawyer joke is from The War of the Roses (1989) with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. What are 500 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?
A good start. Scot has his own go-to lawyer joke, why don’t sharks eat lawyers?
Once up the mountainside of pines, the trail levels off to aspens on this sun-dappled first Monday in June. Within a half mile of the Stewart Falls, the trail descends as many happy waterfall seekers are returning to the trailhead.
The Stewart Falls are in their glory this first week of June after a rainy winter. Then it hits both Hannah and me at the same moment!
We have, in fact, been to these falls before. Six years ago, when snow forced us off the Mount Timpanogos Trail, we indeed hiked to Stewart Falls.
Sit down if you are standing because I am going deep, I’m talking Henry David Thoreau deep. Hiking in the great outdoors can be therapeutic – mitigating sadness and depression; promoting gratitude and appreciating life; deepening friendships in a woodland setting. Our love affair with Natural Utah has an apt ending with waterfalls and new friends – Dixie and Scot.
PS It turns out the next day, our longtime friend Nancy Turley takes us to Battle Creek Falls near Pleasant Grove in central Utah. I love this artsy picture of mine. Do I hear an Amen, brother?