September 20-21, 2013. That was the weekend that I took Bailee on her very first overnight backpacking trip! I have wanted her to take her for over a year now. I even bought her the backpack last year, hoping we'd go, but we never got around to it.
Well, we finally had a weekend where the weather looked nice, and we weren't busy doing other things. I actually got offered a photography job with really good pay at the Top of Utah Marathon, but I turned it down, because this hike was important to me. And Bailee was looking forward to it. So was I.
We have been up Bells Canyon once before. I took all 4 kids in May of 2012, with my sister and her kids, and my dad. See the blog post here.
But we only made it to lower falls that time, and I had heard there was an "Upper Falls" and an "Upper Bells Canyon Reservoir" as well, if we continued on the trail. So it's been calling me back ever since. I've been wanting to explore the canyon further. I thought for weeks about some good places to hike, and this seemed like a good fit. Not too easy, great views, and it gets you up really high!
Here we are at Lower Bells Canyon Reservoir with Bells Canyon behind us.
And here she goes! We weighed her pack, and it was 11 lbs. Perfect for her tiny body.
The trail is very rocky and steep.
About a mile in, Bailee's stomach started hurting. I kept asking if she wanted to go back, and she would shake her head & say "I don't want to go back! I want to keep going!" It was hard to see her in pain knowing there's not much I could do for her up there. She kept taking drinks and breaks, but it just kept hurting. She was hiking and crying at the same time. :(
And here is Lower Falls, a little over 2 miles in and about 1,700 feet in elevation gain from the trailhead.
Her stomach pain kept coming and going. I'm glad we got a picture of her smiling, but right after this pic, she started holding her stomach and crying again.
Here's the view of the valley from the Lower Falls.
This part of the trail is just all uphill with no flat parts. And since I hadn't been past Lower Falls before, I didn't have any idea how far we would have to go before we found a flat spot big enough for a tent. Bailee wanted to keep going up though, despite her stomach pains. So we went for it. Sure enough, less than a half mile from the falls, I saw this little camping spot. She was excited to be able to lay down.
When we stopped, I asked her if she thought it would be a good idea if we said a prayer. She nodded her head, so I prayed, asking that her stomach would feel better and that we would be able to continue on, and that she would be able to carry herself out of the canyon.
Well, guess what happened a few minutes later? Her stomach stopped hurting. She was so happy and started running around the camp, exploring, building a fire, and just being a cute 10 year old.
She loves to take pictures!
The sunset was so pretty on the rocks across the canyon.
We stayed nice & warm that night. I didn't sleep well though, because I didn't have my earplugs in, and hikers kept coming through during the night, (who knew it was so popular to hike all night long?), the full moon was out lighting up the tent, and the wind would pick up every so often, and it would get pretty loud in the trees. Plus it's a teeny bit scary to be up in the wilderness all by yourself with a 10 year old. We tied our packs high in a tree to keep animals out of our food, but I still felt like I needed to keep one eye open at night.
Bailee slept like a rock. So since she was feeling better, we decided to get up and go on up the trail to see how far we could get before we had to turn around. We had to be back at the car around noon, since I had a wedding to shoot that evening. We left our tent up and most of our supplies at the camp. It was nice to only have a light pack on for the morning hike. Bailee didn't have to carry anything.
She took the pic below of an aspen with just a little patch of yellow leaves.
We were able to find Upper Falls, which was less than 1/2 mile from our camp.
It was a gorgeous morning!
This was as far as we made it. We talked to some other hikers who had been there many times, and they told us the Upper Bells Canyon Reservoir is just over that pass. It was about 1 mile from where we were, and another 1,000 feet in elevation gain. We were at about 8,000 feet here. It was 9:00am here, and we didn't have time to go up and make it back to the car by noon. So we turned back. We knew we probably wouldn't have had time to get all the way, so we weren't too disappointed. We just said that we'll have to come back someday and go all the way!
I'm so glad we went! We both had a wonderful, memorable time!