Tuesday, August 10, 2004

My Own Private Mecca, or How to Get to a Natural Water Playground

My friends and I ran away a weekend or so ago and found ourselves at our target destination, which, to my delight, turned out to be my dream-come-true of a nature spot.

It's a natural waterslide and rivery system, up in the foothills of the Alpine Mountains. You can go, for free, and 20, 30, 40 minutes later, you're sliding down a natural waterslide, that doesn't hurt, that lets you go fast, that drops you off into an almost clear pool of mountain water on sandy, pebbly bottom.

And you can climb all you want, up the rocks, over the rocks, through the water, under the waterfalls. And you can explore and sit and think and feel like a country music album cover.

It's just such a great time that I'm hesitant to talk about it (despite my recent proselyting) because I haven't yet found the right words to explain it.

Everyone should go. And I'm including the directions below. (Note: They don't seem straightforward, but I went only once, and I've since been able to find it again myself and explain, on the phone, to someone else how to get there. It's not a difficult path; it's just without significant markers.)

1. Travel on I-15. (This is in Utah.)
2. Take the American Fork 500 East exit.
3. Go R on 500 East.
4. Turn L at the first major intersection (not the one by Carl's Jr.).
5. Go R on 100 East.
6. 100 East will turn into Hwy 74, Main Street in Alpine, and Alpine Highway. Stay on this road until you're done. On 100 East, you'll pass the Alpine School District office, the American Fork cemetary on your left, some developments and goats on your right, Lone Peak High School on your left, and eventually you'll come into some stop sign streetness. Keep going straight.
7. The road will eventually hit a roundabout. At the roundabout, do a 180, and head towards the chiropractor's office building (it should have a big sign on it). Keep heading on Alpine Highway.Eventually this road will start curving to your left. It will curve around, become windy, become narrow.
8. At some point, you'll see a really large gray house to your left. It has a big lawn. You might say to yourself, "Wow, that's a big lawn." Right after that, there will be a random farm-looking gate on the left side of the road. This is the entrance.
9. You can either park outside this gate on the side of the road and hike up (which is what I've done thus far), or you can do what all the cars that passed us while we were hiking did--you can unchain the gate (it shouldn't be locked) and drive into the field (there's a little dirt road).Rechain the gate. The field will have horses in it. Don't run into them.
10. The dirt road will curve to your right, and you'll hit a green gate. Undo this one, turn left onto the road, and redo the gate.
11. Drive up this road, going towards the mountains. Everytime you hit a fork, turn right. (This should be about twice.) The road will turn into a dirt road, then back into a paved road. You will trees and bushes growing up through the pavement. Keep going (remember to turn right at major forks).
12. Eventually (not too long--about a 20 minute walk), the paved road will end at a little parking lot looking thing. Park here.
13. You'll be able to hear the water from here. There is a major dirt road looking trail that's heading east (I think). I've seen people walk on this, but I don't know where it goes. The way I get to the waterfall is a little trail/clearing through the bush that is just to the left of this major dirt trail. It's just a clearing through trees and things that is result of a lot of people walking that way. Follow this for just a few minutes, and you should come out onto a rocky plateauish thing at the foot of a hill. There, in front of you, will be the waterslide.
14. It will be a great time.
15. To get to the top of the waterslide (if no one's there, already playing, to show you), you can climb a little rock wall to your right, and then walk along the top of that to the top of the waterslide. The waterslide has two seats--a middle one and a left one. The left one, apparently, gives you more air. Neither hurts. Feel free to go down on your stomach (though I haven't, yet).

1. Wear shoes that you can wear in the water. Not flip flops.
2. Wear shorts over your bathing suit.
3. Bring water (you will be thirsty and the river will mock that thirst).
4. After you've gone down the waterslide a little while, climb back up the river. You can walk alongside the river or climb through the water and across the rocks (I prefer a combination of both). You'll run into some lovely little pools and waterfalls. And if you go far enough, you'll hit a three-tiered waterfall system the size of a house, with a rope hanging down for you to grab and pull against as you climb a slick, mossy rock-face. Good and scary times. Explore. There's virtually no fauna.
5. Spend some time sitting in every body of water you see and under every rush of moving water.
6. Go when the sun is out--really out.
7. Bring a towel.
8. Tell someone else about it.

If you go and don't love it, I suggest two things:
(1) Try again. Maybe it was a cold day. Maybe you were with people you didn't like particularly. Maybe your bathing suit was uncomfortable. Maybe there were Utah Valley teens there, cramping your style. Just try again.
(2) Forgive me. I'm a moving-water kind of girl, and I have always dreamt of easy-access nature, solitude, and dizzying speeds. There will be water in my heaven. Water, rock, and light.

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