City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

April 13, 2017

April 12th

Filed under: Box Elder Tree, Gambel's Oak, People, Seasons — canopus56 @ 1:52 am

First Gambel’s Oak Bloom

1:00 p.m. Yesterday along Pipeline Trail, I find the first Gambel’s oaks with blossoms. The first on the trail near mile 0.8, but the overnight freezing and snow have turned the blooms to dust. The blooms dissolve when touched. A quarter-mile down canyon, I found a freshly blooming oak. Some of its buds swelled and a few have opened to reveal a small compact grouping of green leaves. These oaks have awakened early, and given their sensitivity to cold, I can now see why the oak forest is waiting to rise. Further down this sun exposed track, immature three inch Box elder trees have more developed leaves than those lower near the terrain shaded stream. Its leaves and multi-headed ovaries hanging on long threads have wilted under the low temperatures.

At picnic site 3, two separate broken 4 inch diameter trunks lie on the ground. They are blooming despite being connected to their base by a thin layer of inner bark. Both are blooming leaves and flowers. They are making a last attempt to reproduce. Life struggles to the end. Scanning the west cliff walls for raptor nests, I find two or three seeps. In one, solid rock has been fractured horizontally by some past earthquake or other force. Water seeps from the fracture.

Someone has built and is maintaining eight or nine rock cairns along the first mile. Others disassemble them, but the builder returns and restores them the next day. Since they are not placed with respect to any geographical landmark or trail, I suspect the cairns are stupas that have a religious or emotional significance to the builder. The stupas may be the work of a recently-arrived, mentally-ill regular walker who talks to herself as she goes up canyon.

Although it is a Wednesday and a work day, the canyon parking lot is overflowing and the road is heavily used by both bicyclists and walkers.

* * * *

On April 12th, 2007, the City closes City Creek Canyon so stream debris can be trucked out of the stream’s water treatment plant (Salt Lake Tribune, April 13, 2007). On April 12th, 2002, 91 year-old Eldon McEntire passed away, and he was a former Chief Engineer for the Salt Lake City Water Department. (Salt Lake Tribune, April 18, 2002). In 1952, he invented a machine to cut lime deposits away from the inside of water pipes, such as the calcium deposits shown obstructing 80 percent of a City Creek Canyon water main in a November 1944 Salt Lake Telegram photograph (id, Salt Lake Telegram, Nov. 1, 1944). On April 12th, 1911, the City extended the lease for the gravel pit in lower City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Tribune).

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