When we hiked to the hot springs in Diamond Fork Canyon last year, we thought it was one of the most beautiful hikes we'd ever been on, and we really wanted to go back with Sam sometime! When my brother was in town we thought about going with him, but circumstances prevented it, and after several weeks went by without another chance, I thought we'd probably just have to skip it this year. It was November and I was afraid, because it was so golden and perfect in our memories, that we'd be disappointed anyway.
But I kept thinking about it and the good weather kept stretching on and on, and finally there was a free day ahead. It wasn't perfect because Sam couldn't get away from his work—but he COULD keep Theodore home with him—and the idea of doing the hike withOUT a baby pack and withOUT a fearless, toddling, slippery fish to worry about in the water…greatly increased the attractiveness of the idea.
Even that morning I started to talk myself out of it because it was so very chilly (I really do so like to stay home…where it's cozy) but the kids were already excited and I knew I'd be sorry if we didn't go, so off we went.
As we drove into the canyon I was still worrying that we'd be too cold. Almost all the leaves had fallen, and the trees looked grey and lifeless in the shade. But when we reached the trailhead there was sunshine peeking over the canyon walls, so that was encouraging. I had had everyone wear sandals, since the hike isn't very steep and I thought we'd be happy to have sandals in the water and not deal with wet socks afterward. But…I think some of the children's feet did get cold, so I guess next time we'll maybe bring water shoes or sandals in our backpacks, and hike in shoes? It was fine, though.
Even though most of the leaves were dead and brown, they looked so pretty with the sun shining through them!
Most of the trail was in the shade after that first sunny bit, but there were lots of beautiful textures to look at, and a surprising amount of color: mosses and lichens and even just the vibrance of the groundcover and the bushes.
It was pretty cold (sparkling frost on the leaves)!
But the exertion of hiking kept us quite warm—even though the chill made Goldie rosy-cheeked!
The children played their favorite game of running ahead of me on the trail, finding a place to hide, and lying in wait to jump out and scare me when I catch up. Some of them are better at this than others.
After one of these hiding episodes, Goldie got farther behind than she liked to, and was VERY VERY sad until she caught up.
Such pretty moss!
The scenery gets even prettier after you turn away from the main stream to follow this smaller one. The water starts to look blue and smell faintly of sulfur.
Again, so much color! In the grasses, the water, and even the rock.
And whenever the sunlight broke free…it was amazing! We thought everything was just as pretty as last year!
As we got close to the hot springs, a lady on the trail said in what I assume was supposed to be a reassuring manner, "Don't worry, everyone has clothes on! Now." As I had naturally assumed this would be the case (we had purposely gone on a weekday morning, to avoid crowds, and I had heard the reports of nudity in the hot springs were kind of exaggerated anyway), this gave me a moment's pause—but sure enough, clothing was present on everyone we saw, so that was good. It wasn't very crowded, though there was a group of somewhat colorful characters and their two dogs, along with a girl and her boyfriend taking a truly astounding number of selfies. (But as someone who took a hundred pictures myself, I'm hardly in a position to cast the first stone! It is such a lovely place.) Both groups left after awhile, or moved to other pools upstream. We were secretly glad (though I promise we didn't do anything particularly annoying on purpose to MAKE them leave…).
It was SO nice to get in the warm water after hiking that chilly trail! And without Theo to worry about, it felt very relaxing. Everyone could just kind of wander around deciding which pools they liked best. Some are hotter than others, and it's fun to go back and forth.
Oooh, Abe sighting! He's hard to catch up with these days, so it's always nice when he turns up in a picture. Note Sebby going "arrowway" (that's what my kids call "headfirst") down a little waterslide.
I love that milky turquoise water! We had a VW Beetle this color when I was little. It's my mom's favorite.
There were certain areas in the shade, with the sunlight diffused above and that milky reflective water below, where everyone's skin just looked SO BEAUTIFUL. Like porcelain or something.
This is a place that is very hard to leave. It produces all the warmth-induced inertia of a nice soothing shower, plus the ceaseless underlying awareness that you're going to have to pull your clothes on over your wet legs and hike down! And, of course, everyone inevitably gets muddy all over, once they get out in their wet swimming suits and hop around pulling on pants and perching on rocks and dusty ledges to strap up their shoes. I just kept repeating to myself, "You're going to have to wash all this anyway. You're going to have to wash all this anyway."
Finally we were all dressed again! And the sun was out well and truly now, so we weren't even cold.
The hike down was even prettier than the hike up. This really is one of my favorite trails (and remained so even at this less-leafy time of year!)—I love winding through scrub oak and maple and walking along streams. There is always something beautiful to look at.
Daisy had brought her doll Rosie, making four girls in all. Or five, counting me. We took turns telling stories to each other as we walked down the trail. It was very entertaining.
Another rare Abe sighting! He was on a mission to get back to the car quickly so he could continue reading his book. I think he got a good half hour of reading in before we got there.
We saw so many of these vibrant blue damselflies, enjoying their last days with wild abandon. They liked sunning themselves on this log, apparently.
This swath of trees looked really quite orange! Even though I think the leaves were mostly brown, up close.
This little trail wound invitingly off to one side, but it was getting late, and we had to get home. But we were so glad we made the effort to get here late in the season! And maybe NEXT year Sam can go with us!