October 12, 2016

River Encounters

By The West View

Falling in love with nature

By Meher Ayesha

MeherAfter falling in love with city skylines in Shanghai, Istanbul and San Francisco, I believed I would remain loyal to my love of the transformation of land from man’s vision, to a plan on paper, to a creation with brick. I’m reminded of Woody Harrelson’s class lecture in Indecent Proposal, where he says, “Even a common ordinary brick wants to be something more than it is…” That’s exactly what I feel when I see cities – ambition. Man’s, the brick’s and everything in the universe that made it happen.

For the past year or so, I have been suffering a heartbreak living in Salt Lake City and missing mega-cities. I did not understand how to enjoy and make peace with the reality of living in the smaller, non-cosmopolitan city that adopted me.

Friends rant about going camping, hiking, skiing and other outdoorsy things that are completely foreign to me. How do you introduce nature to a soul who is uninitiated to the ways of cherishing it?

Well, little by little. That’s how.

So I made a pact with myself to start bicycling on an inner-city trail I kept seeing as I drove by. I set my alarm at the ungodly hour of 5:30 a.m. and explored the trail for an hour at an embarrassing snail’s speed.

What struck me at first, was how well nestled some parts of the river were.

Then how beautiful dawn’s reflection looked on it.

Then the mountains and the river together.

Then I discovered a heady formula: Sunrise + Mountains + Greenery + River = Serenity.

The Jordan River taught me how to fall in love and stay in love with nature. Because, on the days I visited the river, it gave me reflection, which I forgot how to seek in mega-cities.

Why I Love the Jordan River Parkway

By Rebecca Burton

TRAIL

When most people think of Utah’s outdoor beauty, their mind wanders east to the Wasatch Range or south to the state’s great national parks. Most people don’t think to simply turn around and look right behind them—right in their own backyard. If they did, they would find one of the state’s most beautiful treasures.

The Jordan River Parkway is a spectacular 50-mile park notable not only for its length, but for the fact that it is easily accessible to the majority of Utah’s citizens. Extending from Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake, it is within miles of hundreds of thousands of homes, from Saratoga Springs to North Salt Lake.

If you have even an hour to wander the trail, you’re sure to pass through shady groves, preserved wetlands, manicured fields, and windswept vistas. You’ll hear birdsong and rustling leaves to drown out nearby traffic. You’ll see panoramic views of the mountains and acres of verdant farmland. All along the way, the Jordan River will be your murky, yet powerful, companion.

Personally, I love the parkway so much because it preserves nature in our midst. On an evening run, I often see flitting monarchs, swarms of swallows and curious deer. I love it because I can bike from my parents’ home in Sandy to my sister’s home in Rose Park and enjoy uninterrupted beauty and peace the entire way.

The Jordan River Parkway is a mix of manmade and natural beauty with bridges and bluffs, pavilions and pelicans, miles of trails and groves of trees. It is a gift from the cities along its path. I’m so grateful for the local government workers who clear the trails of snow in winter and trim wild grass in the summer. They create an amazing amenity for adventurers who don’t have the time or means to ski, hike, mountain bike or otherwise enjoy the bountiful nature for which we’re known.

Instead, the parkway is the everyman’s playground—a place for families to gather, athletes to train, children to skate, and couples to wander. If New York has Central Park as an oasis for its city dwellers, we’re lucky to have a sanctuary that is equally accessible and beautiful—and much, much larger. If you visit this marvelous treasure, chances are you will leave feeling refreshed.

Finding faith in myself on the Jordan River

By Sarah Williams

winter

I didn’t know we had white owls in Utah until one crossed my path on the Jordan River Parkway. The first time I saw it, it was dark out, probably too dark to be on this stretch of the river alone, but I had my bike, and I always felt safer on my bike than on foot. Summer was brand new, and I could not be kept inside. The bird flew from a high branch on the west shore of the river, right in front of me to some hidden place in the east I couldn’t find for all my looking. It’s wings wide and so silent it was like it wasn’t even there, a white shadow, a photo negative of the night. The summer was full of promise and I took it as a good and beautiful omen.

I had recently lost my religious faith, and taken up a new and fresh faith in myself. Leaving my old world shattered, I stood at a new door I was just beginning to open with fear and joy. It was going to be beautiful, I knew it. The owl meant good things. The river was part of my new faith because it was part of me. The smell of the river, thick in the summer night permeated my skin so deeply that even after a shower, I would still be able to smell it on my pillow. In summer I am the river.

The second time I saw the white owl, I was pedaling down the same stretch of river in the darkness, the last strains of summer evaporating in cool autumn foreshadowings. She flew in front of me in silence. Again, she was a promise, a good omen, but this time it was different. Through the summer, I had opened the door to my new life, and found that parts of my old life were more damaging and painful than I thought. Moving past them meant I first had to open closed places inside myself. There I found a sort of Pandora’s Box of shocks and I was knocked to my knees. It had hurt so deeply that I had come to the river night after night to heal. It was over, though. I’d found my new place and exorcized the old. The white owl stretched her wings wide in front of me like Noah’s dove with the olive leaf. The worst was over. I was free. I rode on in the darkness with the river towards home.

People on the Parkway

By Thomas Motter

People on the Parkway

I and my trusty sidekick, "Wills, the Mighty Wonder-Dog" bicycle along the Jordan River Parkway (weather permitting) every day.

Recently, I happened upon Bicycle Patrolman and Salt Lake City Police Officer, Cody Orgill and his partner. The two were posting public notices at strategic points along the Jordan River Parkway trail warning people of the recent algae bloom in the river that had posed a potential health threat especially to their canine partners.

Many of the folks who use the Parkway, jog or bike with a furry friend. On especially hot days, which were in abundance this past summer, pets are inclined to jump in and cool off as well as slake their thirst in the river's cool pools and eddies. In order to avoid the threat to man and beast alike, Officer Orgill explained that the leadership of the bicycle patrol force had decided to expand their patrol area to include the parkway.

On another day, I encountered a senior husband and wife team biking along the parkway. The two had stopped for a drink and rest. After initiating a conversation, they informed me that they had relocated from Sausalito, California to retire. When asked why they had decided to move to the Wasatch Front, they replied that they enjoyed outdoor activities and being in such close proximity to pristine wilderness. They bike along the river on a regular basis in order to maintain the cardio-vascular fitness level necessary to ski "The Greatest Snow On Earth" during the Winter Season.

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