Falling Down on Upper Falls

I have been out every day for 2 weeks shooting the wondrous Fall folliage throughout the mountains and canyons by which I live. Yesterday (10-7-21), I drove into Provo Canyon again. My intent was to get some Fall pix of the Provo River lit up by the colors of the trees.

The Upper Falls in Provo Canyon. It is a cascading waterfall. The girl fell from one of the ledges to the left of the falls.

I pulled into the 2nd entrance that leads to Bridal Veil Falls. The first entrance was open, but the access road that is on the north side of the river was blocked off. I wanted to park right by the bridge that is close to the water control station.

Before I got to the parking lot, I noticed a couple of shots I wanted to take at the top of the hill. I will display all my folliage pix in a different post.

When I finally turned into the parking lot by the bridge, 4 emergency response vehicled pulled in as well. As I was crossing the bridge, about 5 responders were walking across and talking about not being sure where someone was. I heard them say, “She says she was east of Bridal Veil Falls, but did not mention the Upper Falls.”

One of the men seemed to be in charge and he ask the first unit of 3 people which way they were going to look.

All I could tell at this point was that they were looking for someone who was either lost or stuck somewhere.

The first unit took a right of the bridge, which would take them in between Bridal Veil Falls and the Upper Falls.

I then spoke to the commander and pointed to where the trailhead was for the Upper Falls. The first unit was NOT going in that direction.

He responded by saying that the woman who called in did not know where she was.

Since I know every single trail in this area, I knew, that unless she was going off trail, that she was going to be at the Upper Falls. While there are several paths that will get you there, I knew the most obvious one was right in front of us. So I started going up that trail.

The entrance to the main trail to Upper Falls

It is about a quarter mile hike to the falls. It is steep, but not crazy steep.

When I started up the trail, I was hit with beautiful things to photograph instantly. I took a few pix and then I could hear the sound of other people on the mountainside. I wondered whether it was the rescuers.

After I made it about half of the way up, the voices became louder and then I could see the 3 people in the first unit through the trees. I called to them and let them know the trail was over this way. They made their way over and asked me if I saw any hikers.

I had not, but my instincts told me to direct them straight to the base of the falls. I followed closely behind them. One of them made several stops to catch his breath.

I followed the first unit up the trail once they were on the right path.

When we made it to the clearing at the bottom of the rock scree near the falls. One of the rescuers called out to see if anyone would respond. We heard a sound and saw something behind the brush right up agains the base of the cliff.

A second unit of rescuers make their way up the rock scree to get to the edge of the cliff where the girl had fallen

At this point I stayed back to keep out of the way. From that point on, there was a non-stop stream of rescuers making their way up. As each group came through the woods to the rocks, I pointed them in the right direction. Toward the end of the influx, I saw rescuers carrying up half of an orange sled, then a big mountain biking wheel, and then another half of a sled.

It became apparent that the injuries must have been serious enough that they were going to immobilize the girl to bring her back down.

Shortly after, I saw two of the rescuers come out and start rigging something to the base of the waterfalls. The wrapped a strap around the concrete slab shown in the photo below. They then attached a 200 feet line to the strap. I wasn’t sure that they were going to do with it until I saw them start to move the girl. There were going to use it help control the descent of the sled as they brought the girl down.

Rigging a safety line

The series of photos and videos below show the rescuers bringing the girl down from where she fell.

They had to clear some logs to create a safe path down
Thebig wheel on the sled helps to navigate the rocky and unstable terrain
About 15-20 rescuers took turns holding the sled as it made its way down the mountainside
They moved carefully and yet, surprisingly swiftly at the same time

While I was watching the beginning of the rescuers bringing the girl down, a woman came out of the area and stood and watched. I asked her if she knew what happened. It turned out it was the girl’s mom.

She told me her daughter was up on one of the ledges/cliffs and just slipped over the edge. She said she thought her daughter was going to be ok and was in shock.

Apparently the teenage girl fell but was conscious enought to call her mom. Her mom came up and found her but in no way could get her daughter down the mountain. Smart move. Considering the fall and potential injuries, that would not have been a good idea.

A closer view of the falls. On the left is the ledge from which the girl fell. I would say 30-40-ish feet of solid rock.

This certainly was not the Upper Falls adventure I had in mind. I am sure the girl feels the same way!

I am quite happy that it appeared she was going to be fine. I wish I could contact the mom and just check to be sure.

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