Photographer documents City Creek water's flow

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SALT LAKE CITY -- You could call it an epic journey of exploration, one that traces the line between city and open space. It's the work of a photographer who dreamed up an innovative project, focusing on one of Utah's iconic waterways.

A lone kayak makes its way up the Jordan River where the river meets the Great Salt Lake at Farmington Bay. Leaning precariously out of the front of the boat is Salt Lake photographer Sallie Dean Shatz, who is on the final leg of a multi-modal trip from the headwaters of City Creek to the lake.

It's been an epic journey, not so much because of the distance -- 32 miles -- but in other ways. Shatz snapped 2,300 photos documenting the entire trip. They will be part of an ambitious, interactive project that will feature the GPS-marked images on an online map.

"It's a pretty incredible ecosystem. It's a pretty amazing journey that water makes in 24 hours, from the headwaters out to here," Shatz said.

As an athlete and former Colorado search and rescue leader, she dreamed up this idea after recovering from an undiagnosed chronic fatigue-like illness. "Clean slate and starting over from scratch; I have my health and that's about the most incredible thing you can have," she said.

Shatz continued, "I kind of wanted an adventure, and what I loved about it, it brought all the different aspects of my life into play. It brought photography. It brought skiing. It brought the city."

The project documents City Creek's lonely start in the snows high above Salt Lake, which melt to become the creek. Eventually, the water runs for many blocks under Salt Lake City and then spills out to the Jordan River, meandering its way east of the airport, eventually flowing into the state canal and finally into the Great Salt Lake.

"It's incredible how in everyday life we can forget about what's it's like to be next to the land, closer to it," Shatz said.

She plans to show her multi-media slide show Friday evening in Sugar House.

Shatz also has ambitious plans for more epic journeys: She hopes to do similar projects for each of the seven major creeks that run through Salt Lake.


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John Daley


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