Monday, April 10, 2017

Road Trip!

I'm on a road trip now, in a place where water is far away and scarce. I've driven my faithful little Dakota (now named Nelson) down through the state lines and into Utah, to explore the canyon country before going to work in Alaska. It was a great drive down, through Eastern Washington, Oregon, Idaho and finally into Utah. I stopped at the Great Salt Lake and camped out on an island in the middle of it, called Antelope Island. And I saw Antelopes! The lake fluctuates a lot with the rainfall and evaporation, so it was pretty low when I was there, but there are tons of birds wading in the shallow mudflats. Avocets (more than I'd ever seen before) and Northern Shovelers dipped their bills in search of sand shrimps, and a few Northern Pintails and Wigeons joined them.

 I also saw a magnificent Ring-Necked Pheasant roaming through the tall grass. Bison also enjoy the island, and they are the dominant form of life here, sometimes so crowded that there are Bison traffic jams. 
 The next day I arrived in Green River, which is a small town but also a flowing waterway filled with dirt and agricultural runoff, and the cause of many of the canyons around here. I proceeded to get lost in the maze of high and low, with red sandstone cliffs and arches here and there. I found some slot canyons near Goblin Valley State Park, and they are very accessible, so I met about 600 people there, but still, they have a stark beauty and wonder about them, with such steep walls and perfect curves. It is how the secret waterfalls of Shangri-la will look in a long time, I am sure. The sandstone is amazing red and very uniform, and when the rivers cut under it makes wonderful bridges and arches.

 I went into the San Rafel Swell and found a narrow canyon with a disused Uranium mine at the end of it and some old broken buildings that might have been from Moonshiners, back in the day. There is a lot of broken history lying about. Broken buildings, shards from making stone tools out of Chert, and pieces of sandstone at the bottom of cliffs that might have been old arches and bridges, but now are back to dust. The wind is never ceasing here and it makes it a bit hard to cook, so I tend to bring the stove into the back of the truck for dinner.

The truck is doing amazingly well. I have taken Nelson (or Lord Nelson if you prefer) on roads that quite frightened me, and the four wheel drive is great. In Glen Canyon National Recreation area there is a ranger station that nonchalantly told me to be careful going on the 4WD roads, and I found that the terrain exceeded their hype of it, which is uncommon of rangers. Usually they tell you it is SUPER DANGEROUS and then it isn't. In this case, I found I didn't want to test Nelson, despite the fact that they told me I could probably make it, so I did a short jaunt in the park and came back out. In fact, I find that I like to go on roads that a 2WD truck could probably make, but just barely, and then put it in 4WD and have an easy time of it. Its fun, but the more fun I have, the more likely something will break, so I am trying to baby the poor thing. He's not so young anymore.
I also went to Horseshoe Canyon, which is a part of Canyonlands National Park, and found out that this is the place (or next to it, Bluejohn Canyon) where the guy who got famous for losing an arm (or cutting it off himself) did his gruesome efforts. I didn't go into Bluejohn because it requires ropes, and alas, I didn't bring any. But you would drop into the canyon, then hike down the empty waterfalls (like what Abe and I did) and then do a huge 75 ft overhung rappel at the end to get into Horseshoe Canyon, where you would exit from. Maybe I'll do something like that at a later date.

No comments: