Archive for March, 2010

Jeeping in Utah

Where were we?  We thought we were jeeping in to Hidden Canyon, but we probably took a wrong turn.  The roads were snow-covered and frozen, which was good.  If it had been warmer, the trail would have been too muddy to drive.  This is Scott’s jeep.  Mike and Yvonne and I were following in Mike’s Jeep.


The trail goes through open range.  If you are an Easterner – or even a Northerner –  you may not know what “open range” means.  It means there can be cattle in the road, and the cattle believe they have the right of way.  The canyon has limited vegetation, so there were only a few cattle, plus a small herd of anelope.  Some of the cattle had calves.  Apparently, the weather is mild enough in February on the Colorado Plateau.


The canyon is cut through red rock, and the vegetation is sparse.  Since the trail is a river bed, twisted pines grow along the way, taking advantage of the occasionally available water.  The views out the Jeep window were spectacular.  You can see from this photo the kinds of vegetation in the canyon.  There’s not much for cattle to graze on.


The first dead end on this trail was in this rock gallery.  We did get out and hike around a bit here.  The angle of the sun gave the rocks a dark purple cast.


The snow was about 8 inches deep, and crusty. 


Here are some rock formations coming out of the gallery turn-around.  We may have turned onto the Monitor and Merrimack trail at this point. 


Our second dead end was more of a turn-round, because according to some maps there might have been a train that went further on – to a hill call something like “Wipe Out Hill”.  Since that didn’t sound very promising, and since we were pretty sure we were not sure where we were, we stopped under this rock, had a walk-around, took some photos, and headed back to the main road.


When you live beside this amazing beauty, you stop seeing it, I am suppose.  I feel so lucky to have been here and seen it.


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Corona and Bowtie arches are located in Bootlegger Canyon (check this).  There is a parking lot at the trail head, about 10 miles north of Moab.  This is a photo of our group as it starts up the trail from the parking lot.  It is not quite a cohesive and Saturday’s group, because we are sorting into walk-partners based on speed and experience.  (I am the slowest!  I claim it is because I take so many pictures.  Not because I am an old lady fresh from sea level with a sports injury.)


This is a photo down the canyon toward the road.  The snow is on the north side of the rocks.  This photo shows the typical vegetation, and the vastness of the sky and the Colorado plateau formations.


Arches are formed as vertical sandstone fins weather differentially.  This is an arch in the making, quite possibly.  We will never know – it takes tens of thousands of generations to form an arch.  Not long ago, on the night of August 4, 2008, the arch known as Wall Arch in Arches National Park collapsed.  No one witnessed it.  All arches will fall.  They are all temporary structures, like we are.


Much of the trail is on slickrock, which is sandstone from the Entrada formation.  Since you can not actually see on the rock face where the trail is, the trail managers have placed a series of rock cairns to mark the trail.  The rock surface is neither flat nor level, requiring careful foot placement.  


The path does cross areas of rock that are at quite an angle, and some are uncomfortable for inexperienced people like me to walk.  There are two sections that have metal cable rope lines.


Here are the Corona Arch on the right, and the Bowtie Arch, which is the dark round hole on the left.  These are huge structures.  Bowtie is a cave, the roof of which was pierced by a pothole formation. The sun is not in position to shine through the arch at this angle.


This is a closer view of Corona Arch.  There are 4 people standing on the round rockface to the right of the base of the arch.  They are teeny, so you may not be able to see them.


I had to stop at a very slanted portion of path that sloped down to a dramatic 200 foot drop off.  My vertigo/unease with heights got the better of me after climbing up the second rope line on an near-vertical face with toe-holds carved in the rock.  Yvonne went on to the arch.  First she climbed a ladder up a formation of contrasting sienna brown sandstone.


Here is a pueblo we saw on the way:


No, I am kidding you.  It is a rock formation, a small cave – look!


On the walk back, the light was just right for us to see another small arch called Pilot Arch.  Click on the picture below to enlarge it, and you can see it as a small round spot of sunlight in the center of the scene.


That is it for tonight.

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