May 19, 2008

Little Mountain via Cottonwood Springs

5-4-08 To reach the Cottonwood Springs turnoff, we drove east along the LaPoint highway toward Vernal and turned off a little past mile 32. We turned left onto a dirt road and drove up several miles. We parked our trailer just as road began to rise, saddled up and took off.
· After about a two mile ride to Cottonwood Springs, we offered the horses a drink. They were only interested in grass. They hadn’t worked hard enough to be thirsty. While stopped there, a couple of four wheelers came by. Turned out they were folks who had helped us haul hay 2 years ago. The young woman had worked in Steve’s clinic at the time. They recognized Steve and stopped to talk.
· After a short break, we trotted up the steep road another thousand feet to a pass. The horses were winded and sweaty by then. At that point the road divides, one fork leading down to another spring, one leading up to Little Mountain. We took the low fork first and went down to give the horses another look at some water. They were more than happy to drink then. Daisy was much in need of cooling off, too. She jumped in the pool for a swim.
· We munched granola bars while the horses grazed on tender new grass and sedge. Then we went back to the pass and took the high fork leading to Little Mountain. We rode up most of the way but turned back before reaching the peak, thinking the dog and horses would need water before we could get to the top and back. We couldn’t be sure we’d find a pothole with melted snow along that road, and we know of no springs that high.
· On the way back, we met another group of five four wheelers. They stopped to let us go by so they wouldn’t scare the horses. Our horses don’t really mind the wheelers, but we appreciated the courtesy. They were apparently looking for elk or deer, because they asked us if we’d seen any. We hadn’t.
· All was uneventful on the way down until Steve decided to try a “shortcut” through the Junipers, traveling along a ridge instead of following the road. Unfortunately, the ridge ended, and we up and down several steep gullies before finding our way back to the road. Good work for the horses, poor boys. They were pretty tired. The ride was over 4 hours long, with 30 minutes or so in breaks. Probably 14 miles, and 2000 feet or more elevation gain. Though the temperature was comfortable today (70 in Roosevelt, and probably 60 on the mountain), any warmer would be too hot for the horses and dog with the minimal amount of water available.
· Conclusion: This may be our last Little Mountain ride until fall.

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