October 5, 2008

Desert Storm

With snow predicted for the mountains today, we opted to leave the horses home and go for a desert walk. We drove south of Myton, down Pariette Draw to within a couple of miles of the Green River. Steve had studied the maps and Google Earth, determining that there was only a faint 2 track leading down Sheep Wash, where we planned to go. After walking awhile, though, we came across a wide, newly bulldozed dirt road not shown in satellite images. Things change quickly in the BLM lands of the Uinta Basin, with all the oil well development going on there. One can see pumping units and oil storage tanks from every hill. Every couple of hundred yards there’s some kind of oil related development.
Here’s a line of flags we came across in the middle of nowhere. A new Walmart due to open there, perhaps?

The country has so many canyons, hills and washes that there are still areas that seem isolated.
We saw a variety of desert plants.
Tamarisk, also called salt cedar, is an invasive that arrived in Utah in the 1880’s. It's ubiquitous in washes and in the river flood plain:

Halogeton, also an invasive introduced in the 1930’s as livestock forage, was later found to be toxic to livestock. Oops.


Rabbitbrush with beetles:

Flowering white plant with wasps:

A virtual forest of bottle plants:
Mormon tea (longleaf ephedra), so called because the early Utah settlers made a tea from the dried stems:

The Green River was magestic and lined with cottonwoods that were beginning to turn gold:

Here's a squawbush dressed for autumn:

Daisy had fun doing her thing in the river:
We saw a line of numerous tracks like these along the bank. A raccoon highway?

Not far from the river, we came across this old stone structure. A cow camp? A miner’s digs? We’ll never know why someone worked so hard to build in this unlikely spot.

Almost back to our point of origin, Steve announced, “I’m pretty sure we’re lost.” That’s code for, “yep, I see the truck,” and sure enough I saw it in the distance, too, maybe a quarter mile away. About that time, the dark clouds that had been threatening for awhile let loose with sprinkles. That felt good, since we were hot from our walk. But the sprinkles quickly increased to steady rain, and finally to hail. The hail kept getting bigger, until we were being pelted with quarter inch balls of ice. Daisy was ducking her head, not too happy with that development. I wasn’t happy, either, since I had on a little thin sunhat that didn't do much to protect my head, and no jacket. I had waterproof gear in my pack, but that wasn't doing me much good.
We rushed the rest of the way to the truck, arriving cold and wet. The sky let loose with even more hail, leaving a couple of inches of piled up iceballs sitting on top of the windshield wipers. Guess we didn’t avoid the bad weather by going to the desert after all.


  1. Ah, nature.

    Overall it looks like a good walk except for the evidence of ever expanding oil and gas encroachment and hail.

    We developed a major leak in a window that resulted in a small waterfall into the living room. That was fun. Gary installed a new rain gutter and I landscaped in the flower bed to accommodate.

  2. That is an interesting story about the Halogeton... uh, oops. Impressive number of different plants you saw on your walk! No hiking for us this weekend, but good news is it looks like we'll be able to have the back yard all seeded next weekend. Grassy back yard, here I come!



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