October 31, 2009

Trick? Or Treat.

Sometimes everyone wants to get close at once.  Either we're all best buds, or some of us are hoping to get to the treats in my pocket!

For more Camera Critters, click here.

October 30, 2009

Wintry Trail

When we rode in the Indian Canyon area last Sunday, (trailhead 8900 ft/ 2700 m) we found a taste of winter awaiting us. 
The temperature never got much about freezing, and the forest trails were dusted with snow. 
After the last few days of winter storm, that same trail probably has 6 inches of snow.  We still have lots of lower areas in which to ride, but terrain above 9000 feet will be snow-covered until spring.

October 29, 2009

Avintaquin Creek

When we reached the Grayhead Peak trailhead last week (before the recent snow) and began a ride down into Avintaquin Canyon, the temperature hovered just above freezing.  At our first stop at a branch of Avintaquin Creek, Boss broke ice to get a drink.
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) predicted a 50's high and "partly sunny."  I had to wonder, "Which part might that be?" as I shivered under a completely overcast sky. Continuing downstream, we passed this rock chimney formation which we remembered from a ride last fall.  As you can see, blue sky finally showed itself.  We had sun for a couple of hours in mid-afternoon. 
There is no man-made trail down this canyon, but cows and/or deer have created sandy paths that are easy to follow.
The main creek had reasonable flow, even this late in the year.   Daisy found several nice pools for a swim.  (It was cold, but she's a lab.  She loves ANY kind of water.)
The remains of an old beaver dam forms a small pond (with 10" trout!) surrounded by willows.
The willows show red branches, now devoid of leaves.
Cliffs soar on either side of the canyon.  We were searching for an easy way out for another loop ride up to the Grayhead Peak area.  We found what looks doable, but we didn't have time to check it out.  We'll try again another day.
We went from a gray overcast that looked like snow, to vivid blue, to this incredible late afternoon light on the mountains.   NOAA, I take back my complaint.
For more skies of all varieties, click here.

October 27, 2009

Ornamental Offering

O is for ornaments. For every season, nature provides an open air show, 
sometimes ostentatious, even opulent,
often more ordinary, oblique, or obscure, but still objectively  and optically elegant.
Organized according to the outdoor occasion, nature's work is an outstanding opus, in my opinion, to which we owe obeisance.  It ordains its own order. I do not take offense nor find it oppressive if it does not observe my whim.
Any onlooker can enjoy this original, organic, masterful ornamentation of our world.
I'm okay with that.  Are you?

For more of Denise Nesbitt's ABC's, click here.

October 26, 2009

Twenty Plus One

On a previous ride, we had found enough water sources to try a loop trail connecting the the Avintaquin canyon country with Grayhead Peak, so we were ready to accept the challenge. 
We rode along the east bench of the south fork of Avintaquin Creek to Big Draw Spring, then studied map and mountains for a route up to the high ridgeline leading to Grayhead. 
It was steep going, but we made the top and continued on to ride the ridge.  (Enlarge photo above to see red arrows showing our approximate ascent.)
The crests look relatively smooth, but riding them actually requires a lot of up and down.
When we reached the shoulder of Grayhead Peak (9500 ft 2900 m), we traversed around the side, since we were short on time and we'd already been to the peak on another ride.  The red line in the photo shows our approximate path.  Looks impossible, you say?  I said that, too.  So did Mischief.  But Steve and Boss led the way.  We're back, so it must have been okay. (Actually, the footing in the sand/gravel soil wasn't bad, and there was even an old deer trail -- a crazy deer, perhaps.)
Once again, we wore out the day, returning to the trailer at dusk. 
We went twenty miles, plus almost one mile of elevation gain and loss. Horses, riders and Daisy all demanded at least one day of rest.
For world views from all over the planet, click here.

October 25, 2009

Canyon in the Rough

Our rides in the Indian Canyon area encompass some rugged territory.  Avintaquin Canyon features cliff walls on either side, narrow leaf cottonwoods along the creek, and a mountain view.  And since there are no roads or easy access, we have it all to ourselves.
To enjoy scenic views from all over, click here

October 24, 2009

Dear, Not Deer

It's deer hunting season in Utah, when blaze orange is an appropriate fashion statement. (In fact, some kind of hunting season has been going on since mid-August, which is why we've been making ourselves conspicuous on our excursions for several months.)
Daisy, our dear girl, would not want to be mistaken for a deer.  She looks fetching in orange, don't you think?
To see a variety of camera critters, click here.

October 23, 2009

No Wonder the Cow Was Sick

When riding in the Indian Canyon area, we plan our route according to springs.  Water is a scarce commodity. 
This time our goal was exploring the country on the south side of Grayhead Peak. We dropped off a two-track into the trailless canyon wilderness. 
A branch of Avintaquin creek is in the bottom of the canyon.  It runs only a trickle this time of year, just enough for Daisy to cool off and lap a little drink.
We continued across that canyon and up the other side.  We were checking out each spring on the map, seeing which of them could be counted on for future rides.
In spite of the lack of water, or perhaps because there isn't enough to support many cattle, the area hasn't been badly overgrazed. Native grass covers the shaly hillsides.
This was Sick Cow Spring.  Hmm. Not surprising that the spring's namesake didn't fare too well. Steve dug out a hole to collect water. Daisy soon learned the trick and became an able assistant until she had a puddle big enough to lie in.

Big Draw Spring was better.  It doesn't look like much, but horses and dog had a satisfying drink.
All went pretty well until, on the return, we came to a cliff 500 feet above our desired path.  Oops. 
Sorry the photo is blurry.  Mischief and I were both shaking in our boots, which didn't make for a steady camera.
Fortunately, we located an alternate route.
We made our way back to the trailer (barely) before sunset.

The next day, Steve was already at his computer, studying his Topo! program and planning where we'll go next. 

October 22, 2009

Home Colors

Colors change a couple of weeks later at our home in the Uinta Basin (5100 ft, 1550 m) than they do in the highest mountains, where fall was in full glory by mid-September.  Our home aspens, above, wear gold in mid-October. 

The cottonwoods (above) and elm trees along the creek behind the house are changing now. 

We've followed autumn as it marches down from the mountains.  Up high, the first snow has already fallen. 
Winter is nigh.
To view extraordinary skies from all over the world, click here.

October 18, 2009

Goldilocks Day

Some days can only be described as "just right."  
On our 12 mile round trip ride to Gray Head Peak (middle of above photo) from Indian Canyon,
we had perfect, cloudless blue skies,
60 mile views, all the way to the snow-covered peaks of the High Uintas,
A glimpse into canyon country that demands exploration,
And a bit of autumn color to dress up our wonderful Indian summer. 
For more lovely Sunday scenes, click here.

October 17, 2009

The Circle of Life

Thank you so much, blogger friends, for the many kind words, thoughts and prayers that you sent our way after Steve's mother's death. 
We mourned her passing with family and friends, and celebrated her life as well.  Steve's brother has been choir master at their church for 20 years, and an overflowing choir loft sent forth angelic music in her honor.  Steve, his sister Nancy, and my son Eric shared some special memories.  She would have loved it all. 
Above is a photo of Steve, our sons, and Steve's dad. 
On the way home, we stopped to visit with my very pregnant daughter.  Soon we will welcome a new baby into our family.  The circle of life goes on.
The photo above is of the Wasatch front with the oaks and maples still sporting the beauty of autumn.  Happy weekend, everyone.


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