November 29, 2010

Forces of Nature

As we explored the mesa above Nine Mile Canyon before our descent, we noticed an unusual triangle of rocks.
Here it is up close:
And here are views taken from below:
Can you imagine how much geologic force was required to disrupt those sedimentary layers? 
The top of the mesa was once covered by an inland lake.  There are ripple marks on many of the rocks:
Steve struck a pose under a rock overhang:
This rock formation looks a lot like a picnic table:
From down in Nine Mile Canyon, we noticed the pillar standing next to the cliffs on the left:
Steve found several snakeskins, but no snakes:
The reptiles had moved into winter quarters on this cold November day.
We completed our trek with an hour to spare before sunset. 

November 28, 2010

Sketchy Descent

We've traveled into Nine Mile Canyon from several directions, but this time we wanted to approach the roadless part of this canyon, in the last five miles before Nine Mile Creek reaches its confluence with Green River.  We began our hike from a mesa top on the north (Bad Land Cliffs) side.
On the left and right of the photo above, you can see a 50-100 foot cliff.   That same cliff extends all along the rim, seriously limiting access. 
We found one slight break in the cliff, enough to provide a way down. I've marked our starting point with a green V in the photo above. 
The broken rocks were almost like stair steps down the cliffy area.

(Why am I looking so bulky, you ask?  Well, it was about 20 degree F with a 15mph breeze on the mesa top.  I needed my down vest under that windbreaker!)
We picked our way down over the scree:

and continued through a slot canyon: 
A few places were challenging.  Daisy didn't want to go down this 50 degree slick rock path:
But she did, once she saw she had no other choice.
Later, we reached a 15 foot drop off at the end the slot canyon.  None of us were willing to attempt that:
So we had to re-route:
Do I look shell-shocked as I negotiate a tiny path above a 100 foot cliff? 
Finally, we reached the lower end of Nine Mile Canyon:
We ran short on daylight and didn't have much time to explore, but we did see some interesting rock formations.  I'll show some of those next time.

November 27, 2010

These Boots

They say these boots are made for walking.
And walking's what I'll do...
As soon as my legs are long enough to stomp right on over to you!
(Apologies to Nancy Sinatra for distortion of the original song.)

November 23, 2010

Cold Spring Mustangs

Several of you asked about sightings of wild horses on Wild Horse Bench.  We didn't see any there, but we saw the mustang herd pictured above in 2005, on the other side of the Green River in the Book Cliffs (about 20 miles distant, as the crow flies).  We reached Cold Springs by driving through Nine Mile Canyon to Cottonwood Canyon, then traveling some obscure dirt roads to a plateau. 
We hiked to the spring and saw the horses as we were returning to our truck.  Their curiosity held them long enough for a couple of photos before they took off. 
Here is a map of the Cold Springs, Utah, area, which was recently acquired by the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR):
It's remote and beautiful wild country.  Definitely worth the trip. 

November 22, 2010


I wondered if we should worry more about the condition of the sign
or the condition of the bridge.   (Actually, the bridge did worry me.  The horse trailer made the crossing with only inches to spare.)

November 21, 2010

Rock Art and Windows

Varnished rock panels are prime territory for petroglyphs.  As we rode on Wild Horse Bench, we kept our eyes peeled and found this:
It appears to be snake wearing a headdress, with an anthropomorphic figure drawn just under the snake.  The art is pecked into the rock and has probably been there for up to 1000 years.  The petrolyph style is similar to the Fremont art found in Nine Mile Canyon, located 12 miles south and on the other side of the Green River.
We also saw this little window in the rocks:
And of course Daisy and Steve had to do some climbing:

November 19, 2010

Wild Horse Bench

To get in one more ride before a cold/snow front arrives this weekend, we bundled up and headed to Wild Horse Bench, south of the small Ute community of Ouray.  Annual precipitation in this area is 6.7 inches.
We didn't see any wild horses, but we did see manure piles typical of mustangs.  Boss is checking out the strange horse smells:
In the background of the above photo, an oil rig looms.  
The desert environment has lots of big anthills that always have a barren circle around them:
We can see these sand circles on Google Earth when scanning at 1000 feet.  In the photo above, you can see the Uinta Mountains in the distance.
We followed antelope trails across the desert:
Do you see the narrow path in front of Mischief? 
This antelope didn't make the trip:
We rode to the Green River, a welcome stream of life running through this arid land:

November 18, 2010

How Thirsty Are You?

The snow level is at about 9000 feet now, but we can still ride in the lower elevations. 
These are the rolling hills of lower Pole Creek Mountain where the Neola Fire swept across the landscape in 2007:
You can see the burned pinyon and juniper, with the bare spots now filled in with grass.  The earth has healed.
We didn't ride long because the temperature up there was in the 30's, and the wind picked up to about 10 mph.  Chilly!
We passed a couple of springs:
The sign on this one says "Colt Spring Trough No.l.  Water not tested for Culinary Use.  (Duh. Believe me, I was not tempted, although Steve insists that water coming directly out of the pipe that taps into the spring is probably fine.) Colt Spring is in Wild Horse Draw, which seems appropriate.
Here's the other spring, which is piped into a giant tire trough:
Snake John Cabin Spring also has the disclaimer that it's not tested for culinary use.  Daisy tested it.  She seemed to do okay.  Think we should go back and fill up our water bottles? 
We didn't see any sign of a cabin.  Snake John?  The name has a sinister ring. I assume the cabin owner wasn't the friendliest guy around. 
 More snow is predicted for the weekend.  By next week, this area may be covered in a foot of snow.

November 14, 2010

Sand Skiing

I was trying to take a photo of Boss going down a steep, sandy hill,
but Mischief had to get into the act.  Mischief seemed to ski down on his back hooves:
He scampered off after his slide, quite pleased with his independent run. 
Fortunately, he didn't go far.  I was counting on a ride back to the trailer!

November 12, 2010

Desert Friends

On a walk in the desert, you never know whom you might meet.
Daisy is thrilled! The snake, not so much...
The day was cool and this Great Basin Gopher Snake ( don't worry, it's not poisonous) was moving slowly,
 heading for a hiding place under a juniper tree. 
Daisy soon forgot about the snake and started sniffing for jack rabbits again. 

November 10, 2010

Panhandler on the Green

When we stopped for lunch on our Green River hike, a jay kept squawking at us from a Ponderosa pine tree. At first we thought he was a Gray (camp robber) jay, since those are known for hanging out around people, begging for food.
We baited him with a few crumbs (gee, can you believe there's yet another critter who wants our measly PBJ sandwiches?), and he cautiously flitted down, eventually gobbling up the treat.  He was much more circumspect than the Gray Jays we have met. A closer look identified him as a Steller's Jay. Here are better looks at his bright feathers:
his fancy topknot:
and his handsome profile:
Also known as the Long-crested Jay, Mountain Jay, and Pine Jay, it is the only crested jay west of the Rocky Mountains. A Steller's Jay raises its crest as a threat display, or for showing off to attract a mate. Like all jays, the Steller's Jay has numerous and variable calls. Its alarm call is a harsh nasal "wah". It also imitates the cry of the Red-tailed Hawk and Red-shouldered Hawk. This tends to run off the competition at prospective feeding areas.   (information from Wikipedia


Blog Widget by LinkWithin