March 5, 2011

Four Wheeling with a Horse Trailer

The next day, we stopped at Hans Flat Ranger Station.
Next door to the station is a nice lunch spot with pretty views, but Steve was only interested in pumping the ranger for information on how to reach the Spur overlooks and any springs along the way. The only route is an old two-track that is no longer actively maintained and has suffered a few washouts over the years.  However, the ranger said an old rancher used to drive to the Spur every year with a horse trailer, so the ranger thought we could get through. That was good enough for Steve.  Down the "road" we went. 
A few miles down the 2-track, the Canyonlands burro herd formed a welcoming comittee.  They looked us over carefully and seemed to deem us worthy of passing through. There were paint burros and dun burros with primitive zebra markings. 
The paint coloration, according to the ranger, is apparently due to inbreeding, which occurs because this herd is in such an isolated area.  I can't find any history on how long the animals have lived in the area, but they had arrived and were thriving enough to compete with cows and sheep for limited water in the 1920's.  Apparently they do not overpopulate now because they are unable to breed very successfully, again probably due to inbreeding.
The views from the road were amazing.  No one else was out there.  We had the beauty all to ourselves. The above photo shows the view to the west, toward the Colorado River, with the LaSal Mountains in the background.  The big butte looming in front of the snowy peaks is known as Cleopatra's Chair.  It's composed of Navajo sandstone and stands 520 feet above the mesa top.  Below that are the horizontal bands of the Kayenta formation. The vertical sandstone layers below that are Wingate Sandstone. 
We were surprised to find an actual sign, because the condition of the two-track indicated that we had left civilization far behind.
One tiny drawback was the roadbuilding required when we came to a washed out section we couldn't go around.  We piled rocks and shoveled a whole lot of dirt, filling a space about 3 feet deep and 3 feet wide to accommodate the wheels of truck and trailer.  Our redneck-engineered roadbed worked for us, but it'll come tumbling down with the next big rain.  We're just glad it didn't tumble while we were crossing it!  (We did take the horses out of the trailer before venturing across - both to make the trailer lighter, and for the horses' safety in case our road construction didn't hold up.) 
The chains you see on the truck were necessary to get through deep sand that had blown over the road.  We would have been stuck several times over without those chains.
Needless to say, it was a long day, but we were able to make camp before dark, and slept soundly with miles of sandy trails dancing in our somewhat addled heads.


  1. That's a HUGE hole to fill. You two are very brave.

    The burros were brought to the SW by the Spanish in the 1400s. Too bad about the inbreeding. There's plenty of herds around. Seems something could be done.

  2. Omw, those are hairy roads to traverse. But the view and the lovely paint burros were worth the effort, I'm sure. I enjoyed this post very much Janie. Have a great weekend. Jo

  3. Wow Janie... I think you two are even braver than George and me. My stomach would have been in knots trying to cross that area.... Yipes!!!!!

    Glad you made it and I assume you made it back also since you are writing this post.....

    Beautiful scenery though... I'm sure the bumpy ride was worth it....

    Love your header and background.. PERFECT.

  4. What an adventure! The markings on the burros are so unusual - I certainly have never seen any but brown. You guys sure don't mind a little work to get where you want to go. The scenery is awesome.

  5. Fantastic place - so wild and empty (of people, that is!)
    It's a shame that the burros will eventually die out unless fresh genes can be brought in somehow. The different patterning is beautiful.
    You have added road-building to your skills. Wow!

  6. I'm very impressed with the work you do in order to get your rides in. But I'm even more impressed that you had all of that gorgeous scenery to yourselves.

  7. It doesn't look like Steve has changed a bit! Holy cow!

  8. What a big hole to fill. You guys are very energetic and determined.

  9. Adventurous trip! The burros are interesting, too. How unusual! I like Cleopatra's Chair. I've never seen it so close.

  10. LOVE LOVE LOVE THE PICS. Wow what an adventure...are you sure you do not need an extra hand? I will work for a chance to go on the next outing. *Giggle*

  11. great photos Janie....yall are very resourceful....

  12. A ton of work, but worth it for those wonderful views!

  13. what an interesting post--especially about the burro's. I'm glad you got to your camp safely.

  14. I think your "redneck engineering" was fabulous.
    Loved seeing the burros, they are quite pretty/interesting looking.
    Loved this view of Cleopatra's Chair; just amazing.



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