Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hot at Home

After spending 5 days trying to hide from the heat in the even taller mountains of Colorado I get home to find it is still going to be 90+ all week. Last June we had 4 days over 90, so far there have been 11 this year.




It's so hot that Rabbit has dug himself a hole to lay in and try to cool down...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Riding the Uinta Mountains - Day 4

Day 4 - the ride on the way home

This is the blue ride on the map

I wasn't quite satisfied with my riding because there was still some of the Outlaw Trail to investigate, it was an "easy" part mostly and looked like it really just followed the paved road to make a complete loop, still it needed to be done...

I got an early start - no, really! - and was packed and at the trailhead by 11am. I was right about the first section of the trail, it started out very civilised
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and just followed some power lines parallel to the road, I soon became tired of that and found a trail that led off into the trees - the deep trees
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but a pleasant ride
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happily riding along I thought I was way out in the country until I found this
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there was nobody there and throughout the whole area there were numerous trailers that looked as if they had been left in the trees for the whole summer, I assume people take them out in the winter, they would be completely buried in snow if not but maybe that wouldn't be a problem.

The woods were full of flowers
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Eventually I dropped back down to the power line trail and crossed the paved road (US 191), even it looked interesting in places
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My aim had been to find one of the main trails I started out on on Friday and eventually I did, but it was down a rather steep slope
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the little man in my head was a bit grumpy but I went down it anyway, there was plenty of room to crash at the bottom if I needed to, I didn't
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crossing 191 again I found the section marked as more difficult, it was a deep steep sided valley, this is the approach
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the downhill section wasn't too bad but the uphill was steeper, and had a bend in it, and lots of rocks, unfortunately the camera played it's game of "don't want to" at this point so I missed a shot looking up at the slope but I am certain that this was not a good place to stop
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this time I hit a rock with the back wheel and got thrown into the centre of the track which was just loose rocks, I spent quite a while trying to ride or push the bike out of this but just kept digging a hole, then I backed it out down the hill a bit and made 2-3 attempts to get started again, it was just too steep and loose. In the end I backed it 2/3 of the way down the hill before I could find a place to turn it round and ride the rest of the way. By the time I got to the bottom I had emptied my CamelBak and I saw no reason why I would do any better attempting the hill again so I shamefully rode out up the hill I came down, no problem.

this is the valley the dirt track crossed, you can just see the level top of the track on the far hill
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I rode along the pavement a ways and then back on the trail to the top of the rocky hill, it didn't look any better from that direction. I tried to decide if I would have ridden down it without knowing what was on the other side but the decision proved impossible to simulate as I already knew I could ride up the other side. From there I followed the power line road back toward the truck but it was too dull so I had to take a side track up into the hills hoping to find another one down again
I saw several of these over the weekend, I assume they were built by shepherds
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The side track gradually became narrower, then started up a stream
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I was having a lot of fun but was getting further and further from the truck and the lay of the land suggested there would not be a trail back so eventually I turned back and retraced

Truck, Sweet Truck
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From here it was just a 250 mile drive home to Torrey.

They keep US191 open all winter, I am going to head over that way once the snow has built up next winter, it must be really gorgeous.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Riding the Uinta Mountains - Day 3

I don't usually ride dirt two days in a row and this was to be my third, it ended up being a somewhat shorter day than the others but had its share of challenges. I drove back over the mountain to the Vernal side and found a place to unload the truck off Rt 20 - this is a paved road wider and smoother than most of those in my county.

My first destination was a high point called Dyer Mountain, a fairly rough trail led up to a mine then branched into many side trails, eventually I followed the one that led to the top which turned out to have a horrendously steep and loose rise over the last 50 yards or so. I didn't even attempt it but wandered around to see the view and discovered that I wasn't the only one who didn't fancy the hill. One of the maze of trails ran across some quite rocky ground round the front of the hill to the top.

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Looking west from Dyer Mountain, the track is the light area in the foreground - a bit rocky!

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Looking south from Dyer Mountain (10,248ft)

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East

I started down the south eastern slope but the ATV trail was narrow and rocky and I was tired so I decided not to do that after all and traced my route back a ways then followed another major trail. A little while along I noticed that there was an ATV trail running parallel to the road in the stream bed so I popped down there to make things a bit more interesting. Eventually it came to a place where I couldn't get through, didn't look like many people used this ATV trail beyond here, time for lunch.

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The lunch spot (upstream)

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Lunch spot (downstream)

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I couldn't make out what this was, or used to be, it could have been a dam of some sort but it looked more like a primitive bridge, there was a trail coming down from the left and what might have once been one on the right but it was very steep and rough with no apparent purpose.

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One of the nicer stretches of the ATV trial in the stream bed

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I like to take pictures of cows, these attracted my attention because they seemed to contrast so much with the grass but it doesn't really show here.

By now I was feeling really tired and a dip in the Kamp pool sounded good, however as I reached the truck I noticed that there was a lake a little further down the road, it wasn't very interesting but I found a pleasant shortcut through the woods to get back to the truck
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As it turned out it was later than I thought and when I got back to the KOA there was a mini-hurricane blowing, dust everywhere so I gave up on the pool and went out for dinner instead, Manila doesn't have a lot of choices on a Sunday evening.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Riding the Uinta Mountains - Day 2

Day 2

This map has the two parts of the Saturday ride on it, first I did the yellow road out and back then the red loop counter clockwise. This ride was to the north of the other 3 days, just south of Manila as you can see from the map.
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Bigger version of map


I started out by taking the Sheep Creek Geological Trail in the truck with the CRF in the back of course.
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The idea of the trail is to display all the various layers and formations as you go up the very steep sided canyon, I took pictures of each sign with the appropriate formation but it wasn't very interesting looking at it again. Highway 191 which heads north and uphill from Vernal also has signs for each layer with little snippets of information about the layer, things like "coal found here", "dinosaurs roamed", "fossilized giant squid found", "Benicia_RT went here", and so on. The canyon is very pretty, the loop is mostly paved with very short stretches of gravel and lots of big pot holes!
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The Morgan Formation was at an interesting angle up a side creek.
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It's quite a twisted piece of geology.
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Right at the top of the loop I found a place to leave the truck and set out on the CRF, my intention was to ride out to Spirit Lake but within a mile I saw a sign to the The Utah Lookout and had to go see
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Attached to the bottom of the tower was a plaque which read as follows
"Ute Mountain Fire Tower. The Ute Mountain fire lookout tower was built by the CCC in 1937. It is unique as the only structure in the entire state of Utah operated for the purpose of fire detection and supporting observation and living quarters on an elevated tower".
Surely that isn't trying to say its the only fire tower? Just the only one with living quarters on the platform, however it's true that I haven't come across any other fire towers in my Utah wanderings.

Unfortunately the tower was closed and didn't look as though anybody had been up there for a while, it was actually quite rickety. I climbed the steps to just below the platform which was locked shut
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The road to Spirit Lake was quite civilised
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Looking back at the fire tower from the west
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Nothing eventful happened on the way to Spirit Lake, it was a well used and maintained dirt road.

Spirit Lake (10,166ft) - Spirit Lake was really beautiful, this picture does it no justice at all
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At the far end of the lake there is a rustic lodge with a small restaurant and cabins available, it would be a great place to spend a weekend away from it all. At the end where the picture was taken there is a spillway where a couple of people were fishing for trout, when they had gone I walked along the bank and could see the fish swimming in the stream. I took a whole load of pictures of the stream and spillway, I really want to go back with the SLR.
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Over the stream (the middle fork of Sheep Creek) I walked across the small dam and was surprised to find this
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The forest on the other side of the dam was idyllic
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After lunch, fortunately not in the truck today, it was time to head back and find some side trails, the next destination was Long Park Reservoir - I've just discovered that it is entirely missing from the map I used for the route! I thought something didn't add up...
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The trail obviously hadn't been used much so far this spring, the dandelions are making a gallant effort to reclaim it, you can just see the tracks in the middle, other parts of the trail were well worn so I know I wasn't bushwhacking, this an area on the top part of the NW yellow loop on the map.
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Trail 15 starts out right with a small water crossing
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As I rose higher patches of Iris started to appear, they are incredibly tenacious here even trying to grow in the tracks of the trail
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The road twisted up into the hills
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and finally reached Long Park Reservoir (8,640 ft) - I just updated the map, the reservoir is present on the 7.5' quad but not on the 100k map I used for the my route.
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From Long Park it was an easy ride to Sheep Creek Reservoir, obviously the fishing is good in these parts
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and then on to Browne Reservoir which was so boring I didn't even take a picture of it, however there was an interesting trail leaving to the south, I had to check it out. At first it was sandy with some rocks then as it went into the small valley it began to get rockier and rockier
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then it got wet
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Just after this I pulled over to let some ATV riders pass, a woman riding on the back of the first one gave me a look of horror, the last ATV had a forest ranger riding it so I asked him if it was tough ahead, without even slowing down he just shouted, "not really". Shortly after that I came across another lone ATV and we chatted for a while, he said this trail was OK but rocky but that trail 14 was really bad, to quote him "I've been scared before, but not that scared...". The little man in my head didn't like the sound of this at all but the map showed trail 13 went the same way and the ATV rider said that one was much better so I decided to press on.

Pretty soon the stream and trail merged
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and then it got steeper
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and steeper, and rockier
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at this point the little man wasn't happy at all and I decided to turn back, I think it was a wise decision. I retraced my ride to the Spirit Lake road and returned to the truck, but I wasn't quite ready to be finished. The map showed another trail that ran south of the Geological Road and it turned out to be very scenic

Honsberger Creek (I think)
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All over Utah it seems to have been a good year for red flowers, with Indian Paintbrush, Penstemon and Globe Mallow all putting on a good show
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Once I reached the paved highway I followed it north for a few miles to a sign I had seen the day before - it said "Death Valley" - how could I resist? I took a spur off the main trail following a sign to Death Valley Enclosure but the trail petered out in some cows after a couple of bumpy miles.

Looking over Death Valley to Manila
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Back on the main trail with DV in the centre
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Everywhere I go there is a Windy Ridge
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From there I made my way over the mountain and back to the truck, 83 great miles on the CRF. It was quite a warm day and I went through 5 litres of water during the ride, the CamelBak was well used.