November 5, 2009

Celebrating October; 23 days afloat

October is my favorite time to be out and about for a few reasons. The fall colors are unbelievable, and the harsh summer sun is tilted to the south so the shadows are long; the light soft, even at mid-day. The two combined; color and light, make for beauty beyond compare. I've got other reasons that I'll keep to myself for now.

September 23, 2009

Trash Patrol

If I were to name one characteristic that brings people back to float through Desolation Canyon year after year, it's gotta be the immaculate cleanliness of the canyon. However, the river corridor naturally collects trash items that come downstream when the water is high with spring run-off. This is mostly the result of people upstream that aren't necessarily thinking about what the consequences may be of depositing trash near the river or just being careless with their trash.
When the level of the elevated river flow drops it leaves these items sitting high and dry on beaches, or more often, stuck in driftwood piles, or on a difficult rocky shore. Most of the time the trash is just empty plastic bottles and cans. Stuff that most of the rafters will willingly haul out of the canyon and deposit in the dumpster. Occasionally a large trash item, like a refrigerator, will appear. Understandably, most rafters aren't willing or equipped to pack out such items. Once a year I like to do a trip that is dedicated to the removal of such large trash items. This year it was quite a challenge, not only because of what we needed to get out of the canyon, but also because of the nature of one of the rapids. At higher river flows the rapid at Cow Swim is not safely navigable with a boat rigged the way we needed to rig the junk boat.

June 29, 2009

John Day River

I have wanted to go for a float on the John Day River for about as long as I can remember. This past winter when my friends John and Rosalee suggested we give it a go I was in. We set some dates for early June and kept our fingers crossed since the river can become de-watered during summer. As it turned out we had an ideal flow.

April 7, 2009

Deschutes River

I had a good trip to Oregon. We even had sunny weather. Went out and did some messin around on the Deschutes River. It's neat to stand there and watch my dad on a bluff overlooking the river with the wind blowing his hair. I imagine all the things he's seen in his life messing around in the Deschutes and John Day river canyons. My dad had an adventerous life in his early days.

March 20, 2009

West Desert - Newfoundland Mountains

Trevor and I left everyone else behind and headed for the Newfoundlands where we figured a couple days would do. We headed out that night to spend the spring solstice in the desert. Drove until 10pm or so and biviouaced on a knoll at the north boundary of the Air Force Range. Trips like this are why I need a set of offroad lights so I don't have to freak out quite so bad when the antelope jump out of nowhere. We woke on the first day of spring to a real nice day. Cooked eggs in the dutch oven on the stove top, and drank generous portions of coffee. Me trying to get a head start on a trip by leaving the night before just doesn't work out. By the time I drink coffee, cook breakfast, lounge around and get things packed up it's nearly noon, especially if it's cold in the morning. I guess it's not really a newsflash that winters are known for being cold in the morning. Truth be known, I like to sleep outside and wake up in a big open piece of desert, cold or not. Anyway we finally got loaded up and headed for the railroad causeway where we promptly got our doors blown off by a west bound Union Pacific freight train.


We decided to go to the west side of the Newfys first. The road almost immediately turns in to a track through the Greasewood brush where I wouldn't want to be when it's muddy. It'd be miles of terribly slow gumbo mud. We got down to Miners Basin and explored a couple of the trails going up into the foothills to abandon mine sites.


I liked the view to the west; across the Newfoundland Evaporation Basin towards Nevada and Pilot Peak.

Miners Basin Pass would be the ideal place to start a hike to Desert Peak, the highest in the Newfoundlands. We went back to the valley floor and continued south. After driving the road south for a while I noticed there were no other tracks. It'd been weeks since anyone passed this way which added to the already remote feeling. Coming across the signs of somebodys bad luck from days gone by also ominously reminds a backcountry traveler of the remote nature of the country through which they pass.


parking brake set...


we decided to take two vehicles...just incase


outta gas, somewhere on the west slope of the Newfoundland Mountains.


The end of the road. Air Force landia beyond the sign. BS! It's probably the real Area 51.


Sign says to call some number for passage. Actually Trevor is calling his brother to cuss him out. His Verizon really did work!

Old Dodge pickup tailgate the airforce didn't want anymore carefully placed in the desert.


We turned around and headed back north instead of going a couple hundred yards east and driving around the fence. I figure the govt. could make us go away and wouldn't want to press my luck. We found a spot on the north end of the range, with a view of the causeway in the valley below, to set up the springbar so we could get out of the wind storm that'd blown in during the day. The air was full of dust and we were glad to have the tent. Set up the table and chairs and stove inside and lounged with Miso soup.


It rained most of the night and cleared the air nicely. We wanted to go on south down the east side of the range but neither of us had the fuel capacity so we had to surrender to civilization and hydrocarbons. I need a jerry can! Too lazy to drive the few miles back around to the crossing so we just crossed! Until next time...


March 2, 2009

taking the long way to Death Valley

It was again time to scram on a road trip. On the multiple trips, my friends and I did to the West Desert this winter, we talked often of extending the trip to Death Valley because the gas prices were lower than they'd been in years, and the season was right.

February 26, 2009

West Desert - Hogup Road

The very next weekend was sunny so we headed out for another trip. Doing almost the same Hogup route in reverse. With a side trip to the Newfoundland Mountains. Trevor and I went out that night in my 4runner and camped near Youngs Corral.


The next day Eric and Anja came out to meet us. We walked out onto the wide expanse of the dry lake bed.


From there we drove south and out onto The Fingerpoint. Looked like it'd be a good place to camp in the future.


We then went west along the transcon to the northern tip of the elusive Newfoundland Mountains. All that way just to have a look, and to sit there and plan another trip. I've sure gotten hooked on this West Desert country this winter.


 Then backtracked for miles along the railroad to Lakeside,


 ...and south to I-80.


February 4, 2009

West Desert - Kelton Road

Next set of nice days called for some West Desert wandering. Anja and I went west out of SLC to the Lakeside road and north through the Airforce bombing range. The Airforce had this sign posted saying not to leave the road surface for obvious reasons.


 Once we made it to Lakeside we followed the Transcontinental west,


to the southern end of the Hogups where we camped.


The next day we traveled north between the west shore of the Great Salt Lake and the Hogups.

Dolphin Island:

Then to Kelton and followed the historic transcon back to Promontory and Ogden.


January 1, 2009

West Desert - New Years Eve

Contemplating what to do for New Years Eve we headed for the West Desert. A loop trip that ended up being nearly 300 miles of dirt roads. The Pony Express trail around the south end of the Great Salt Lake, through Wendover, north along the Pilot Mtns. then east along the historic Transcontinental Railroad line, back to Ogden. I only got in a few pictures then realized that I didn't bring spare batteries. We camped out on the north end of the Fish Springs Mountains where there was plenty of ground with no snow cover. The views are what the West Desert is all about! The sunset and sunrise were no exceptions. What a way to ring in the new year.


Before heading out I checked on the weather (i.e. how much snow was on the ground) using the remote sensor stations that NOAA has scattered across the country. The accuracy of the remote sensors was spot on for the most part. Simpson Springs Pony Express Station.


 Trevor heading out across the yawning expanse.