Thursday, May 28, 2009

From Shannon's, we went to probably our favorite vacation destination - Southeast Utah. We have spent many weeks in the past exploring the canyons - not the National Parks, but the out of the way spots where few go. Because we wanted to end our Utah time at the east end of Lake Powell, we traveled up through Kayenta, Mexican Hat, and Bluff to the Comb Ridge area. The road on the east side of Comb Ridge is very much 4WD, so we checked out the road on the west side - unhooking the trailer and driving about 8 miles of it in the truck. We probably could have done the whole thing with the trailer on, but decided to not take a chance and drove the long way around, through Blanding. We knew approximately where we wanted to camp - a BLM area along Comb Wash. The northern most end of the previously mentioned road has a couple of undeveloped camp areas with pit toilets, but they were pretty populated and we wanted some "quiet" time, so drove on down the road a ways until we saw a side road. I walked in to check and see if the trailer could make it - then we drove in and found a pretty darn nice spot. In the photo below you can see the side road in and our camp site - marked with the blue arrow - and Mule Canyon - marked with the red arrow. More on Mule later.
This is the spot. Gathered wood for a campfire a couple of evenings. Nice!
We did a lot of hiking while we were camped here - loved the HUGE cottonwood trees. Dean wanted to have some reference as to how big they were. The roots on this one were mostly exposed.
Another view of the same tree - a nice spring came down Mule Canyon - I tried to hike to the source, but never made it. Several miles up the canyon - no trail or just a faint one - I finally gave up because I told Dean I was going to walk "a little ways" - I knew he would worry and I didn't have the walkie talkie with me..........
This was another big tree we found when Dean was gathering bark for his carving projects. All that you see here is from one tree!! Parts have come off and lie at the base of the tree. I found this one on my hike up the canyon along the spring. It is probably difficult to tell from the photo, but the original tree is dead - fallen every which way - and a new one is growing out of the center of the dead trunk. You can tell how big this one was by all the dead branches.One of our hikes. Most of the were cross country - Dean is checking the GPS. Here, we are in the rocks behind our camp site. The green in the middle ground is from the spring.
Abbey is cooling off by lying in the middle of the spring. Smart dog!Here is our camp site from the rocks behind it. The spring flows by on this side of the trailer - the trees in back aren't on the spring.
Campers before us had built this little sweat lodge. Dean's takin it easy. So is Abbey!
Before we left this site, I cleadned up the trailer real good. Here is a couple of days worth of dirt. Home sweet home - for someone, sometime.
Some of the many Anasazi ruins in Mule Canyon.We hiked into this ruin - called House on Fire. We wern't there at the optimum time of day, but pretty close. It is an amazing ruin, but the way the light plays off the ceiling area is just magical. I first saw a photo of it by famous black and white photographer John Sexton and I had always wanted to just see it - being able to photograph it was a bonus!
From Comb Ridge/Wash area, we went to Blanding for the usual dump and refill. While we were at Comb, we met a man who highly recommended going to Hovenweep. Neither of us had ever been there before - it is quite out of the way - but we decided to check it out and we were quite impressed. These are not cliff dwellings, but fully constructed rock structures located on the tops of the cliffs. Notice the workmanship - the rocks are carefully placed so that there are only openings where they wanted them to be. Most of the walls are very "plumb"Thunderboomers building fast, so gotta turn off the 'puter for now - will finish this later.....

OK - it's later and some of the storms have passed - more on the way..........

Back to Hovenweep - it was quite the place. As I said, the workmanship on the rock walls was amazing - compare theirs to the ones later in this post.

On to our major destination - Lake Powell!! We have camped in this specific spot, where the Colorado and Dirty Devil Rivers come in to form the lake, several times and look forward to another. Last time, we camped on the rocks, put in our kayaks and paddled up the Dirty Devil River quite a ways. It's an absolutely gorgeous place to camp - especially in the evening when the light plays off the rocks. So, it is with much anticipation that we drive westward.

As we pass over the high bridge over the Colorado, I notice that the water is VERY dirty - and appears rather low. When we get to the bridge over the Dirty Devil, there is almost NO water under the bridge. As we approach our favorite camp spot, we have good news and bad news. First the good news - BLM have installed several of the nice new pit toilets in the camping area - there were none before.....
And the bad news?
Granted, it's been a number of years since we had been there, but I was totally shocked! Most of what you see in the photos below was under water the last time we were there.These photos below were taken from the overlook - looking east with the Colorado coming in on the right and the Dirty Devil trickling in on the left. The dark red areas on the left and in the center were the only parts that were out of water before - all the lighter rock and what is green (Tamarisk, or Salt Cedar - a VERY invasive plant) were totally under water.

So, since we didn't want to camp there :( - we headed to another past favorite - Temple Wash - North of Hanksville and near Goblin Valley. We were in for another surprise. BLM had fenced off our favorite camp area there to protect it from the 4 wheelers and other OHV's. Again, they had improved the large camp area with pit toilets, but it was now basically a parking lot for the big toy haulers and trailers. We went up the road a ways and found an "acceptable" spot for the night. Went for a couple of walks exploring the area and picking up nice pieces of sandstone for another of Dean's "projects".
While out exploring, we came across this fallen down rock structure left over from when they mined the area for uranium. Notice the difference in the construction from the Anasazi ruins? And these below are probably less than 100 years old vs. 1200 for the Anasazi ruins. Hmmmmm

From Temple Wash, we headed West - towards home! We did make a stop in the Northwestern part of the Humbolt Forest - in an area that just may have had some gold..... NOT!
We found a place to leave the trailer while we explored - though we didn't get very far because of the snow.
Stopped to check on Rio Tinto - a place I had visited many, many years before. The old school is still there. When I was last there, the settling ponds from the mining operation were red from the chemicals used - the government came in and cleaned up the area a few years ago. Copper was discovered in 1932 and was up to 47% pure. Rio Tinto became a ghost town in the 50's after operations were ceased in 1948.
Nearby, on the highway, is Patsville, another ghost town which was populated during the mining days. There are quite a few buildings still standing, though probably not for long. The Owyhee River was running through them when we were there. The open door to the right of the old washing machine has a river coming out of it.

Well, that's about it for the trip. We left Patsville and drove straight home. In the next few days, I will show you what we've been doing around here. Thanks for joining us on our vacation!

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