Monday, September 16
SCALER CABIN TO WEEPING ROCK
SEPTEMBER 16, 2002
SCALER CABIN TO WEEPING ROCK CAMPGROUND, WY
Departed the Cabin this morning at 7:30 a.m. for a forty-five minute 4WD ride to the bottom of a mountain. The first task for the day was to climb, approximately 1,000 feet, to the top of the mountain and meet two Bureau of Land Management staff for a ride down to the Green River where we would begin our canoeing. From the peak we had a magnificent view of the La Borge drainage spotted with clumps of yellow aspen. At the peak we met John Henderson, Zone Fisheries Biologist for the Rock Springs, Kemmerer, and Pinedale BLM field offices covering approximately 9 million acres, and Mike Brown, a public affairs specialist and historian previously from this area but now in Elko, Nevada. John and Mike, later jointed by Martin Hutchinson, Recreation Planner, transferred us from the Forest to BLM administered land and made one stop to view a Wilderness Study Area and discuss the general area issues.
Our decent from 9,000-foot peak to the Green River took us into one of the largest BLM WY natural gas fields. To many I imagine the area, gray sagebrush almost from horizon to horizon dotted heavily with gas drilling and pumping facilities and infrequently broken by strangely eroded rock outcrops, would appear bleak. But to me it has a challenging beauty and incredible space that makes one feel that that can look to the edge of the earth.
At the river we met Chris Pipkin, BLM Recreation Planner from Colorado who would be our guide for the next six days and had trailered out four canoes provided to the Journey by Centennial Canoe Outfitters. Following a picnic lunch, we were given a canoe briefing and then slid our canoes into the water.
The Green River at our point of departure is shallow, clear and green. For the next hour and a half we paddled down 6-1/2 miles of smooth river periodically broken by shallow rapids. What fun!
The John, Mike and the Support Team met us about 20 miles from camp. While Chris and the Support Team drove on to camp John and Mike took the Trek Team down to the Green River dam. On the way we passed a pronghorn right beside the road that allowed us to take numerous pictures and then just went back to grazing.
Weeping Rock BLM campground is on a bend in the Green River directly across from limestone cliffs with springs “weeping” into the river. It was hot when we arrived at the camp and after helping to unload the trailers, set up my tent on the sandy beach of the river, put on my bathing suit and took a very QUICK swim. As dinner was being prepared the sky clouded over and it started to blow. And it kept blowing harder and harder. In the end we repacked up the trailers and all drove in, 40 miles, to Kremmerer for dinner and then back out to camp.
During dinner Mike Brown entranced us with stories taken from the journals of pioneers crossing Wyoming for Utah, California, and Oregon. Some were funny, others tragic but all brought history to life. I wonder what our grandchildren and great-great grandchildren will think of our Journey’s journals? From the Journey, dana
Monday, September 16
A Lucky Rift
Sometimes we get lucky. Today, at our first walk-around of private property, we got very lucky. Our journey today takes us southeast from Deer Creek trailhead where we had ended our 10-mile hike three days prior. Thirty miles of moseying through sandstone washes and down one spectacular switchback descent, we head north into Capital Reef National Park. Paralleling our drive to the east is a colossal uplifted rift. The upper 200 feet of the rift is sheer sandstone, and I know that may be a problem for us down the road.
Watching the GPS unit and map to get an idea of where the upcoming private land lie in our path, I also watched the rift float by. Rarely did I see a place where the top of the rift could be accessed from below, which is exactly what we must do when we come to the private land.
Did I say we sometimes get lucky. Of course I did! At our stopping point, looking along the rift I noticed a long sandy bank reach the entire distance to the top of the rift. Nowhere for miles in either direction was another access point tothe top, and this sandy bank was positioned nearly exactly along the GPS route programmed into my GPS. Coincidence, heavenly intervention, magic, voodoo -- or luck?
At the top of the rift, which was about a mile away from where we began our hike, stood a figure. At first glance it looked human, but a second or longer glance told us it was too fat to be human. We placed bets on what it was, because we were going to find out. Was it a pinion pine, juniper or Dairy Queen?
I guessed juniper, which was correct, but I won nothing other than gold stars and free water.
We walked along the top of the rift for the sheer fun of it before spying a road to the east, which is where we had directed our support drivers to intercept us, if possible. One of the fun things about using GPS technology is the guesswork required to determine whether a road is truly a place on the earth or a long forgotten trail that has somehow made it into the Global Information System software, which we use to make our maps.
In this case our support drivers intercepted us on the road. But they had an adventure getting to us thanks to a wet and sandy streambed. But, as luck would have it, they picked us up where we had hoped.
We nearly lost Marlene, or so we thought, and I nearly panicked! Marlene is our techie who decided to stay with us a day longer so she could see Capital Reef before heading back to Phoenix, Arizona, her home. That meant I got her for more map work, which we needed direly, and to program our GPS units.
Hours after her expected arrival, and minutes after we had made calls to track her down, she pulled into camp with a story that not many geographically wise people would admit. She got lost. Furthermore, before she realized she was lost she had pulled into Deer Creek campsite, thinking it was to be the night's campsite. She set up her tent and took a nap, waiting for us to arrive.
But she pulled it all together and made it eventually to the right camp. We made maps, we programmed GPS, we are set.
"Why in the world would you even want to walk all the way across the country on public lands?" said a lady at tonight's program. The entire crew was lined up on a stage in front of 18 Capitol Reef campground campers who had come to see our program. One by one we introduced ourselves and talked about our Journey and the hopes we have for our public lands, including how we hope that our public lands can be protected for future generations, which is partly how we answered the lady's question.
The program went on and on, until finally we had to put people to bed, in particular ourselves. But we walked away with a lot to think about, from the topics shared by the audience: "It would be nice if there were a trail built where you traveled across public lands." "I'd rather our public lands are not exposed to millions of people. The fewer people, the better." "Will there be a book or a follow-up to your Journey? I'd like to know more?"
Monday, September 16
Monday, September 16, 2002. 5:00 Weeping Rock Campground, Green River.
A float trip on the Green is not like a float trip on the Current River or Jack’s Fork in Southern Missouri. The Green has a decent current, but the wind is in the canoeist’s face the whole trip. It is necessary to paddle!
The canoe trip today is the first of a series of day trips down the Green River. As we have four canoes, there is space for three of the support team each day. Dave encouraged me to participate today because I will be busy with school presentations later this week. I did, and I enjoyed it. It was only four miles, and Dana paddled like a machine. I steered the canoe and admired the beautiful cliffs along the river. We were out by early afternoon.
It turned out to be a long day, though. I got up to ice on my tent and hurried to haul the Trekking Team to their start, which was a hike around private land. It was a phenomenal start to the day-the road was narrow, winding, rocky, and through beautifully forested mountains. We had a scary moment on the mountain, but Dave rescued the day from catastrophe by using a wire to unlock his car (keys inside!). While the trekkers hiked to the river, we moved camp to meet them, boarded the canoes, and floated to the takeout.
Our camp at Weeping Rock is on BLM land, the name taken from a water-bearing rock stratum on the opposite cliff from which water falls about four to six feet into the river. The campground is mostly devoid of vegetation, so finding a flat spot with some grass to set up my tent was a challenge. The threat of high winds and rain or hail encouraged us to pack the kitchen back into the trailer and drive to Kemmerer, 45 miles away, for supper.
Monday, September 16
Returning to Civilization
Solitude was the word of the day today. It’s Sunday. It is also a rest day, so I went for a hike into Death Box Hollow Canyon. Just a few miles, no real equipment, no pack. The trail follows a stream; I’m just going for a pleasure hike. I stop several places to enjoy the view of yet another beautiful Red Rock Canyon…and to enjoy the sounds. There really are no sounds other than the sighing of the breeze though the small trees and the babbling of the brook. It’s magical. I will miss it very, very much when I have to return to my job in New York City. In the city you can never tune out the noise….it is always there. I will enjoy this while I can. I hike until I have a clear pool along side the stream and then I remove my clothes and go for quick swim…..I pause on the way out to again admire the shifting colors of the canyon. Yes, I will find it difficult to return to the hustle and bustle of a large city…..but once in a while I will close my eyes and be back in this canyon….all alone…..listening…..and swimming.
Monday, September 16
Day 48-Capitol Reef
Today is another outstanding day. I am sitting in the group campsite at Capitol Reef looking at more indescribable beautiful towering red, yellow, bluff sandstone tires. Today was the first day back on the road after 2 days off at Calf Creek Campground.
It was a busy day. We 4-wheel drove over 72 miles and hiked over 6 miles. We started early, just after daylight shown in the canyon. We were in two vehicles today, with Kay and Jessica supporting us in our vehicle shuffles. We visit the visitor center and were able to see the Capitol Reef Model and were able to trace out our route on the big relief map. It was really neat to be able to see it on large scale. That gives me much better perspective. Also when we drove into Capital Reef we see 4 mule deer under these absolutely immense cottonwood trees. They were the biggest Cottonwood trees that I have ever, ever seen. They were as big around as I don't know what. They must be over 600 years old. Oh would I love to hear the stories that they have to tell.
The terrain that we traveled through today was just indescribable, but I will try anyway. Around ever turn; there was a new vista. We saw mauve cliffs, green sand, petrified wood jumbled up in washes. We saw ponderosa pines clumps where you wouldn't think the sandstone would sustain life. When the light changes the colors change and you have a whole new vista and you are looking at the same place. I feel visually overwhelmed today. Goodnight.
Monday, September 16
Come for a 4 Wheel Drive
Out the window
Green polka-dotted with juniper and pinion
Hog’s Back, single two lane road with steep sides,
A nice slide of a hundred feet,
If looking makes one take an unscheduled turn.
Another page turns, says Jan
Green forested mountains greet us
Corrals, farm houses,
Sprinklers, green grass, tall trees interspersed
Sadly I let of
Of the buff and sandstone, sparely planted
But wait the sandstone is not completely vanished
At the next curve
It hugs the left side,
Gray, caramel streaks once again.
Reptile scale shapes in the buff hills
Buttresses, mesas, plateaus
Chunks, pieces, easily broken
Spewed, scattered on the road.
Holes in the sandstone looking like giant woodpeckers
Digging for rock insects.
Nature’s varnish , streaks of dark brown and black
Vertical stripes on the tall, enormous walls.
Down in the canyon
Sheer cliffs above
Tangled tree roots grabbing,
Holding rock parts, defying gravity.
Leaving Grand Staircase
Entering Capital Reef.
Arch suggestions marked in gigantic walls,
Pinnacles pasted together
Tall red chess like pieces, grand
A castle it could be.
Man’s fortresses could not rival the beauty.
Carved rock statue like pillars
By the power in the beauty.
Everyday I think we have seen everything, that there cannot be anything new. We turn a corner, mount a hill. Splendor continues.
Today we stay at the Fruita Campground. It is lush and green. Orchards of apples, peaches, pears and cherries fill the area. Jessica and I laugh and lay down on the real grass, first we’ve seen in a LONG time. We make “grass angels” and laugh some more. There are pear trees in our part of the campground. I eat one. Delicious. I notice a horse next to the fence. He looks longingly at my pear. Of course I share it. His two friends come over, beautiful healthy horses, silently begging. More pears. It is a good day.
We are joined at dinner by James, the park ranger. The talk is of public lands. The passion for the care of the park and others like shows in his eyes and his voice. It is a good time, here coming close to the end, to reaffirm the reason we are on this journey. He speaks of America’s evolution. From different issues that concern public lands are shared. Users groups and their agendas are compared
Monday, September 16
Jammie Pants and a Wood Cabin
Yesterday after the adoption, Kevin, our National Geographic videographer, took us into the Grand Teton National Park to do some final interviews. He left today, after being with us for three weeks, and he wanted to get tape of us reflecting on the last forty-some days. He chose a spot out in the woods, near Climber’s Ranch, with the Grand Teton peak directly behind us. It was warm, breezy, sunny, and gorgeous, and as we waited for our turn we looked at the rocks (rose quartz, pyrite, mica) and stretched in the sun. We have a new person on our support team, a woman named Kimberly who has already become very dear to me. She was the photographer who was with the trekkers when they horse-packed with Mel, and we all fell so in love with her that we asked her to join us for the last two weeks. Her company is welcome and sweet, and among many things we share a love of yoga. She is actually a certified teacher, and as soon as we have a free hour we are going to practice together- lucky me. So that day, we thought we would have some time to do yoga while everyone else was interviewing, but the ground was too rocky. However, the only clothes I brought with me to the forest were my makeshift yoga clothes: a sport top and my jammie pants, which just happen to be bright blue, tie-dyed, raggedly cutoff pajamas. So my National Geographic final interview shows me sitting on a huge downed tree, barefoot, in a borrowed American Frontiers T-shirt and ridiculous pajama pants, not having bathed in days, with the glorious Teton Range rising majestically out of the forest behind me. I’m hoping the mountains will be more distracting than the pants.
This morning, we finally left Jackson Hole and took a several-hour drive into the Bridger-Teton National Forest. We stopped for a picnic lunch on the Snake River, which we’d been following almost the whole way. There were two fly fishermen wading through the water, and all of us couldn’t believe how beautiful the day was. Warm enough for tank tops, sandals, and lying in the sun. Some of the guys were skipping rocks, and I remembered that just before I left, two of my brothers and I sat by a swimming hole in Hillsdale, NY and I had to sit idly by while they skipped rocks across the smooth water. So I asked Kimberly to teach me how to skip. Ten minutes later, all of us were standing on the shore, skimming rock after rock across the river. I learned that it’s all in the wrist and the spin, as well as the size and shape of the rock. I got one to skip four times! And Bob Ashley found a sweet little snake near the river’s edge. It was a great lunch.
We continued on, finally reaching Scaler Cabin, where we are staying tonight. It’s a forest service cabin that is rented to the public, but few people know about it. It is really neat- three bunkbeds, a real shower and toilet, a full kitchen and the prettiest view out of every window. Right now, everyone else is out by the fire, but I needed some solace (and some writing time). Only three of us chose to sleep indoors. The bunk bed called me inside, just so I could wake up and look directly out the high windows. We have an early morning tomorrow, getting the trekkers off by 7:30 to start the paddle down the Green River. I’m really excited about this leg of the trip because every day, several of the support team get to paddle as well. We don’t know yet who is going tomorrow, but it just might be me.
I’m off to bed, surrounded by four wooden walls, warm and happy.
Monday, September 16
Capital Reef: Fruita Campgound lawn ornaments
Courtesy Lorie McGraw
The Devil's Bookcase: Capital Reef National Monument
Courtesy Lorie McGraw
Entrance to Grand Wash, Capitol Reef National Monument
Courtesy Lorie McGraw
Leaving Calf Creek this morning I was once again struck with the beauty and ruggedness of the terrain around here. The first settlers in this area must have been brave souls, and determined as well. It is quite amazing to think that the route that we traveled into Escalate from Calf Creek, a mere 10 miles, took us about 20 minutes, yet that same route would have taken a day or more by wagon, and about a half-day by horseback.
For more information on Capitol Reef
Last night I took some pictures of the cliffs around Calf Creek that were bathed in moonlight. They did not appear well on the camera, but I can still see them in my mind. So many of our best pictures reside there, don’t they?
Yesterday I took a quick ride to see an astounding view along Hells Backbone plus the little bridge that crosses it. Two years ago, when my family and I were in this area, we tried the road to Hells Backbone, but at that time it was severely washboarded and was so jolting that we became afraid for our vehicle and we turned back. Yesterday the road was far better, and I went to the bridge plus beyond, looking down into Death-Hollow Wilderness Area, a mind-numbing drop into jagged gorges and defiles. Over and over I stopped for pictures, but they are weak in comparison to the real thing.
As I travel this incredible landscape I think over the thousands of days that I have spent on public lands as a child, a young adult hiking and camping, and as a parent and Boy Scout volunteer. What would happen if they were sold into private ownership and were not here for my grandchildren? What a dreary thought that is.
We are in Capitol Reef National Monument today. My family and I visited this wonderful place 2 years ago when we did our Western Tour. It was one of the places that we all wanted to come back to and spend more time. It is even more beautiful than I rememeber it. When we arrived at the group site there were 3 deer pretending to be lawn ornaments on this nice green grass lawn (Grass!!! Not Sand or dirt!!!). There are also pear and apple trees, so we pick pears and eat our fill. Yummmmmmm!
I will go and try to get some pictures of the area later. One place that I want to photograph is a place near the Visitor's Center that my son Patrick called the Devil's Bookshelf. It is a ravine where rectangular slabs of sandstone have slid off, looking like an overturned bookcase. I will put a link up
3:30 It is now late afternoon and we wonder where our volunteer techie, Marlene, is. She left just after us and was going to Escalante for a shower, but then she was to meet us here in Capitol Reeef at the Fruita Campground. Bob is going to look for her, we just hope that she hasn't landed in a ravine somewhere. We still need maps done, and we sure need her help. We have been at the campground since 9:30 this morning and she still is not here.
5:30 Well, Marlene just rolled in all sheepish. Turns out that she went to the wrong campground, set up her tent and them fell asleep. Thank goodness she is okay.
9:30 Marlene, Cathy and I are going to go out and see the cliffs in the park by moonlight. It will be a full moon next week, and right now it looks like a porchlight shining on the Navajo Sandstone. It is so beautiful, and I am glad that I have friends to share it with.
For information about the geology of Capitol Reef
Monday, September 16
Mountains out of Molehills
I made up a joke. Did you know Paul Simon wrote a song about hoodoos? “Who do, who do you think you’re fooling?” Hoodoos are formations that look like people standing. We’ve seen some amazing ones along the Trek. I got to be a driver for the Trekkers today. We followed the burr Trail for about 30 miles. The Trekkers had to walk around a section of private land so we dropped them off and headed to the pickup point. Jessica was the second driver. She talked me into climbing a very steep bluff. I was quite frightened several times because the rock would break off wherever I put my hands and feet. Jessica instructed me just to use the rock as support, not to pull myself up with it. We made it to the top and took pictures of ourselves to prove it. Of course I had more cuts to prove it. I wasn’t going back down the same way, so we found an easier way down the back of the bluff. We finally made it back to the cars, took a drink of water, and the Trekkers showed up. Perfect timing. I showed everyone my cuts and talked about the mountain I had climbed. Jan laughed and said, “Well I won’t say you make mountains out of molehills, but you do make mountains out of low hills.” Part of the road was a deep washout and at first Jessica and I weren’t sure we could make it. But the Honda 4WD crossed with no trouble. The next walkaround, we drove to what we thought was the pickup point, climbed another steep bluff, and waited what we deemed was an appropriate time. When the trekkers didn’t show, I decided to look for them. I followed another dirt road a bit, but turned around when it forked. If I had gotten out of the car I would have heard Jan yelling at me to stop. Fortunately we spotted them coming up the road. Alls well that ends well.
Our new campground is great. It’s called Fruita, maybe because of all the fruit trees around. We have covered picnic tables, a large lawn of grass, pear trees, and rock mountains as borders. I ate a pear, and it was sweet, soft, and delicious. It started raining around 6:00, so I wasn’t sure if the program would still be on at 8:00. Cindy Michelli and I have corresponded about this presentation since before the trek began. James Heller, a park ranger at Capitol Reef, came to eat with us. He mentioned that in the two years he has worked here that they have never had to cancel a program. Sure enough the skies cleared. James and I walked through the campsites and invited folks to come. We decided against using the computer and LCD projector in case of further rain. So the South Team lined up on the stage and we talked to the 18 audience members about our journey. The rapport was great, and they asked lots of questions. One woman asked could we make trails of our journey that others might walk our same path. One man said that he didn’t want the public coming out to public lands because of the fragile environment. James had spent a lot of time talking to us about his feelings about public lands. Protection and preservation seem to be the key words of the day. I guess that mirrors our message of respect and responsibility. There’s a few bad apples in every barrel-someone who can cause public lands to be closed to everyone. I’ve seen people on ATVs riding circles in mudholes, beer cans on top of mountains, and garbage dumped into lakes. One day there won’t be any clean public lands for future generations to enjoy.
Monday, September 16
Field Report, Day 48
Just when we were getting used to not having walk arounds, we get a very steep ridge to climb. At the top of the ridge without a trail we met Mike Brown and John Henderson form the Bureau of Land Management. They drove us down the spine of Deadline Ridge and onto BLM land. We stopped to add Martin Hudson to the caravan and he discussed recreation and the wilderness study area we drove by. Much of the general area is leased to oil companies, who have wells sunk into a very large pool of natural gas. The well sites are painted the same light brown color of the surrounding desert.
They also talked about 23 feeding grounds set aside for the migrating elk. Since part of the upper Green River Basin has gas wells and the requisite roads associated with wells, the migration patterns have been disrupted. The feeding grounds help mitigate the problem.
Mike Brown, during dinner, told great stories about the people who traveled on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails. Those three trails are the same in the Green River area. They split off farther west. He talked about the three major zones of crime and punishment associated with the trails. Each zone was within 50 miles of Sacramento, CA, St. Joseph, MO, and Green River, WY. Sacramento because it ended the California Trail and was close to the gold fields. St. Joseph because it was the starting point and Green River since the trails split near there. Disputes tended to happen at the beginning, middle and end of the trails.
I like paddling a canoe. You can view a lot from your seat. As you paddle calm water you can concentrate on the scenery and not the work. The BLM guys drove us to the Green River where we met Chris Pipkin, Grand Junction, CO, BLM, who will be our river guide for the next seven days. I shared a canoe with Chris; you get more information when you hang out with the leader (teacher).
QUESTION: What is a scaler?
You Are Here
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