Little Mountain, Big Clouds

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Little Mountain, west of Corrine Utah. Unseasonably cold weather pattern came through Utah earlier this week and gave us some great cloudy days and snow at higher elevations. Glad to have ventured out one of the days and snapped a few images before the return of cloudless blue sky summer days returns.

Exploring Promontory: Golden Spike National Historic Site

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Just over an hour away from Logan Utah and on the way to the Spiral Jetty is The Golden Spike National Historic Site. Usually I’m bringing friends out to the Jetty and we pass by much of what the site has to offer and just stop at the visitor center. This past trip was a bit different as my passengers were meeting me at the center and I would have some time alone to get off the main road and photograph along the East Grade Auto Tour. It was amazingly still and the only sound to be heard was that of a cow off in the distance. That changed with the unmistakeable sound of small caliber gunfire, and close too. Above and below: Looking East from the Central Pacific Grade on a beautiful spring evening.

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The landscape of Promontory is unforgiving and it is that aspect along with it’s austere beauty that attracts me. On a previous visit the wind was so fierce that one could hardly stand outside of the car, it’s no wonder few people live here.

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Take a moment and consider that these rail cuts were made by men with hand tools. Looking east through the cut toward Brigham City and the Wellsville Mountains. It was at this point I heard the gunfire and thought that it sounded pretty close. After returning to my car that was parked on the road I went through the cut and there I found the family using the Golden Spike Historic Site as their personal shooting range. As a reminder “Firearms may not be discharged in this national park or along the scenic drive and should not be used as a wildlife protection strategy”. Say what you will about firearms the thing that gets me is the attitudes of “it does not apply to me” or “I’m in the middle of nowhere so who cares”, in this case there are multiple public shooting ranges with in view of this location.

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Promontory has a lot to offer if you have the patience to travel there and empathy for what you will discover. On this day I was pressed for time and had to get back to Cache Valley but I will no doubt return and continue to photograph the landscape around the Golden Spike National Historic Site in the near future.

 

Images and text © Andrew McAllister-Looking at the West.

Exploring around the Great Salt Lake: Salt Wells Flat

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Location scouting for an upcoming photo shoot brought me to the north end if the Great Salt Lake. Pretty desolate looking and just what I had in mind. Have any of the blog followers travelled this route to the Lucin sun tunnels?

On the road in Wyoming

Working on the last post I remembered that I had another shot of a group of horses that I wanted to share on LATW. Taking the scenic route home from Jackson to Cache Valley via Diamondville last fall ended up taking many more hours than expected. With a lot ground to cover, dramatic sky, fall color and a photographer driving it was anything but quick. After a few stops you just have to stop stopping or it will be midnight before you are home.

Fall color near Bondurant, Wyoming.

Fall color near Bondurant, Wyoming.

Horses south on Bondurant, Wyoming

Horses south of Bondurant, Wyoming

The Flat Top, north of La Barge, Wyoming.

The Flat Top, north of La Barge, Wyoming.

 

On the road to Spiral Jetty

Once, when heading out to see Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty we came upon this family of horses grazing near the road. The landscape of Promontory is austere and so different from the I-15 area just 40 minutes away. Locals will tell you that the road was much rougher in years past and had a few points where 4WD was required. In my many trips out there I have seen Audi Coups, passenger vans and even a Kenworth. Follow the signs and drive sensibly and you will make it.
On the road to Spiral Jetty.

Cache Valley Utah

After the past few posts it’s time for a break from red rocks, blue skys and Toyota Landcruisers. I’ll start with this image from the homestead in Cache Valley looking to Gunsight Peak some 23 miles away.

Storm Clearing in Cache Valley Utah

Storm Clearing in Cache Valley Utah 5/29/2013

 

Kokopelli Trail with the Book Cliff Cruisers (day 3)

The third and final day of the 2013 Cruise Moab Kokopelli Overnighter. Today our group would drive Rose Garden Hill, Thompson Canyon and Polar Mesa and then into Moab. However Sean and I would have an unexpected twist in our journey and have to break off from the group and return to Moab via one of my favorite locations: Onion Creek Road.
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Above: My choice of camp spot (the blue tent) had me up early with the sun. Within an hour everybody was up and getting ready to go.

Rose Garden Hill

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Sean and the Dinoot trailer handle the first steep section with ease.

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This section of the trail had a few off camber climbs (above) before a long gentle descent (below).

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The tippy section of the trail. This was a somewhat easy section compared to the Rose Garden Hill section.

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The Fun Treks Guidebook states that this section pictured below can be tricky in wet conditions. Not a problem today but would hate to be out here in a downpour.

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Getting closer to Rose Garden Hill. The flat section below has a bit of a drop off on the drivers side. Just around the bend our group would stop for lunch and to assess the trail condition. A few jeeps were there when we arrived and we watched them struggle down the hill.

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Ace and Sandy spot Sean down the top section of Rose Garden Hill.

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Jonathan spots Sean through a particularly bouldery section (below).

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Jonathan spots Darius down a section of Rose Garden Hill.

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Ace descents a ledge like a champ (below). I think he has done this a few times before…

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Sean returns the favor and spots our trip leader Jonathan down the hill.

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Jonathan and his family descending Rose Garden Hill with an Adrenalin Camper. Check out the wheels on the LandCruiser.

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After all the vehicles were safely at the bottom and via the wonders of onboard refrigerator/freezers had an ice-cream snack before continuing on.

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The famous Rose Garden Hill from the base. Does not look so bad…

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After the break we headed toward Fisher Valley and Polar Mesa. After the Rose Garden Hill section we just completed the rest of the trip would seem like a cakewalk.

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After a mile or so of trail with inter dispersed rocks and curves the road straitened out as we approached Fisher Valley (below). We would continue on through Thompson Canyon and up to Polar Mesa at a good pace stopping once for the group to catch up at an intersection before moving on. The combination of our pace and the fact that I had filled my camera’s cards resulted in no pictures from this leg of the trip.

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A good hour or so into this final leg of the trip when the group had stopped and Jonathan was talking to us Sean noticed his prescription glasses were missing. We searched the truck and the areas we had walked in to no avail. A decision was made to break off from the group and retrace our path in search of the lost glasses. We did not have many hours left of daylight so we made good time back to the places we had stopped. Nothing was found at the Fisher Valley intersection so back to the Rose Garden Hill it was. Not unlike finding a needle in a haystack, it was daunting to look up the bolder strewn hill and think they could be found. Long story short, Sean had remembered falling at a point about 2/3 the way up the hill and it was there that he found the glasses on a rock. He theorized that someone found them in the trail and set them on a rock out of harms way knowing that whoever lost them would eventually return looking for them. Pretty amazing that we made it back and found them with about 40 minutes of light to spare.

Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli TrailSo this 3 day Kokopelli Trail run with the Book Cliff Cruisers ended well with lots of adventure, new trail friends and a couple of stories. For me it was a great opportunity to see some new parts of Utah, learn about reading the trail and seeing where a well equipped vehicle can take you. It also renewed my respect for the rugged landscape and those who cut the original trails, and was great to be apart of a group of drivers that followed the principles of tread-lightly and stayed on the established trails. This year we are slated to do the San Rafael Swell overnighter and it looks to be quite an adventure through some beautiful, remote and rugged landscape. Naturally a blog post or two will be in the works.

 

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