September 30, 2010

From Dawn's Early Light

We were up with the first glow of dawn to let the horses off the highline so they could graze for an hour before we saddled them.
We were camped on a hill, with this park-like view below us:
The circumnavigation of Currant Creek Peak (10,500 ft) was our morning's goal.  Here's the peak, which has communication gear up top:
We have walked to the top, but the final 100 yards is too steep and rocky to ride.
From the west shoulder of the peak, we had a view of Strawberry Reservoir, with the patchwork fall colors stretching below us:
To the west, the Wasatch Range loomed above the horizon:
Cows grazed on a hillside:
As we circled the peak, holding an altitude of about 10,000 feet, we went through several fences put up by grazing permitees.  Steve is in charge of opening the gaps. :)  Most of the fences are decent and have gaps along the trails that are easy to open and close.  This one was a little disreputable:
Steve did his best to close it after we passed through, but really, was there any point?  The fence sagged to about 2 feet high. While Steve struggled to do as the sign asked, the horses grazed and I snapped a photo of a pile of barbed wire the fence-builders had left.  It's a hazard, to say the least:
We returned to the trailer:
but decided noon was way too early to go home on such a beautiful day.  With so many mountains and valleys to explore, how could we resist another few hours of riding? 

September 29, 2010

Prime Time

The aspens are dressed up in autumn finery this week, and we were lucky enough to be in the mountains to enjoy them.
No gold coin glows as brightly as the yellow aspen leaves in sunlight. 
Daisy scared up a deer and a few grouse. 
The horses found green grass for a snack: 
Later, Mischief enjoyed a break in the shade while I took photos:
We rode a loop north of Strawberry reservoir, riding over Low Pass (9400 feet),
across the Little West Fork of the Duchesne, along on unnamed ridge with big views:
Guess what we saw as we traveled through the meadows? 
Yes, sheep, and lots of them.  Luckily, neither Mischief nor Coco have Boss's phobia about sheep, and he wasn't along on this ride.
We returned to the trailer in time to feed the animals and warm up some canned stew (it's true, our fare is far from gourmet, but it is quick and easy) before sunset.

September 28, 2010

Autumn Glory

We just returned from a 2 day ride north of Strawberry Reservoir.  The aspen were in their autumn prime. 
I'll post more later, but I just wanted to offer a sample.

September 26, 2010

The Rough Rides

Steve has kept a journal on the Utah trail rides and Utah hikes we've enjoyed over the last 15 years.  Most have been within the Uinta Basin, including trails in the Uinta Mountains, the Book Cliffs, around Dinosaur National Monument, Indian Canyon, Tabby Mountain, off of the Red Cloud Loop north of Vernal, and in the Currant Creek and Strawberry River drainages.

Compiling the information into book form has been more difficult than he expected, but since he retired from a real job, he's been hard at work on this project in his (limited) spare time.  I edited and added my two cents worth here and there.
The result:  Uinta Basin Rough Rides, a list of 66 Utah backcountry adventures, with trail descriptions, diary entries, and some of Steve's acquired wisdom ( the old aphorism, "Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment" applies here!) on horseback riding, GPS techniques, and general horse sense.
Here are maps of the area, with our routes outlined in red:
  Most of the areas have been featured in this blog.  If any of our rider/hiker readers are interested in buying a copy of the book, it sells for $12 plus $4 shipping.  Send payment and your mailing address to:
Steve Meier
RR 4 Box 3070
Roosevelt, UT 84066

September 25, 2010

Lady in Orange

This lady knows how to enjoy a clear mountain stream!
We've been gone for a week visiting family down south.  
I'll catch up on posts and visiting your blogs soon.  

September 18, 2010

A Sheepish Boss

At the beginning of our ride, we have distant views of the Wasatch Range.  Notice how fresh and alert Daisy looks.  She knows big excitement is coming.
We start riding down into Buffalo Canyon: 
At the lower reaches, we travel along a trail with bike tracks.  We don't see any bikers, but we do see a bow hunter, which makes me glad I am wearing orange. 
I am riding Boss, giving Mischief a rest. 
We encounter a herd of sheep:
Notice how Daisy is crouched down, trying to sneak up on them.  You may be able to see a mounted sheepherder on the left side of the photo.  Steve talks to two of the herders, communicating through his limited Spanish and their limited English.  The herders are from Peru. 
Boss, unfortunately, is terrified of sheep.  Yes, I know this makes no sense.  He's a big strong horse, but the baaa-ing turns him into a nervous wreck.  Or maybe it's the sheep scent that drives him nutty.  Whatever the reason, it is a challenge to ride him through the sheep and on down the trail to Willow Creek: 
This beaver dam appears to be active.  We ride down the creek until we came to some nice pools.
There, Steve wants to fish.  We get off and tie the horses for safekeeping, but about that time a dozen or so sheep appear on the mountainside and begin their baaa-ing routine. 
Boss is not a happy camper.  He pulls hard on his rope and dances around the trees.  When he can't escape, he hides in the brush as well as he can.  The sheep don't attack him.  I don't think they even notice him. 
Steve, undeterred, catches a few cutthroat trout.  This trout and the others in the stream are paler than most cutthroats we see.  Maybe they've evolved that way because the stream bottom is very light-colored in Willow Creek.
The aspens are golden in some places, and green in others:
We will have to wait another week or so for the maximum gold in the mountains.

September 16, 2010

A River Ran Through It

(this map is from the journal of Fray Silvestre Velez de Escalante)
The Dominguez-Escalante expedition traveled through eastern Utah in 1776, roughly following the path of today's Hwy 40.  On our rides, we've taken note of many of the creeks and springs that this group of Spanish padres recorded.  (Escalante was the scribe for the trip, and has since had his name attached to a Utah river, town, and national monument.  Dominguez, the expedition leader, has his name attached to nothing, strangely enough. The moral of the story:  it pays to be the one who records history, because the scribe shall inherit the names.)
A Ute Indian guide led the expedition through one of the Utes' favorite hunting grounds, a beautiful valley that has since been dammed into what is now known as Strawberry Reservoir.  At the time, a river ran through the valley, but there was no lake.  Escalante named the series of green meadows Valle de la Purisima, translated as Valley of the Purest, or Valley of the Virgin.  Too bad we'll never see those meadows because modern man's lust for water has taken it over.  (The 3.5 mile Strawberry Tunnel, 7 feet in diameter, penetrates through the mountains to bring this water to the Wasatch Front - Salt Lake City and surrounding areas.)
The land around the reservoir is still beautiful and relatively untouched. 
Game still abounds. On our trip to the area two days ago, some of the aspen had changed. 
Next post, I'll tell you about our ride: the fishing, the horses, the sheep. 
Hey, what's up with this sign? 
This sign is located at the Soldier Creek Dam turnoff, and an identical sign points toward the Aspen Grove Campground.  (An internet search indicates Forty Dam Acres is a community, but it's not shown on any map.  Guess we'll have to follow the signs sometime and see what we find.) 

September 12, 2010

Geocaching for Springs

Last week, we took a ride to Indian Head (9900 ft), the highest point along Indian Canyon.  We had views of the West Tavaputs Plateau to the north (with the Uintas in the far, far distance):
the Wasatch Range, about 40 miles to the west:
and south toward the Price River valley and off toward vast basin and range country:
  From there, we rode down the nearby Horse Ridge.  We had nice views toward Gray Head Peak, an area we have ridden a lot:
A few aspen leaves had gotten the fall memo and were beginning to change. 
Some of the berry bushes were cooperating by putting on their fall colors:
We had GPS readings for 3 springs (hoping to find water for the animals in this dry country).  Yogi and his fellow Geocachers might think of this as playing their game.  But we failed!  We went to the coordinates, and searched all around.  One place had some old pipes, indicating the spring had been tanked at one time, but it's dry now.  The other two places didn't look at all likely:
Strangely enough, the one spring that we did find, by following cow and game trails, was not on the map in its actual location.  There was a spring shown in the next drainage over... Maybe the "spring" designation was misplaced, not totally missing. 
Hmm.  No geocaches for us.  And no points for the guys who made the maps, either!
We did find a hawk:

September 10, 2010

Last of the Green

We went for a ride on Dry Canyon Ridge.  The aspen are still green, but it won't be long before the hillside turns gold.
The serviceberries are loaded with fruit.  Native Americans considered these berries a staple and dried them for use all year long.  Birds and other wildlife also enjoy these berries. We've tried them, but they seem very bland to us.  I guess our expectations are too great, or we're just plain spoiled.
We climbed some steep hills,
and reached 10,400 feet.  Daisy and Coco seem to have some communication going.
Daisy takes a swim in Baum Lake.  Maybe Coco's thinking about it.  But not with the saddle on, please!


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