My time on the Dirty Devil River is over. I say that with a deep sigh. It was one of the best trips I have ever taken- a 14 day solo. I put in on 13 May just below Hanksville. I was loading my boat and gear back into the Landcruiser on 26 May, after having hitchhiked back to the Hanksville BLM office for my truck earlier that morning. I didn’t realize that the 26th was Memorial Day and I was in a bit of shock once I got back to Hanksville seeing the number of rushing people, with their expensive, oversize, manly trucks with barbeque grills strapped in the back towing shiny powerboats back to garages after their inaugural weekend on the ‘lake’ for the year. But enough of that- back to the Dirty Devil.
The trip was nothing short of amazing. The weather was hot the first week and cool towards the end, with wind and some light rain over the last five days, apparently an abnormal pattern. I had a full moon midway through the trip and so was able to enjoy the stars and planets early and late in the trip and the bright moon In the middle.
I spent lots of time looking at the geology of the area. The cliff faces were enormous in places, up to 1500 feet high. it was a great chance to see millions of years of sedimentary rock all at once.
I tried to keep track of birds, but it was tough. I could have just sat still for the two weeks and watched birds. I saw the usual- lots of wrens, Spotted Sandpipers, Turkey Vultures, and little gray birds, Western Tanagers, Hairy Woodpeckers, nighthawks, and hummingbirds. Added to the list were a couple of nesting pairs of Peregrines, two separate flocks of Chukar high up Twin Corral Box Canyon, a lone Forster’s Tern (?), pairs of Indigo Buntings, and a pair of Ruddy ducks among others.
I had two rattlesnake encounters, both in Twin Corral Box Canyon. (For more info on Twin Corral Box Canyon and others’ snake encounters, as well as super-informative floral information, visit Watching the World Wake Up Blog. I ran into Alex and Steve a few days into my trip.) The particular snake to the left was about 5 minutes upcanyon from Alex and Steve’s camp, just before I met them.
I was visited by lots of Red Spotted toads, some of which may have been Spadefoot toads. I did not check that closely. According to Sandy, the wildlife biologist at the Hanksville BLM Office, you have to pick them up and look for the spade on the foot, this being the telltale sign. On my overnight up Poison Spring Canyon I explored a side canyon that had what could be called a stretch of wetland in it’s middle. It was filled with tules, segmented and spikey grasses, and cottonwoods. It was also home to lots of toads, specifically the Woodhouse toad.
I managed two overnights, one up Twin Corral Box Canyon and the other up Poison Spring Canyon. I had a great, long dayhike up Robbers Roost Canyon, up to the inscriptions in White Roost Canyon. I enjoyed a walk through Happy Canyon, up through the narrows and into the wide open canyon above. Also explored Fiddler Cove Canyon, up to the pouroffs a day after rains up on the mesa. There was water running from the pouroffs to the river, making the hike even more interesting.
I will post specifics about the trip on the Desert Explorer website once I am back in Colorado, along with lots of photos.
For now, I am in the Lahontan Valley in central Nevada for the next week or so before heading back to Utah and the trip home. I am planning to visit some of the local sites, including Lovelock Cave and Salt Cave to view pictographs and their ancient habitation.
For more on my trips, the desert, survival and primitive skills, visit the Desert Explorer website.