It is the time of year when I wish I could just stay over in Utah. The winter is nearing its end and we are ready to get out. And two weeks is just never enough time, no matter the time of year. Nicolai and I had a great trip though, as always. The weather cooperated for the most part. There were a few cold nights, a few cold mornings, and of course the usual strong winds. Precipitation was very limited- we had a couple of snow flurries that lasted all of an hour at the most, and a couple of light rains that passed in a few hours.
We started our trip as we usually do at our “secret” camp site overlooking the train tracks near Westwater. From there we made a counter-clockwise loop to Moab, Green River, through the Green River Desert (along the edge of the Green River) to Horseshoe Canyon, Hanksville, down towards Hite, Cedar Mesa, and Mexican Hat, then up through Blanding and Moab back to I-70.
We visited some new locations, including Horseshoe Canyon to look at rock art. The panels down there are just amazing, truly some of the best you will ever see. And the preservation, for the most part, is great. Nicolai was a bit confused about why there was a chain keeping us back from the rock art at the Great Gallery. He understands that some people deface the rock art with their graffiti; he is quick to pick it out on nearly any panel. When I explained that the idea is to protect the panels so that he can come back to see them in 50 years, he kind of felt okay about it. We sat at the Great Gallery for a couple of hours, taking in the paintings, the clear sky, the trickle of water flowing down Barrier Creek. We will undoubtedly return there.
On many of our journeys to southeast Utah we stop in at the San Juan Inn in Mexican Hat for breakfast. We have a campsite at the southern end of Cedar Mesa that we frequently stay at, and that puts us only about 1/2 hour away from breakfast at the Olde Bridge Grille. One of the people working in the dining room is Navajo artist Joey Allen. We saw some of his prints last year and had hoped to buy one from him this time. Unfortunately he didn’t have any along, but they can be purchased from his website.
Hunting and Primitive Skills
Anyone who has read our blog or visited the Desert Explorer website knows that we focus a lot of our time on primitive skills. On this trip we experimented with using rice grass for making the birdsnest for starting fires. We used it on many nights with the metal match, and gave it a try a couple of times with the spark from our bow and drill. It required a bit more striking with the metal match to warm the material up than does Juniper bark for example. I am sure this is because the material is more coarse. The grass burst into flames with a couple of blows after dropping the spark from the bow and drill into the birdsnest.
In our last post we included a photo of a not-so-perfect obsidian knife we had made. The inspiration for that knife is at the Edge of Cedars Museum in Blanding. There are four beautiful knives on display there from a cache in nearby Westwater Canyon. They are normally displayed in the “visible storage” area upstairs. But now they are downstairs in a plexiglass cube as part of a new exhibit, allowing me to get a decent photo of them.
Nicolai loves the knives and we had to go back for a second visit to look at them, and take a few more photos for him, before we could leave Blanding.
We had originally planned to shoot a rabbit or two on this trip. Nicolai had plans for the meat, as well as the pelts and other parts. But we did not have the best luck hunting during the time we had our license. We did find tracks and scat, nothing fresh, but no rabbits made themselves visible to us. We did have some fun firing our Ruger 10/22 though. It was Nicolai’s first time firing it and he loved it. It seems it will be a permanent part of the packing list for Utah from now on. And we’ll try our luck at finding some rabbits next trip.
SPOT GPS Messenger
Finally, we did try out our new SPOT. We sent at least one “okay” message from our camp each night. We sent out our custom message whenever we found rock art or ruins. I made note of where and when each message was sent. Every message made it through, without fail. You can click on the links that are sent out and view “road” maps, toppgraphic maps, or satellite maps. From our end on the ground, it took only seconds for the “message sent” light to start blinking. I was a little skeptical about that, so took notes on each “send”. I am more of a believer now. It is a great way to keep in touch and let friends and family know you are on track and okay. And should you need it, it might save your life. You can read more about the SPOT and how it compares to PLB’s in some of our past blog posts or at the Desert Explorer website.
This post has provided a quick summary of some of our trip. We will post more in-depth soon about the rock art we saw and other locations we visited that might be of interest to everyone.