Another Spring Break in Canyon Country

21 April 2016

We have just returned from southern Utah once again. It was a late spring break for us, but well worth waiting for April to make the trip. The weather was perfect right up till the end, when we caught a bit of the storm that brought winter back to Colorado. We spent our two weeks in the usual places, revisited some of our favorite canyons, and explored some new ones. We made it a point to include plenty of time enjoying sunrises, sunsets, and the star filled night sky, and more than a few afternoons sitting on the slickrock with a cup of tea.

Blooming holly. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

Holly in bloom. The desert was alive with color and fragrance.

Our itinerary brought us straight to southern San Juan county this time. We made an afternoon stop in Moab for final supplies as always, but the weather was so perfect that Moab was too busy for us. April is the perfect time of year for most people- warm days and not too cool nights, without the extreme heat that comes in another month or so. Besides ATV’s and other off-road vehicles, there were mountain bikes everywhere, and more RV’s and camp trailers to be found around every corner than I have ever seen. This was the case everywhere we went- down every road whether it be along Comb Ridge, on Cedar Mesa, or around Green River, where we finished up our trip.

Grand Gulch
We did get a few days of backpacking in this trip. We walked in through Dripping Canyon, had a day in Grand Gulch, and walked out Step Canyon. This is something I have done before, so knew the walk quite well. It was perfect for Nicolai and I- nothing an 11-year-old couldn’t handle. As always, we could have used a couple more days in this short stretch of the canyons- there was just so much to see that we had to choose where to spend our time. For anyone venturing in any time soon, water was not a problem. At least finding drinking water that is. From another perspective, that of walking, it was quite a problem in places. There was so much water in the canyons that we found ourselves skirting pools all along the walk, and especially in Grand Gulch.

Yellow ancestral puebloan pictograph in Grand Gulch, Utah. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

“Yellow Man” panel in Grand Gulch.

Cedar Mesa was a busy place. The Kane Gulch ranger station was packed on the few occasions we stopped in. But once we got in the canyons we only saw, and heard, one group of people. I should say heard more than saw them. Their presence was known to us by their extremely loud voices, yelling I would call it, and their crashing wildly through the brush. We made it a point to discuss this problem with the folks at the ranger station after our walk- noise pollution is  a problem everywhere and especially in such a place as this. I feel that these days so many people don’t know the difference between a place that is… sacred, and say, the grocery store. The analogy I like to use is that I would not come bounding and crashing and yelling into your church, so please don’t come into mine that way. But I suppose, to continue the analogy, I am preaching to the choir here.

Comb Ridge
We have a favorite camp in view of Comb Ridge making it easy to get into the canyons there. We spent five nights on the slickrock at that camp, really enjoying the night sky. I have to make a plug here for one of my more recent equipment purchases. I have been sleeping better than ever these days on an Exped SynMat 7 Sleeping Pad. This inflatable sleeping pad has an integral pump which inflates it in just a couple of minutes. No blowing it up by mouth involved! I have the synthetic fill version which is rated at an insulation value of 4.9, but there is a higher rated pad that has down filling.  I use it at the truck and on the river- it’s just too heavy for me to carry on a backpack. The pads are not cheap, but if you are struggling with getting a good night’s sleep on a thinner pad, you may want to give one a try.

We spent a couple of days exploring Comb Ridge, and as always found more ruins and rock art, middens and moki steps, sweat lodges and seasonal campsites. Comb Ridge is truly a place where one can learn about the varied archaeology of the Northern San Juan region all in one place. One ruin we visited stood out in the amount of mud that was plastered on the walls. The ruin lacked for stone, but still held together well with mud. Looking at it you could see the way it was applied, in great masses, each appearing to be left to sag and dry before the next mass was applied. The interior of the walls had niches built-in, and the end walls were curiously rounded, as if they were not continued across the front, but were left open.

Ancestral Puebloan structure in Comb Ridge, Utah. Photo by Gerald Trainor

Comb Ridge ruin with walls lacking in stone but showing an abundance of mud.

Ancestral Puebloan dwelling in Comb Ridge, Utah. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

End wall of plastered ruin showing rounded finish. Note the thick mortar beds between the thin pieces of sandstone.

There is always so much to see, and to write about afterwards, on our Utah trips. But for now it’s back to preparation for the next trip. In about a month we are back in southern Utah for more archaeology at Nancy Patterson Village. For more about us and our desert adventures visit the Desert Explorer website.

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September Trip Report, Part Two- Chinle, Comb Ridge, and San Juan Rock Art

18 November 2012

In my most recent post I wrote about the first part of my September trip to Southeast Utah. This post completes my trip report.

My next stop after Grand Gulch was Chinle, Arizona. I made the trip south in order to attend the KTNN radio Drums of Summer celebration. It was the second to last gathering of the summer and being only a couple of hours away I made it a point to take the drive. KTNN radio, the Navajo Nation’s radio station, hosts the Drums of Summer celebrations throughout the summer every year. They are held around the reservation, often in local school auditoriums. They consist of Navajo singers and drummers performing for the audience, along with space for attendees to dance. There are countless raffles and giveaways, and at this particular event there was a pinion fire burning outside with fresh frybread cooking on it. The gathering was in honor of seniors, many of them as I understood it, from the local Chinle senior center. Most of the dancers were older Navajos, and really seemed to be enjoying the event. I spoke to one of the directors from the center for a while, and he told me of the importance of seniors in Navajo culture. I had given this some thought already upon realising that there was in fact a senior center for aging Navajos, people who traditionally would have been cared for in the home by family members, rather than in a western, institutional setting. I sensed that the director was concerned himself with this fact but resigned to it, that it was in the present day unavoidable. He also expressed his dismay with some younger Navajos, telling me how so many seemed to be abandoning their own culture and language in favor of the western world, something I have heard many times from older, more traditional Navajos.

After a night in Chinle I headed north again to Comb Ridge. I was joined on one day of hiking there by two Army medics who were visiting the Chinle area. It was a great opportunity for me to introduce them to the prehistory of the region, and for all of us to make some discoveries in the canyons. I had been along Comb Ridge on both east and west sides many times. I had examined various rock art panels along the way, camped there a number of times, used it to access the eastern drainages of Cedar Mesa, but never really done much hiking there. It has always been my understanding that parts of Comb Ridge were as densely populated as Grand Gulch in prehistoric times, although on a  much smaller scale.  Anyone who has visited the Edge of Cedars Museum in Blanding will note that many recent additions to the museum, and some very important ones,  have come from the Comb Ridge area.

Ruin along Comb Ridge, Utah. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

A ruin in one of the many short canyons along Comb Ridge.

There was also the recent discovery of skeletal remains along Comb Ridge thought to be those of the long-lost traveler Everett Ruess (in the end it was not Ruess). I have to admit that I always found the amount of archaeology from Comb Ridge hard to believe, considering that the canyons are so short. The distance from Butler Wash on the east to the crest of Comb Ridge is not more than a couple of kilometers on the average- very short in terms of resource availability, both food and water. But then I must consider Butler Wash itself, and the fact that Comb Ridge consists of many, many of these short canyons side by side, running east to west, for miles and miles. Also, the tilted Navajo sandstone of Comb Ridge creates perfect building locations, although not as defensible as the shelves and benches of nearby Grand Gulch and its associated drainages, and provides for some canyon-bottom farming locations.

View west from top of Comb Ridge. The drop to the west at this location is about 700 feet down to the road at Comb Wash below. Taken with iPhone panorama application by a fellow hiker.

Those who have read my blogs in the past know that I do not like to give too much away, that my intentions are to leave the discovery to the individual by not providing grid coordinates, maps, or even trail directions. With that said, Comb Ridge is a place that seems to me to allow for endless discovery. Not only that, but the hiking, in my opinion is fairly easy- my 8-year-old son and I will be there visiting the canyons together on our next trip to Utah. You can expect to see cultural and geologic wonders, and an unmatched view if you hike up to the ridge at just about any point along the way.

Detail shot of eastern end of a very large and distinct petroglyph panel along Comb Ridge.

After Comb Ridge I spent a couple of days around Bluff, and took a look around Sand Island, the primary launching point for floating the San Juan river. Besides the boat ramp, you will find rangers in residence, campsites, picnic areas, toilets, water, and petroglyphs. The main, Lower Sand Island petroglyph panel is easily accessible from the road leading into the campground. You can in fact view the panel from your car window if you so desire. It is an extensive and busy panel that covers more than 2000 years of prehistory. 

petroglyph panel near Sand Island, San Juan river, Utah.

One of the many panels near Sand Island, showing animated, possibly dancing figures.

There are many other panels up and down the San Juan from the same time period and possibly much, much earlier. And by much earlier I mean much earlier, with probable representations of Pleistocene megafauna- between 11,000 and 13,000 years ago. The panel I am specifically referring to is known locally as the “Bluff mastodon panel”, but likely represents Columbian Mammoths, two of them, and a possibly coeval, superimposed bison. See the paper in the journal Rock Art Research from 2011 for extensive background on the panel. The paper offers a very clear description and analysis of the panel and supporting arguments for the date that are very convincing. As the paper also points out, there are likely a panel or two from the same period still waiting to be found, and plenty of discoveries within the panels along the San Juan river waiting to be made.

For more on our desert adventures, the San Juan river, and rock art, visit the Desert Explorer website.


September Trip Report, Part One- Fish Creek Canyon and Grand Gulch

13 October 2012

I was lucky enough to have the last two weeks of September to myself in the Grand Gulch area of southeast Utah this year. I managed to spend about a week in Grand Gulch and on Cedar Mesa, and a few days hiking Comb Ridge. During my hikes I found countless rock art panels- a few that I revisited, but many new ones, and ruins all along the way. I also made a side trip down to Chinle, Arizona for an evening of Navajo singing and dancing sponsored by KTNN, the Navajo Nation’s radio station. The weather was perfect, not too cold, and warm during the day. There was one night and morning of sustained rain while I was down in Grand Gulch. There was enough rain to send water cascading off canyon rims and to turn the previously dry canyon bottom into a fast-moving stream.

My hikes started out with a few days in upper Fish Creek Canyon- 3 days and 2 nights to be exact. I entered from the Fish and Owl trailhead and then walked up the Main Fork and came back down the South Fork. This was a section of canyon I had wanted to visit for at least the last ten years, ever since my first trip into lower Fish and Owl Creek Canyons. The head of the canyon seems very inviting as you drive across it on Highway 95. Looking down canyon, it appears that it would be a gradual, even descent on slickrock canyon bottoms. This is not really the case, especially up high.

Entrance to Fish Creek Canyon, view north from canyon rim after walking across mesa. The walk is rough in the canyon bottom down below.

Since I was traveling alone and not carrying any technical canyoneering gear (no ropes, harness, slings) I started from below and worked my way up. It always feels safer to me to work this way- if I can climb up something I can usually climb right back down it. Coming in from above and following the canyon bottom in an unknown canyon often requires a lot of climbing out- around- back in. This adds the potential for becoming “rimrocked” while trying to find a way back in. Then there is the possibility of downclimbing and coming to impassable pouroffs requiring backtracking and climbing back out. Of course the same will then be true for traveling up canyon, but the potential for getting into trouble is minimised, in my opinion, by traveling up canyon.

Upper Fish Creek Canyon is not lower Fish Creek Canyon, not that lower Fish is that easy of a walk. The canyon started out with water everywhere, and associated brush, requiring lots of skirting of pools, and some climbs around bigger pools at pouroffs. I found pools of hundreds and even thousands of gallons of water on my hikes in Fish Creek, Grand Gulch and side canyons.  I should mention that just a couple of weeks before my arrival there was a tremendous downpour lasting some 10 hours at certain locations. This filled the canyons with water, scouring them out and depositing debris, and creating problems for navigation both in the canyons and on the mesa top. I was told by the rangers at Kane Gulch that “the narrows” of Grand Gulch had become a swimming hole at the bottom, and was jammed with debris at the top. There was a group of volunteers clearing out brush and rebuilding trails in that area while I was there.

Pothole- upper Dripping Canyon, Cedar Mesa, Utah. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

Large pothole holding thousands of gallons of water, upper Dripping Canyon.

Back to Fish- canyon bottom walking was rough at times. Besides water and brush, there was plenty of climbing over, under, and around boulders higher up in the canyon. Slots were a problem higher up, requiring climbing out, skirting on a bench, and climbing back in. The vegetation changes as I gained elevation traveling up canyon occurred in conjunction with the slots- once I started seeing Ponderosa and other pines, the canyon narrowed and started to slot. I encountered more slots coming back down the South Fork than moving up the Main Fork. A rope, harness, and some slings would have made for an interesting experience in these upper sections.  I spent a few hours on benches skirting slots on  the way back down.

Slot in upper Fish Creek Canyon, South Fork. Don’t be deceived by the photo- it is about 40 feet or so down to the water. This would have been fun with rope and harness.

After I finished up with Fish Creek Canyon I headed across the mesa into Grand Gulch proper. I entered via Dripping Canyon, which is passable. That is about all I will say on the subject; it is a fun one, and can be done. I spent the afternoon in Grand Gulch and headed out via Step Canyon, where I stayed the night. Along the way I passed by some of the well-know panels and ruins in the canyon bottom. If you are new to Grand Gulch, it was at one time very populated. This is evident as you walk along the canyon bottom; all you have to do is look up every now and then to see ruins and rock art.

Pueblo dwelling, Grand Gulch, Utah. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

Large, well-preserved, and defensible ruin in Grand Gulch.

Part two of my September Trip Report will cover hikes in Comb Ridge, rock art along the San Juan River, and my visit to Chinle, Arizona. I will also include an update on my tracking book bibliography. Look for that in about a week. In the meantime, for more on visiting southeast Utah, see the Desert Explorer website.


Some Thoughts on the Moab Ranger Shooting

25 November 2010

Update: 15 January 2011
There hasn’t been much in the news about Ranger Young lately, but he is currently at home, recovering, and doing well it sounds like, after being shot 9 times. We are glad to hear that and wish him the best. Follow the RangerBrody link below to donate or to get to his Facebook  page to read more.

Update: 08 December 2010
A New York Times article addresses the bigger problems that some rangers face every day, now that so many of them have become law enforcement officers rather than a friendly face on the trail ready to discuss the flora and fauna. Meanwhile, Ranger Young’s condition has worsened (click the link below to read more about him.)

Update: 27 November 2010
The search area near Moab has been re-opened to the public and all law enforcement has pulled out. The manhunt has been scaled back to only ranger patrols through the area. There has been no new sign of the suspect for days, all this according to online news reports. Also, a website has been set up for Ranger Young where donations can be made towards his hospital bills- visit rangerbrody.org.

25 November 2010 post:
It has been a while since I have had the time to sit down and write.  I apologise to those looking for more from us. The coming holiday season is keeping us quite busy these days at our retail store. Today I had hoped to focus on something like rock art, or desert plants, or summer plans on this Thanksgiving day, but the recent shooting of the ranger near Moab has my attention. Events like this leave me wondering about the state of our world, especially when they happen in a place like Moab where I don’t expect such things, and to a park ranger whose mission is to make sure visitors are safe in their adventures on the slickrock, rivers, and in the canyons.

I do not have any more information than can be found on the Salt Lake Tribune website, or anywhere else online. It is the policy of law enforcement agencies to give out just enough information to keep the public safe and help in their search for suspects. How they come up with what is “enough information” sometimes baffles me. In this case I am of the opinion that more information released to the public would be better for all of us, especially now that the search for the suspect is being scaled back and the public allowed back into the area. There is undoubtedly more information available to those in Moab.

For those unfamiliar with the event, a Utah state park ranger making a routine check on a vehicle at the Poison Spider Trailhead parking lot was critically wounded on Friday night, 19 November at about 8:40 pm. He was able to return fire, apparently a lot of fire, and then call for help. Ranger Brody Young is in a Grand Junction hospital and is stabilising, again according to news reports.

Why Did it Happen and Where Did the Suspect Go?
The motive for the crime, if it can be called that, seems clear enough- the suspect is a disturbed, angry, antisocial person who was described as “a cannon ready to go off”. It seems that Friday night was just when it finally happened.

As for my theory on the suspect’s whereabouts- this is the part of such an event that captures my interest- having only news reports to go on, and nothing first hand, everything I write is pure speculation. I am familiar with the area, having biked, hiked, driven, and floated through on many occasions. I am also familiar with the fact that people can disappear in canyon country fairly easily. The history of the area is replete with such stories. Many of those who “disappeared” were later found dead; case in point being the quick disappearance in 1998 of the trio that killed Cortez, Colorado police officer Dale Claxton.

According to news reports the present manhunt is being scaled back, the searchers having had no luck in finding signs of the suspect for a couple of days it would seem. Reports now state that the initial track followed may not have been that of the suspect. The suspect’s vehicle was found “a few miles” away from the location of the shooting. On the map that would be right around Bootlegger Canyon, a route out of the area. The rail line from the potash plant downriver runs right through the canyon. There was mention in news reports of searching the railroad tunnel there for the suspect.

There are many other possible routes out of the area, some well-known and well-traveled, others only known to canyoneers and explorers. Those well-known routes could be easily covered by law enforcement, for example traveling down Potash Road you can easily make it up through Long Canyon onto the mesa top, or continue to White Rim Road and on through Canyonlands National Park. Not so with the countless unmarked routes up and out of the area.

I found the possibility of floating out of the area mentioned only once, in relation to canoes at a ranch in the search area. I am sure the river was well-searched by air, if not by boat (I found no reference to this in reports). Floating out late Friday night, under the near-full moon, covering 10 or 15 river miles would give access to many more possible exits.

Limited Information Released
A recent report states that the suspect is in “pretty good” physical condition. This is an important part of the equation. Reports make little mention of equipment, another important consideration. A backpack with “some clothing and canned goods”, along with a .22 rifle, was found a couple of miles from the vehicle abandonment location. Knowing if the suspect likely had a daypack that was not found in his car, or that his sleeping bag was not found for example, would reveal a lot about the suspect, and his probable condition.

Again, I can only speculate on the suspect’s whereabouts. It cannot be ruled out that he made it far out of the area before searchers made it in on Saturday morning. A healthy, fit, prepared person with maps and knowledge of the area could cover 10, 15, even 20 miles in a day, less of course at night and under adverse weather conditions. But it must be remembered that this person was desperate, and desperation can press a human to do seemingly unattainable things. Conversely, history would caution us and state that there is likely a body to be found very near where officers are searching.

No matter how the suspect is found, dead or alive, I will likely feel a little different the next time I visit Moab, not quite so safe as I have always felt. I know this was an isolated event, and that we probably will not see anything like it again for many years to come. At least I can hope that.


The Archaeology of Southeast Utah- Ruins, Rock Art, Museums, and Looters

28 June 2009

On our recent trip to southeast Utah my son and I visited many ruins and even more rock art panels.  We saw everything from archaic anthropomorphic petroglyphs to Barrier Canyon pictographs to mud handprints to cowboy graffiti from early last century. We spent a long afternoon at the Edge of Cedars Museum in Blanding. If you visit the area make it a point to stop at the museum for at least a couple of hours. It is built adjacent to a pueblo that has been extensively excavated and reconstructed.  There is even a kiva that you can enter. They have an amazing collection of artifacts including four Cottonwood plates that appear to have been made yesterday and four hafted stone knives, from the same cache, that are as well preserved as the plates. I have never seen wooden plates before, nor knives in this condition, from anywhere in the southwest.

Rock Art

Nicolai and I visited some of the more well-known panels close to Moab including Courthouse Wash panel, Moonflower panel and others along Kane Springs road, and one lesser-known panel north of town. The most impressive rock art on our trip was during our backpack on Cedar Mesa.

step_petros

Rock art on boulder in Cedar Mesa canyon.

The panel at left was one of about 6 panels located on some very large boulders at the base of a ruin.  The ruin had about 15 rooms and a number of associated granaries, with other dwellings located nearby.  In all, within about a 300 meter radius, there were likely 25 or so rooms that could have been used as living quarters.  There were about 10 granaries in total associated with them.

The boulder in the photo has light patination. Most of the others are much darker.  The petroglyphs on the boulders and ruin walls include a few different human forms including horned anthropomorphs, kokopelli figures, and the Abajo-La Sal Style human form in this photo (see Sally Cole’s Legacy on Stone, page 159).  There were also bighorn sheep, spirals and concentric circles, zigzag lines or snakes, birds- turkey and quail, mazes or maps, a staff, and atlatls. This gives a short list of the elements visible on the panels at this ruin.  One could spend days or weeks exploring all the elements, their time spans, and meanings.

cowboy_intial

Initial and date graffiti on a rock used for grinding by the ancient inhabitants of this rock shelter.The rock shelter has the remnants of at least two granaries, as well as debris from years of use by cowboys.

Besides the petroglyphs the same location had mud handprints and initials and dates of cowboys that likely spent some time tending cattle in the canyon bottom. The photo above shows one of the initial and date sets.  It reads “EH”, with a date of 1914. I gather that EH was not entirely literate based on the backwards “9”. There are two other sets at this location, one dated 1914 and the other 1940.

step_mud_hands

Mud hand prints in Step Canyon.

A Few Words About Ruins

nico_step_ruin

Nicolai peeks into one of the rooms.

The ruins in Grand Gulch in general are some of the best preserved that can be found.  Those we visited are well-preserved for the most part, with what might be described as medium-quality masonry, having solid walls with the fingerprints of the builders still visible.  Many doorways are still intact, with their pine lintels as if they were installed yesterday. I have stressed the importance of helping to preserve ruins and rock art to Nicolai since his first visit. When we visit I remind him about not climbing or leaning on, or even touching any of the ruin walls, and especially the rock art. He has already developed an appreciation for these irreplaceable cultural treasures, and an understanding of the importance of preserving the ruins, rock art, and artifacts in their original context for scientific purposes. He also understands that we are respectful of the old people and their descendants when we visit these places.

Looters

The big news during our trip came from the towns of Blanding and Monticello. On Wednesday, June 10th, the Feds arrested 24 people, mostly in Blanding and Monticello, for artifact theft.  There had been an undercover operation going on there for the last couple of years.  See the Salt Lake Tribune or LA Times article for the complete story. The names on the list included a teacher, David Lacy (who apparently had the same troubles in the past), James Redd, the local physician (who committed suicide the next day), and one of the more respected people in Blanding, the man in part respponsible for putting Blanding on the map- Harold Lyman. Lyman also helped protect the ruins and found the Edge of Cedars Museum. The locals were very upset, both in Blanding and Monticello, as many people in these small communities were impacted in some way by the arrests.  Some are claiming that the Feds used undue force when making the arrests, the same claim that was made after the last raid of the area 15 years back or so for the same reason.

There is never a less-than exciting moment when we visit southeast Utah.  I will watch as the story of the looters unfolds and include any news in future posts.

courthouse_wash

Final shot- Barrier Canyon pictographs at Courthouse Wash panel.


Dirty Devil River, Desert Explorer Update, Four Corners Fugitives

26 January 2008

Dirty Devil River Float-
I made a decision this week to float the Dirty Devil River earlier than I had originally planned. Since I am going to ride the White Rim in August, the plan now is to float solo at the end of May, over the last two weeks of the month. I had thought about floating in August, but was worried about the flow of water then. In May that should be less of a problem. I am giving myself 10 days to do it, but will allow two or three days extra in my itinerary in case I find canyons that must be explored. From all the information I have found on the river, much of it, in the upper reaches at least, seems to be a muddy stream. But I am sure there is plenty to see along the 90 or so miles of the trip from near Hanksville down to Hite. There are some really amazing canyons along the way, judging by the topography on the map. Of course I will carry a pack and hiking gear; I will likely carry a larger pack for an overnight or two if my research and map reconnaissance deem it necessary, and I will make sure they do.

Logistically the only hurdle to work out is a shuttle from Hite to the put-in above Hanksville. I will call Tag-A-Long Expeditions in Moab in the next week or so to see if they have any plans to be in the area at the end of May. It is probably too early for them to know their schedule for sure, but I will let them know that I am interested. Once I park my truck at Hite Marina, and get the ride to the put-in, I am free for the next couple of weeks to explore. I am really looking forward to the float, even though it may be challenging in terms of navigation- dragging the boat across sandbars and through shallows, in the heat of the summer no less, will be a big part of the float from the little I have read about it.

Desert Explorer Website-
I added three new pages to the Cedar Mesa Trip Guides page on the website this week. Kane Gulch Ranger Station to Toadie Canyon Loop; Green House Canyon, Grand Gulch, Pine Canyon, Step Canyon Loop; and Coyote Canyon to Shiek’s Canyon Loop are now online. I will revisit them in the coming weeks to edit and add to the content, and post another photo or two once I locate the images.

I did some editing of the Backpack Foods Page this week, added more content, the first recipe. This page will see more work in the near future as well- I will add at least a few more recipes this week. As with all my pages, I create them and add to them as time allows. My goal is to at least post introductions on the topics that I feel are necessary and important to desert backpacking and hiking. Then I can work on them when I have the time, 10 minutes here, a half hour there. I still have much work to do to get the site to a point that I feel makes it comprehensive. I am about half way to my ultimate goal. So keep checking back.

Four Corners Fugitives Search-
This week I went back to my notes about the Four Corners Fugitives and began work on Chapter Five. It should be ready for posting this week. If you are unfamiliar with this topic, I will offer a summary:

In late May of 1998 a water truck was stolen near Durango, Colorado. Three local men, Jason Wayne McVean, Alan Lamont Pilon, and Robert Matthew Mason were ultimately responsible for the crime. On 29 May the three were spotted in the truck and stopped by officer Dale Claxton. They opened fire on the officer, apparently with automatic weapons, killing him before he could exit his police cruiser. The three then sped off into the remote Cross Canyon area along the border of Utah and Colorado, but not without other incidents. Mason was eventually found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot on 04 June, 1998, 50 miles from where they abandoned their escape vehicle. Pilon was found in the same condition on 31 October, 1999, not two miles form the vehicle. McVean was finally found on 05 June, 2007, just miles from where the truck was abandoned. He had died of a self-inflicted gunshot, probably the very afternoon of his escape.

To read more about the Four Corners Fugitives and the largest manhunt in western history, visit www.DesertExplorer.us .