Summer Is Coming, and There Is So Little Time

12 March 2016

It has been many months since I have written a blog post. There is no possible way to catch up on all the desert adventures we have had in that time. To mention of few of them, we spent a week in the San Rafael Swell area, went for another San Juan River float with incredible rain fall and flash floods along the way, did more excavation at Nancy Patterson Village, spent weeks in and around Moab, had many long, solo runs down roads and trails, did lots of canyon hiking, backroad driving, and general exploration of southeast Utah. Last year was a great year overall, and this year proves to be much the same. We have already taken two trips to the desert, and our next is just a few weeks away- spring break is just around the corner!

One of the highlights of last year was the San Juan River. I did that trip solo, and so had no real schedule other than to float down the river. I did a few hikes up side canyons, all of which I’d had in my mind to do for some time. There was a huge storm a few days into the trip- I put in at about 400 CFS and took out just over 8000 CFS. It made for a really fun float to say the least. I have never seen so many pouroffs running at the same time. The sound that came with it was deafening at certain locations along the river.

River flows during my October, 2015 San Juan River float.

River flows during my October, 2015 San Juan River float.

As I noted above, I did some side hikes along the way . One canyon I visited had countless ruins in it. I could have spent days exploring, but was happy to have a long day to walk up and back. Many of the ruins I saw were completely inaccessible without technical gear to get in. Needless to say, I enjoyed them from the opposite rim or canyon bottom for the most part.

Ruin along the San Juan River, utah.

One of the smaller ruins I was able to climb up to. It was so perfectly square and plumb, it left me wondering how we have so many problems with our own residential building today. The very distinct foundation was an interesting feature as well, being offset by the plaster that was still in place.

After finishing up on the river I spent five days along Comb Ridge. I am slowly making my way through all the canyons, seeing at least a few of them on each trip to the area. As always there was so much to see, and the time I had to see it in really seemed inadequate. I found a few small structures along the way that appeared to be sweat lodges. I have found a few of these at the mouths of the canyons, out near Butler Wash, and a couple of them up in higher ends of canyons. Most are small, however one that I came across on this trip did seem more like a shelter than a sweat lodge.

Sweat lodge along Comb Ridge, Utah. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

What looks to be a sweat lodge at the mouth of one of the Comb Ridge canyons.

I won’t go into the Nancy Patterson archaeology here, but save it for another post. My report is nearly done, and I plan to upload it again in a blog, as I did with the 2014 report. No promises when that will come… but it will be by May when we head over for this year’s excavation.

In the meantime see the Desert Explorer website for more on our desert adventures, our gear preferences, and plenty of book recommendations. I have been spending a lot of time updating the site, adding current links where they were broken, and doing my best to update information that I haven’t revisited in many years.

Advertisements

Visit to Nevada, Tracking Movies, Lizards- July 2012

22 July 2012

We are back from another trip during our busy summer of travel. The latest trip took us to central Nevada where we enjoyed the relatively cool temperatures for the most part, cooler than the Front Range of Colorado at least. And without the smell of smoke. There were no great plans for this trip (meaning no long walks or survival exercises), just the usual visit home- some birding at Stillwater and a few other locations in the valley, a visit to the Churchill County museum and the Grimes Point petroglyphs, and a visit to the jet crash site that we wrote about 2 years back . We took a look at the crash site to see what kind of changes occurred over the last 2 years since it happened. If we didn’t know what had transpired at that location, we would never have guessed that a jet crashed and burned up where it did. For more about what to do in and around the town of Fallon, see the Desert Explorer Nevada Pages.

jet crash site, fallon nevada. photo by gerald trainor.

Jet crash site, two years later. Fill dirt is still visibly different. Burn scarring in field is no longer visible, at least from a distance. There were still a few small pieces of aluminum and plastic to be found here and there on the ground surface.

The tree apparently hit by the wing tip. the scar is still visible, but only after pulling aside branches covering it up.

Outside of Fallon we made a trip to the state capital, Carson City where we visited the Nevada State Museum. The museum is housed in the historic Carson City Mint building. The history of the mint in itself is fascinating, being privately financed while waiting years for government funds. Local businessmen and politicians felt it was necessary that a mint be built so that coinage could be made from the millions in gold and silver that were coming out of the Comstock mining district at Virginia City.

The historic courthouse in Virginia City, Nevada. Phot by Gerald Trainor.

The historic courthouse in Virginia City, Nevada.

Another highlight of our trip, especially for Nicolai, was our visit to the Silver State Peace Officers Museum in Virginia City. It is housed inside the still operating courthouse in the actual jails cells. The museum features not only Nevada law enforcement history, but stories, photos, and artifacts from across the United States. The museum is only a couple of years old, but takes you back through law enforcement history for the last hundred years or more. When the courthouse and jail were built, Virginia City was  the richest city in the entire world, hosting world-class entertainers and the visiting rich and famous from around the world . A visit to both Carson City and Virginia City will leave you with a clear understanding of the history of Nevada. We ended our visit with an afternoon at Lake Tahoe, a welcome reprieve from the heat of the valleys below.

Nico cautiously entering the cold waters of Lake Tahoe- very different from the waters we are used to in the silty San Juan and Green Rivers.

Tracking Movies
Although two years of change is probably outside what a tracker might need to understand, change over time is important for a tracker, and anyone serious about nature observation, to understand. We haven’t done any tracking since our recent Dirty Devil trip, but I did watch a couple of movies I found on Netflix on the subject (they weren’t suitable for Nicolai’s viewing). One movie was called “The Tracker”, the other just “Tracker”. They are set in Australia and New Zealand respectively, early in the last century. While neither were specifically about tracking per se, both were about trackers, and those being tracked, and the relationships that develop between them. Both movies are studies of human values, empathy, commentaries on colonialism and war (the Boer war specifically), and so on. The scenery alone makes them worth watching, and you can find a reference here or there to tracking specifically. The main character in one of the movies is played by the same actor that played the tracker in the movie “Rabbitproof Fence”, another period movie set in the same part of the world and well worth watching.

Lizards
I have added a few lizard photos and basic data, along with a correction to the identification of a photo, to the Lizard Pages  on the Desert Explorer website. I added information about the Longnose Leopard Lizard and the Tree Lizard, both of which I now have photos of. I mentioned in my last post an email I received from Utah state biologist who commented on the lizards and my Escalante Trek pages. Besides correcting one of my lizard identifications, he sent me information on the fish of the Escalante River drainage. The paper is quite long and detailed, and is essentially an inventory of the different species found in the Escalante and select tributaries, done in 2003 and 2004. I will ask if I can post the paper on my site for access by the general public, in case anyone is interested in it.

Next Up…
We have been experimenting with different configurations for rigging our new Cutthroat 2 from Jack’s Plastic Welding. I think the configuration is just about finalised. we are very excited to try out the boat, and especially to take advantage of all the room for gear. It will be quite a different float and camp experience than what we are used to, being so limited in cargo capacity in our 2 person inflatables. Now, as long as we have water in the Green River in a few weeks, we will be all set. Look for a trip report on that float in a month or so. If you have time, take a look at the report on the Jack’s website about the recent crossing of Lake Powell using solar power.

For more on our adventures in the Utah desert and across the west, visit the Desert Explorer website.