Monday, November 14, 2016

Once Again in the North Lower Forest.

CR 160 - June 2014, my dog Jenna and I explored trails at the northern lower end of the Manti-LaSal forest.  In 2015, for some reason, a portion of that trail was now fenced off and reserved for hunting.  However, 2016, we tried the trail once more and it was open fully again; this time freshly graded and widened. 

This has to be one of many relaxing rides we have experienced, so having it open, and improved, was a thrill.  Also, a favorite activity is finding rock groupings, or outcroppings, and exploring these as well; never know if ruins or rock art is tucked inside one of many openings.  Climbing up or down to, and throughout, is great exercise too; we also have developed the good habit of checking for scat and tracks.  Coming face to face with a bobcat, mountain lion or bear is not on the to-do list; taking photos from a distance is, and using a zoom lens to achieve it.

This time, Roy was along with us, and good thing too.  As we went the first half mile on CR 160, from Spring Creek Road, we saw a large pickup truck (New Mexico plates) pulled slightly off the trail.  A man came onto the trail waving his arms at us, so we stopped to see if he needed help; a second man sat in the pickup.  The first man said to us, "Did you see it!?!" in quite an excited tone.  "See what", Roy asked.  "The huge dog running through the trees, I think it was a wolf!"  He tried to persuade us to park and follow him into the trees to find this large dog, but we didn't take the bait.

See, we're smart enough to know that, besides the four legged predators that live in, and roam, the forest; the deadliest predator walks on two legs...Man.  The last known wolf to be killed in San Juan County was a large male (his hide measured eight feet long), sixteen years old, nicknamed "Big Foot"; killed by Roy Musselman in March 1920. ("The Improvement Era Volume 24" – September 13, 2013 by Church of Jesus Christ of Saints,  Story of "Big Foot" by Albert R. Lyman)  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that the last known wolf within the state of Utah was killed in the 1930s.  (Personal Opinion: The senseless slaughter of wolves is BULLSHIT!!!)  Now, since wolves have been seen once again in Colorado, could one or more have made their way to San Juan County, Utah?  Maybe, or maybe these guys saw a large coyote, they can grow as large as wolves; or maybe they were simply up to no good.  We said good luck in finding the dog, and kept driving.

Anyway, we soon found an interesting grouping of rock ledges with small alcoves and did some searching there. 

We did try out CR 119 again, but only 2/10ths of a mile down, the trail turned into a rutted mess just perfect for ATVs. Doesn't mean we won't check it out from time to time to see if it gets graded, and more passable.

A favorite place to stop is just past a dry wash; there's a rocky outcropping that we enjoy climbing up to; Jenna especially loves running around there. 


Panoramic View from CR 160

Back onto Highway 191, we weren't ready to head home yet, so decided to try and find Gordon Reservoir. Gordon Reservoir, off CR 120, is located 3.8 miles from Monticello, North on Highway 191.  The first time I'd traveled CR 120, I found the remains of a building; what I didn't know was that the dirt road on the side of the building led to the reservoir.  Most of the abandoned building has been removed, basically only the foundation remains; but we took the side dirt road on a lark, and found treasure at the end. 

The road to Gordon Reservoir.

Members of the CR 120 Road Committee.

 Oh, before I continue, I guess I should introduce you to the CR 120 Road Committee and its future membership.

CR 120 Road Committee in Session.

Future Members of the CR 120 Road Committee.

A Young Member Takes a Lunch Break.

View from CR 120.

Taking in the view from CR 120, we found ourselves being circled by Turkey Vultures; we disappointed them by NOT making ourselves available for the lunch menu.  I remember once a visitor to town asking me, "Why are all those birds circling around in the field outside of town?"  After getting a basic description from her, I surmised they were turkey vultures, to which I answered, "Oh, that's part of the Search and Rescue Team; they find the body, and the circling informs the team where to find it; it also means the vultures have found lunch, and the recovery team better get there pronto!"  I have no idea why she looked at me strangely, but said thank you anyway and left quickly.  Geez, doesn't anyone have a sense of humor anymore?

Anyway, the trail we took to Gordon Reservoir was not in the best condition; long, deep ruts often forced us to drive on the opposite side of the road.  Once we traveled as far as we could, it was a short walk to the reservoir itself....lovely, quiet, cattle grazing at one grassy end; the blades of the windmills slowly was a picturesque scene.

Gordon Reservoir is named after Warner Eugene, aka Latigo, Gordon, who was the third foreman of the Carlisle Cattle Company.  However, some writings have his name as William E. Gordon, such as in Life in a Corner: Cultural Episodes in Southeastern Utah, 1880–1950  by Robert S. McPherson, and wonder if the author just gave Latigo the same first and middle name of the local sheriff, William E. Hyde by mistake?



There was a great feeling of accomplishment, finding CR 160 open fully again and finally finding Gordon Reservoir.

So now I'll leave you with a few nature photos.

Horses in a Pasture on Spring Creek Road.

Wooden Stump Sculptured by Nature.

Prickly Pear Cactus.

No matter how much time you have, no matter the weather, go out and enjoy...period, just enjoy.

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Upper Arch Canyon Overlook.

Usually we get our first light snowfall the last week of September, first week of October, but not this year. The weather is definitely not typical; the temperatures during the day have been in the 60s, at night in the 40s; the house warm that the furnace is not on yet. We are taking advantage of this unusual fall weather to gallivant to many places that should have been closed off by now; one being Upper Arch Canyon Overlook. This is located on Mule Canyon/Texas Flat Road and only three miles from Lower Arch Canyon Overlook (click on the names to connect to the pages).

Now a half mile (5.5 mile mark if you started your odometer reading at the junction of State Highway 95 and Mule Canyon/Texas Flat Road) you will enter onto a dried (maybe) river bed, and need to make a right to go up a slightly steep, rocky incline.  We decided to investigate the river bed (left side) a little first; there were signs that it had experienced a flash flood (wet and flattened plant life was a huge hit), plus there were still pools of water.  This was not a typical river bed where there is flat ground and high banks of dirt; instead it was almost all rock.  It made for easier walking, and a muddy section here and there allowed us to see tracks in the mud itself, and on the surrounding rocks.  We walked the river bed for about a half mile, but it was very tempting to just keep going, and going.

Plant Life Flattened by Flash Flood

Large Bird (turkey?) in the Mud.

Bobcat (?) Tracks Following Bird Tracks.

At mile mark 6, the road splits; go straight and continue to where it ends at ATV/Hiking only (mile mark 6.6), or turn right and follow the trail to the Upper Arch Canyon Overlook.  It is only 3/10ths of a mile where you can park on the slickrock (there was evidence of camp sites there), and then you're hiking either along the ledges to the left and right, or go straight and to the metal stairway to the "peninsula" outcropping.  Of course we did all three!  Oh, the trail starts out smooth and quickly turns into deep ruts; expect some tilting of your vehicle, but it's over before you can count to 10.

Walking the ledges to the right.

Panorama of Upper Arch Canyon, peninsula outcropping to the right.

The outcropping is wide, so really no need to worry about falling off, unless you get too close to the edges, lose your balance, or don't pay attention to your footing.  Please do not bring pets, and keep a hand on your children though.  There are spaces between many sections of stone, but nothing so wide you cannot easily step over to the next section.  The metal stairway was an Eagle Scout project; there is writing in the cement, but hard to read due to weathering.   The stairway is steep, but has hand rails.

Looking Back at Metal Stairway.

Looking Towards Lower Arch Canyon.

First Sighting of Cathedral Arch.

I Ain't Afraid of No Ledge Walking!

My husband, Roy, Looks Out in Amazement.
Returning back to the main section, off to the left we walked and walked; just as we thought we had a more perfect view; another was just a simple few feet further.  The views got more and more beautiful as the canyon area below opened up to our vision.

 Angel Arch is a half mile north of Cathedral Arch.

Side View of Angel Arch.

Cathedral Arch


El Cerro del Perro (the Hill of the Dog) is a pinnacle popular with climbers.

El Cerro del Perro

Keystone Arch is 2.5 miles north of Cathedral Arch, so we were too far south of it to see it.
...and there you have it, Upper Arch Canyon overlook.  4 wheel drive is highly recommended, not just for this trail, but for the entire Mule Canyon/Texas Flat Road.  Can you drive a passenger car?  Sure, but I hope you have a really good mechanic!
Take advantage of the good weather we are still having in San Juan County, Utah; come on in and enjoy the good times!!!
Mary Cokenour