Thursday, January 10, 2019

Good Sight Mountains- Two More Canyons

I was back in the Good Sight Mountains again this past weekend. It's been about a year since I investigated two fantastic little canyons in a little loop hike, and now I was back to do another loop through two canyons just to north. The primitive road that heads south from the good county road (  Luna A0 21) seems to have gotten even more primitive, but at least I wasn't driving quite as far this time.The outing got off to an auspicious start even before we got out of the truck. A herd of about 30 antelope ran back and forth across the road at full tilt kicking up a cloud of dust as they went. I had never seen them run like that before. Amazing.
We found a parking spot just big enough to accommodate our truck and then we were off to the west over the rocky grassland and soon were in the even rockier shallow upper reaches of the first canyon. There wasn't much sand or gravel just bigger rocks and bedrock to walk on.

Then the canyon was dropping more steeply with iced over pools of water tucked in the recesses beneath drop-offs.  Along the way I stirred up a couple of owls as  I  frequently do. One was larger, probably a barn owl, and the other was smaller about half the size, that I won't even speculate as to the species. Across from the first dry waterfall of significance  that had to be negotiated with a bit more care, I spied a few petroglyphs on the darkened canyon walls. I looked around for more  on the most likely rock faces, but came up empty, although I did come across a rock fall that had some boulder placements that seemed to defy randomness.

The canyon deepened even more from this point with cliffs and towers of volcanic rock that had a regular foliation which when eroded  gave the appearance of  ruins made of brick or stone work. Scrub oaks grew in the bottom and clung to the canyon sides. A short , slot of a side canyon appeared on north, which we investigated up to a icy pool that lay below a blackened dry waterfall.

Shortly after that we came up to the back of the stone dam which is still in excellent repair. There was no way down at the dam so we had to back up a bit and go around up high on the north side. The pool of icy water at the bottom was larger that I would have guessed, but this is the narrowest and deepest part of this little canyon.  I stepped along the bedrock ledge to the back of the pool and front of the dam looking for more rock art but finding none.

Walking just bit further downstream I came to a large two tiered ephemeral waterfall. We couldn't climb down the blocky, gray cliffs  easily here either, but we found a quick way to up and around and before we were even all the way down, I could see petroglyphs on the black rock face.
To get a closer look required I walk along the edges of frozen, snow covered pool and then climb on fairly narrow ledge, all the while admonishing Seamus not to walk out on the ice. There were two nice panels and there may be a few more glyphs in the in-between area below the first drop and the second drop.

We walked on now and soon began the cross-over heading south to the second canyon. It was open territory and even a little bit warm for January. Not much to report from the second, except that it was even more narrow than the first  and the  going got a little thick for us towards the top getting through the branches of some very old junipers. We saw a few deer but luckily I saw them first and was able to get a leash on Seamus so he wasn't taking off in a futile pursuit.


We walked to the top of a small hill past  prairie dog mounds and the bare ground around setting off the jackrabbits and bunnies that hid behind mormon tea bushes as we went. At the top we looked down at the blue Tacoma just a short distance away, waiting for us as the afternoon clouds settled in on what had been a wonderfully sunny day.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Selden Hills-Two More Canyons

 Unlike all my other forays into the Selden Hills, this one was almost entirely on BLM land.  I started off at the locked gate along the powerline road about 2 miles north of Radium Springs and began walking the fence line to the west. Shortly thereafter, I found a nice piece (1"x 2") of brown pottery that I thought perhaps good portent. Alas, I never found much more, but I did marvel as I usually do at the vast variety of pebbles and stones in the old river deposits I was walking upon.
 After about 20 minutes I began walking downstream in one of the larger arroyos, but quickly realized it wasn't the one I wanted, so I got out and continued a little bit farther west and soon I was in the one I did want. It had a sandy bottom with boulders here and there that had tumbled down the hill side. I got to the section I was most intrigued by after only 10 minutes or so. This area had many large boulders and a small rock tower as its centerpiece.
I explored up a narrow  side canyon on the south which had an extensive layer of vitrified basalt ( kind of like a low grade obsidian) at its base. This seem promising as a source of arrowhead and tool material for ancient people, but I never did see any place where it  been obviously excavated.  It may have been too brittle to use. The canyon ended abruptly at a high dry waterfall.

I headed further downstream in the main arroyo investigating one other side canyon, and leaving another for later, before deciding to head up to the ridge on the north. I had it in mind to cross over to second canyon to see if anything interesting awaited there. As I did I spied the remnant of an old dirt road that twisted and turned through these hills many, many years ago.
 I soon was overlooking the next canyon and went down to it steeply.

Unfortunately, before I could make it to the bottom. I encountered  a barbed wire fence. This one was pretty tight down low, which prompted me to make the (bad) decision to go over it at spot where a rock and gravel deposit had cut its height in half. That wasn't enough. I caught first my jeans, and as they ripped away, I felt the less than delightful sensation of a rusty barb plunging into my lower thigh. Somehow I managed to get my leg free before tumbling backward, landing hard on the rocks and gravel, and bruising my right forearm. I  couldn't see the wound but it didn't seem to be bleeding much. My jeans would hold out for the rest trip and truth be told I was just waiting for  excuse ( and the huge rip provided it) to throw them away anyhow.  I would get a tetanus shot the next day just to be on the safe side.
I walked a little further down hill and found a place to go under. Walking upstream in the canyon I found little of interest, and soon was making my into a smaller  tributary arroyo on the south to make my way back.
 I had the notion now that I was back in the original canyon to investigate the side canyon left behind. I followed my footprints downstream. This other little tributary canyon was not nearly as intriguing as I had imagined it was when viewing it from a distance and thinking I was leaving it for another day.  Then, it seemed to contained mysterious overhangs and high cliffs, but in actuality it was small and pretty blah.  Oh well.  I climbed to its top and then I began walking back toward the fence taking one last look at the canyons from the top of the dry waterfall I had stood at the bottom of a few hours earlier.