Monday, May 21, 2018

Notch Peak-Tallest Limestone Cliff in North America

When we look off to the east, we see the profile of a mountain with a sharp drop. It's called Notch Peak, and it has about a 2,200 foot drop down its limestone face. Whoa!
It's a great spring or fall hike. My husband and I had done it many years ago, pre-kids. We decided it was time to take the kids and headed out there on April 22, 2018. We followed directions from Road Trip Ryan to get to the trailhead. It was definitely a 4WD/AWD road about 2 miles from the trailhead. We found three other vehicles parked there, including a couple camping. We got organized and started up the easy-to-follow trail.

We kept our eyes out for arches and saw three.

We saw lots of pinyon pine trees and Utah juniper. This tree had a lot of exposed wood and was really beautiful.

A few flowers were blooming like this phlox.

Everyone was still in good spirits with big smiles at this stage.

It was fairly warm. This western fence lizard even made an appearance.

We kept going up the canyon, and I was so excited when we started seeing bristlecone pines!

We reached a snowy patch and had to do some scrambling. Yep, this is the trail!

The kids liked munching on the snow.

Then it was time to come out of the canyon. This is where it got hot and the kids weren't having so much fun.

I stopped to wait for them and took some photos of Ibex playa to the south. We've camped there a couple of times.

And Sevier Lakebed, which had some water in it, to our surprise. It was a very calm day with nice reflections.

You can see how happy Desert Boy is.

Finally we reached the saddle, with fantastic views. My husband and the kids took a rest and then started up to the summit while I took a little detour to the north to check out more bristlecones.

These trees are great. I could easily spend a whole day up here visiting them.

Coming back to the saddle, I had a fantastic view of Notch Peak.

Down below is the narrow canyon that reaches the peak from the west side of the House Range.

I scampered up to the top.

And then I had to hold the camera over the edge for a photo. Woohoo! Base jumpers like to come to this 9,658 ft summit.

I went down the summit the other direction a bit to get another angle.

Meanwhile, at the top, this is what was happening.

That meant I had time for more photos!

Then it was time to get them up and get a family photo. It was such a nice day. We had packed layers, but it was so warm we didn't need any of them. We drank a lot of water.

Then it was time for the hike down, which was beautiful. But we were all getting a little tired. Round-trip this hike is about 7 miles, with a 2,700 foot elevation gain.

Finally we made it back to the trailhead and our vehicle. This is a really great hike, I definitely recommend it. But not on a hot day. Our high was about 75 degrees and we got toasty, even with some lingering snow. For another account and directions, check out Girl on a Hike blog.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

April Potpourri

It's so easy for me to get behind on photos! Here are some from April. We went for a drive and saw a pronghorn. I love watching these animals, the fastest land animals in North America. They are also unusual in that they don't jump over fences, but go under them.

On this particular drive we were heading to a wet meadow area, but due to the dry winter, it looked kind of brown.

This fence post caught my eye. And in the background you can see that there isn't much snow on the mountains.

This is one of my favorite trees. Sometime I hope to go down and take a night sky photo with its silhouette.

Back at home, the kestrels have moved in and make a lot of noise.

One day I found the kestrel was excited about its catch--a lizard.

Our dog, Maggie, jumped out of the back of the truck and broke her femur. So she had surgery and was on a lot of confinement. Fortunately she's been recovering well.

We have a lot of playdates. I loved that one incorporated some music practice. These two will be performing in the spring concert next week. They will have a duet, as they're the only brass players in their school.

A couple coworkers and I led the elementary school on a wild cave trip. The kids had a great time and were delighted to have an opportunity to crawl and get muddy. One of the chaperones was surprised how we incorporated how much science into it--programming bat equipment, checking climate data, reading maps, showing geologic features. It's easy in caves, there are just so many cool scientific areas to study!

Our currant bushes bloomed, and that brought lots of pollinators, including these cool sphinx/hummingbird moths. They are not easy to photograph! They move around really fast.

I thought it was cool to see how the proboscis is curled up while it's flying.

Then it extends it to take a drink.

The flowers help provide a bullseye.

Desert Girl did a session of dog training for a friend. They were so cute! One of Desert Girl's ambitions is to become a dog trainer, so it's good to start young.

Caving friends came via a small airplane, and they let the kids sit in the cockpit. They immediately started dreaming up their adventure.

These ladies are awesome, I will have to do a whole post more about their geologic work in Lehman Caves soon.

We squeezed in some trail work on the local Sagebrush Discovery Trail. The flowers along it have been great in May (also another post!). There are still so many more rocks to move, but we're slowly making a difference. And it's always great to socialize!

One of the school events was a Young Author's Fair. Guest speaker Glenn Terry came in to do some cowboy poetry. Then the kids read each other's book that they had written for the event and did some activities. Parents and friends also get to read the kids' books, which are very entertaining.

We had a few EMS and fire calls for the month, including this vehicle fire. It had stalled, so the driver pulled it over to the side of the road, and then it caught on fire. She was able to get out safely, but the car was totally engulfed. Fortunately minimal brush caught on fire, as you can see there was some wind.

We got good practice with self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs). There are so many toxic fumes from a car fire that you don't want to breathe even a little of that smoke.

One last tidbit was a school field trip to the Aquarium in Draper, Utah. It's a 3.5 hour bus ride--each way--but it was worth it. Everyone had a great time and we certainly got to see things that we don't usually see in the remote desert!
Hope you had a good April and are enjoying May!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

It's Branding Time!

 May is the traditional month for branding, but we got started earlier this year to avoid the heat that's likely to come. (And by "we" I mean my ranching family, I had nothing to do with it.)

Brandings are fun, because the cowboys and cowgirls like to do it the traditional way, roping the calves. This takes more time and people, but uses traditional cowboy skills. For this branding, cowboys were roping one calf at a time, and bringing them back to a harness type device that kept the calf in place.

The horses are well trained to move just when told and also to stay still while the calf is being processed.

A happy new recruit doing the beginner's job--loading ear tags.

Once the calf is in position, it receives its vaccinations, an ear tag that has pesticide on it to keep the fleas away, ears cut (instead of actual branding with a hot iron), a rubber band around delicate parts if it's a male to keep it from becoming a bull, and a mark on the forehead to indicate that it's done.

Brandings are fun to watch, as there is so much going on all at once, and so much skill on display. It's also fun to get a glimpse back into what life used to be like before all these modern day accoutrements.

Brandings are also an opportunity for family and friends to get together.

Young people learn skills from the more experienced.

And there are beautiful horses!

Have you ever tried roping? Desert Boy got a lasso for a birthday and we've practiced around the yard. We all need a lot more practice! Thinking of lassoing on a moving horse makes me admire the talent these folks have even more.

This calf made me laugh. Her expression makes it look like she's just out for a little ride.

Fortunately the weather was fantastic for this branding.

We couldn't stay too long due to other obligations. But in a later post we'll return to another branding, where the kids got to help out!
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