Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Canyoneering North Wash Area

 Some friends from Colorado (that I know from National Cave Rescue Commission activities) invited me to go canyoneering with them in the North Wash area south of Hanksville, Utah. It had been some time since I had gone canyoneering and I didn't have any plans for the weekend. My husband and kids were fine if I took off, so I gladly did so. The weather forecast was perfect, 0% chance of precipitation and temperatures in the 60s in the days and 40s at night.

I pulled into camp Friday night and met the rest of the group. They knew each other from being part of the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, a volunteer organization that does mountain rescues near Boulder, Colorado. The next morning we separated into two groups, with two folks doing an ultra-hard canyon and the rest of us doing easier, more mellow canyons.

As we hiked to our canyon we enjoyed the beautiful red rock. Then, all of a sudden, the canyon appeared, a little crack in the earth. That's where we were headed! I was so excited. I felt like a kid again.

It had rained a couple days earlier, lots of rain, and even though our canyon was supposed to be dry, it had puddles.

So the challenge became staying out of the puddles. 

It made for some fun expressions.

 Andrew made all of it look easy.

It was fun trying some extra stemming when we didn't really have to. None of the water was over knee deep.

One of the things I like best about canyons is their light. The shadows are always changing, highlighting different parts of the rock. 

We had a few short rappels on this route through Leprechaun Left fork.

Another fun "avoid the water" problem.

The canyon had some long, skinny parts.

 Here are Becca and her brother, a herpetologist who was excited to see some lizards out sunning themselves.
 The canyon opened up a lot more at the bottom.

And an artsy shot, just for fun. When we finished the canyon, we went back to camp and had lunch. 

Then we took off for our second canyon, Blarney Left Fork. 

It had a fun entrance rappel.

 It was cool seeing the bands of cliffs.

Once again, we were diving into the crack. This one had a cave-like entrance, scooting under a big chockstone.

We all really enjoyed this canyon. It had some fun obstacles and was very pretty.

When we got back to camp, it was dark, and our friends in the extra-hard canyon weren't back. That wasn't good. They had told us that if they weren't back, we should come look for them. We ate dinner first, then took off with extra rope and rescue gear. We couldn't hear them when we yelled and whistled to them at the exit of the canyon, so we contacted the local sheriff's department with a Delorme Inreach (there wasn't any cell service). They said they couldn't come out until the next morning. So we continued searching by going up along the rim of the canyon. That wasn't easy at all, but fortunately Becca had the Road Trip Ryan app on her phone, which gave a track, and we could follow that. Eventually we heard their voices and sighed in relief when they said they weren't hurt, just stuck.

We found an anchor on the edge and Andrew went to the edge to check on them. Too far downstream, they couldn't get to that rope. So we found another anchor upstream and tried again. Too far upstream. Third time was the charm. We had brought 600 feet of rope, split into three sections, and we weren't sure if that was enough. We also had assorted gear to do hauls if needed, but what they wanted was mechanical ascenders so they could get out faster than with their prussiks. I was glad I had my frog system (an efficient rope-climbing system) and sent that down. While we waited for them to climb out, we enjoyed a magnificent dark sky, full of stars and the Milky Way. We heard coyotes howl, and echoes bounced off the canyon walls, sounding eerie. The wind came up and was cold, but we had brought layers and blankets.

The rescue group also had a couple radios, which helped us a bunch. We told the sheriff's office we had made contact and there were no injuries. They said don't attempt a vertical rescue, but we assured them that with a mountain rescue group and cave rescue experience, we were fine doing so. I was very glad of all the small party rescue techniques I had in my mind. Even though the two weren't hurt, I was going over options in my mind, playing the "What if" game. 

When the guys came out, they were very thirsty and hungry. It had taken them six hours to get to the crux of the canyon, and they spent two hours trying to get past it. It turned out that they were missing a critical piece of climbing gear and didn't want to risk their lives free climbing a very exposed chimney. So they hunkered down in a canyon that had no places to sit or stand. Instead, they were stemming across the canyon, with a 30-foot drop below them. They said that even though they knew their friends were going to come for them, they had plenty of time for scary thoughts to cross their minds, like what if they never got out of the canyon.
Andrew, the ever-smiling rescuer.
We made it back to camp at 2 am, about five hours after setting off. We stayed up for awhile, debriefing and joking and having a good time. Eventually it was time for me to get to sleep, although some of the others stayed up even longer. The wind had come up and was blowing 30mph, so it wasn't the best sleep, but it was something. We decided to skip our morning canyon and went out for a late breakfast (brunch) instead.

It was a fun and memorable weekend, and we all learned something from it. We were glad no one got hurt. And I guess one take-home message is that if you're going to get stuck in a canyon, it sure helps to have your own rescue team nearby!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Raising a 4-H Lamb

 Desert Boy decided to raise a lamb for 4-H again this year. At the conclusion of the fair last year, he was decidedly against it, but he changed his mind. The second year was definitely easier, as we knew some of what to expect. Sheep are social animals, so we bought two so they could keep each other company. One of our big changes from last year was a different feed. Last year we started them on the feed the buyer recommended, but then we couldn't find it again within a three-hour drive, and the sheep didn't like the substitute feed and didn't eat for awhile. This year we just started them off with IFA Show Lamb feed, and they liked it fine (except for the cottonseed part, that was always the last part they ate). We were able to get IFA Show Lamb feed at both the Delta and Ely IFA stores, which made it very convenient.

The lambs grew quickly. We've learned it's best not to give them names, so we just called them 141 and 144, the numbers on their ear tags.

We let them do a lot of browsing in the yard. They loved that.

The kids walked them every day to try and get them tamer. They walked well on a halter, but did not mind well when the kids held onto their heads.

I did a quick first shear, which was a lot harder than I thought, than my husband did a second shear. That helped them keep cooler in the summer.

They always look quite a bit different without their big coats on!

Here the kids are washing the sheep. What do you wash a sheep with? Why, Woolite, of course!

We had a sheep showmanship clinic in our yard with some of the other 4-H participants. It was great to get all the sheep together.

Gwendy had them go around in a circle.

And then line up for "judging." All the sheep looked good.

We still had the final shear to go. It turned out to be rainy, so we had to go into the shop. Desert Boy sheared most of his sheep.

It's hard work, so it was nice to have a bunch of helping hands.

Then we headed to the fair. Desert Girl didn't really enjoy the showmanship clinic there. She's still too young to show her sheep for 4-H as a market animal, but she could show the alternate in Cloverbud Showmanship and as an open class animal.

Melanie's an expert and had her sheep in tip-top shape.

Then it was time for the competition. First came the market class competition. Desert Boy's sheep weighed in at 140 pounds, the maximum allowed for the competition. Last year his was 101 pounds, so we did a much better job this year at feeding!

It took a while to get the sheep judged.

But Desert Boy and Larissa both got blue ribbons! (In the carcass competition, Desert Boy got fifth and Larissa got grand champion, showing that their lambs were excellent for eating.)

Next came showmanship, and unfortunately Desert Boy's sheep didn't cooperate. Neither did Desert Girl's. She was in tears. We took a break, went and ate, got a quick swim in at the nearby hotel pool, then returned.

She was in time for showing her lamb in open class and got Reserve Grand Champion. That made all the tears go away and a big smile come out!

The next morning was the sale. Desert Boy had a great smile on to show his sheep.

Until it threw him to the ground. Sheep look friendly, but this one weighed about double his weight and was a bit feisty.

It was a little extra excitement for the spectators.

Thanks so much to Gary Perea and the Border Inn for buying Desert Boy's sheep. And thanks to Sahara Motors, Simplot, and Suburban Propane for the add-ons. The money Desert Boy raised will go into his college account.

Later in the day, Desert Boy loaded his sheep onto the trailer to go to the butcher. He wasn't really sad this year because the lamb hadn't been particularly nice to him.

Desert Girl's lamb came home with us for a couple more weeks and hung out with the dog as much as she could. Then it was time for her to go to the butcher.
4-H has been a great way for the kids (and me) to learn more about raising market animals. Some of it's easy, but there are definitely tricks to getting the best market animal out of the group. If you ever want to buy some great animals, I highly recommend going to a 4-H auction. Those animals are so well taken care of, and the money goes to individuals instead of big faceless corporations.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Lexington Arch--Worth the Trip!

I had a hankering for some more outside time, and I wanted to take the dog. I hadn't been to Lexington Arch in years, so I decided to give it a try. A big fire burned through the area in 2013 and subsequent floods washed out the road. I had heard that the road had been repaired.

Along the way is this scenic old cabin, once home to the Woodward Family. They had several children and Mr. Woodward and the older sons worked at the sawmill up the canyon. 

I continued up canyon and found the road dramatically improved from the last time I had traveled it. Fall colors made for some nice contrasts.

I surprised a group of deer.

I parked at the large meadow area about 11 miles in from the highway. From there the road turned rockier and into a two-track. Four-wheel drive vehicles can go about another half mile up the wash.

This sign warns about snag hazards.

When I got to the end of the 4WD section, which ends at an old campsite (we camped there in 2012), I could spot the Arch up canyon.

The old trailhead sign doesn't say anything.

I wasn't sure how the trail would be, but it was fantastic. A new bridge had been made over a gully.

Skunkbush made for some very red leaves.

At the overlook, I found the bench had been reoriented to face Lexington Arch. The Arch is really a natural bridge, the remnant of an old cave system. I was hoping for snow on it, but the snow on the rock had already melted. There were patches along the trail, making it muddy.

Another view of the arch.

 I continued on the trail to the backside of the Arch, which has some great views.

I even did a timed selfie with me and our dog, Maggie. This is one park trail that dogs are allowed on--mainly because most of the trail is on BLM land. And it was the Forest Service who constructed the trail before the land switched to BLM. So it's certainly an interagency trail!

A view from the east side looking up.

I ran most of the way down the trail. The numerous switchbacks make for a gentle trail.
 And in three miles I was back at the vehicle and heading out. It was such a fun trip. I'd recommend 4-5 hours to drive out to the arch and hike up to it. It would be a hot hike in the summer, but it's perfect on a cool autumn day.

Of course you might want to take a little extra time to just enjoy the isolated scenery.

There's something about the wild that just feeds one's soul.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

blogger templates