Capitol Reef National Park

August 28th, 29th & 30th

As I drive out of Richfield in the morning I stop to take a picture of this imposing mountain in the morning light:

1_leaving Richfield

It was much more beautiful yesterday, in the evening light, but I didn’t have my camera with me when I was out and about. Live and learn.

 

We go east over the mountains and are no longer in the Great Basin. Here is another green farming valley near the town of Loa…

2_green valley of Loa

…when suddenly, near the town of Torrey, this red rock formation appears:

3_when suddenly

And closer up:

4_up close

 

We’re now in the Fremont River Canyon:

6_Fremont River canyon 6b_Fremont

We arrive from the west, but the next day I take a drive from east to west…

7_canyon opens up 8_farmlands and fruit orchards

…the canyon widens and we find fruit orchards planted by the Mormon pioneers.

More orchards and Mormon irrigation ingenuity:

9_more orchards 9b_Mormon irrigation ingenuity

We can pick and eat as much fruit as we want, but if we take any away we’re asked to pay a modest price.  Peaches are in season so I get about 5 pounds.

Up and down the canyon there is no lack of impressive rock formations…

11_and all around...

12_fantastic rock formations

12b_no lack of impressive formations

From my campsite the rock formations are also striking:

14_from my campsite 15_also from my campsite

 

Near the orchards there are these petroglyphs carved by the Fremont People who once inhabited this canyon:

26_...as are the petroglyphs

26b_petroglyphs2 26c_petroglyphs3

But you can see much better photos of these petroglyphs here. More on the Fremont People in a later post.

 

Later in the day I take a long hike up this canyon known as the Grand Wash.  Signs indicate that flash flood risk is at a very low level today:

22_earlier that day...Grand Wash

There has nevertheless been some rain recently and some strange specimen has left a print in the mud:

23_some strange local speicment left...

 

In the late afternoon I take another hike, further up the canyon, and we get a good view of what was once the Mormon pioneer settlement called Fruita:

10_took a hike one afternoon

The last private residents of Fruita left the area in 1968. Today only national park employees live here.

Fruita’s schoolhouse:

27_the local schoolhouse from Mormon... 27b_schoolhouse bis

The last remaining house and barn…

28_barn from pioneer times 29_last remaining home, now a store...

…the house is now a museum and store where they sell homemade pastries, jams, jellies and salsas.

 

Back at my campsite, after a hard day of tourism, I treat myself to a nice cold local Utah beer:

16c_a nice cold beer bis

Take a look at the caption on the six-pack carrier:

16b_why have just one

And I kid you not, in the Richfield supermarket where I bought it, there was a little sign that said Take some home to the wives. This beer, and others, are made by Wasatch Breweries located in Park City (of Sundance fame), Utah. You can read more about Wasatch Breweries here. Their beer is only 4%, but that’s better than the 3.2% beers you find in most Utah grocery stores. And at least the name shows a sense of humor about polygamy. Yet, as we’ll see in an upcoming post, in Utah today this subject is no laughing matter.

 

One morning in camp, Olsen gets down to work.  I’m currently working on: Sewage sludge application in a forest plantation: effects on trace metal transfer in soil-plant-snail continuum.

17_in the morning, hard at work...

But one of the locals does not appreciate my efforts:

18_but one of the locals...

Generally the local residents here are unimpressed with our presence:

19_generally the locals... 20_...are not impressed...

 

The little I have shown you here does not do justice to Capitol Reef National Park.  The park gets its name from a geographical formation that the early pioneers here called a “reef”. It is some 95 miles long and extends far to the south of the campgrounds near Fruita.  I drove down the scenic canyon drive, but took no pictures.

 

Great Basin National Park, above ground…

August 23rd, 2014, morning

After a rainy night, the view above the campground:

22_view from my camp site in the morning light, after the rain

And then a few minutes later:

23_then a few minutes later...

But it clears up again in a few minutes. It’s a beautiful day.

 

I have a busy day planned, but first there’s morning coffee and some organizational work to be done:

24_morning coffee, getting organized

When you move about so often, packing and unpacking, keeping track of everything is essential. Where do I keep this? Now where did I put that? More on this in a future post.

 

First I drive up this side of Mt. Wheeler, or Wheeler Peak (the mountain seems to go by both names)…

27_drove up Mt. Wheeler, from eastern side

…from which we see the dry valley in the distance:

28_view from above, another Nevada valley below

I take the nature walk at the Wheeler Peak parking lot and campground where we can see some interesting forest specimens. Great Basin National Park is known for its bristlcone pine trees which can live  from two to three thousand years:

30a_saw some interesting forest

I don’t think this is one of them, though. You have to walk up higher that  9,500 feet to see them and I don’t go up that high.  For some good pictures of truly ancient bristlecones, though, look here.

The trail twists and turns among the pines:

30d_but I don't think these are the famous bristlecones

A stand of aspens comes into view, a good sign, they say, for the evolution of the forest:

31_saw abundant aspens; good sign

 

Of course, I take pictures of whatever wildlife crosses my path: the ritual deer…

32_the inevitable deer

…and, will wonders never cease, a chipmunk.

33_and I even caught a chipmunk, Katie...

Katie, do you see that ? I actually got a photo of a chipmunk! My career as a wildlife photographer may yet come to be.

 

Before we go on, let me bring you up to date on that art car we saw at Spencer’s Hot Springs. As of this posting, September 7th, Burning Man 2014 has come and gone. But you can now see pictures and a video of that art car, The Mushroom Patch, here, and here.

And have I told you about my conversation with the bartender at The Major’s Place? It went something like this:

Bartender: You know, I’ve been in Nevada for nearly 15 years and I thought I’d heard of everything, and then this guy comes in here the other day and tells me he’s going to this thing called Burning Man. What the hell is that?

Me: It’s sort of an arts festival, but more. I went there with some friends back in 2006.

Bartender: Well, tell me about it.

Me: Well…guy named Larry Harvey…divorce…big party on beach in San Francisco…big fire to burn the old man and bring in the new…the Man…art exhibits of all sorts…got out of hand…moved to Black Rock Desert in Nevada…gift-giving economy…leave no trace… Well, maybe you should just Google it, here.

 

Since the title of this post is “Great Basin National Park, above ground…”, you can imagine what my next post will be.