Deep Creek Mtns. from Goshute Tribal Lands
A lot of my Utah experience was Salt Lake City. The jobs I had there. And everything else that went with daily life in the city. Over the last 10 years or so I began exploring. Camping for 2 or 3 nights, primarily looking for places where I could observe dark nighttime skies. I began to embrace the concept experiencing the landscape of the former Lake Bonneville, to plan my getaways and to connect my outdoor adventures. I started visiting Simpson Springs on the Pony Express Trail about 90 miles west of Salt Lake City. It is a primitive BLM campground with a reconstructed Pony Express Station. It is easily accessible from the city and one is able to see the Milky Way on moonless nights. Camping and road trips in the beginning was done in a 1978 Cadillac Sedan deVille, which I was constantly repairing. It got me where I needed to go. I only got stranded once, not too far away from home. I was grateful for my AAA membership which provided a tow. I explored as much as I could of the Simpson Mountains that I could get to in the Cadillac and hiked in from different directions. I came to appreciate the West Desert environment, especially in the mountains and their canyons. One would not expect such a varied ecosystem from the desert floor. Many of the canyons have running water that support cottonwoods, willows, and a wide variety of flowering plants. The slopes of the mountains are dominated by sagebrush and juniper, and further west, pinyon. The growths of juniper are open which makes hiking very easy. I had a goal over successive visits to the Simpsons of attaining the highest summit, Indian Peaks. The several approaches I tried failed because of intervening ridges and/or lack of suitable access. Everything changed when I purchased a 1991 Toyota pickup in 2010. That is a story in itself. More of the back roads became accessible and I was able to plan a hike that would enable me to get to the top. Which I did in 2013. There is another story here about a friend of mine who spent a fair amount of time with a wilderness group in the Simpsons who repaired the radio transmitter on the summit of Indian Peaks and got back to her truck just before a strong snowstorm stranded her for the night. We never went out there together. Another attraction for Simpson Springs are the wild horses. I have had several up close and personal experiences with large groups of them. They are quite beautiful and interesting to observe their social dynamics. You never know where they might be or if you are going to see any at all. So it is a special treat if you happen to be lucky. And then there are the dark skies. I have related my academic interest in Cultural Astronomy with direct observation of the night skies. I have no telescope. My intent has been to recreate the experience of our ancestors. Taking in the big picture. Observing the changing sky through the night, at different times of the year. Summer of course. But it is awfully hot out there in the daytime. Spring and Fall. And even a couple of trips in the Winter. When I froze my toes. I have come to appreciate solitude, silence, and darkness. I believe they are qualities we need to incorporate more into our modern lives.
Other Utah experiences include frequent visits to Antelope Island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake. A road trip I took in the Cadillac to follow the Bear River, camping out in Idaho for two nights and spending a day at Bear Lake. A road trip also in the Cadillac for three days around Green River UT. Visited three rock art sites and took a hike in the red rocks near Moab. I took a 3-day trip to Delta in January exploring the area around there, and returned a while later for a four-day camping trip in the House Range. And when I wasn’t able to get away I took numerous day hikes in the Wasatch, concentrating on the variety of perspectives around the City Creek watershed. I finally reached the summit of Grandview, after similar obstacles with Indian Peaks, also in 2013. In preparation for life on the road in a trailer, I took a four-day road trip into northwestern Utah, northeastern Nevada, and south central Idaho, to test my navigational skills, the condition of backroads, and what kind of campsites I might find along the way. Well worth it.
So I bid farewell to Utah. I would say the variety of experiences I have had over the last 14 years have prepared me for where I am today and what I am doing. My travels are going to take me throughout the United States and Canada. And I don’t know when I will be back in Utah again.