Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cathedral Valley, Kent Lake, Indian Creek

Sunday, July 13

We spent the night parked next to the Fremont River. Regrettably it rained several times during the afternoon which brought out the mosquitoes and yellow flies, so we stayed inside and listened to the river babble.
Like most western rivers, the Fremont is only 20 feet wide and two feet deep, but the water runs speedily.


We did it. We parked KoKo with an overlook of Cathedral Valley. We woke up to blue skies with a few alto cirrus clouds. By 10am cumulus clouds were starting to appear. The jet trails were wide, indicating a lot of water vapor in the air. Drats, I was hoping our third foray into Cathedral Valley would be clear for some good pictures. Oh, well, you play the hand you are dealt.

In addition to the water vapor there was a small fire just south of us that added a little more haze. Still the sunset view was worthwhile. The cathedral rock formations were just below us maybe three miles off. To the south, we could see Boulder Mountain and in the distance were the Henry Mountains. To the north, we think we could see the San Rafael Swell.

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Our company was a truck camper parked two miles distant at Round Lake and a cowboy who went by with three saddled horses and two Blue Healers.


There are ATV’s everywhere. No self-respecting Utahan would be without two. Kids drive them on the highways. No plates, no license, no one cares. Dorothy was talking with a man who moved here and bought an ATV. He said he could strap on his .45, get on his ATV and go to town and no one gives a damn.

Today was our longest drive since we got to Utah. It would have only taken us an hour, but there was a mountain in the way, so we went around, 2.5 hours. It took us all day, as we went to the grocery store and washed clothes along the way. We drove on concrete, both I70 and I15! And us shunpikers.

Tonight we are at Kent Lake in what is termed the Beaver Canyon area, just east of Beaver, UT. The Beaver River runs through the canyon, but we think all the beaver were made into hats long ago.

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We had cocktails with the camp host Janice and Ray. The first humans we have chatted with in weeks. While chatting with them, they asked if we fish. Everyone fishes except us. I gave the standard reply, “No, but we sure like to eat them.” They brought us some of the trout that Ray caught the previous week and had frozen. It is always a good thing to beg!


We came here to do a drive through the mountains that our back roads guide said was spectacular. We drove a boring forested road, finally breaking through the trees at Big John Flats and got a view of the 12,000-foot bald peaks. A few miles up the road, just beyond Poison Creek a gate was closed. Something about too much snow and rain. Arg! They could have put a sign at the beginning of the road announcing the closure.

Dorothy got some reading material at the pawn shop - the only retail store in Beaver.


Since the weekend is almost here, it’s was either move or stay at Kent Lake, which is an extremely busy area. Since people were already walking through our campsite to get to the lake, we decided to move.

After a long time (for us), we arrived at Indian Creek CG. It’s very small, 7 sites, and certainly off the beaten path. There are three of us here. After getting settled in, it was time to fix dinner. This is the first time I have ever pan-fried trout. We were given four large trout and two medium size pieces. Since it was all frozen together, I had to cook it all. It was delicious. We had corn on the cob with the trout. Corn is very cheap here, ranging from 15 – 20 cents an ear and delicious.

A comment on the un-paved roads here. Since we left red rock country, the road surfaces have been much better. However, they are quite dusty. This part of Utah was volcanic. There are lava flows all over the place. Crushed lava rock makes an excellent road bed. The deal is the dust sticks to the car like glue. Poor Pelli stays gray.

I mentioned that everyone here has two or more ATV’s. I forget to mention everyone also has a camping trailer. Most of them are medium age, while some of them are decades old and look it. The forests are littered with trailers. It’s a Utah thing to camp in the mountains and ride ATV’s.

Looks boring to us. At least the ATV folks in Oregon, California and Arizona ride on sand. Here they just ride down a road, that they call a trail, we don’t get it.

Strangeness on I70 – Perhaps this only happened because we are not accustomed to driving on concrete. We were eastbound from Richfield going into a canyon whose walls were increasingly higher. The illusion was that BOTH lanes appeared to be going downhill. This went on for miles. The river along the highway flows west, so unless gravity was suspended we were going uphill and the GPS confirmed it.


Our goal for the day was to drive the Skyland Drive and swing by the post office and pick up some drugs. We failed at both tasks.

The drive started well enough. The Skyland Drive goes down the spine of the Washatch Plateau mostly above 10,000 feet. There are superb views of the valleys below on both sides of the road. After about 15 miles, the fine road changes to ‘Native Surface’. Which means they scraped the vegetation off the rock sometime in the past. We elected to continue. After another 15 miles, just before we were to cross the highest pass, we were stopped by a snow bank. Drats!

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When we turned around we had driven 40 miles in four hours and faced another four hours back. Arg! After about five miles, we noted a road winding into the valley heading directly for our CG. Our GPS showed it as better road than we were on. We took it. It turned out to be a goat path down the mountain. Once on it, there was no turning around. Near the bottom, it improved dramatically and it did cut three hours off our travel time. If only I did not damage the tires on the rocky road.

We reach a milestone tonight – 400 nights in Koko and we still love it and think it’s one of the best purchases we have made.

Walter Cronkite died today at the age of 92.


We finally had a successful scenic drive. It was through “rock” country. We drove from Castle Dale through parts of the San Rafael Swell, which is an anti clime, or to us, a rock formation that was pushed up.

Along the drive we saw the “Little Grand Canyon” of Utah, some really clear petroglyphs, rock formations that are superior to Valley of the Gods and canyons that are a cut above those at Natural Bridges and rival those at Capital Reef. All this on BLM land that can be accessed in a passenger car, on a smooth gravel road that rides as well most paved roads and had near zero dust.

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If we get back to area in the fall or spring there are several camping spots near “The Wedge”. The sites are scattered over several square miles. I don’t think any are closer to one another than a half-mile. The only vehicles we saw on the road were three ATV’s and the Sheriff.

The air temperature was 101, so we did our sight sighting from the car. Pausing every so often to step out at an overlook and take a picture. A late afternoon shower just north of us, cooled things down to the upper 70’s.


Sunday, July 19

We drove down into the valley to be close to the Post Office. Hopefully our drugs will arrive in the morning and we can head north. We are going to try to hook up with Betty and Terry. No way to contact them, so will park at one CG in Dinosaur NM and see if they show up there.

Parked at a Utah SP near Castle Dale. TV, cell coverage, SHOWERS, no hookups, 88 degrees.

1 comment:

  1. Hi guys!
    The canyons and petroglyph pics are great. We will put that on our Utah list for next year.