After an eight-day bout with the flu that completely knocked me on my ass, yesterday I felt well enough to go for a drive and even do a little hiking. This was mostly a shakedown trip for a new-to-me truck that I bought a few weeks ago. However, I also wanted to visit Nuck Woodward Canyon, the road through which the Forest Service is planning on closing to all motorized traffic during hunting season this year, which I believe is a precursor to a permanent closure. I planned a driving loop that encircled Monument Peak, the highest point in Carbon County, which I began by driving up Highway 31 through Huntington Canyon. I turned onto the Nuck Woodward road, stopping briefly to let the dogs stretch their legs while I read some informative signs about the Stuart Guard Station and the Seeley fire that had ripped through the area five years prior. Driving farther up the road I saw a carving in an aspen tree that was quite apropos to the current situation. It read, simply, “USDA FS SUCKS.” Another aspen had some remarkable bear claw marks going 20 feet up its trunk.
I stopped at First Canyon and walked around with the dogs for a bit, but then at Sawmill Canyon I decided to hike up the trail to see what’s what. Most of the canyon had burned five years ago during the Seeley fire. It was a surprise to see an occasional still-standing pine tree, though. Fireweed was growing fiercely among the burned trees. After six-tenths of a mile I encountered an old steam boiler which must have been part of the sawmill for which the canyon is named. That short hike felt great after having been cooped up in the house for more than a week. My poor Boulder has a knack for getting into stickers, and she sure found some in Sawmill Canyon. That dog was so covered in burrs that one of her ears was stuck to the top of her head!
I continued driving over the top of Nuck Woodward Canyon and down into the town of Clear Creek, stopping only to take in the view east from Castle Valley Ridge looking toward my home of Price. With big enough glass I could have seen my house from there. I hit Highway 264 and then took the gravel road toward Trough Springs Ridge and Monument Peak. I stopped just off the road for a quick snack break, and while wandering around near where I’d parked I found several aspen carvings from over a century ago. Monument Peak is one of the few county high points in Utah which you can drive to, and I easily drove the truck all the way to the top.
The rest of the drive home was on pavement. I stopped where Highway 264 crossed Upper Huntington Creek and let the dogs once more roam around and get into the water. Both dogs were fooled into thinking the creek was shallow, though in spots it was several feet deep, and they each unexpectedly took a plunge over their heads. I reached Highway 31 and took a left, heading down Huntington Canyon to complete the loop. It had been a short and simple trip, but one that gave me a sense of renewal after being ill for what seemed a very long time.