Since Chris was just beginning to prepare for moving to Germany, we chose a trip this weekend closer to his place so he could be home early on Sunday to do more packing and moving things into storage. We met on Friday in Spanish Fork and he piled his gear into my Jeep, leaving his car at a friend’s house. Then, before heading into the West Desert we stopped at the Forest Service office in Fillmore to see a couple of the Chalk Creek hieroglyphs that had fallen from their original location and were on display there. Then we drove up Chalk Creek to see the rest of them.
Next we drove north and west into the desert. I’d long wanted to sleep on a dry lake bed so we headed for Pahvant Dry Lake. We arrived after sunset but the sky was still lit up a pretty pink color. With no rocks around to build a fire ring, I dug a hole and we huddled around the sunken camp fire late into the evening. With nothing to protect me from the flames, they lapped at my synthetic pants and slightly melted them.
It was cold at night and we awoke to frost on our sleeping bags. I was up before sunrise and watched again as the sky turned a pretty pink color as it had the previous evening. One of my Jeep tires had gone flat so I used my new air compressor for the first time. The tire held air just fine for the rest of the weekend and well beyond, so I’m not sure what caused it to go flat.
Our first destination of the day was Pahvant Butte. First we visited the Lace Curtain on the north side of the butte then drove to the top to see a strange old structure.
We headed toward Devil’s Kitchen and found a lot of petroglyphs along the way. Many of the figures were unusual compared to what I’m used to seeing closer to home but there were a few that appeared to have some Fremont influence.
The rest of the day we spent exploring several lava tubes. First we checked out Flowell Ice Cave which I’d seen on Google Maps, but there really wasn’t much to see there except a small hole in the ground. Next we went to the many lava tubes at Tabernacle Hill. It was the only place all weekend where we’d see many people. We went through a couple of the lava tubes and when we emerged, there was a familiar vehicle parked near my Jeep. We walked back and chatted with Regan and Georgia, whom we’d gone canyoneering with earlier in the year. After a little more driving we arrived at the Scout Tubes and went as far as we could inside before turning back.
We fueled up in Delta and then set out west on US-6 to find a place to camp. We ended up at Gunnison Bend on the Sevier River, where Captain John Gunnison and several of his men were killed in 1853. We’d arrived early enough to set up our cots even before starting a fire–usually we don’t set up beds until right before we hit the hay.
Sunday morning was another frosty one. We packed up camp and first drove to Tule Valley to look for some pictographs. We found a single picto that wasn’t all that great.
Our next destination was Crystal Peak, which we’d planned on climbing. On the way there, in Blind Valley, the road was badly washed out. We spent some time walking around finding the best route past the washouts, having to use 4-low to crawl over some pretty rough spots. We arrived at Crystal Peak and it looked more daunting than either of us had expected. There was no way we could hike to the top and get Chris home in time so we skipped it. The Jeep had already burned through a lot of fuel and I wasn’t confident we could make it back to Delta on what was left so we headed farther west into Nevada.
I filled up in Baker and then we hopped back on the highway heading east. We had time for one last stop, a short hike to the Hermit’s Cabin near Marjum Canyon. After that we started driving back toward civilization, and I dropped Chris off at his car and we parted ways.
Photo Gallery: West Dez II