In late October I spent a couple of days in Utah’s West Desert. My main reason for going there was to hike Notch Peak with a friend on Friday, but I headed out solo on Wednesday evening and camped that night, then spent all day Thursday exploring. I’d collected info from various blog and forum posts, as well as geocaches, and had a very full day planned. I had hoped to make it to the Tule Valley Hardpan for Wednesday’s sunset but I got too late a start. The last sunlight touched the mountaintops while I was near Lynndyl. One mountain in particular was quite photogenic, and it wasn’t until after I returned home that I realized it was Fool Creek Peak, which I’d hiked two years earlier. I camped near the Tule Valley Hardpan and read for a couple of hours before going to bed.
I woke up early on Thursday and drove onto the Tule Valley Hardpan, then climbed atop the “island” in the middle of the playa to watch sunrise. After some more driving around on the playa (which was a lot of fun!), I drove to the south end of the Confusion Range to search for some pictographs near Painted Potholes. I didn’t know exactly where the rock art was, and it took me about 20 minutes to find it. The pictographs weren’t all that great, but it was nice finding some rock art in a new area and in a different style than I’m used to seeing. My next stop was at Ibex, where a sheepherder named Jack Watson tried to eke out a living beginning in the late 1800s. All that’s left are some concrete and stone dams, as well as some rock art that by far predates the white settlement.
I left Ibex heading north and, after stopping briefly for lunch, crossed over to the north side of US-6. I visited a very large and impressive sinkhole–my entire house would fit inside with plenty of room to spare. I continued north, checking out the northern end of the House Range and Swasey Mountain. I spent quite a while walking around the Antelope Spring Civilian Conservation Corps camp, where many building foundations still remain. Just below Swasey Peak, I stopped at an overlook between Sinbad and Trail canyons that had a nice view west into Nevada. From the overlook, an amazing trail drops through the cliffs to the west. It appears to partially follow a natural crack in the cliffs, but part of it was blasted out, and logs and rock fill has been added. I didn’t have time to follow the trail, but it’s on my to-do list for the future.
I was running low on fuel–I’d driven well over 250 miles in the West Desert–so I headed back to the highway and into Delta to fill the tank in the Jeep. Then I headed toward the Notch Peak trailhead and found a spot to camp at Miller Cove and settled in for the night. The next morning I would meet my friend, Jim, for the hike to the summit of Notch Peak.
Photo Gallery: West Dez