Saturday, May 27, 2017

Jones Hole (5/22/2017) & Fantasy Canyon (5/23/2017)

The day after my strenuous hike to Moonshine Arch I drove to Jones Hole, a deep canyon about forty miles from camp.  It's a very scenic drive, as the road varies in elevation by several thousand feet from the low point to the highest.  Entering Jones Hole, the road drops precipitously with grades of more than 10%.

A fish hatchery at the bottom supplies young fish to stock numerous streams and lakes around this region.  The water is practically solid black with little cutthroat trout. 

 A cute little chipmunk shares the picnic area with me.
There is a four-mile hiking trail from the hatchery to the Green River, with spur trails to some pictographs and a nice waterfall.  However, the trail drops some 600 feet, meaning a tough climb on the return.  After walking less than a mile along the Jones Creek Trail, I knew my legs weren't up to it so soon after the arch hike.  So, I enjoyed the scenery along the spring-fed creek and the many birds I saw there.

Back in Jensen that evening, I went over to the Green River for the only decent sunset of the entire week I was there.
My last full day in Utah was the only chance to visit Fantasy Canyon, a place on my list since I learned of it shortly after my 2004 visit to this area.  About thirty miles from Jensen, this small area has some very unusual hoodoos created by erosion of the siltstone in an ancient lake bed.  Similar to the Bisti Wilderness, although only ten acres compared to 45,000 acres, the formations are a rather drab gray color.  I had been wanting to see it late in the day when a setting sun would lend a little color to the hoodoos.  Weather had prevented that timing, so now I went early in the day, hoping for a similar effect.

The canyon is in the middle of oil field operations, but no wells have been drilled close enough to disturb the beauty of the place.  I suppose BLM has avoided granting permits for that area.  People often associate the formations with familiar objects, giving them names like the Camel, the Flying Witch, etc.  I'm not sure I see the point, since everyone interprets them differently and they will soon change as more erosion occurs.  The most famous formation, called the Teapot, collapsed a few years ago.  We don't know if the inevitable erosion did the deed, or if human hands were involved.

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