May 9-19 The photos will show better if you go to the blog using the blue link in the email.
This part of the trip starts in Vernal, Utah which is close to Flaming Gorge on the Green River. The river has been dammed to form the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. The famous expedition of John Wesley Powell started in what is now Green River, Wyoming and traversed through the Grand Canyon. “Powell and his party of nine others departed Green River Station (now the town of Green River, Wyoming) on May 24, 1869, two weeks after the Golden Spike had been laid at Promontory, Utah, completing the Transcontinental Railroad. The boats were laden with supplies to last 10 months and they took several scientific instruments including sextants, chronometers, thermometers, compasses, and barometers (to measure the altitude of the river and surrounding terrain). They would endure numerous hardships along the way including negotiating hundreds of rapids, the loss of two boats with much of their supplies and scientific instruments, surviving near drownings, food spoilage and near starvation, and even outrunning a flash flood. One member of the crew would depart the expedition near Vernal, Utah, having had enough adventure, and three others left near the journey’s end thinking an impending rapid too dangerous—they were never seen again.”
On the south end of the Flaming Gorge there is a marina and the dam site. We had lunch from a food truck in the parking lot of the dam.
There are potentially quite a few view points, but we only had time for one of them with a visitor center which was closed. You might wonder how Flaming Gorge got its name – Think Powell – “It enters the range by a flaring, brilliant red gorge, that may be seen from the north a score of miles away. The great mass of the mountain ridge through which the gorge is cut is composed of bright vermilion rocks; but they are surmounted by broad bands of mottled buff and gray, and these bands come down with a gentle curve to the water’s edge on the nearer slope of the mountain. This is the head of the first of the canyons we are about to explore—an introductory one to a series made by the river through this range. We name it Flaming Gorge.”
The next day we head southwest to find the Huntington-Eccles Canyons Scenic Byway (Energy Loop scenic byway). This was sort of a circle route centered on Helper, UT and Huntington. We did find two coal mining areas and a power plant plus it was at high elevation which you will see in the photos.
At the very top we found a broad expanse of snow and decided to stop for lunch. It was about 65-70 degrees so even Joann was not cold. We talked with two guys and three kids with snowmobiles that had stopped for lunch also. How do you like Joann with the Yankee hat snowman? On the way down were more frozen lakes.
The next day we headed further south to the warmer red rock and desert country. About 40 miles south of Green River, UT, we drove to Goblin Valley State Park. From deposits formed 170 million years ago by a vast inland sea, thousands of uniquely shaped stone goblins are formed by water and wind erosion. The capstone rock is harder than the underlying rock which erodes faster and hence the shapes. You can use your imagination to find shapes of all sorts of things.
Very close to the entrance was a road that took us to Little Wild Horse Canyon. It was supposed to be about a 3/4 mile hike which turned into about 2.5 miles round trip. I left Joann in the van and set out, but was gone almost 2 hours. Worried about leaving her that long, I about did myself in walking very fast on the way back. But the end result was worth it as I found an uncrowded slot canyon. For those that do not know, a slot canyon has been carved by fast flowing water and could be still dangerous if a flash flood occurred. Near Page Arizona the slot canyons are totally crowded and over run with tourists from all over the world because of social media photos.
For the first half mile it is wide open until you reach a kind of narrow entrance.
Then with more hiking, I came to two different waist high rocks to climb to continue and almost turned around, but glad that I did not. The reward was great for what I was looking for. In some places the bottom was less than a foot wide and you had to walk on a slant guiding with your hands on the walls. The photos are taken with an iPhone 13 because it can readily deal with low light exposures because of the built in HDR processing in camera. I was happy to find a good section totally in shade as sun lit photos do not yield the same colors.