The Exploration Continues

18 May 2012 in Memories, Trails/Hiking, Traveling


Scenic Byway #12Lindsay had another two day stretch off and so we planned another adventure. This time an overnight camping trip. Lindsay had been told by her fellow ranger of a remote area tucked back well off the highway where one could enjoy a peaceful, often unpopulated section of lakeshore.

Packing up provisions the night before we actually got a reasonably early start. According to our maps and Lindsay’s memory we just needed to head northeast a short drive to the next town, Big Water. A sneeze of a village stretched out thin over a mile or two of highway. Here we’d find 231 and head out into the desert.

Passing through Big Water in that jerky, slow to read tiny street signs, speed to the next one manner, we saw no sign of 231. Turning around for a second pass I took the first of two options to turn. After a brief, two block drive through this shallow, sleepy town you are facing a mostly empty desert. Running parallel to this vacant border we came across a sign for Glen Canyon Scenic Highway #12, Crosby Canyon. Pouring through our maps we saw no mention of this highway and so we turned around and headed back to highway 89. This time we took the only other left and found no outlet to our desert backdrop.

Originally I thought, how hard can it be to find this road in such a small town? And so, in typical, stereotypical male fashion I avoided a trip to the BLM Visitor Center on the opposite side of the highway, but now we were obviously lost in the smallest town on earth. Neither of our maps mentioned the Scenic Highway #12 we had seen and we had traversed the entire two miles bordering the backside of Big Water with no sign of 231.

So heading over to the BLM VC we parked and were greeted by a “Closed” sign as we approached the door. Great. Having little choice we decided to see where this #12 lead. We had all day to explore and we were close to home should we never find a place to camp.

Scenic Byway #12Heading back to the turn and out into the desert we were warned that the “Improved” road ended in 4 miles. I think the improved road, which was probably improved in the 70s, washed out in places shortly after they erected the sign. I’d say about 2 miles out, after crossing a shallow puddle of wash we began hitting patches of altering, ancient asphalt and gravel/sand. But even as all traces of asphalt disappeared the road maintained a reasonable and navigable grade and consistency.

Driving back we followed the edge of a large, red rock formation with foothills of crusted, rolling mounds rock. These mounds at the base were often littered with crumbs of boulders the size of the our truck if not bigger. It almost feels as though their tumble were a current event, but was no doubt ages ago. There is a feel of recent dynamic activity in these static masses. Most likely the brains connecting and categorizing the rocks scattered below to the rocks still intact above.

Proceeding back these foothills surround the road on both sides and their collective manner takes on the appearance of the surface of the moon or some other cosmic mass. Void of any sign of live these mounds take on an alien nature, foreign to any other scene we’ve encountered here on earth. In fact Lindsay reinforces this notion by adding that many movies have used this area as a backdrop for moon scenes.

Eventually we come to a turn and to our pleasant surprise the sign indicates the turn for Warm Creek Bay. The very place we were originally looking for! All of our maps, from the “officials” in this area failed to even mention #12, but there we were.

My First OwlThe road lead into a wash, literally. It felt more like a glorified trail than a road. the walls encroached on both sides and many passages were just wide enough for us. It would be a long stretch in reverse for one of us should we meet another vehicle back here. It was quite beautiful though. The ever changing walls of the wash weaving in and out, changing stone, changing formation. At one point Lindsay yelled “STOP, STOP”. I didn’t know what she had seen, but for some reason my mind jumped to some sort of animal. A ram, unlikely. A deer, maybe. But the last thing I would have thought was an owl. Yet there, in the cove of the wall, in plan sight and staring back at us was a great horned owl. It didn’t move a sign millimeter as Lindsay changed lenses twice and snapped several pictures.

Warm Creek BayEventually you begin to rise out of the wash and after a few turns, you spot the rich, dark blue lake. Cutting over the remaining terrain you begin to see tire tracks cutting this way. We followed the main drag until we approached a large, steep hill with a foot deep layer of loose sand. We gave it one shot, but began to dig in and slip towards the top. So we backed down, turned around and parked off the road on solid ground on the previous crest.

From here we walked back to the lake and then back for some lunch. After lunch we explored the immediate area before retiring to the lake again, this time with chairs in tow. We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting, ankle deep in the lake, munching on peanuts, and doing a little light reading. As the day progressed a large front of clouds loomed on the horizon, slow moving and white, but no less threatening. Should this area or any of the surrounding area experience rain we could find our path out flooded and impassible. This threat paired with a hearty call of nature of the backdoor variety caused us to abandon our camping plans and head home. Better safe than sorry.

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