Sunday, September 22, 2013

Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area - Utah 2013

I left Jackson Hole at 7:00 AM and arrived at the Slate Creek Campground, at the Fontenelle Reservoir, near Labarge, at 11:00 AM. On the way, at an overlook, I spent some time with a German couple. They are traveling in a rented motorhome. Like most Europeans they know a lot about American National Parks, and over the years have visited many. The couple is still working and hope when they retire they can stay for a longer time.
At the campground I found a good spot next to the river. Anglers are coming by on the fast flowing water.

We are nineteen people. Here in the middle of nowhere I get two public television stations with the antenna. I also get good cell phone service, inside the motorhome, with the help of the booster. This is a midway stop on our way to the Flaming Gorge Recreation Area.
In the evening we had a wonderful campfire. Most of the funny people of the group were present. We did a lot of laughing.

On our morning walk we left the campground and went on a dirt road. On the way back I took some pictures of the signs explaining the reason for the reservoir, and telling what trees grow here. 

On most reservoirs camping is free. For anglers and kayakers this is a perfect place. The WIN kayakers have been on the river twice.
Since there is not much to do here I started cleaning the inside of the motorhome. I noticed an angler fishing in the river.

I went outside and talked to him. He was catching and releasing trout. I told him to catch one for me. Dan had joined me and made some of his very intelligent comments. We watched the angler for a while and then walked away. As soon as we were out of sight I heard the man say that he had my fish. We went back and he actually had not reeled in the fish. He was still working at it. After a few minutes he put the fish in my shopping bag.

While we were walking towards my motorhome the fish jumped in the bag and startled me.  Now I had a live fish and nobody to kill it and clean it. Peter gave me a trout a few months ago. He had prepared it and I only had to put it in the frying pan. I only shot a rabbit once, but that happened from a distance. It still bothered me though. I knew Dan would not do it for me. I think he was enjoying my dilemma. When he went to his motorhome to get a filet knife; I picked up a piece of wood and put the poor fish out of misery. Dan told me how to open up the fish and take the innards out. I am surprised I still was able to eat the fish after that messy operation.
After I was done I got rid of the head and innards and prepared the fish for cooking. I cooked also potatoes and broccoli and had a wonderful lunch. It was cold again last night, but during the day the temperature got up to 70 degrees F. We have blue skies; there are no clouds.

I arrived at the Walmart in Rock Springs, Wyoming, at 9:00 AM. Some of the WINs came here yesterday. I set up the motorhome and went to McDonalds to go on the Internet. An hour later, when I went outside, it was dark and raining real heavy. This was a surprise. Back at the motorhome I turned on the catalytic heater and warmed up. The rain lasted almost an hour. I did some grocery shopping at Walmart.
Rock Springs is a coal mining and farming community.

When it cleared up I drove to Green River, to Expedition Island. Here Explorers and adventure seekers started their journey down the Green River into the Colorado River. 

The most famous one was John Wesley Powell, who in 1869 led an expedition down the Green River, on the Colorado River, and through the Grand Canyon. 

His second expedition was in 1871. 

In 1849 William Manley, of Death Valley fame, also attempted to go down the river. 

In 1911, the Kolb brothers, who were photographers, went all the way to the Gulf of California.

In 1938, two French men and a woman did the Green River in kayaks to Lee’s Ferry.  

I did the one week rafting trip on the Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon. It was on a large raft. I would have never attempted to do it in a little boat.
From Expedition Island I went on the Wild Horse Scenic Loop. It is a part gravel and part dirt road. The first few miles were fine, but later the road was a bit rough for a car. I saw pronghorns feeding on sage brush. 

Then I saw what I came for, wild horses.  There were two good sized herds and some horses on their own. The Bureau of Land Management keeps the horse population in this area to about 250.

It was about to rain again and it was very dark. I did not get any good pictures.
I learned something about wild horses though. On the road were large piles of horse manure. It looked like all the horses went to the same place. It is actually the stud who comes to the same place. He is marking his territory. The piles are sometimes three feed high.
When I came back to the motorhome I went one more time in the store and then prepared early dinner. At 8:00 PM somebody knocked on my door. It was two men telling me that the start working at midnight at this part of the parking lot. I was the first person they contacted. I put my computer on the bed and moved the motorhome right away. I picked up the car later. I found a good spot. I noticed that the other motorhomes and trailers drove around, trying to fit in somewhere.  

Before I left Camp Walmart I went to Reliance to take a look at the Reliance Tipple. The Tipple is a giant metal building. It was used to sort coal and for loading coal to railroad cars. 

Back at Walmart is a tent now where I parked the motorhome yesterday. I believe there will be a car show today.
On my way to Flaming Gorge I saw snow covered mountains.

When I arrived at the Firefighters Memorial Campground, near Dutch John, Utah, it was very cold and windy. I set up the motorhome and went for a drive. From an overlook one can see the reservoir. 

From the overlook below the dam one can see the size of it.

At another overlook above the dam the dam and part of the reservoir is visible. The bath tub ring around the reservoir is a good indicator how low the water is now. 

From the dam I drove to Red Canyon. The Green River is actually green in the canyon. 

At the 5:00 PM circle meeting Janet and Doug told us about their exciting Alaska trip.

There was a thin layer of ice on the windshield of the car this morning. On our morning walk we had to wear warm clothing. We found out why the campground is called the Firefighters Memorial Campground. Three firefighters died here. We walked to the memorial.

At 10:00 AM we took off for a driving tour. Our first stop was at the Red Canyon Visitor Center. 

Then we went to the Dowd Mountain Hideout Canyon Trail. We did a short hike. 

After eating our lunch, at the picnic area, we drove to Sheep Creek Canyon. 

At the Sheep Creek we watched Kokanee Salmon fight their way up the creek to spawn. There always seemed to be a male and female. They had turned red already.

When we were on the road again we encountered some female mountain sheep and one lamb.

All, but one older female, left in a hurry.

At the Sheep Creek Canyon Geological Area we saw beautiful mountain formations and some trees in their fall colors.  

Most of the day we had blue skies and the temperature had risen to a point where we took off our sweatshirts. Today was one of those amazing days. It helped that Janet and Doug were able to guide us trough Sheep Creek Canyon. They had come earlier than the group and found the creek with the salmons and the trail leading to good viewing spots.
In the evening we had a camp fire, roasted marshmallows, and had some good conversations. 

This morning we participated in a tour of the Flaming Gorge Dam. Twelve of us took the tour. We had to go through a rigorous inspection, just like at the airport. 

Our guide, a lady from Dutch John, was very good. She told us that people in Dutch John live with the dam. The town was built to house people working on the dam, and now the people are employed to work in maintenance for the power house or at the Visitor Center. Our first stop was the River Vista Overlook. 

Then we went on top of the dam. The river is 506 feet down below. 

The elevator took us down to the power plant. Part of the elevator shaft is inside the dam. We received an explanation how the electricity is produced.  We also found out how long it took to built the dam, and how many people died during the construction of the dam. We had many questions and got answers. A dam is more complicated than it appears. In order not to hurt the environment below the dam, cold water from the bottom of the reservoir is mixed with the warmer water on top. When one of the turbines stops, water is released from an eight foot diameter pipe. The water pressure is so strong that it propels the water several hundred feet through the air into the river.

Our last stop was an outside deck where we were able to feed the fish which are gathered near the bottom of the dam. When the food hit the water there was one solid mass of trout.

After lunch part of the group went on a three mile hike. I went to Dutch John. The town is very small and there is no library. I went to a small restaurant for lunch and did my computer work there.
At 3:00 PM it started to rain and at 7:00 PM it turned to snow. We are at 7,000 feet elevation and we were warned about a snow storm. Our last day here is the 27th of September and the campground will close for the season on the 29th.

When I woke up the car and trees were covered with snow. The snow had melted on the road. I was 39 degrees F. in the motorhome. Outside, it must have been a little bit above the freezing point. On my morning walk I enjoyed the scenery. I was the only one walking. My morning walk partners are already at our next stop. The rest of the group are not morning people.

We are only seven people now. Three went hiking below the dam, along the river. I did not feel like it. It rained periodically. I set up my telescoping ladder and removed the snow from the solar panels. In the afternoon I took a short drive. At the marina they had displays of what kind of fish are in the reservoir. They catch some big ones here. It rained again at the 5:00 PM circle meeting. We all fit under the awning of Chuck’s fifth wheel trailer. Five of the group went for dinner to the Red Canyon Lodge. 


Barbara and Ron said...

Funny story about the fish - made me LOL.

Jason Norin said...

Traveling to Utah is also a part of my list of places to go to. I am also a travel enthusiast like you and for me, having a nomad travel insurance is a necessity. :)