Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dust, pollution, and a rattler

I've been wanting to take Sweetums out Hewitt Canyon Road, all the way to the Roger's Trough trailhead, for years. I knew she wouldn't like the bumpy ride, though, and it usually took me about 3 hours to get all the way up there. We went out there with the Ranger on Monday.

Sweetums found another hole in the rock. At least I don't think I've seen this before. Seems very round.

I found something interesting, too. I think it's a solar powered rain gage.

We parked not very far from a paved road. That means we drove the Ranger on lots of dusty road. I don't know if that is why we got so dusty. I didn't think we drove through very much dust but we were covered by the time we were done. It's thick all over the Ranger. I checked the air filter and it's spotless. I don't know how that works. My nose was full of dust. We really need some bandannas. We saw a large group of ATV riders and they all had dust masks on. They were riding together, so all but the first were riding in a cloud of dust.

The road climbs to the trailhead.

After we had climbed to about 3500 feet, a turn in the road gave us a view back towards the valley. It was shocking. It looked like the valley was covered in a layer of fog, but you can't have fog on a sunny, dry, and warm afternoon in the desert. It had to be the brown cloud. It just looked white from this angle.

That ain't fog on the ground out there.

As we climbed toward the top of the road, I kept thinking that I saw familiar landmarks, but they looked strangely unfamiliar. Suddenly, we were at the top. I looked around feeling bewildered. It seemed like we had just started climbing. I finally realized that part of the way I navigate through the desert is by how long it takes to get somewhere. In spots where I could go only 1 or 2 mph in the truck (that's all traction would allow), we had gone 5 to 10 mph in the Ranger (and I was going slow so the ride wouldn't be bumpy). We went to the top and back in the time it would normally take me to just get to the top. I don't think we were going too fast to enjoy the scenery, though. In fact, I probably saw more stuff out there than I usually do. First of all, Sweetums pointed out stuff that I had missed. Second, without a truck cab obscuring my view I could see stuff all around and above us.

There was a little snow up there.

Another view of yucky stuff.

On the way down, I was thinking about how warm it was and was wondering how warm it had to be for the snakes to come out. We turned a corner and there was a rattler crossing the road. Very slowly. I don't think he'd had his coffee yet. Sweetums does NOT like snakes, but she remained calm. I started to drive by when it got to the side of the road. It didn't like that and it coiled up. That's when Sweetums told me to drive faster.

Sweetums' snake.

Byous Butte.

Click below to see all of the pictures.


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