With two days of travel left, I considered staying on Cedar Mesa one more day and making the long push home the night before my next day scheduled at work. I didn’t feel ready to leave. Had one more destination on my radar, though, and decided to get there.
Old house, Verdure, a former Mormon settlement:
I was headed north to the Las Sal mtns just east of Moab. This caught my eye, though, and I veered off to leaf peep:
Never been up in the Manti-La Sal N. Forest. From a distance I’ve admired this unassuming little mtn group. The road up was closed by snow when I passed by last April. Abajo, South, Horsehead and Twin Peaks reach no more than 11,360′ at the most (Abajo the tallest.) Still, their vertical from the flat desert floor is dramatic. The change in ecosystem is pretty nifty as well.
I saw red. I saw yellow. I had to check it out. It only got better as I went up.
I must mention, the brilliance of the leaves,with the sun filtering through, is not captured in these pics. I was spellbound and dazed for most of a day up there.
Headed up a fire road:
Found, to my surprise, this!
“Blue Mtn ski area,” defunct some 25 years now, was just a single swath for locals with a pommel lift to the top. Per the ranger I spoke with in Monticello, he recalls a wooden deck and concession stand for hot cocoa. It was “treacherous” for beginners since it’s fairly steep and, he reminisced, “hot shots” would barrel down and endanger less seasoned skiers. No cafes, no boot dryers, no $12 hamburgers, just a good old-fashioned hill to make turns on.
Target practice, anyone?
Need a bird for Turkey Day?
Wrapped my way up between Abajo and Horsehead Peak. Scrapped my hiking plans. Folks were hunting that weekend and I had no neon-orange to don. I was nervous about that.
Crossed North Creek Pass and lo and behold, the view:
I wanted to lie down in the middle of this canopy and just gawk:
Several avalanche paths sweep down Jackson Ridge. Some were completely barren, this with some new growth on it. I wonder how many years it took for those aspen to establish themselves?
Crossed Indian Creek, just a little trickle. The city of Monticello pulls water from it using the old fashioned cistern way of storing and moving it. There were signs warning me to stay away from the “culinary watershed” which confused me. A lot. Indian Creek flows down into the same-named climbing area I frequent just north of here. It was cool to see its origin.
Parked here and just sat a spell. Made coffee. Worked on a knitting project. I had the world to myself for a while and it was a good place to be.
Reluctantly left. No camping up there. If there was, though…numerous bike/hike/motorcycle trails weave through this area. I shall return. I’m a convert.
Thought this was funny:
Uhhh…don’t pass on the right?
Finished the trip with a spin around the La Sal Mtns, a grouping just east of Moab. They’re a helluva lot bigger up close than I thought. I’ve driven through Moab 80-bajillion times. This was a welcomed detour.
The La Sal Loop Rd connects Moab with Castleton Valley along the skirts of the La Sals. The transition from sandstone to mtn hillsides is interesting:
More fall color:
Road wraps around toward the CO River and behind Fischer Valley (home of the rightfully famous Fischer Towers) and Castle Valley (location of the famed Castleton Tower.) Kokopelli’s bike trail comes through here as well.
Dinosaur tracks the nice ranger guy told me about, high up on a limestone rim. (Is that how dinosaurs became extinct?) ; ) There were quite a few, deep, my palm sits in the back of this one:
New places I found this trip, all will see me again. Probably won’t return to the La Sals this winter (the road is at 8,000+ in elevation for most parts.) Cedar Mesa, though, that could be a winter destination (with a warm sleeping bag for nights). So many beautiful new sights. Quality time with Mother Nature.