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Stories and pictures about our travels, our photography and the outdoors.

 

First Officer's Log Days 14-16, Utah Expedition

This is the fifth in a series of posts about our recent trip to Utah

 

12.10.2015 Expedition Day 14
It is noted that this is prospective crew person’s Intisar’s date of birth. Congratulations to her on her survival.

We began the day with a recon of the Colorado River canyon upstream of where we are encamped. The established camp locations in this canyon were attractive but extremely busy. The crew is scheduled to spend a day here later in the trip but may have to make other arrangements.

Returning to the village of Moab, we decided to seek counsel at the local visitor’s center in order to obtain intelligence on local destinations and suitability for imaging tasks. The Captain made first contact with one of the two individuals manning this facility. The individual interrupted the Captain and said: “Don’t look at the map. Look me in the eyes.” Understandably this abrupt first encounter threw the Captain off her game. The First Officer took it upon himself at this point to investigate the free-standing information displays. The First Officer declared this to be an act of discretion leading to valor. The Captain later referred to the First Officer as having tendencies similar to a certain gallinaceous bird. Regardless, little useful intelligence was gained at this location.

Needles area skyline

Without delay, we left the local burg and struck out to the south to visit a sub-area of the park known as Canyonlands. This sub-unit (The Needles) is approximately 50 of the local mile units to the south of the intelligence-gathering stop. This seemed to be sufficient distance between us and the “helpful” individual at the desk. This sub-unit is located off the main transportation route. The road from the main highway to the sub-unit is very scenic (although you wouldn’t know this from the visitor center personnel). The crew was greatly impressed but lighting was deemed “horrible” for imaging. This location has been noted for a possible return trip during the local meteorological condition known as the Monsoon. En route the crew stopped at a local point of significance known as newspaper rock. Many figures and symbols are painted and etched on a rock face. These symbols were put here by ancient aboriginal people. The Captain said it reminded her of the First Officer’s reports.

This jurisdiction is a favorite for the vehicle known as an All-terrain transport or the vehicle known as a jeep. Operators of these vehicles appear to spend much time and effort in procuring the largest and knobbiest tires possible. These vehicles are then used to drive very rudimentary trails. This form of transport is very slow and hard on equipment. One participant told us that one of their crew walked to the distant overlook in the same amount of time as it took to move the vehicle there. We walked several of the local hiking trails and visited small pools of water where indigenous non-vertebrate species of animals live and a spring area where “cowboys” left behind their “cowjunk”. The cowjunk was in a remarkable state of preservation under a rock overhang. Some of the cowjunk included wooden tables and chairs, random metal stuff and some provision cans.

Cowjunk camp

We returned to the main village of Moab for evening repast and then proceeded to the Double Arch in the Arches Park. This was another imaging tasking. Tonight’s goal was to capture stars in the windows of the arch. We appear to have been moderately successful in achieving the task. While in the process, we encountered a group of 4 young adults who were visiting the arch, one of whom attempted to also create imaging with stars around the arch. She was obviously a neophyte at this task so we provided information transfer to assist her endeavors. She was very ecstatic on capturing an image with visible stars. We were happy to provide joy to another sentient being. We returned to camp at Moab for our evening rest period.

13.10.2015 Expedition Day 15
This day was tasked for a wide area recon expedition. First, the crew again drove south. This time to the Needles overlook and the Anticline Overlook. The Needles location was quite scenic but lighting conditions continue to be sub-par with no clouds, abundant haze and harsh shadows. The midday repast was taken along the access road. The crew is becoming somewhat disenchanted with the midday menu selection. Logistics section has been charged with broadening the selection at the next provisioning opportunity. After the midday meal period the crew proceeded to the La Sal Mountains. Here a high quality gravel road loops across the western face of the range through more of the trembling leaf trees. Most of these trees have already lost their leaves. We explored a side route to Geyser Pass. No geysers or other forms of geothermal activity were detected. The Captain frequently claimed to have detected fumarole activity. The First Officer declined all knowledge of what the Captain was referring to.

The Geyser Pass Road led to a swale (pass?) between multiple 12,000 foot peaks. These peaks had received their first snow of the season early in the previous week. More images were created. The crew heard “elk mating sounds” that the locals refer to as bugling. The crew wondered if these might be imitations as hunter-gatherers were in the area and it seemed early for elk mating to have begun.

Returning to the loop road, the northern descent led first through a community of large housing structures nestled in the small and rather scruffy oak trees. However, these structures enjoy 100 mile plus vistas to the west. This may be a location where religious rites are observed, possibly some sun worship. This location appears to be a difficult location to reach in the winter portion of the year. Further along the Loop road we entered an area the locals call Castle Valley. There are no castles here. There are several large cliffs and fins of rock. Some of these have been bisected. The actual community was set away from the main access of the loop road. Possibly another religious community, potentially rock worshippers or disciples having taken a vow of poverty and separation from the larger society. Returned to camp and had evening meal period and early evening rest period. Tomorrow is an early call for a sunrise imaging tasking.

 

14.10.2015 Expedition Day 16
It is noted that this is Special Agent (Trainee) Turner’s date of birth. Congratulations to her on her survival.

The day began before sunrise with a trip to the windows area of the Arches administrative unit. The Captain and the First Officer separated company in order to maximize imaging attempts in this area. Although many images were created, results were mixed. Again, meteorological conditions were less than ideal. Large numbers of non-imaging individuals also visited this location. Reference discussion of morning at administrative unit Bryce Canyon.

Today's main tasking was participation in a Ranger-led expedition into the Fiery Furnace. As previously noted this is neither a Furnace nor particularly Fiery (at least at this time of year). However, this set of features consists of many tall rock fins set closely together. In some areas normal adult individuals are forced to squeeze through the required passages. For some of the larger bodied individuals on the expedition this appeared to be rather taxing. This formation is very interesting and the young Ranger who led the trip kept the female expedition members enthralled. The male members thought he did a good job.

The crew returned to camp in Moab in anticipation of departure in the AM for our most eastern point on this expedition.

Log transmission ends. Standby for future log segment...