Saturday, we had a chance to head over to the 4-H center to see the animals. Ouray County has a rich ranching and farming history and it was fun to see all the 4-H kids animals on display. There were pigs, cows, chickens, rabbits, and sheep in the barn. I had a lot of fun taking pictures!
After weather sent us scurrying from the San Rafael Swell, we headed to the Book Cliffs. Although I-70 passes along their base from US-6 east to Grand Junction, they’re a relatively unvisited area. Our adventures in the Book Cliffs started in the (ghost?) town of Thompson. The remaining residents have put up a sign with a map detailing the recreational activities available from their little town:
We camped out for the night as it was getting dark and headed to the petroglyph (rock art carvings) AND pictograph (rock art painting) panels in Sego Canyon. Most of my experience with rock art in the Southwest has been with petroglyphs so I was really excited to see the pictographs:
After we checked out the rock art (and waited for the sun to peak over the canyon walls), we headed up Thompson Canyon to the end of the road then returned to head up Sego Canyon and the ghost town of Sego. Sego was a coal mining town that appears to have operated off and on from the 1890s through 1948.
The road goes about 15 miles up into the Book Cliffs and dead ends at the Ute Indian Reservation. We were able to drive almost all the way up (about 13 miles) and walked the rest of the way. The views were incredible!
I even spotted bear tracks in the sand near the end of the road:
We headed down the canyon and turned onto Book Cliffs Road (clearly marked as a 4×4 road…). It was quite an adventure, as the road dropped into a deep, narrow canyon and climbing back out wasn’t the easiest thing to do but Forrest and the van managed just fine (I tried to manage the chaos in the van and Sprocket slept…).
Eventually, we cut back south to I-70 and skipped east to Book Cliffs Over The Top Road. According to the map it was possible to make a loop up one canyon, over the top of the plateau, and then dropping down another canyon.
As we suspected, the top of the plateau was still pretty muddy and we had to skip our plans for making a loop. Despite the fact our plans had changed, it was awesome to be that high and have views out in every direction. I’m sure we’ll be back with the jeep in a more hospitable season to explore some more!
Forrest and I left Philomath on Sunday, August 16th for points south. We headed south on I-5 bound for Grants Pass. It was a gorgeous morning–perfect for starting an adventure! We stopped briefly in Oakland, Oregon–a very cute town a mile or so off the freeway, a little touristy but cute all the same.
At Grants Pass we gassed up and headed down US 199, also known as “Redwood Highway.” At O’Brien we decided to take a dirt “shortcut” and headed down Lone Mountain Rd. through Rouge River-Siskiyou National Forest. It was a welcome change of pace after pounding our way down the freeway in the morning. At Patrick Creek we rejoined 199 and rode down along the Middle Fork of the Smith River. The water was such a beautiful emerald green–we found ourselves climbing down an embankment to check it out more closely…it was much more difficult climbing back up than it was heading down! Not long after this pitstop we came to Howland Hill Road, a nice dirt road through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. The drive itself was really nice even if all the vegetation next to the road was coated in a thick coat of dust. We stopped for a quick hike through the Stout Grove and found ourselves experiencing a little blasé about the big trees. We had to quell the Northwesterner pride in our trees to admit that it was impressive that there were so many big trees so close together…
We continued down Howland Hill to Crescent City where we headed south on US 101. It was great to see the ocean and driving through the Redwoods was beautiful although it wasn’t long before we were reminded that 101 isn’t a beautiful scenic drive–it’s a freeway. We took the scenic Newton B. Drury Parkway through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park as a distraction. A stop at the National Park visitors center near Orick confirmed that there really aren’t any roads through Redwoods National Park so we continued south past some glimpses of scenery on our way to Eureka (should of stopped for beers at Lost Coast Brewery although Forrest did indulge me in driving by the Carson Mansion).
After Eureka we headed for the Lost Coast–we left 101 to head for Ferndale. Ferndale was a really cute town that I’d love to have a chance to poke around sometime. From Ferndale we headed out on Mattole Road. As it climbed up the hill outside of town the pavement got worse and worse but our spirits soared. The landscape started to open up into ranch land palpably close to the ocean.
We expected to find some public land to camp on along this road but we were unpleasantly surprised to find that there was none. The wind was whipping and we knew that it would be a pretty miserable and cold night if we waited to reach the ocean before camping so when we arrived in Capetown it wasn’t long before we found ourselves under a bridge over the Bear River setting up our tent after kicking dried cowpies aside. As we ate a granola bar before going to bed I heard a rustling behind me which I found kind of unnerving until I realized it was a cow (a “moo-cow” as I foolishly told Forrest…I’ll never hear the end of it).
And little did I know how much of a moo-cow it was. We’d gotten between it and the rest of herd and it was too scared of us to walk on its normal path and get to them so every couple of hours it would bellow to let us know that it was upset. Ohhh silly cow.
Day 1: ~387 miles