The weather had put on a few shows at my campsite north of Loma, Colorado, including some impressive thunderstorms. One in particular dumped a bunch of small hail and some heavy rain for a bit. Before long there was a ‘flash flood’ of water pouring down the trail that I was parked beside, coursing down the deep ruts in quite a torrent. I got out my trusty plastic shovel and improvised some water bars to get the water back into the desert where it belonged.
I was not too concerned about the road as it had survived a number of similar floods, and was composed of lots of gravel and sand. But the temperatures had turned colder, so after three nights it was time to head out in the morning. As expected the start of the road was not too bad, except for spots where a bit of fresh silt had accumulated in the low spots. A bit of extra speed there was all it took, and it was all generally downhill towards the highway. All went well till about the last 200 yards when the gritty road surface changed to a gooey clay mixture. From there it was touch and go for a while with the truck sliding sideways in 4 wheel drive and the trailer trying to follow along. Mud was flying and splattering on the hood and windows before the hard ground and pavement gave good grip again! We laid a bit of mud along the highway for a ways and a few piles fell off in the parking lot at a mall in Grand Junction. Through it all Hailey was not concerned, except when her chin rubs were interrupted by the distraction of driving. It would have been nice to have some pics of the tracks we left, or the expressions on the faces of the campers we passed at the bottom of the road. As far as they knew, the road was bad all the way from where I’d come, but actually it only turned bad from their spot on down.
Much of the day was spent looking around Cabela’s and other attractions in Grand Junction, and later on the route took us south west on 141 toward Gateway. At dusk we ended up on a forest service road leading into the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. Good camp spots were at a premium and it was late, so a roadside spot in a wide switch back served the purpose for the night. Elevation is still high, and overnight temps were well below freezing.
It was obviously a popular hunting area, and trucks started to stream up the road at 0530 with hunters no doubt looking to bag a big elk, and ranchers headed up to make sure their cows did not suffer the same fate. In the morning we dropped back into the bottom of the Unaweep Canyon for the drive through Gateway and beyond.
Traffic was light and the scenery first rate. At a pull-off in the Dolores Canyon area began the start of some 160 photos taken on the day. Early miners had needed water to look for gold in the canyon and had built miles of canals and wooden flumes to get the water where they wanted it. In this section, it involved hanging the flume off the canyon wall for a distance of about 5 miles! It was definitely a feat on engineering worthy of great wonder.
So breathtaking it was, that even Hailey sat up and took notice. (Or maybe it was that bird in the tree?)(Or the rock about to fall onto the highway?)
The day was still young when we stopped at a road and riverside rec area approaching Placerville, and it was sunny but cool, so we kept rolling towards several 10,000 foot passes before the day was through …