Somehow, Mother Nature messed up and scheduled a nice day for Saturday. Before she changed her flippin’ fickle female mind, David and I jumped in my Ford Explorer and pulled the ATV trailer down to the Hanksville area. Having used up every rotten weather trick imaginable, Mother Nature was left with just one remaining tool. The wind. In the Hanksville area, that means blowing sand.
So with temperatures in the 80’s, we enjoyed a very windy day exploring the jeep trails and roads east of the Hanksville highway and north of the Dirty Devil River. (When you are running around on ATV’s, I suppose a little additional wind doesn’t matter that much.)
We parked behind a roadside monolith and headed east on the ATVs. We explored several roads that took us down towards the Dirty Devil River which gave us a chance to explore sandstone areas that looked like they could hide a natural arch or two.
After we gave up on that area, we continued east to the upper end of Buck Canyon. Here we found a parking area that was obviously a staging point for canyoneering down Buck Canyon. We were surprised to find a Nissan Xterra parked there since we hadn’t expected to see anyone in this area.
We decided to do a little hiking so we dropped into Buck Canyon, which requires a short but steep drop off a loose shale sandstone layer down to slickrock sandstone. Then we had to drop down a narrow wedge that was buried in loose tumbleweeds, until we were able to walk on the nearly flat canyon floor again.
However, only a short walk down the canyon took us to the edge of deeper drop offs that required ropes. A sling was set up nearby for those with rope experience. We turned around and made our way up out of the canyon again.
About the time that we were back on our ATV’s and ready to leave, the owner’s of the Nissan showed up on the opposite canyon rim. We didn’t want to wait for another 20 minutes for them to make their way back to our side of the canyon so we just waved and left.
The next jeep trail we tried, took us down the west side of Pasture Canyon and ended at a point overlooking the mouth of the canyon near the Dirty Devil River. It was a wondrous view but the strong wind made it hard to enjoy. From the rim, we were able to see the top of what could be a class ‘B’ natural arch, in the east fork of Pasture Canyon. Once we determine how to get down there, we will probably be returning to get a closer look.
To the south, we could also see a class ‘B’ arch hanging above the Dirty Devil River. This new Dirty Devil Arch will require a hike down the Sand Slide to visit… some day.
On the way back, we made one more stop so we could hike out to the edge and look into a middle section of Pasture Canyon. We couldn’t see any obvious routes to the bottom of the canyon but we will do some more research to try to find a path down and save us a few miles of hiking from the mouth of the canyon.
By the time we were riding again on one of the main dirt roads, it was time to head back. We had about 20 miles to travel with a strong cross wind. (A strong cross wind is a good thing for those riding behind another ATV’s dust.)
Up until our trip back, the only wildlife we had seen was a couple of vultures feasting on the carcass of a large dog near the road. (Phew!) However, on a long stretch of straight road heading west, a nice sized buck antelope decided that David’s ATV was after him. He proceeded to gallop and then streak parallel to the road, about a hundred feet off of David’s left hand. David had not indicated that he had seen the antelope and continued his course westward at about 30 mph while fighting the side wind. The buck was matching him for speed without the need for a road. This race continued for about a half mile with the antelope running “full out” like I have never seen one run before. I followed behind trying to decide whether the buck was fleeing in fear or testing his speed with the metal monster. It was quite a race.
A small hill soon required the buck and David’s ATV to slow. I noticed that the buck then turned to the south and dropped to a trot. I verified later that David had missed the race and I still am not sure who won. It was impressive.
After washing a days worth of grit and sand out of our eyes, we headed for home. We were sun and wind burned but had enjoyed every minute of it.
ATV mileage: 57.4 miles.