Rattlesnake in the Vault Toilet!

Back in mid-April I spent two nights at Hite Crossing, UT95 campsite where the Dirty Devil River meets the Colorado flowing into northern Lake Powell. The spring weather was unsettled with threatening dark clouds and a violent windstorm the second night, nearly collapsing my tent. About 6am the next morning I walked over to use the toilet house when I heard a hissing sound like plumbing or air escaping-except there's no plumbing...over in the corner by the door sat a coil in the dingy early light. There was a rattlesnake in the toilet! I should've brought my flashlight but I was hurrying to break camp. I held up my jacket in front of me as I quickly exited to fetch my camera.  I've later determined this sleepy, non-aggressive specimen not to be a diamondback, but rather a desert massasauga with the stripe through the eye, the red color and oval markings. Pretty cool huh? I'm glad it got out of the wind-and didn't hit me!

Back in mid-April I spent two nights at Hite Crossing, UT95 campsite where the Dirty Devil River meets the Colorado flowing into northern Lake Powell. The spring weather was unsettled with threatening dark clouds and a violent windstorm the second night, nearly collapsing my tent. About 6am the next morning I walked over to use the toilet house when I heard a hissing sound like plumbing or air escaping-except there’s no plumbing…over in the corner by the door sat a coil in the dingy early light. There was a rattlesnake in the toilet! I should’ve brought my flashlight but I was hurrying to break camp. I held up my jacket in front of me as I quickly exited to fetch my camera. I’ve later determined this sleepy, non-aggressive specimen not to be a diamondback, but rather a desert massasauga with the stripe through the eye, the red color and oval markings. Pretty cool huh? I’m glad it got out of the wind-and didn’t hit me!

West 2015 821

Camping Etiquette

Hey all you yahoos this article is just for you! You know who you are-the littering, noise, dogs, tree vandals, careless with fire and parking too close to others. Everybody wants the same thing presumably, a wonderful reunion with the outdoors, nature, be it tenting, a RV or just sleeping in your car/pickup. Trouble is it just seems so many think they’re entitled to be free to disturb others. A few years back near Buena Vista CO I came upon a fire ring filled with beer bottles & cans. Duh. Glass and aluminum don’t burn. Does a bear shit in the woods? Sure so do coyotes, dogs and people. Please bring a plastic bag from the grocery store and USE IT! At the next gas station you can put your trash into the pump island trashcan. Not so difficult. Leave no trace. Noise. At Cottonwood Cove at Lake Mohave NV after swimming I decided to use a near-empty campground to set up my tent; it was about 2pm and I needed a nap. Here come the LA set with their Spanish language, loud ethnic stereo and car spinners. I don’t care but could you hold it down? No, provocation for the gringo instead. Okay I packed it up, folded the tent and departed very LOUDLY blowing my horn up to ranger house, walked in and proclaimed “your culture needs an attitude adjustment”. Again in Western Colorado I found a campfire still smoking after I watched a station wagon arrive after dark the night before. I put it out of course and reported the incident just as I reported the kids shooting firecrackers in a dry national forest years ago. Campers love their campfires, but I seldom have one because it harms the environment and it is a serious responsibility. We’ve had way too many wildfires in Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite and other national treasures. Southern California and Colorado’s Front Range too!  Would somebody please stop cutting off live limbs from tree saplings, scarring the tree and littering the site? Green doesn’t burn in your campfire. I think dogs are wonderful companions, but make poor company as their owners do when on hiking trails. Alone in wilderness ok but in popular crowded places like New Hampshire’s White Mountains, or Mt. Chocorua the barking and loud talking/commands destroys the peace of birdwatching, also harasses other wildlife. I yelled out in Arizona’s Lost Dutchman SP “can the canine” after enduring nonstop unsupervised barking in the Superstition Mountains. Where is the courtesy folks? And don’t walk on others, there’s plenty of room for all of us. In campgrounds it’s pretty hard to separate from the motorcycles, ATVs, dogs, kids crying, drunks, and RV generator chatter but in open country like Muley Point overlooking Monument Valley why does this riff raff turn around in front of me, letting his two dogs walk through my site, then parks 500 yards out of sight, but within earshot beyond the rocks on the cliff? I left this gent a note next to a pile of slash someone left, telling this individual he compensates for his macho inferiority through his hostility toward me. I placed the pile of limbs in the small road so he could get my message. I’ve seen it all: toilet vandals, dog poop, visits by game wardens, the all night Seattle drunks destroying trees, the Class A motorhome I chased away from me in Montana, the yappy mutt in San Angelo SP Texas, the impudent dog owner unleashing his pet to scatter the shorebirds I was looking at in a Chatham MA mud flat; this is what I get out there. Happy camping!

Hall’s Creek Overlook

An old adage says when you get a lemon, make lemonade. I set out April 21 to find Angel Arch in Canyonlands, getting ten miles in on sandy Salt Creek wash, only to be blocked by impassible juniper trees, deadfall, thickets, giant boulders and steep talus slopes, all into a dead end box canyon-surrounded above by cliffs. Hmm. After a hot 5 hour hike I quit for a rock ledge with a cave as I felt nausea from the heat, fatigue. I clapped my hands, sending my echo to two inquisitive turkey vultures above me-go away and they did. After bedding down with a space blanket over my survival bivy I decided to abandon my quest, for returning to my truck at 3:30am. You cant win em all. I used a wrist compass/paracord bracelet and the Big Dipper, plus a silhouette landmark on canyon wall to get out, ducking & dodging more trees & boulders with a fresh flashlight. Like failed attempts on Everest or Apollo 13 astronauts, I told myself at 65 I didn’t get a broken leg, heart attack or stroke-Back in Mass 032 got back unscathed except my pride. Anyway later in my latest Utah adventures I spent three successful nights on the Big Thompson Mesa overlooking the Waterpocket Fold, of which Hall’s Creek is a part of-the southern end of Capitol Reef on the Burr Trail, not far from Lake Powell. Great views of this geology consisting of Summerville, Curtis, Navajo Sandstone, Chinle, Kayenta and Wingate formations. I had the Henry Mountains to my east, sharing the scene with black-throated sparrows, mockingbirds, blue gray gnatcatchers and a lovely Scott’s oriole! Once above the abyss Brimhall natural bridge is visible below (not shown). Watercolor