North and a bit west of St George is a range of mountains snuggled up against the Nevada border. They haven't hit my radar at all yet 'cause they don't lie between here and St George, not even by way of my jagged thinking. I've put the trans utah obsession on temporary hold and saddled up with the crackhead for some "local" explorations this weekend.
Looking north from Gunlock Res there are two side-by-side prominent peaks - Square Top and Jackson. They lie in BLM land...the surface maps show a trail going between them. That was the destination, to explore the trail in that pass between these peaks. From this view NE of the peaks they looked huge, gaining that pass would be no easy affair - probably hike a bike - if the trail does indeed exist. We didn't find out...
The early part of the route heads up Veyo Shoal Creek road. It proved to be a wonderful backcountry route, lots of climbing, sometimes in canyons, sometimes in wide open desert terrain, it climbed roughly 4k' before we left it.
Then was the rancher encounter. This place is back o beyond...we surprised half a dozen cowboys and ranchers, one with his pants literally down ;) It was initially a barage of questions "where'd you come from" "where ya goin" and when this one grizzled old leather faced guy had processed our responses he proceeded to tell us where we were going, tossing out at least 15 place names that of course didn't even ring a bell. Good ol boyz for sure.
Surprise finds along the way. Slickrock where I least expected it!
These granite pinnacles sparked a fire in the old climber in me...looked just like Joshua Tree rock!
Then the hike a bike began. The really fun part of exploration using GPS, maps, and inquisitiveness is that you just don't know what conditions are going to be like until you get there. There is a trail on the Dixie National Forest boundary with BLM land called the South Boundary Trail. Well, it didn't exist at all. We got a good solid dose of Scott-a-bike. Following random horse tracks sometimes took the best route through, but those tall critters put the rider above the endless scratchy brush. It was never ending...turns out the only thing worse than hike a bike is hike a bike where you can't actually hike ;) And there's more than a little guilt to dragging someone else through it. I had to keep reminding myself that I was with Lynda, toughest non-complaining mountain biker I know.
So that hike-a-bike took the wind out our sails for further exploration...not to mention sunset was getting ever closer but the truck wasn't.
But of course, it isn't about the destination, it's about the journey.
All was wonderful in the end.