Monday, June 3, 2013

Spring West Desert Trip

Each spring I take a trip out into the western Utah desert to collect rock samples for my independent study course. Not many of the desert flowers were in bloom this time, probably because of the dry winter and spring weather. But the desert is still beautiful this time of the year. Here are a few shots I took in between collecting stops.

A little snow still capping Deseret Peak in the Stansbury Range in the distance, and beyond the trees, in the middle distance is a burned out area from a previous year's fire.

A brief stop at the Simpson Springs Pony Express station. What a life those riders must have had.

The colors of the desert are subtle, but beautiful, particularly with the touch of green in springtime.

On the north end of the Thomas Range, I stopped to collect some rhyolite. I also found a few pink topaz crystals and some pseudobrookite.

At the stop to collect rhyolite, one lone sego lily was blooming in the middle of the dirt road.

It seemed like every few miles I had to stop and chase one of these off of the road so that it would not get run over. This is the Great Basin gopher snake that is very common and useful in the western Utah desert.

These are really beautiful animals and I always hate it when I don't see them quick enough to stop.

Just east of the Thomas Range, these pointed volcanic hills form the end of the Keg Mountains.

I stopped in the Desert Mountains to collect some quartz. These low hills and mountains located just south of the road between the Thomas Range and the Little Sahara sand dunes have always fascinated me with their variety of different igneous rocks and dikes. But you want to arrive in the spring when the June grass (or cheat grass as it is also called) around the hills has not dried out. When it dries, its seeds gets into every crack and crevice in your boots and shoes and work their way in until you have to remove socks and shoes and pick them out.

Snakes aren't the only reptiles roaming the desert.

Crossing the railroad tracks east of Little Sahara reminded me of the dreadful day two years ago when my wife and I were the first ones on the scene of a terrible tragedy. Three young teenage girls killed by a train.

From the highway east of Eureka, Utah the view of Mount Nebo is spectacular. Snow from this winter still fills the three ancient cirques at the top of the mountain that were carved out during the last ice age.

Here in this black and white shot you can see the cirques even more clearly.

One last shot of Mount Nebo as the sun begins to get low in the sky. This one taken from near the town of Goshen.

These two pictures are of the setting sun striking West Mountain with the town of Genola visible at its base. At the top of West Mountain, not seen in these photos, is the BYU West Mountain Observatory. Beyond West Mountain, civilization once again intrudes upon the desert and I catch the freeway back to Provo. But it was great to escape even for just one day.


Sheri Kowallis said...

Great pictures Bart. Isn't the desert beautiful. Oh and congratulations future "Grandpa" We're excited for your family.

Jill said...

You certainly covered a bunch of ground in your travels. Lovely photos...Please post pictures of your rocks as well. I would like to see them.