Welcome to another installment of our wacky desert adventures.
Thursday June 30th, 2005 ................................First Edition / Volume Three / Part One.............................Click here to go to bottom of page

Desert Rats Survive Hostile Terrain, Bugs, Gunfire, Blazing Sun, Rolling Rocks, Snakes and Breakdowns - Live to Tell Story.

Our journey began in the sleepy hamlet of American Fork Utah. Brian's new house sits literally feet away from a major mudslide that's recently been slowly creeping down the hill looking for something to satisfy it's unrelenting hunger, something like a house. In the shadow of this looming presence, Gary, Mark, Brian and myself prepare our provisions and other possibles early for our annual trek to the desert region of Southern Utah.

For more than twenty years now we have made this trip to the most inhospitable part of the great beehive state. An area only a rattlesnake, geologist, uranium miner, prospector, cowboy, park ranger, masochist, BLM Official, or the occasional lost RV could truly appreciate. Unless you know where to go, how to get there and what to do when you DO get there. If you're not prepared, the desert can be like a old bottle of mediocre tequilla, a very hash mistress indeed.

Related Links:
NEW! Movie Trailer No.2
Desert Recipes Coming soon!
Past the last exit to BFE, traveling East on god knows what highway, we see the sign we long for all year, it simply reads, "End of the Earth". Perfect! Just what we're looking for. From there traveling, we see the desert flowers and cactus have begun to bloom like popcorn thanks to the same torrential rains that have caused such grief back home up North. Flowers of bright yellow, purple and white dot the landscape surrounding us. Cactus that haven't bloomed in years have awakened with an explosion of color. We make our way along to the secret turn-off that will deliver us into the valley of our affection, Frog Hollow.
The boys gather 'round the fire as the stars shine bright.
Photo: ©2005 Steven B. Heiner

We continue our travel along familiar roads. To the uninitiated, this seemingly endless precession along otherwise indistinguishable dirt roads, it might just seem like we have no idea where we're going. As a matter of record, it wouldn't be the first time we got lost out here, nor our last. Traveling down roads that look less like roads and more cattle trails or a footpath can cause one to actually wonder where the entire day went after venturing down yet another dead end. After a few more turns down smaller and less traveled trails, we come to the cattle fence, the home-stretch in our journey to Frog Hollow. Camp. The gate in the fence is an very interesting example of the ingenuity and resourceful ness of the Utah cattleman. A twisted re-bar lever fastened to the anchored post tightens a loop of wire around the post on the flimsy wire gate post. For many years the Bureau of Land Management has permitted cattle grazing on these lands so it is not uncommon to see fences and gates, wells, pumping stations, water troughs, wooden loading ramps complete with corral, cabins, campsites and the most ubiquitous of all - cow shit, everywhere. But one of the benefits of following the cattle is that they happen know where the water is and that is where the big cottonwoods grow complete with their cooling canopies. The other advantage is if we ever get really stuck, we'll never starve out here...

The gang for 2005 Left to right: Gary, Junior, Jeff, Greg, Brian, Scott, Brad, Mark, Dick, Cody (behind), Wade (front), Alfy, Rusty and Steve - Photo: ©2005 Steven B. Heiner
Desert bloomage and the sun set upon the mighty Spring-Bar tent. Photos: ©2005 Gary McKellar

After checking out both Barney's Rubble and the Hollow for the official camp headquarters, we ultimately chose the Hollow for it's scenery and seclusion. A seclusion that no doubt had diminished during our stay as the trail became freshly tracked with the in and out everyday travel of seven trucks. The day will no doubt come when it will be time to let this place return to it's wild state, while we venture further into the deep of the red rock desert country looking for the next great place to camp.

Wade and his Pony crawl down Drive Line Hill with ease. Photo: ©2005 Alfy
Our first day in the valley we (Brian, Gary Mark and me) ventured off to the edge of nowhere overlooking the Green RIver where the road ends literally at a cliff. I am quite sure by the time we turn around that in all the years of coming here, this road is a new one for me. Once we got back to camp, we're met with cheers and jeers. Greg sitting ancient Buddha style in a modern folding patio chair smoking his ample pipe. Sporting a fresh new desert hair-less do, Greg displays his answer to hair care-desert style. Near by, Alfy and Wade cheer our entrance with a cold-beer salute. Soon afterwards, the relative silence is broken with the approach of more vehicles. Out in front is the Deeek-mobile. Carrying a motley crew of vagabonds and dragging a trailer filled with beer, meat and bowling pins. The doors of the big red Sierra open and they file out like clowns and the circus. And right behind them, Junior and Jeff, Rusty and Cody arrive.
Clockwise: Rusty and Cody go over the edge. The switchbacks of the Spring Canyon Trail. The sign at the fork in the road. Photos: ©2005 Gary McKellar

The next three days were filled with much laughter and merriment. Exploring by day, stoking the fire by night. Once Dick, Brad, Scott, Greg, Rusty Cody, Junior and Jeff all set-up their quarters, a chuck wagon dinner was in order. An all out smorgasbord ensued with Brad and Dick at the helm. Asian Shrimp of some sort if I remember correctly.

It never ceases to amaze me what Dick and the guys will bring to burn on the fire! For years it was the power pole cross arms soaked in creosote and smelled like a gas truck fire, this trip was nearly 100 Regal Lanes bowling pins. When you drop them in the fire, it sounds like strike! Our wood gathering techniques are opportunistic generally, so no one ever froze to death around a Deeek fire.

The evenings are the best part of the day in the desert. Nothing feels better after bouncing around , breathing dust all day, four-wheelin' and trying to hold your spleen in from the bouncing up and down, side to side, than taking a nice, hot long rinse with the handy-dandy portable hyper-tyvec-bristlecone-super-sensitive telefunken-u-47-solar shower thingie. Once filled with 3-4 gallons of water, this big plastic bag sits in he sun all day heating up and when we return at night it's a refreshing pick-me up out here so far from any other potable water. Believe me when I say, even after the first day in the desert I begin resembling a grubby, -chubby little Boy Scout from Troop 777 Provo Utah!

(Above) Mark, Gary and Brian contemplate a tough descision...lite or regular beer? .Photo: ©2005 Steven B. Heiner (Right) Nothing like GWM...good enough to smoke! Photo: ©2005 Steven B. Heiner

Speaking of when I was a Scout, no camping trip ever was complete without massive amounts of beef jerky. Of course we never had it so good as we do now with the "Filet Mignon" of all Jerky, Gary West Meats. That might sound like a blatant endorsement for their fine products...well it is. This stuff is so damn good, by jeezum crow, that it should be accompanied by pickled white asparagus tips and a fine bottle of Cain Five instead of a warm Coors and a shoe full of sand...but today, I wouldn't have it any other way!.
I meant to ask Dick how many years he's been coming to the desert but I forgot. Somehow I would suspect that it's more years than I am old. Watching Dick drive over Drive Line Hill and multiple times at that, drag wood, set-up a full fledged kitchen (minus the actual Chuck wagon), and still have enough energy to cook up great grub every night makes me feel older than him! My hat is off to Dick and Brad for whoopin' some mighty fine vittles. And Scott for helping out and for not eating it all. I think that we should ask Brad to send in the recipe for his awesome desert chicken dish, whaddya say? Bravo! Where did the bones go anyway? Every trip I am quickly reminded it is always a blast to get together with old friends and new. ........................................To be continued...
Dick pauses after another flawless descent of Drive Line Hill. Photos above and right: ©2005 Gary McKellar
Check in again soon for part 2 of the continuing saga.
Page design and photos: ©2005 Steven B. Heiner / All Rights Reserved
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