Tag Archives: Utah

Travels in southern Utah

In late June, 2016, I travelled through southern and eastern Utah, looking for good places to record wildlife and good places to hike.  So after I left wolf country, I headed north.  It was still hotter than blazes, so rather than seeking colorful sandstone, I was looking for cool, shady forests.  I had recently re-read Ed Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, which piqued my interest in exploring the Abajo and La Sal mountains.  So I headed for the Abajos first, driving up into the mountains from Monticello.  I was looking to do some recording, so I wanted to stay away from campgrounds if possible.  I found a forest road that was part of a big loop through the mountains, and found a nice pull-off to set up camp.

Camp in the Abajo Mountains, Utah

Camp in the Abajo Mountains, Utah

The wind that had plagued me in Arizona stayed with me that first night in Utah, with the wind in the aspens and firs almost drowning out the hermit thrushes, robins, owls, and a distant, garrulous nest of ravens.  By morning, the breeze was down to a loud whisper, and I was pleased when a robin parked near the microphones for a lovely dawn serenade:

After breakfast, I headed north to the La Sal Mountains, driving high up into the range to a remote, tent-only campground.  I was slowed down several times by cows hanging out on the road.  There were a number of hiking trails nearby, so I planned to stay a couple of days and do some exploring.  As soon as I found a site, the dog and I took a short, but steep, hike to a nearby lake.

Hiking trail in the La Sal Mountains, Utah

Hiking trail in the La Sal Mountains, Utah

When we returned to the camp, we found that it had been completely taken over by cows and their calves.  They were quite belligerent cows, and no matter how many times Shadow and I chased them out of our campsite, they kept returning.   The vegetation in the campground was very lush, which was creating havoc with the cows digestive system, causing them to leave messy streams of poo everywhere.   Their bellows filled up the campground most of the night.  By morning, it was difficult to find a place to step that wasn’t covered with runny cow shit.   Disgusted, I packed up a day early, and headed south to one of my favorite camping areas near Duck Creek.

I recently ran across a little song by my friend, Jean Ossorio, who shares my dislike of camping with cows:

Home on the Cattle-free Range

Words: Jean Ossorio
Tune: Home on the Range

Oh, give me a home where the cattle don’t roam
Where the deer and the elk romp and play,
Where never is heard the loud “moo” of the herd
And the wolves howl and frolic all day.

Refrain: Home on the cattle-free range
Where the deer and the elk romp and play,
Where never is heard the loud “moo” of the herd
And the wolves howl and frolic all day.

Oh, show me a stream where cow patties don’t steam,
Where the grasses grow thick and delish,
Where cottonwood twigs and slim young willow sprigs
Can grow up and give shade to the fish.

Refrain

Let me set up my camp in a field lush and damp
And lie down ‘neath the sky for a nap,
And rest body and mind without waking to find
That I’ve slept in a pile of cow crap!

Refrain

My camp at Bower’s Flat, near the town of Duck Creek, was a welcome respite from the cows.  Beautiful open meadows surrounded by pines, and full of pronghorn, deer, wild turkey, squirrels, and lots of birds.  There is a bit of traffic on a nearby highway, and planes flying overhead, so I wouldn’t classify it as a quiet place, but it certainly beat being surrounded by cows.

Camp at Bowers Flat, Utah

Camp at Bowers Flat, Utah

Morning began with a lovely dawn chorus:

After breakfast and breaking camp, the dog and I spent an hour or so poking around the meadows, photographing butterflies, cicadas and chipmunks.  Then I took the very scenic drive into Cedar City, before heading west into the Great Basin.

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