The Rusty Knife

We took 2 weeks off before we went back to the hills. We spent our time in hobble creek sampling bugs and such waiting for the water to drain off the mountain.

For our second trip we loaded our truck with considerably less stuff this time and drove out to the Uintah Basin. From Roosevelt we drove through a small town Lapoint then drove 20 miles down a single lane barely paved road until we passed all the small ranches on the prairie. Our rough road turned to dirt when we entered the National Forest and 10 more miles turned the junipers into aspens and then into lodgepole.  We reached a lake called Paradise and there turned onto a very rough Jeep road. 20 minutes and 3 miles I was very done with the road. The road forked (it ended on the map). We pulled off the road and gathered our bags and hiked in. We were surprised to find our trail was as large as the road if a little rougher. It was an easy mile walk to reach a large meadow where we set up base camp. upon seeing the beautiful sun, the wildflower, and the full river we decided to drive the truck in. I was elected to return the mile to where the truck was while they set up camp.

I made it back in 30 minutes and began a white knuckle crawl over the boulder filled road. I wanted so badly to close my eyes and make everything just go away. I think I only scrapped bottom once or twice. I got to one point in the road where there was a large puddle. I noticed that the road branched there where people had carved alternate routes around the puddle so I decided to drive over the rocks I could see instead of the puddle I could not fathom. It took me 30 minutes to drive 1 mile. I was rather shaken and quite certain that it had been a bad idea. But we had the truck in the meadow (Blanchett Park) and my companions seemed cheerful, an attitude I wished to encourage. I was setting up my tent when we got slaughter by a fast moving storm and we all jumped in the truck, grateful for its existence and presence. Two hours later we set up a tarp to eat dinner under and I finished setting up my tent. It was a rainy night but we woke up to a beautiful morning.

Our first task was dry everything out, then we headed up to the Kibah lakes, 2 hours for 1 mile up the boulder strew hillside. Our first study site took 1.5 hours but went every well. It began to rain at that point. We walked around the lake to visit some of the higher ones and didn’t find it and didn’t find it. The rain continued and continued. I kept telling my fellows that we were very close to the higher lake but the boulders won. I convinced them to take an alternate route back to camp which took us pass a stream which I convinced them to sample. We didn’t do everything as the cold rain made hunting for bugs a very disturbing prospect.  I did find a sign of humanity, a pocket knife sitting on a rock, rusted beyond the limits of the hinges to close it. It reminded me of the compass from the last trip. So we shot through it and began to walk back. This is around where my knee decided it could no longer climb boulders. I limped back to camp very slowly. We all crawled back in the truck and decided to sleep there. After 5 hours of pretending to sleep the rain had slowed enough that I crawled out and went back to my tent. We all slept better after that. While we were sitting in the truck in our stupor we saw the strangest thing, headlights. It was near 11 pm and we were in the middle of nowhere at the end of a terrible road. Nevertheless the people climbed on out and set up a large springbar.

The next morning, blissfully sunny once more, I discovered it was a family of fisherman that came up here every year. They mentioned that they had become stuck in the mud puddle on their way in which was why they were so late in coming in. Luckily they had a winch on their jeep and where able to pull themselves out. We hiked 12 miles that day up to Red Belly Lake and Twin lakes and sampled four sites. My knee got worse and worse and I wore a brace for most of it. We hobbled back into camp at 7 pm and dumped everything into the truck so we could drive out that night. I insisted that Rob drive the truck out because I detested the road with its boulders and puddles. He was from Texas and had owned a truck before, surely he could drive better than I. I sat with my eyes closed, clenching the seat as we began pounding over the road. In the beginning I would offer suggestions that I had learned when I drove the road but I decided he knew what he was doing and I should just be quiet. It did cross my mind to point out the side roads so he would drive around the mud-fest instead of through it. Unfortunately my eyes were closed.

So he drove through.

The same mud puddle the fishermen had gotten stuck in the night before

The puddle the fishermen had dug two large holes in with their tires.

The holes that our tires were now spinning in.

We high-centered a BYU 4WD full size pickup 33 miles from a the nearest town: population 1 gas station.

After all our efforts we sent Doug the 1/2 mile back to ask the fishermen for help. This is the miracle moment. 2 minutes later they drove up behind us. The only human within 100 miles who knew where we were found us within 20 minutes of our incident.  They tried to pull us out but we were much bigger than they. We had no recourse, the only option was to get more power. They drove us two hours to get to Roosevelt where we stayed at a hotel and called BYU in the morning. They sent someone out with a truck. So we spent Friday hanging around small town Utah and getting dragged out of a mud hole. I made it back to Provo 2 hours after the ward camping trip started. The Ward Camping trip that I was in charge of.  No one was too surprised, I have a reputation for getting cars stuck in the middle of nowhere. I should stop letting other people drive and just learn how to drive myself.

So in recap we cost the professor $400+ and canceled three weeks of our work. I destroyed my knee, we sampled only 6 of the 8 sites. We were safe though, the ward camp out was a success due to delegation. We did do better than the first time. We need to break the rust around the knife and truly step up to the task that is ours. We will only make one more trip though, one more change to do this right.

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2 thoughts on “The Rusty Knife

  1. D. Riley Rackliffe

    I am Riley, Lewis and Clark have both been taken. The knees are holding up. I’m pondering serious the advice to be kind to them but I’m not sure what exactly that entails. I can’t stop hiking. Perhaps I should send them flowers or give them holidays.

  2. Anita

    I can’t decide if you sound more like Lewis, or like Clark, but what a great job! Stay safe out there. How’s your knee?

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