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Old 08-05-2010, 08:31 PM   #1
nwcolorider OP
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Joined: Feb 2008
Location: NW Colo and SW Wyoming!
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NW Colorado, Petroglyphs, Flashfloods and the last camping trip.

Well my daughter is off to college in two weeks and my son starts football on Monday so we decided to take a quick camping trip to the NW corner of Colorado and the Browns Park area.

This is the famous “hole” that some of the famous old west outlaws ran to on the Outlaw Trail. Bad guys such as Butch Cassidy, Bob Meldrum, Matt Rash and Tom Horn use to roam these hills. Before that it was the Utes and the Fremont Indians. My wife loves to look for Petroglyphs so we were off to one of her favorite sights.

(This is what we were off to see)
We camped in a nice BLM campground in Irish Canyon.

(Irish Canyon in the foreground)
As the sun came up a nice breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast ad off we went.

(The kids)
(My daughter did take off the pink cowboy boots before we left!)
Me on my DR 650, my son on his new TTR 230, Daughter on the TTR 125 and my wife was on her Suzuki King Quad with the dogs, she is a sight with a Corgi in the front basket, one on her lap, and when the mastiff is not loping along her , he rides on the back.

(The wife and Corgi’s)
(this is as we were leaving the county road, she did gear up and usually looks like this)

We dropped into Vermillion Basin, this is a huge area that is shale and sandstone cliffs. Geologically it is a mess of faults and uplifts as it is the extreme eastern edge of the Uintah Mountains, not many roads or trails.

(Vermillion Basin, the bentonite shale does not absorb water, it just runs off))
It was a nice cool morning, as we got down to Vermillion Creek, I noticed it was running high and muddy, usually early August it is almost dry. When we got up to the point we had to walk into the canyon to view the rock art, my son remembered he left his camera a mile back at the gate, and rides back to get it. So as we were shedding riding gear and putting on walking shoes when he comes flying back, yelling that the creek is flooding the road out!
(the creek where we were getting ready to walk, and Bear the 6 month old Mastiff-Lab cross)
I know that sometimes teen-age boys exaggerate, but I also now it rained to the North last night, so I jump on the quad and run up the road and holy S&%@! I grew up in this desert area and know about flash floods, we are clear skies, but it dumped rain north of us last night and now the water is getting here. The flood plain is narrowing as the stream enters the canyon.

(the south side of the flooded area, 10 minutes later, the dry road was a foot deep. we got the bikes out over the shale shelf to the left)
There is 2 ft of water on the road and it is rising. I run the quad thru it fast to get it to the other side and high ground, I swear I felt the back end start to float! I climb back over the little ridge and here comes the family, one corgi on the TTR 125 with my wife, one on the 230 with my daughter and my 14 yr old leading the way on the 650, the mastiff is jogging next to the bikes. I start wading the road-bed to see if I can get the bikes thru. It is now mid thigh. I am 6’4” and 250 and I am having a hard time keeping my footing with the current and the slick mud underneath. I can just see us loosing a bike in this, so plan B needs to be made up.

(the kids on top of the ridge looking at the flood water, that is the road, not the creek bed)

We are at the mouth of a canyon, essentially a dead end in some very remote desert. Craig Colorado is 90 miles away and Rock Springs WY is 70 miles. No other roads out, it is a restricted travel area, plus it is essentially vertical anyway. No cell service and AAA would not come out anyway! We are 6 miles from the county road on a BLM 2 track road.

We do some scouting and find a way to get the bikes out. We find a shale ridge that gets us up to the top of the ridge, but now we have a 20 foot steep drop to a shale shelf, then a 10 foot drop down to the bottom We get the bikes up to the top and then we tackle the down part. We lower the bikes down with toe straps, one per kid and me on the front of the bike; if we loose them here they drop off the ledge and into the flooded road, with the current and the depth we could just about write off the bike. I am a little nervous with this, I think maybe we leave them, shuttle ourselves out on the quad, and come back tomorrow (good idea I did not do this, it rained all afternoon). My wife has back issues so I do not let her help. My son and daughter hang on the tow strap
and down goes the 125. Piece of cake.
The TTR 230 was harder front end wanted to go straight down. Now for the ”pig” as my son calls the DR650. This is tricky but we manage and get out of the flooded area.

(The “pig “ coming down)
We explore some Ute paintings,

(Ute Pictograph)

as I am climbing up a ridge, I grab a pinon pine to pull my self up and as I am getting there the dang tree breaks and down I go.

(tree 1, me 0)

Looking back, it was a great last trip before my daughter is off to college and my son starts high school. It is something we will never forget. Now I am off to get some more trips in before I go back to school the 25th.
Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.
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Old 08-07-2010, 04:47 PM   #2
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Looks good, except for the tree vs. you bit! Thanks for the report and pics
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Old 08-07-2010, 06:42 PM   #3
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Thumb Wow!

Now there's some stories for the kids to tell in the years to come.

My kids like to tell stories about when I fell thru the roof while we were working on it. They never forget that stuff.

Fine job!
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Old 08-08-2010, 07:47 AM   #4
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Location: Steamboat Springs, CO
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great report! I've been in the area many time over the years, but never encountered flooding!
Glad you made it out OK.
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Old 08-08-2010, 08:12 AM   #5
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