2010-05-27 40 -112
In the foothills near Vernon. There were two points which were both easily accessible today. Because they were both relatively close, I had to go for broke. One was located in the Tooele Graticule and the other in the Salt Lake City Graticule. They were in very different locations geographically as well. One was located in the foothills of the mountains, looking out on a desolate plain of sagebrush. The nearest tree was 30 miles distant. The other was located in a small canyon of Route Six. The well-tended dirt track leading up to the site led through some of the most fantastic terrain I had ever encountered. The trees and the greenery were beautiful, reminding me at times more of the East Coast than the desolate Utah wilderness.
It took me only four hours to visit both. I traveled almost 200 miles and was sore by the end of the day. But it was worth it. The long road trips across empty valleys were worth it. The sites were amazing, and I was able to learn interesting facts about history and meet a helpful but backwoods farmer with a good-natured attitude.
Following is the first leg of the journey.
Getting to the point was relatively easy. There was a major highway which went right past the point, and by taking a few empty roads I arrived in under an hour. The journey was uneventful. More often than not I could see no cars on the road. If it had not been for the fact that I was driving a car on a paved and painted road, I would have thought the desert I drove through to be unfrequented by people.
There were the occasional spotting of humanity. Occasionally, off in the distance or as I drove under the shadow of a mountain, a small little town would rise out of the desert of sagebrush resplendent in its greenery. These were never large, and could have been no more than a couple blocks dense with residences. Going through five mile pass, I saw several people taking advantage of the three day weekend coming up and setting out trailers and pulling out their ATVs. I also passed several bikers finding some sort of perverse pleasure from biking under the hot and cloudless desert sky.
One other thing interested me as I wandered through these roads less traveled. Occasionally I would come across a stone monument, and dutifully stopping at each, I found that they marked the route of the bankrupt pony express, the 6 month predecessor of the Telegraph. Apparently, the riders would pass by these point on their way west. Each would ride their horse at a gallop for a dozen miles, then pass the message on to the next rider. In this way they were able to get a message from New York to LA in ten days. I didn't even know that was possible without utilizing technology, and to do it in the ancient days of the 1800s, when the country was still barren and fertile, would seem almost impossible.
I only passed a few of these markers before being forced to leave the trail and follow again the highway. I quickly came to the point, having to drive off road for a mile or two before arriving close enough to the point so as to jog the rest of the way. It was located on the side of a small hill, looking out onto the valley below. I saw very little in the way of houses or people. The road was no more than a dark gash on the valley floor. It was so desolate and beautiful, I wouldn't have minded staying for a long time longer, but time was pressing and I wanted to get on to the next point that day. I quickly took my pictures and jogged back to my car, turning around and leaving the desert behind me.
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