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Core Samples

You can’t get there from here. You might think slipping out to some obscure outback is within easy reach but unless you are of the "Snowshoe Thompson" mindset, there is really no way. Additional layers were somewhat recently added to our local snowpack and that caused delay to northern Utah’s mountain road openings.

Those who dig getting from point A to point B by going up-and-over this time of year are currently practicing Zen-breathing techniques as a method of staving off frustration. Visiting headwaters as a hobby isn’t all that easy when you have to completely clear out of one drainage before heading up another.

South isn’t much of an option, either, even though that’s the only direction the back ways are, for the most part, negotiable by vehicle. It’s 100 degrees and heating up in them parts and, summer being what it is in red rock land, it might be a spell before southwestern uplands are in a temperate comfort zone.

Accessing favorite remote areas while staying on dirt roads and hoppin’ over ridgelines could become available soon enough but, for now, the possibility of coming up on stretches of snow-covered roadway could be staring you in the face around the next turn. While gambling on making it through such a situation with four-wheel drive and a good book isn’t always a bad thing, it has been known to get one on the evening news.

Now if you are one of those who constantly espouse that these trips are of both an interior and exterior nature — that it’s all about the journey — well, then, conditions that require a reversal of direction are actually of minimal consequence. That would be because "being in the moment" seldom, if ever, requires a destination. What it does require, however, on this end at least, is a well-stocked cooler.

These are times when fantasizing on something as seemingly inconsequential as heading up Lake Creek until it tops out will open up more healing options than you care to confront. The view of the Uinta Range from up there can, just by itself, high-center you in a rush of rapture for way more time than you had intended. Just beware!

When you hit the summit, it puts you smack dab in the middle of an intersection that leads to other esoteric options with, no matter which direction you take, eco-blissing resting both on the horizon and just around the corner. Up there it’s about landscape flaunting its wares and time playing tricks.

Drainage-wise, it would be the West Fork of the Duchesne River with its seductive meanders and subsurface universes that most often ensnares the wandering pilgrim. Before the trout locals infest the stream with their fly rods and begin sinking nymphs or matching hatches, this particular Eden is for the taking.

One can loll away an afternoon in these parts with something subtle from the local food chain and a cold brew or two. The feel is of a tone poem whose panoramic line spaces massage the sensibility – rub it the right way, as it were. It works its way deeply within the cellular memory. Not returning is not an option.

The same can be said for the beaver pond-rich Current Creek drainage with its crux move, four-wheel drive maneuvers or the Strawberry River with its Co-op Creek option. Red tail hawks and even the somewhat rare golden eagle perform sentinel duty in these skyways. There is a sense of natural homeland security.

The allure of Lake Creek summit also offers access down the Mill Hollow and Wolf Creek watersheds for the hungry of heart — the forests playing as much of a healing role as the babbling brooks. Unmarked game trails populate this flank of the outback as melted snow finds its ways toward the headwaters of the South Fork of what will become the mighty Provo.

There is also the loop back down Center Creek into Heber Valley — where it’s not impossible to get deliciously lost on Hogsback Ridge if your sense of adventure gets the best of you. Same goes if you take on the dirtway through the Hollows of Dip Vat and Buck and Camp in an effort to reach the back door to Coyote Canyon or Little Pole.

Unless one is involved in one or another variant of vision quest, these byways are not for the average commuter — unless, of course, the commute is to Defa’s Dude Ranch or Trout Creek Ridge. Has it been mentioned that adequate fuel supplies for body and soul are mandatory in these parts — not to mention your vehicle’s gas tank?

Say one was to run short of either, the journey itself might have to be interrupted. There are no convenience stores or strip malls in the area — at the moment anyway. You could always treat the water and locate edible berries if you could find your pump-filter and wilderness survival handbook but the last time they were spotted was a timeframe at least a half dozen vehicles ago.

There is another problem, of course. Remaining in the moment of the idyll during these mountain forays requires one to reject intruding thoughts of the day-to-day. Sooner or later, of course, one must accede to the call of the un-wild, the tame, the polite and civilized. But, until all supplies run out, holding such ideas at bay is its own reward.

But, as has been mentioned, getting to any of these water-driven expanses this time of year is somewhat of a gamble. Of course, just driving until the snow turns you around brings blessings of its own. The dirt road aside, further lack of domestication to the environment allows a nurturing of spirit to transpire. Besides, you can try again tomorrow. Even byways have a way of healing themselves. That’s the real "Catch-22."


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