Sunday, January 11, 2015

Snowscapes in Slickrock Country

[Butler Wash area in snow, San Juan County.] 
A lovely mid winter storm in southeast Utah. Canyon Country, Four Corners Country. Perfect snow, and I was in the mood for roaming outdoors again.

From Blanding west on Highway 95. Such a wonderfully lonesome road. Unless you consider the seeming suicidal deer, which can instantly decide that somehow the other side of the road must be the safer side. 

On this morning, though, the snowstorm had the deer bedded down in the trees, in the draws, out of harm's way. So the highway was mine.

I had plenty of time. Thus a diversion: stop and hike the short (half mile) trail to the viewpoint of Butler Wash Ruins. 
[Snowy bench, Butler Wash] 
"Ruins," as in the remains of ancient pueblos, tucked under a massive sandstone cliff. I had visited there before, even hiked down into the Wash and up to the ruins themselves. But today I would content myself with confining myself to the trail to the overlook. It should be beautiful, and slippery enough without being even more adventuresome.
[700-year-old (or so) pueblo ruins.] 
I was the first one through the virgin snow that day. It was still so overcast, and the snow so white, that it was hard to discern the lay of the trail. So I stumbled and slid a bit, taking care not to fall. My goal was to make it to the viewpoint without putting my traction aids on my boots, just to see whether I could. 

I decided I couldn't. Or at least shouldn't. The experiment was complete, so I stretched them over my soles and enjoyed a much more confident trek.
[Pull-on traction devices, huge difference.]
At the ruins overlook, I made my photos and video of the wide mouthed alcoves in the cliff across the way. Then I started back toward the trailhead. The view to the south caught my eye, so I strayed off trail across the sandstone slickrock. The tiny intermittent stream was flowing down through the snow. Beautiful, sensual patterns in the perfect snow.
[Small pools in the slick rock.] 
[Sideways slickrock stream.]  
 
[Snowflakes on ice veneer, on pool.] 

[Prickly pear cactus in the snow.] 

Photo location: San Juan County, southeast Utah.

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© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg