Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ride 21 - Toquop Petroglyphs

We found a way of getting up Toquop Wash without needing to ride up and over Flat Top Mesa! [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 21 - Toquop Wash]

That's a good thing because that Mesa is tall, the road is steep, and you take your life in your hands four times every ride stopping on the 45 degree incline to open two gates each direction.

The only problem is that you may tick off some right-lane freeway traffic as you slow and turn off onto the service road. There is a galvanized fence which opens onto a gravel staging area for the city (or someone); but, a nice road leads down into the wash.

We had two goals: To get down to the Virgin River (seems to be annoyingly difficult to accomplish), and I wanted to go visit the best cactus area around here. There is almost every kind of cactus we see in this area, right in one place — and they are all extremely healthy.

The sandy wash is a good ride — smooth and windey. Then you turn westward and it become a high-frequency washboard which nearly shakes the begeeburs out of you while it loosens all your fillings.

You know you're almost there when you cross under the power lines and you hear crackling in the air all around you. Shortly after the lines you need to turn left (southwest) on the "private road", drop down into the wash and back up the other side. That's when the plants begin too look like they've all been "fertilized and watered."

You are on the right road when you see the prep station which gathered climate related data for the proposed power plant. Then when you get close to the mountains you need to turn right (northwest) up along the foothills. You will pass old mines, springs and eventually come to two crumbling, rock cabins.

The rumor was this was where the mayor of Vegas brought his girlfriends in the old days, but dad says that they were built nearly exactly like the CCC cabins in Utah (only they were made of local logs while these were made of local flagstone). There are kitchens built on the back accessible from both the outside and the cabin, and a cement "autograph" is dated 1942 — the correct time-frame.

While leaving, dad told me later that I had spooked a large owl which was perched in a large bush. It flew up and nearly hit dad on his bike. I hadn't seen a thing.

The stock tank at Gourd Spring had been filled on one side with dirt. The water flow has diminished and it was full of moss — not a pretty sight. No wonder why goldfish don't live there!

Continuing north and coming to the wash, this time I noticed one of those BLM "behave yourselves" signs which are usually a dead give away that there is something they would rather not have you see.

So, we went back down into the wash and found some very unique rock formations and petroglyphs. I've mentioned about "petrodroppings" before in relation to North Valley at Keyhole Rock. These are also the petrified ooze from the bottom of a watercourse adherent to a base rock, but this was a more colorful brown-ocre AND had been polished to a high sheen by another flat rock as it slid past it.

It truly looked as though someone had taken a rock polisher to it then layered it with lacquer. The Toquop Wash Petroglyphs were elevated on a rock in the wash and may deserve explanation in a later post.

Most of my treasured memories of travel are recollections of sitting.”
Robert Thomas Allen

Rounding the top (at Abe Spring) and back down to the power lines was uneventful except to say that dad (a former farmer) noticed that nearly all the cows were walking like they had sore feet. You try and walk around on that rock to see what it feels like. Even the river rocks in the wash were like walking on lava clinkers... sharp!

It was a verry long ride for us, and a difficult long step back up into the truck.


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