Friday, October 15, 2010

Autumn Leaf Loop - East Canyon

Our "Autumn Leaf" tour around the Wasatch Range concludes this post as we reach East Canyon after having traveled from I-215 in Immigration Canyon, around through Mirror Lake in the High Uintas and out through Evanston Wyoming before going over Monte Cristo past Causey Reservoir. Backroads all the way, it none-the-less is easy for our offroad-challenged street vehicle and covers nine counties in Utah and Wyoming.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Autumn Leaf Loop]

We're now looking at the leaves going out of Huntsville over Trappers Loop on our way to Weber Canyon where we'll head to the Morgan exit.   It's been a slightly grander "Sunday Drive" to see the leaves than we originally bargained for; but, hey, these are the the autumn colors we're seeing and this is the mountains!   And besides, we remember all these places back from the time when we were less chronologically challenged (or at least tell ourselves we do) and the government was less extensively exclusionary of seniors.

Morgan is the location of Como Hot Springs, or at least WAS. It was a remote swimming complex of several swimming pools and hot pools which kids flocked to in the summer from all over.   The last time I was there it was really, really in disrepair… really; but now, I can't even find it on Google Earth.   The quaint town is also the home of the John M. Browning Firearms Museum, something worth seeing.

Trees line the road all the way to East Canyon Dam which is now largely a developed State Park with the attendant fee structure.   Once, it was a magic fishing hole accessible by a 30 minute drive after work, now it's got boat docks, camp sites, toll booths and… YURTS.

East Canyon Dam

East Canyon is a concrete thin-arch structure dam, 10 miles southeast of Morgan on East Canyon Creek.   It's 260 feet high, 7 feet wide at the top, 436 feet long, and contains 35,716 cubic yards of concrete.   The impounded reservoir covers 684 acres and holds 51,200 acre-feet of water – just in case you worry about such things.

Day-trippers and Picnickers report:
If you believe the brochures "East Canyon Reservoir is a 680-acre boating and year-round fishing delight nestled in the mountains northeast of Salt Lake City on state routes 65 and 66."   Truth is that when the snow flies only the very brave or fool-hearty or former Minnesotans venture into the mountains very much – even for ice fishing which would never, ever be describes by any real fishermen as "delightful!"   Absurd marketing aside, one does find: "Two spacious, covered pavilions with electricity available for groups.   And a concessionaire providing boat rentals and a refreshment stand" – if you can find them open.

Campers report:
There is a paved parking area, modern rest rooms, showers and 31-unit campground with a large overflow area.   There is no other camping in the area so the designated campground fills easily and I'm not really sure about those YURT things.   I've never heard of anything like it being done anywhere in Utah; but, it's supposed to be an "alternative to RV and tent camping."   What the marketing agency must mean is tent camping on the GROUND, because a yurt is a tent-sort-of-thing, just on a platform.   They have wooden floors, lighting, and screened skylights.

For about $60/night you can have an ADA accessible, fenustratively air-conditioned, propane-log-stove heated abode to accommodate 6 people in bunk, trundle and futon-couch beds.   Restrooms, showers and trash are… nearby, and you have to bring pretty much everything else including bedding, linens, food and cookware (except you can NOT cook in them), kindling and lanterns.   However, leave your pets and cigarettes home cause they aren't allowed in and around the YURTS.   Oh, and only two vehicles and you gotta clean them before you leave – and you were wondering why there was also a deposit!   All of this may be why there is not one photograph of any of these 'unique' things submitted to Panoramio for Google Earth.

Boaters report:
There is a wide concrete launching ramp along with all the enabling facilities a boater could want. Water is cold in the spring run off but warms up well, for a mountain lake, during the summer making swimming very refreshing. Tow tubing has become a common sight for family group outings.

Scuba divers report:
In spite of being crowded with propellers on the weekend, East Canyon Reservoir has become a popular place for scuba diving as long as you have and use dive flags… or two, or three.   Underwater scenery is fairly nondescript but Crayfish abound on the rocky, sandy shores.   The crustaceans are probably the leading cause for this sites popularity; that and the ease of the dive in light green water, 6 - 8 foot visibility, surface temps of 70° F, proximity to metro Ogden and lack of clearer water closer elsewhere.   A thermocline is encountered at 40 feet, when temperature slips to near 61 degrees.   Daytime darkness is reached at 50 feet.

Unless diving below the thermocline, a standard wet suit should do the trick.   A farmer john is all that is needed to grab a mess of crayfish for dinner, that and a fishing license and game bag. Fish are seen occasionally, mostly bass (no spearfishing); but, the most plentiful "finds" are all the lost items from the boaters like sunglasses and goggles.

Fishermen report:
Even before all the fall-de-rall of power sports the lake has been known for its fishing.   Steep rocky shoreline produced a fairly good stringer if you took the time to get to know the depth, method and bait which would produce. Once you did, life was good.   The fish caught toward the fall all seemed to have small parasite scars on them meaning I guess that the water was a bit warmer than in other lakes.   We would just skin the fish before breading with cornmeal and sauteing.

The Utah Fish and Game manage the lake with their put-grow-and-take philosophy so stocking is frequent in the summer.   Fish sizes do seem a bit smaller than what I remember.   Inhabitants of the water include: Black Crappie, Brown Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Tiger Trout and of course the ubiquitous Utah Chub.

Offroaders report:
Nothing. I couldn't find any reports from anyone about trails in the area.   I'm not aware of any.

It was getting on in the evening and we were more than ready to stretch our legs and grab some nourishment.   We spotted the convenient "Resort" on the far end of the lake; and, although all the shops were closed, we stopped at the restaurant for dinner.   Another time we decided that we would probably just get a drink and run into Salt Lake for a meal at one of the many restaurants at the mouth of the canyon.

The evening light make the color of the leaves "pop" even more brilliantly running up over the mountain and to the hair-pin switch-backs of Big Mountain Pass.   From there, it's a short ride down past Little Dell and Mountain Dell Reservoirs to the good-old I-215 near Jeremy Ranch… and home to snowbird headquarters, our heads swimming with nostalgia.

Learn A Little More

I understand that Harry Reid, D-Nevada, is on the ropes in the upcoming election; put there by his opponent and "We The People" – no doubt in part due to his deceptive, back-door approach to law-making in order to gain "environmental money" for his campaigns.

This little video clip entitled "We The People" by country artist Ray Stevens sort of say's it all:


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