Monday, February 21, 2005
Our plan was to go rock hounding. We decided to go out into the west desert. We have several geology and rock hounding guidebooks, and decided to head down toward the area of Vernon, Utah to look for a rock called Wonderstone. Vernon is just a little over an hour's distance from our house. We packed a picnic lunch, and took off.
We noticed as we drove a long the way that there was a lot of water along the roadside. I began to wonder if it would be too soft and muddy to go off road very far. Even with 4-wheel-drive, you don't want to venture too far off highway, and get stuck out in the middle of nowhere.
After we arrived in Vernon, we started looking for the road that is adjacent to the railroad tracks. We turned off the road, put the truck into 4-wheel-drive. We went about 50 yards down the road before we realized that it was going to be too muddy to proceed. We were slipping and sliding in the clay soil, and sinking in about 3-4 inches into the mud. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor (did you know that saying originally comes from Shakespeare?) We decided to look for an alternative location, that would not require us to be in jeopardy of getting stuck in the mud.
About a mile up the road from the railroad tracks, there was a large open pit, exposing several layers of different rock strata. We back tracked our way along the road, and found the pit. Fortunately, there was a turnout adjacent to the pit, alongside the road. We got out of the truck, and noticed just how wet the soil was. Bryan started heading to the pit right away, with rock hammer in-hand. We all slipped and slided, and mucked our way over to the pit (less than 100 yards off the road.)
Once we arrived at the pit, we found it to be roughly about 120 feet long, and about 40 feet wide. There were lots of different kinds of rocks there. Bryan, being our mountain goat in residence, was climbing all over the place, chipping away with his rock hammer. At one point, some rocks and soil fell from the rim of the pit. Fortunately, no one was near the spot of the little rock-fall. In looking at the rim of the pit, I could see that the soil surrounding the pit was completely saturated down to the rock layers beneath the soil. More rock falls could happen anytime. We made a point to stay away from areas that looked unstable. I took several photos of the pit, and it is clear to see that more erosion is likely to occur. As we looked at the bottom area of the pit, you could see that there was a sink-hole. It appears that water that flows into this pit, eventually drains down into the sink hole down into an underground aquifer. Over time, more and more erosion will take place, and the pit will continue to expand in size. The Sour Note, and the kids were able to collect quite a number of rocks. But alas, no Wonderstone. We'll have to go back again sometime when things have dried out. We walked back to the truck, and tried to clean off everyone's muddy shoes. Everyone but me took their shoes off as they got into the truck. You can see more photos of the rockhounding pit here.
We proceeded back toward home going through the towns if Tinitic, Eureka, and Elberta.
Posted by David B.