Monday, October 30, 2017

South to Dinosaur National Monument & Beyond

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Friday, October 6th_Wednesday, the 18th, 2017; Yellowstone National Park to Dinosaur National Monument, Utah.

“Afternoon … Mount Moran”
(Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming)
Oil on Pannelli Telati fine Cotton Panel
6” x 8”


It was a nightmare getting my last post published, as I did it from my phone from my campsite on a cliff high above and a few miles away from Dinosaur, Colorado, the same campsite I occupied for a night back in August, as I explored Dinosaur National Monument on my way north for the Eclipse.  It may just be my favorite campsite of all just for the view, not to mention solitude.  It feels like being in Asgard (home of the Norse Gods), looking down on the earth below, especially in the evening when the lights of Dinosaur (ten miles distant) and Rangely, Colorado (twenty miles beyond that), twinkle on in the gloaming.  But I digress.  The nightmare of that posting was the hours spent trying to copy and paste from my Word document to my blog, and get the photos inserted, on the small phone screen … it took most of a day.   I’m probably going to have to cut way back on the photos in future.

The Drawing & Block-in stage of the painting.

On the Friday morning after leaving Yellowstone, I crossed into Idaho with the whole purpose of having my tires rotated at the Les Schwab Tire Center in St. Anthony, the closest Les Schwab I was likely to see for awhile, and I did need a rotation, and of course it would be free.  It was interesting to see the Tetons in the distance from their other side after so many days on the Wyoming side.   The tires were rotated by 11:30 and I was passing back through Jackson, Wyoming by mid-afternoon.  I found my campsite north of Pinedale at the south end of the Gros Ventre Range early enough to get supper cooked by dark.  This would be my last night in Grizzly country, after seven weeks and one day.

Big Horn Sheep in ...

... Sheep Creek Canyon, Flaming Gorge, Utah.
The next day I stopped off at the Mountain Man Museum in Pinedale, spending several hours there.  As I was leaving I was showing the ladies on the desk some of my small Oils, when a chap named Sam showed interest and ended up buying the one of the Pinnacles in the Afternoon at Brooks Lake.  Then on down the through Rock Springs & Green River, where I located the view that Thomas Moran had painted more than once, and on down the west side of Flaming Gorge to Sheep Creek Canyon just over the border into Utah.  Here I saw Bighorn Sheep, a first for me.  I also decided to spend the night here amongst the Gold of the Autumn Cottonwoods.  The afternoon light was wonderful.  Who knew that three hours later it would be snowing while I was having my after dinner hot chocolate!  And I thought I was leaving the snow behind for awhile!!  Incidentally, the Thomas Moran viewpoint is pretty seedy these days, with railroads and small industries past their prime clogging the view.  It would be an interesting exercise painting it, retrieving the natural scene without the modern clutter. 

I awoke (07:23), looked out and saw a ram & 5 ewes of Bighorn Sheep passing just in front of the truck.  I watched them as they gamboled through the campground … a couple of the ewes would do these stiff legged leaps straight up on occasion, like domestic lambs I’ve seen … pretty funny stuff.  The snow began melting off with the Sun of morning, and I took the Sheep Creek Canyon geological loop drive, which is signposted with the various layers of strata as they appear along the road.  I crossed over the Uinta Mountains, which is made up of the oldest rocks in this part of Utah, and is also the only east-west mountain range in the country.  By evening I was in the western sector of Dinosaur National Monument; you will remember I passed through the eastern part of it on my way north to the Eclipse two months before.  I camped that night in the Green River Campground.

On the Green River, Dinosaur National Monument.
The next day I visited several sites, beginning with Josie Morris’s cabin at the end of the road.  She lived there alone for fifty years, passing away at age 91.  In her younger days she was acquainted with the outlaw Butch Cassidy.  About three quarters of a mile before the cabin the road forks and the right fork is signposted for 4-wheel drive and high clearance only.  I found that it leads to BLM land and that the road eventually climbs onto Blue Mountain and Point of Pines where I had camped back in August, but I did not make that climb just yet.

Josie’s Cabin.

Box Canyon where Josie corralled her cattle.
I camped for four nights on the way to the mountain, after going to the Quarry, where you may see a raft of Dinosaur bones still embedded in the rock.  This boneyard has been enclosed in an exhibition hall to protect the bones, in situ, from the elements.  The following are photos of Dinosaur bones at the Quarry.

Brontosaurus Skin Impression.

I remained in camp after that completing two paintings I had begun in Grand Teton National Park.  Finally I made the desperate climb up to my old campsite at Point of Pines.  The road is one of the steepest dirt roads I have ever been on, and there is no respite once you begin the climb, for it does not ease off until you have reached the top of the four mile climb.  I easily found my cliff top campsite, which was less than five miles distant from my previous camp.  I remained there for four nights, and is one of my favorite campsites of all time.  I worked on processing my photographs and other PC work, and my last blog post which was so infuriatingly time consuming to post.  But post it I did, and during each day I camped there I drove out to some of the places on the Harpers Corner Road I had visited in August, including the two mile trail at the end of that road, 3000 feet above Echo Park, and the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers. 

Evening looking East from my valley campsite.

Morning looking Southwest from camp.

Canyon Corral.

The Elephant Toes.
Finally on Wednesday, the 18th, after nine days in Dinosaur National Monument, I made my way the nine miles to the Harpers Corner Road, headed towards the town of Dinosaur, but after another nine miles turned west onto County Road 16 (the Miners Draw Road), which after 24 miles in total, took me down beneath my Point of Pines camp, now only a couple miles distant, but a couple thousand feet above.  On the way down I startled a Pronghorn, who ran down the road before me for a half, maybe, three quarters of a mile before turning off the road … at times she was going about 30 mph.  This road took me through Snake John Reef (which sinuous geological feature I had been looking at for four days), to Hwy 40, and once on the pavement, through the Reef a second time as I headed to Dinosaur from the west.  Snake John Reef is made up of three layers of late Cretaceous strata rising gently from west to east, breaking the surface of the later alluvial soils, and representing an ancient coastal shoreline.  I do not know the origin of its name … no doubt there’s a story there.

Snake John Reef in the center
from my cliff-top campsite.

Sunset at Point of Pines …

… and in the valley below.
The lights of Dinosaur, about 10 miles distant,
with those of Rangely another 15 miles beyond.
Snake John Reef from on the way down
Miners Draw Road …

… and closer …

… and closer still.
… and at the cutting on US Hwy 40.

Imprimatura: Rublev Ercolano Red;

Drawing: Ercolano Red for the foreground foliage, & W&N Cobalt Blue for the mountain & distance;

Painting: W&N Cobalt and Cerulean Blues, Cadmiums Orange & Yellow Pale;

Rublev Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre, Ercolano Red, Purple Ochre, and Lead White #1 & 2.

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