Posts Tagged ‘Flaming Gorge’

Dinosaur National Monument Today, Part One

December 5th, 2013

Dinosaur National Monument, 2013 Visit

Part One: Introduction And Setting

Diamond Mountain And Diamond Gulch Near Fish Hatchery, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah, copyright 2013 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Diamond Mountain And Diamond Gulch Near Fish Hatchery, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah, copyright 2013 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Early Travels To Dinosaur

When I was a boy of about nine, I visited Dinosaur National Monument with my parents. Later, in my early teens my father, pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde, and I stopped through Dinosaur on the way back from a Fastwater Expeditions Sportyak trip down the Green River with famous river guide Bill Belknap.

The second short visit, I do not remember much. From that trip, besides the vivid memories of the river run, the only memory I have of the Dinosaur area is of looking down on Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming upstream on the Green River. From the earlier trip with my parents, I recall only the visitor’s center and Dinosaur Quarry on the Utah side of the Colorado-Utah border that runs through Dinosaur National Monument. This is what most travelers to Dinosaur remember too, because it is all that most travelers see. However, there is much more to Dinosaur than fossilized bones or an interpretive building. The national monument consists of over 209,000 acres of sandstone bluffs, monuments, rolling hills, outcroppings, shale, slate and the most diverse and interesting feature of all, the labyrinthine canyons of the Yampa and Green Rivers. The highlight of these canyons is an oasis called Echo Park, where the two rivers come together and the canyons open up into a small valley between 1,000-foot cliffs. In the center of Echo Park rising straight out of the rivers at the confluence is a gigantic sandstone rock fin that on the near end looks like the cut off end of a loaf of bread. This 900 foot tall sandstone loaf end is called Steamboat Rock because from the side angle it looks like a steam ship.

Stories Of Our Fathers

Steamboat Rock figured prominently in discussions I had with my father after my mother passed away in 2002. After she was gone, I left a high paying job and moved from Upstate New York back home to Northern California. I moved in with Dad in the house I grew up in to help him out because he had not only lost the first love of his life, but had also lost his eyesight two years before and thus lost the second love of his life, photography. Dad explained how Steamboat Rock had become a symbol in the 1950s and 1960s of the then fledgling modern environmental movement and its first big success in defending Dinosaur from the invasion of dam builders, who wanted to erect two dams within the national monument, thereby flooding 96 out of 104 river miles of the Yampa and Green Rivers. For more about the battle over Dinosaur as well as conservation leader David Brower and photographer Philip Hyde’s roles in it, see the blog post series, “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth Of Modern Environmentalism.”

We talked much about Dinosaur and I poured over the maps and photographs. The series of blog posts above I originally wrote as a chapter in a book about my father’s life that I am still interviewing people for who knew Dad. By 2005, I could not wait to get up to the remote northern border of Utah and Colorado and see the place for myself. On the way back from a visit to Boulder, Colorado, I took the road less traveled, US Highway 40, and rolled across the open desert. A description of the approach and entry into Dinosaur can be found in the blog post, “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth Of Modern Environmentalism 2.” In summary, I traveled the long pothole infested paved road out to Harper’s Corner, stopping at overlooks along the way and ending with a one mile hike out on a thin slice of sandstone 2,000 feet above the Green River at Harper’s Corner, where a large portion of Dinosaur’s geology and canyons can be seen all at once. I also took a risk going into Echo Park, made a tribute to my father at Split Mountain and had all sorts of other adventures, all fueled and inspired by my first listening to Jack Kerouac’s quintessential Beat Generation novel, On the Road. Kerouac’s lyrical, poetic prose lifted me and put a lilt in my step and my writing. For more on my journey as well as Dad’s explorations of the same territory and much more in the dusty, wild past of 1951, see the blog posts, “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth Of Modern Environmentalism 3” and “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth Of Modern Environmentalism 4.”

Randy Fullbright And A New Dinosaur Campaign

I came back from Dinosaur changed, more on that and my profound experiences in future blog posts. The sad irony is that I did not have my camera with me in 2005 to record it all. Needless to say, this irony has been poking at me ever since I bought a Nikon D90, my first digital camera, in 2009. I have been hankering to go back, but never had the chance. Enter artist, goldsmith, gallery owner, gem and fossil expert, photography collector, photographer and impromptu wilderness guide Randy Fullbright.

I first started talking to Randy Fullbright via e-mail and phone in July 2011 when he introduced himself through comments on my blog post, “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth Of Modern Environmentalism 9.” Ever since then we have talked from time to time about his extensive photographic explorations of Dinosaur and about my dad’s work there too. Randy has two goals: 1. To photograph all of Dinosaur, no easy feat, and 2. To help Dinosaur become a national park. To these ends he has worked tirelessly and become well acquainted with many of the park rangers and management of the monument, as well as the local politics of air quality, oil and gas exploration and drilling, mining, tourism, recreation, ranching and the boom time explosion of the population of Vernal, Utah. Randy operates Fullbright Studios in Vernal, is active in the community and knows just about anyone who is anyone in town and all over the West.

While I spent this last summer in Boulder, Colorado for the first time again after a two year absence, I began to talk seriously about taking Randy up on his offer to take me into Dinosaur to some of the places few to no one else has photographed and locations my father photographed in the 1950s. Isn’t that a great offer? Again on my way home to Northern California, I took Highway 40, the road less traveled, and raged across the desert to Vernal, where I arrived at Randy’s house behind his gallery at 4:00 am. I did not see him until the morning when we embarked on a dirt road romping, camera carrying trip in to Dinosaur and an unforgettable hike into Jones Hole. Stay tuned for the whole story in blog posts to follow in this series, plus more about the mystical canyons, people, politics, fishing and simple freedom of Jones Creek and the Green River in Dinosaur…

(Continued in the blog post, “Dinosaur National Monument Today, Part Two.”)

Covered Wagon Journal 2

February 10th, 2010

Covered Wagon Journal 2

Extracts from the Summer 1955 Journal of Travels Through the Western National Parks and Monuments

By Philip Hyde

(CONTINUED FROM BLOG POST, “Covered Wagon Journal 1“)

Near Water’s Edge, Mile 25, Colorado River, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, 1964, by Philip Hyde. First published in “Time and the River Flowing: Grand Canyon” by Francois Leydet, in the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series. The book that helped save the Grand Canyon from being flooded by two dams. Some recent writers have said that the book came out of a 1964 river trip led by riverguide and Sierra Club Board member Martin Litton and Executive Director David Brower, with passengers who included the who’s who of nature photography and natural science at the time, this is partially true. Others have credited Philip Hyde with being the sole photographer of the book. For all time, let’s set the record straight: The photographers for “Time and The River Flowing” with the number of their photographs are as follows: Philip Hyde–31 photographs, Clyde Childress–18, David Brower–10, Martin Litton (using the name Clyde Thomas)–9, Joseph C. Hall–9, Richard Norgaard–6, Ansel Adams–5 (all color), P. T. Reilly–4, Daniel B. Luten–3, Eliot Porter–2, Joseph Wood Krutch–2, and Katie Lee–1.

June 14. We were thoroughly awakened at 4:30 a.m. by a crescendo in the chorus of rain that had been constant for most of the night. A short time after it began, it was coming into the tent in wholesale quantities. A large rock falling off the ledge above us tore a huge gap in the tent and we were forced to leave. Fortunately, it hit to one side, missing us. As we ran toward shelter under some large boulders, we heard an ominous roaring, and looked up to see a full-blown waterfall cascading down into what had been the camp kitchen. But for the quick thinking of some of those who had been sleeping close to the kitchen, much of our equipment and supplies might have been carried into the Colorado River. What a demonstration of the power of a flash flood. When the excitement subsided, we looked around in the sunrise light to see the canyon walls draped with hundreds of waterfalls coming down off the rims.

June 19. A little while ago we emerged onto the crowded South Rim of the Grand Canyon, after two days in the lower regions. The first half of the climb was easy, in the cool pre-dawn hours. Once past the half-way point at Indian Springs and the last water, the trail climbs as steeply as a jet plane. And by this time the sun was up, ready to greet us on the shadeless upper bench. With considerable effort, we managed to push ourselves up the trail to the rim, and paused to rest. Then we turned and looked back. As in Yosemite, where the sheer height of El Capitan, or the great depth of Yosemite Valley never quite make a full impression until one has climbed on foot to Glacier Point, or to the top of Yosemite Falls, so it is with the Grand Canyon—the vast abyss seemed grown a hundredfold after climbing on our own legs from the river.

June 24. We have spent the day and much of the night looking at the exhibits of the Museum of Southern Utah, in Kenab, and talking to the Johnstons, who operate it. The museum’s collection of ancient and recent Indian artifacts is exceptionally interesting. Yesterday, we spent part of the day in a canyon in the Arizona Strip to the south, looking at ancient Indian paintings. We were also directed to a “dig” which the museum’s archeologist is developing across Kenab Creek. A burial which he excavated is now on display in the museum.

June 30. We are now on the fabled Yampa River. Our boatman, Dave Rasmussen, turns over his oars to another member of the crew, and picks his guitar for an hour or more of wonderful music that floats out over the lazily moving river and echoes softly from the yellow sandstone walls, sheer cliffs, and rounded domes. We slip around the great curving river bends with no sound but the melody of guitar and soft singing.

July 1. We have seen three golden eagles soaring high over us as we threaded through the climax of Yampa River scenery—the run through the magnificently formed series of bends in the river that begins just below Castle Park. The walls have heightened, and grown more nearly perpendicular, and, at intervals, the river straightens out long enough to provide a vista down the canyon, sweeping from a foreground of river and concentrically curved sandbars, to a prominent feature carved out of the rim, standing at the far turn of the wall. There are so many of these impressive views on the Yampa, that one loses himself trying to recall the exact location of each. We can only hope, after the recent difficult struggle to preserve this unique canyon in its natural integrity, that it will stay this way, so that we can return, and so that future generations can come and be thrilled and inspired as we have been. This day of days is capped with the rising of the near-full moon, flooding its light over the great cliffs that surround us here in our Box Elder camp.

July 14. The bus brought us to the Gates of Lodore, in Brown’s Park, on the northern boundary of Dinosaur National Monument, where a short afternoon run has brought us just a few miles inside the Gates of Lodore. I wonder if John Wesley Powell and the other early river travelers who came to this place received any premonitions of disaster when they looked upon this impressive mountain gate. Here the Green River meanders for some miles through the tranquil bottomlands of Brown’s Park, resting from its exertion in Flaming Gorge upstream. Then, for no apparent reason, it turns abruptly and plunges into this high plateau’s escarpment. The introduction to Lodore is sudden. Once within the Gates, you are committed, and you know this is a formidable canyon. Even the rapids are anxious to start; there are several short but vigorous ones just a short distance inside the Gates of Lodore. The canyon quickly reaches its full height, the brick-colored walls rising in coves and steps whose treads are often carpeted with tall evergreens.

July 16. At Hell’s Half Mile the water is so low that the beginning of the rapid is a waterfall of about six feet. Our party is scattered on the stream-side rocks to watch…

(CONTINUED IN BLOG POST, “Covered Wagon Journal 3“)