West Desert Wanderings

After meeting up at the Camp Floyd Cemetery and chatting for a moment about where we should head it was decided by consensus to trek out along the Pony Express Trail to Simpson Springs and camp there for the night.

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Camp Floyd Cemetery

So off we went chasing the sun west along the PET. I’ve driven this route so many time that I’ve lost count, but I never get tired of it, even the more frequently traveled eastern side leading to Simpson Springs. And it is particularly enjoyable while the sun is slowly setting along that distant horizon.

After a dusty ride we arrived at Simpson Springs not long after dark to find that the campground had been cut in half by a deep, impassable trench. So we continued down the PET a few miles until we got to the spur road to Death Canyon. A few more miles up there and we found a nice clearing, pitched tent’s, started the fire and chatted to the wee hours.

The next morning we awoke to a crisp, beautiful blue sky.

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After some fine breakfast and coffee we broke camp and decided to make our way back to the PET and then down to the Riverbed Station were we stopped for a moment to reflect upon how these intrepid riders had managed to endure along the Pony Express all those years ago.

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From here we took the spur road south that connects with the Weiss Highway. We cut through some striking and rugged country. Hard to believe that people were out there with their sheep herds, let alone to think of how hard it was a century ago.

Eventually we connected with the Weiss Highway and turned west again to get to the Topaz Mountain Geode Beds.

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After poking around the geode beds for a bit and unfortunately not finding anything, we decided to head east towards Delta and the site of the Topaz Internment Camp.

For those that are not familiar with the Topaz Internment Camp, I recommend doing some research about it. It is by far not the brightest spot in our nations history, but an interesting one none the less. What these people had to endure for no reason other than their ethnicity is tragic. But they endured, and many ended up making the ultimate sacrifice to this country. Their country. Hundreds volunteered to join the military, many ended up in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most highly decorated infantry regiment in US Army history.

We reflected upon the hardships that these innocent people had to endure for awhile before we decided it was time to re-embark upon our journey.

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Our next stop was Delle for fuel. We’d done about 150 miles from Camp Floyd at this point and some of the less efficient (Jeep) vehicle needed to top up to keep going.

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Across from the gas station was a machine shop with an interesting collection of dilapidated Farmall tractors.

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Once everyone’s tank fas full, and some quick lunches were prepped we bid Delle adieu and headed west once more along the Weiss Highway. Our ultimate destination was the Deep Creek Mountains along the Utah/Nevada border, but along the way we made a stop at the Honeycombs.

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This is a very strange rock formation. Porous, yet sharp and craggy. Almost all a milky color. Just another strange place in the West Desert!

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As we poked around the Honeycombs we could see the weather starting gather ominously to the west.

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So off we went again, but we decided to take a detour through the “town” of Trout Creek. Ok, so I hate to speak ill of anyones home, but this place is just creepy. Deliverance creepy if you know what I mean. There is just something unwelcoming and eery about this little place. From the haunted forestesq trees that line the road right out side both sides of town, to the junk yard of old busses (including one with “Into the Wild” painted on the side” and agricultural equipment) to the brand spanking new church with 50 yards of fresh pavement on the otherwise dirt road in front of it. Just weird. I wish I had pictures to post, but I feel like eyes are watching me and I might get shot every time I go through the town, so needless to say, I didn’t stop.

After out detour through the Twilight Zone, we made our way north along the foot hills of the Deep Creeks until we finally turned up Granite Creek Canyon. Recently the road up this canyon was reopened all the way over the top to the other side. Unfortunately just about a mile up the canyon, the winter gate was still closed, so we turned back and found a nice camp a little closer to the mouth.

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Skydome!

Our camp spot was perfectly nestled among the trees just above a babbling Granite Creek. We spent the night discussing the art of pie iron cooking and lighting marshmallows on fire with swapping stories. I can’t think of a more pleasant way to spend a Saturday evening. Finally we all turned in and slept with the find and weather howled to great effect above our heads.

We awoke to another crisp morning and clear evidence that a story was approaching. After breakfast we hit the road and made our way further north to the Callao Civilian Conservation Corp Camp. The CCC at this location helped build aqueducts out of the Deep Creeks for irrigation, helped improve the old Pony Express Trail and Weiss Highway for vehicle traffic and placed historical markers along the PET. All that is left is a few foundations and the rock work of along the creek they diverted through the camp. Even still, its always a nice place to stop for a minute.

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We decided to start making our way back east along the PET from here. We passed through the small town of Callao, and then blasted along until we hit the Boyd Station. This is one of the most complete remains of a station along the PET in western Utah. A crumbling stone cabin and corral, there is also a very well documented interpretive station set up there. As we looked around, we could see the storm chasing us to the west.

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Out plan from here was to make for Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge and then turn sound and explore the Black Rock Hills. But when we reached Fish Springs, the temperature had dropped 15 degrees, the wind had turned from a pleasant spring breeze to a driving gale. We decided there that it was best just to make for home. So that we did, and bombed out along the PET through every increasing wind, rain, sleet and finally hail, all the way back to Faust and pavement.

It was a great trip with a great group of people and certainly whetted my appetite for further trips to explore this very unique and remote area of Utah.

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