Friday & Saturday, July 9-10, 2021
This weekend I was finally going to my first concert in over a year on Saturday evening so I needed to stay close to home, but I still hoped to squeeze in a hike to the summit of a peak or two on Saturday morning. Since the Pack Creek Fire near Moab was finally contained and the La Sal Mountains were opening back up, I thought this would be a good time for me to head that direction for a quick overnight trip. When I left from work on Friday afternoon it was a blistering 106 degrees out and I would later find out that Grand Junction had set the all-time high temperature record of 107 degrees while I was driving into Utah. The thermometer on my Jeep registered 112 degrees as I passed by the Fisher Towers– it’s certainly been a hot week on the Colorado Plateau! After driving through Castle Valley to the La Sal Mountains Loop Road I followed the narrow and bumpy road up into Miners Basin and spent the rest of the evening around the small lake near the trailhead. It was still a bit warm up in Miners Basin when I arrived, but it cooled off nicely as the sun went down for the night.
A view of Mineral Mountain from the Miners Basin Trail.
Gold Knob in the warm evening light.
This little lake in Miners Basin was the lowest I have ever seen it at this time of the year, but there were still a lot of fish jumping around just before sunset.
A late evening view of Mineral Mountain.
From the other end of the lake I could see the top of Castle Mountain.
Miners Basin Sunset
Once it was dark out I read for a little bit and then went to bed early. On Saturday morning I was up shortly before sunrise and started hiking up the Bachelor Basin Trail as the sun was coming up for the day. This trail, which is part of the Trans-La Sal Trail, was pretty overgrown with a bunch of deadfall across the trail and it appears that it does not get used very much.
Starting up the Bachelor Basin Trail.
As I climbed up above the trees and got my first view over to Gold Knob, I could tell that there was a lot of smoke in the air this morning. It feels like every time I hike in the La Sal Mountains there is a lot of smoke and haze in the air…
Looking down the canyon I could see the Moab Rim through the smoke in the distance.
As soon as I started climbing up the ridge to Horse Mountain I was startled by this mountain goat that was running down the ridge toward me and didn’t see me right away. If you look closely you can see that this mountain goat has some sort of radio collar around its neck.
When I reached a clearing on the ridge I turned around for this view of Castle Mountain, Mount Waas and Mineral Mountain.
I passed by this post on the ridge- most likely marking an old mining claim.
The view above the smoke from the summit of Horse Mountain.
I continued down the ridge on the other side of the summit so I could make my way over to Grand View, which is the bump on the ridge in the middle.
A smoky view over Bachelor Basin and Willow Basin.
As I walked along the ridge I had a good view of the Porcupine Rim far below.
Here’s a closer look with the desert landscape disappearing into the thick smoke.
The view from the summit of Grand View wasn’t quite as ‘grand’ as I was hoping it would be…
Following the rocky ridge back to Horse Mountain.
Here’s one last look back over Grand View and Porcupine Rim. The sky above the layer of smoke was pretty blue.
Hiking back down the ridge from Horse Mountain.
There were plenty of wildflowers to visit along the way.
Following the faint Bachelor Basin Trail back down to the trailhead in Miners Basin.
The hike had taken me a little bit longer than I was anticipating, but I still had plenty of time to drive home and rest for a few hours before heading out to the concert in the evening. Even with all the smoke in the air, I still had another nice time in the La Sal Mountains!