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KINDNESS across AMERICA - Chapter 06: Ranch Angels

KINDNESS across AMERICA - Chapter 06: Ranch Angels

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Published by Kirk D. Sinclair
Chapter 6 about our journey across the country along the American Discovery Trail
Chapter 6 about our journey across the country along the American Discovery Trail

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Published by: Kirk D. Sinclair on Aug 22, 2012
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CHAPTER 6: RANCH ANGELSMilford, UT to Notom; Days = 12 (1 rest); Miles = 173; People Met = 57Utah mirrored Nevada in that the central portion of both states featured National Forests andhigher elevations. However, we met far more people in the central part of Utah, including a curiousexchange between three “Floridiots.” These were three ATVers we met at a park near Circleville. Theycalled themselves that because they were transplants from Florida, the state of the hanging chad in the2000 election. From this you can guess that their politics departed from the Utah natives.When I shared my message about the virtues of community, they were very supportive butclaimed it would not go over well in Utah. I asked why that should be and they pointed out theconservative opposition to ACORN. Well, the transplanted ATVers were wrong; I got in a heateddiscussion with precisely one conservative, one liberal and one libertarian during the entire journey. Ineach case the essence of the conflict was my greater belief in humanity. Other than that, everyone fromall ideologies were pretty much on board regarding the virtues of community.In reality the now defunct ACORN contrasts with my message for two opposite reasons. ACORNwas an effort to get out the vote of a lower income segment that tends to underrepresented in the polls.While that is a worthy goal, it was driven more by interest group politics rather than community politics.Meanwhile conservatives, or at least the conservative Fox News media, presented outright falseinformation about ACORN to rally opposition. In other words, ACORN ended up being one more battlefront of party politics, rather than a true community initiative.We already experienced the Utah kindness before meeting the ATVers. Going into Beaver on ahot day three people in a white pick-up stopped to offer us water. Heading out of Beaver a woman takingher 98-year old mother for a drive on a Forest Service road stopped to check in on us. The elderly momwanted to know if we were in trouble or just nuts.Other kind encounters included two ATVers scoping antelope in Dixie National Forest whostopped to offer us help (though we did not need it). A campground host invited us in to his trailer during
 
a rainstorm and gave us a parting gift of soap made by his wife. There may have been a hint embedded inthat gesture.We were destined to make that campground the night before, but some navigational errors addedeight miles (not really my fault and I did not beat myself up this time). Since we were meeting Ky for thefirst time in four days we wanted to let her know about our situation, but we had the usual lack of cell phone coverage. After getting to Utah 12 we chose to get a message to Ky by courier. I held up my handto my face as if talking on the telephone and a family of four in a subcompact stopped. The accents of Mom and Dad suggested the family was from Australia touring the spectacular scenery that lies alongUtah 12 (Ky would claim this to be her favorite scenic road of the journey). They were both veryfriendly and accommodating for delivering our message.The husband went a step further; he offered to give us a ride to the campground where Ky would be. We could see the look of dismay that overcame the wife's face, even if the husband could not. Herewe were, two smelly hikers with four days of sweat and grime that the husband wanted to squeeze into asubcompact with four other well-scrubbed passengers. The husband had a heart a gold but he wasn'tdoing much to counter the reputation of males sometimes being clueless. We did the wife and two kids afavor and declined the offer.It was at a different campground by Otter Creek Lake, before we headed into the Dixie NationalForest, where we ran into some extreme kindness. Ky made friends with our three neighbors at thecampground. Ernie and Paul were brothers and retired welders. Their younger friend Matt had been laidoff as a construction worker in concrete and they were taking his mind off things.They were at the campground to fish but they also had been hunting. They cooked us up a feastof salmon, elk, venison and home-grown lamb. We served Hiker's Mac & Cheese, fixed with tuna fish,gravy and spices and they seemed to appreciate that almost as much as we appreciated the meat. Theyalso had a lot of beer. We imbibed more than we should but far less than our hosts, whose altered statesled to some difficult communication between us.
 
We also met Randy and Kathy Gould at the campground. They were ranchers from Antimonythat were picking up a little extra income as state campground hosts. As a native rancher Randy knew the backcountry we would be encountering in Dixie National Forest. He spent a long time going over themaps with us and sharing some great navigational tips. Later on, after our first day heading up into the National Forest, Randy came to our campsite on his ATV, bringing with him some cold sodas. If thetiming had worked out right Randy would have invited us to stay at his ranch. Instead, we were about to be overwhelmed by a couple other “Ranch Angels. As we left Beaver for Fish Lake National Forest near the beginning of this stretch, we stopped at aranger station to ask about trail conditions. After the conditions we encountered in Nevada I was nottaking anything for granted about hiking trails. We were informed that the trails going up the South Fork of South Creek were maintained. Good news, but while there we also eavesdropped on a phoneconversation talking about closures in the National Forest due to avalanches.Like everywhere else out west we encountered, Utah received huge snow pack the winter beforeour journey, 600% of normal in their case. This was enough snow pack to replenish aquifers that peoplethought were permanently diminished. The huge snow pack also meant huge avalanches, which in turnmeant blow downs of fallen trees.The blow downs were removed on the trails of our ascent out of Beaver, as was accuratelyreported to us. We had the pleasure of backpacking on a trail the way we remembered them to be.However, once we started down the other side of the crest towards Circleville trail conditions changeddramatically. In Nevada, the poor trail conditions led to wet feet and scratched skins. Here I faced the problem of sore knees.Some of the soreness was the inevitable toll from ascents and descents, into and out of the National Forest. More was due to the constant climbing and squatting dictated by blow downs. For onefour mile stretch we climbed and squatted our way through a constant maze of blow downs, with the

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