The family was nice enough to let me float most of the time, which was really nice. The cutthroat were biting pretty well and I caught many that looked like this:
Several bites were missed from nice tigers and it wore on me heavily throughout my stay. My hopes were to take home a decent tiger trout, but just couldn't get anything going with them.
Finally, while landing my tube at the launch ramp, a good tiger just shy of 20" latched on and I was very grateful for the catch. It donated some nice fillets for the family.
It was a pretty good day of fishing and ultimately getting what I wanted made it that much better.
The family and I were excited to cap off this year's fair weather opportunities with a camping trip to Goblin Valley State Park.
As usual, we had an obligatory stop in Helper to get some snacks and stretch our legs.
We had a late start, so we didn't get to the park until about 3:00pm. Originally thinking that we'd be the only people there, we were very surprised to see that the campground was actually full.
So we had to strike that from our agenda. We were really hopeful to get campsite #12, which we've always wanted. It's the best one, aside from getting a yurt. Without knowing exactly where we would sleep that night, we were confident that we'd be able to work it out.
At that point of the afternoon, we chose not to pay the admittance fee for only a couple of hours of daylight. Luckily, I knew of a spot nearby that we could hike to relatively quickly and we could all see it for the first time together.
We parked the Rodeo at the end of a dirt road, just off the route to Goblin Valley. Wildhorse Window (aka The Eye of Sinbad) awaited us, just a mile away, up the San Rafael Reef.
The hike was pretty straight forward, only having to descend into Temple Wash for a brief crossing, then up the barren sandstone reef to the draw where the window lies. Rock cairns are set up in multiple places along the way to help guide hikers.
Temple Wash is pretty amazing, itself.
The reef is the easternmost edge of the San Rafael Swell, a big bulge in the otherwise flat desert landscape. A giant tilted wall of pitted sandstone, wind water and time have worked some serious magic on this area.
My kids fared quite well for the hike and only needed my help in one spot, near the end. Soon enough, the window was within sight.
Some size perspective:
One wall is covered with well-preserved petroglyphs:
The view from inside the cave is incredible.
One last look and it was time to get back to the truck, as sunlight was limited.
The vistas hiking back were every bit as spectacular.
We made great time getting back to the truck and used the remaining light to find a spot to set up camp. With the park being full, I assumed the worst and figured I would end up deep in the swell before finding a good spot.
Luckily, we noticed that nobody else was in the canyon as Temple Mountain Road plunged into the reef. The huge wall with petroglyphs on it is just inside the canyon. We've stopped and viewed it many times, but it usually has a few RV's and campers in close proximity.
The whole canyon was ours though! Such luck!
We threw the tent together quickly and Sonia got the bedding situated while I tended to the accommodations at our site. After I rebuilt the existing fire pit that was caved in, we had a good blaze started and roasted some sausages and marshmallows with the kids.
We prepared for freezing temperatures overnight, but it was actually quite comfortable. I doubt it even got into the 30's. It made for cozy camping in a great setting. Settling back with some brews (that were intended to be enjoyed next to some goblins) was the perfect way to end a great day.
In the morning, I was the first awake (of course) and hopped out to get the fire started again. The remaining wood needed to be used and we needed to cook our breakfast.
It's not every day you get to wake up under ancient art.
After a bite to eat, my boy James and I scampered about, exploring the beautiful surroundings and sounding out our canyon calls for the echoes. We had a bunch of fun while Mom and Debbie got some of our things together at camp.
What a great place! We're so lucky to live here with such wonderful land to enjoy.
Back at camp, I took down our tent and packed the truck with ease, now that the firewood was gone. Having the whole day ahead of us, I didn't see a reason to rush us into Goblin Valley yet, so we drove the "Behind the Reef Trail" for awhile,.taking in the awesome splendor of the region.
Looking east, towering cliffs dominate the view. Looking west, rugged canyons sprawled for miles into the horizon.
It was a fun diversion and we filled our tanks with some sandwiches in preparation for the great hike that awaited us in the park.
Temple Mountain stood proudly to the north as we made our way back toward the route to the park.
Finally at the park, we could complete the central objective of our mission, hiking into areas we hadn't visited yet. Instead of the usual trot back to the cave and then up to the overlook, we hiked south from the main bowl and wrapped ourselves around to a totally separate valley.
The sky was blue, the earth was red, and our smiles were bright as we enjoyed another perspective of this giant natural playground that we love so much.
Getting up to the back of the valley, the ascent to the greenish white Curtis Formation was exciting and required several attempts. Once on top, the miles unrolled before our eyes as we peered out over the valley and the surrounding desert.
Seeing how far away the parking lot was, we realized that our feet had carried us quite the distance.
It was time for the hike back.
As always, Goblin Valley left a special imprint on us as we left it in the rear-view. A quick cruise around Wildhorse Butte, and we hit the road.
After fueling up in Green River, I made a last-minute decision to stay on I-70 to Salina, rather than taking Hwy 6 through Price. Having no memory of ever cutting through the Swell there, the scenic detour was welcomed by all.
It was a great drive, however, the elevation gain is significant and we encountered a mighty snow storm at the summit near Fremont Junction. That was unexpected and made for some slower miles. Salina never looked so good. We made it home after dark, but with plenty of time to rest for our upcoming week. What a weekend!
My lunch breaks still find a way to translate into fishing, working somewhat close to Provo River. My usual hole still treats me alright, but the browns have gotten a bit more active in the past week. Here's my best from lunch over the past while:
Nothing too special, but it's a lot nicer than the little runts I usually catch there. Saturday held some pretty good fishing too.
An online fishing buddy and I went out to Joe's Valley Reservoir to let loose on some aggressive splake and whatever else would bite. Without a tube, he would fish the shoreline while I made my first float at Joe's, which I've wanted to do for a very long time.
A couple of stops were required in Straight Canyon for some active little browns, then we were glad to feast our eyes on calm water at Joe's.
Choosing to test the fishing from shore first, it didn't take long and I had a pretty nice splake on the line.
That set things off and for the next few hours, we caught a lot more. Most of them were around this size:
With the great action, I ran back up to the truck and got my tube ready. The steep rocky shoreline in the dam arm made for a very awkward launch and I actually fell in on my first attempt.
Note to self: Taking a November dip in Joe's Valley is a bad idea.
Having completely soaked myself, I dismissed thoughts of aborting. Dragging that tube down the hill was a pain and I wanted my money's worth. After resetting and getting properly launched, I committed to hold out as long as I could in the frigid water.
It really wasn't that bad and I was fine to kick parallel to shore for quite awhile. The shore fishing had actually been more effective, but I still picked up a lot of fish from the tube. The catches were mostly splake hugging the shoreline, but some open water cutts and two rainbows were also hooked.
In all my trips to Joe's, I hadn't previously caught any rainbows, so that was neat.
Eventually, the cold really got to me and the wind had started working against me. After a hard push to get across the dam arm, I made it back to my starting point and we decided to head back home, tentatively planning a couple of stops along the way.
First stop was to get teased by the creek for about a half hour. We saw some incredible holes, but never even got a bite.
We also stopped by a little cutt pond I like as the sunlight faded. The bite wasn't great, but we both caught one fish of similar size, then we finished our drive. It was a good day of fishing.
So the past few weeks have been packed with adventure in impressive landscapes. The fishing was good, but I personally enjoyed the camping trip with my family more than anything. I believe I heard the phrase "best trip ever" several times throughout that weekend, which fills me with satisfaction.
Happy Fishing, Humans.