Now that the warm season is starting, we’re going out as often as we get an opportunity. Awhile ago we took a trip down to Mellor Canyon in Sanpete County. I had heard that there was quartz there, and I wanted to check out Yuba Lake on the way, so we hopped in the car and headed down the freeway.
Yuba Lake was fun (I’ll write about that in a separate post). We didn’t find much in the way of rocks though, so we headed east to Highway 28 and drove south toward Gunnison. The road to Mellor Canyon starts two miles north of Fayette and is well-marked. We drove right in and parked the car about half a mile inside the canyon. We must have been lucky that day–after about five minutes we had found some layers of quartz in the rocky outcropping just left of center in the picture. I regretted not bringing a crowbar–it was a little difficult working with just hammers and chisels. We also went to the area just to the right of the gully and found some more. No two-inch scepters, but did get a few two-inch thick crusts made out of small points loosely connected together.
We didn’t feel like going home yet, so we drove further into the canyon. About a mile down the road we saw a rock arch high up on the canyon wall! We stopped to investigate, hiked part of the way up to it and took a few pictures. On the way back to the car I walked around the side of a sandstone/rhyolite outcropping and found that it had weathered out underneath and was covered in bands of red and yellow. It was amazing–the outcropping was shaped like a clamshell and looked layered like a wasp nest. I took a few dozen pictures and we jumped back in the car.
We looked at the map and saw that the road seemed to pass through the mountains all the way to Manti. We could drive that way and not have to retrace our steps back home. I shouldn’t have let curiosity get the best of me. As an omen, the Oasis cd we were listening to stuck in the car stereo when we hit a bump and refused to eject. We were stuck in musical purgatory as we made the eerie drive up ever steeper and more remote roads. Some of the grades were so steep I worried I’d burn out my transmission, and some of the rocks and potholes were bad enough to cause a flat.
Over an hour later I could tell we were getting close to the summit–and hopefully a quick descent back into humanity, when we encountered an enormous snowbank covering the road. I tried to edge around and drive through the shallowest edge of it, but didn’t feel like getting the car stuck in the dead middle of nowhere with nothing but an Oasis cd to keep us company. I walked up the road to the ridge. I could see Big Baldy just to the North, and the road descending into Ephraim and Manti. It was so close! But there was absolutely no way to get the car across a 50-foot long snowdrift 4 feet thick. After enjoying/mourning the view from over 8,000 feet we backed the car down the mountain and retraced our path all the way back to the mouth of the canyon. I had once more discovered the disadvantages of mountaineering in a Honda Accord, as my brakes started smoking halfway down the mountain. The Oasis cd finally came out of the cd player the next morning, and I can’t say that I’ll be listening to it for a long time.