Monday, November 30, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Irresponsible

Coming back with guests today, Tom finds six vehicles off the trail just tearing up the land because they can. When confronted, one lady, and nobody else, said they were sorry. For the rest, it's embarrassing to the large majority of us that stay on the trail, that they are associated with us as ATV riders. With thousands of miles of trails, why would you ever go off the trail and in particular to do this kind of damage. We're being watched and there are those that want to take the trails away from us and when somebody acts like these folks did, it makes it easier for those that don't want us out there.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Golden Rule: Stay on the Trail

Did everyone follow the Golden Rule today?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Linny Feeds the Sheep

Keeping a watchful eye on the problem child with the horns, Pinto.

Beach Mysteries of Thanksgiving

In the first picture, something small is crossing the beach from the bottom of the picture moving up. What appears to be the tracks of a kit fox come from left to right, and the something becomes lunch. In the second picture, a large dinosaur bird stalks the beach. Linny's foot is right next to it for comparison. Third picture, for the 2nd time in three years, Tom has come across footprints similar to Kobae's, if not Kobae's, which have unexplainably survived months of windstorms and major rains. And, if these are Kobae's footprints, who has been gone a month, these footprints appear to be no more than a week old, also, where are Tom's footprints who would have been walking next to him?

What is Hockey Tom?

For years, Linny and Tom have checked each other into the walls playfully and then said "Hockey Linny." Or "Hockey Tom." Last time Tom checked Linny into the wall she said "What is hockey Tom?"

Linster checking it out, Dwarf bowling between periods, Griz, disagreement in the corner, and Utah wins.

As Linny and Tom were walking out Linny said "I know what hockey is now Tom."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009


The first set of tracks, though a week or so old, appear to be a mule deer, from the two toes to the wide stride. The second set of tracks are probably the tail of an otter, maybe beaver. The third, are a crane. The fourth, five toes, are tracks of a beaver. The fifth, and unfortunately this is not an endangered species are the tracks of a moron.

Saturday Morning

Tom walks down to the pen to make sure the sheep have food, water, and their favorite treat, corn. The way it works is, put corn in the can, shake it so the sheep can hear it and will come down from wherever they may be, pour it in the bowls for them to eat, and then get out of the pen. Pinto (the one with horns) has some attitude issues and has twice chased Tom over the fence. In the future, Tom may leave a little corn in the can and shake it when he's done pouring it in the bowls and safely out of the pen.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Morning

Darkness Comes

It's nearly dark as Tom finishes his descent. Coming out of the sandstone creek bed he finds one small set of sheep tracks, small stride, not big horn, and fresh. With the fading light it's hard to tell how fresh. Tom reaches down to touch one and it is very fresh. Not hours, minutes. A few hundred feet later three sets of tracks come together and they are headed straight to Base Camp. Tom follows the tracks all the way to the sheep pen. They have been there, within the last few minutes. Tom hears Shane whistle from the lodge. "I see three shadows on the ridge above the hogans." Darkness falls. Tom can't see anything on the ridge.

End of the Day

Shadows are growing long, sunlight is fading. If Tom doesn't find a way down soon, he'll be doing the descent in pitch black. As he's working his way down a ledge, he finds footprints, fresh, and small. There are two recent slides. As if large flat rocks slid all the way to the bottom, yet, there aren't any large rocks at the bottom in the sandstone creek bed. If it wasn't rocks, what slid all the way to the bottom and is now gone?

The Figure

Tom continues to work his way west along the Anti Cline, canyon after canyon, and after a long afternoon, is running out of canyons.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Narrow

Tom moves up to the highest of the Big Horn trails for a deeper view into the slot canyons. The trail is difficult and narrow. Perfect for Big Horn, not so perfect for Tom.

The First

Tom reaches the lowest in elevation of the two Big Horn trails and begins to follow numerous foot prints, all too large and too far a stride for Pinto, Thelma, and Louise. Looking down at the slot canyon that contains Stairway to Heaven.

Anti Cline Slot Canyons

Today is all about exploring yesterday's new info from a stranger on the trail that sheep frequently go down cliffs and can't get back up. So with that in mind Tom will spend the day exploring the slot canyons of the Anti Cline, canyon by canyon, until they are all explored. Tom works his way over to the Anti Cline and begins the ascent to the two Big Horn trails.

Still Again

Shane searches out towards Jackson Hole on foot while Tom takes the ATV and does Dripping Springs, the Uranium Mines, and all the way to the Chicken Corner and Lockhart Basin intersection and neither finds a single sign of the sheep. As Tom is returning, he runs into an ATVer who says he has been around sheep all his life and their biggest problem is going down cliffs they can't get back up. He's spent lots of time roping and dragging them back up. Tom can only think of perhaps the slot canyons going at the bottom of the Anti Cline. Next up, Anti Cline slot and finger canyons.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Tom makes one more hike to see if he can find an answer to the disappearance of Pinto, Thelma, and Louise.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Morning

On Saturday rain of the previous night washed away old tracks and left only new. As night came on Saturday, Tom found promising prints in the creek bed of Hall's Canyon. Now, after a full night of rain and a light covering of snow in the morning, those tracks are gone. In effect Sunday is not just a do-over, it's a start over. Hunters will be out and Tom's continued pursuit may be detrimental. Once domestic sheep may have returned to their roots and become wild sheep or it's the rutting season where both male and female are at their sexual peak to bring new lambs in the Spring. For today at least, Tom is going to leave things as they are.

The Yes, The No

In time, the spotters and vehicles leave, Tom ventures Hall's Canyon. A mile or two in, Tom comes across three sets of prints, small, and about the right stride. He's got something, and it's today. Then he realizes the tracks are coming from north to south and up some huge vertical jumps. Big horn yes, the sheep, he's never seen them display that kind of ability. Heavy rain and darkness greet him. When morning comes, Tom will return.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Wait

In a waiting game with spotters and vehicle patrols Tom moves through the maize of narrow corridors Linny calls The Land of the Skinny People. Still searching, careful to not be seen or send any of the deer, big horn, or sheep that may be in here with him, fleeing into the gun sights of those that wait against them.

The Find

With spotters watching, vehicles patrolling, Tom disappears into the Land of the Skinny People to a surprise in the search for Pinto, Thelma, and Louise.

The Trap

As Tom nears the Land of the Skinny People, the two vehicles continue to drive up and down the jeep trails. Tom rounds a corner in the creek bottom and sees them. The hunters have spotters on top of Hurrah Pass. Tom is doing their leg work for them. They patrol outside the canyons and if something runs from Tom and leaves the canyons, spotters tell them, and direct them to their prey. Tom's desire to do good, may be the death of what he's trying to save.

The Do Over

Saturday morning comes fresh from the night rain. For tracking, this is the second best thing that could happen (snow is first). This is like a do over. All old prints are erased and any prints found now, will be since the night rain and under 12 hours old. Today Tom will take the canyon that begins on the Base Camp property, try the Land of the Skinny People, venture into Place of a Thousand Eyes, and come down through Hall's Canyon and back to Base Camp. Not half an hour into the search Tom spots two vehicles moving very slowly down the jeep road, searching, searching, for something to kill. Tom's pace increases.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Day

The hunt for deer and big horn continues. Tom has twice seen hunters on high points with rifles and binoculars. Pinto, Thelma, and Louise are in danger. The wind has picked up, the temperature is dropping and the storm approaches. It's been a long day with many miles covered in the search. With the tracks entrance into the red rock formation the trail has vanished and darkness is near. With it's arrival it is time to sleep. Daylight will come and the search will resume.

The Cliffs

Shane and Tom follow tracks, three sets, into the cliffs above the river. The tracks are fresher than anything they've seen so far. The sides of the tracks are hard, some have leaves in them, but they are still dark, three days old perhaps.

The Event

Shane and Tom, still on the trail, find one place in the tamarisk where Pinto and the girls bedded down as the grass is all laid to the side and now on the southern most end by the island, there has been an event. The soil is torn up and pulled out. There appears to have been a physical struggle and Pinto, Thelma, and Louise were in it.

The Others

Shane and Tom have fought through the tamarisk across from the island continuing to follow three to four day old sheep tracks along the river, searching for any clues that may help.

The Search Continues

Tom follows the sheep tracks along the high road and they disappear into sandstone. Later Tom searches the beach and then along the shore line through the tamarisk and out towards the island where he and Shane find sheep poop. John has joined the search with his dog and searches north of Base Camp.

The Draw

Tom finds two sets of human footprints coming off the road going into the draw and tracks them. Then he finds sheep footprints. The human footprints are following and spread ten feet apart. Pinto, Thelma, and Louise are being hunted. Tom tracks through the draw, up the hills, back toward the river and into tamarisk. The prints are three to four days old. When and where Tom heard the gunshot. Half a mile of tracking more and the human prints cut back to the road, they don't sink any further into the sand so they are not carrying the extra weight of a dead sheep. At the road the human tracks enter a vehicle. All three of the sheep prints go deep into the tamarisk. There is no blood trail. Three days ago, they are alive.

The Search

Tom last saw Pinto and the girls at the sheep pen on Sunday afternoon. Tuesday night, some distance away, in the first draw towards the Catacombs, Tom hears a gunshot. When Shane returns Wednesday night from Lockhart Basin he says he last saw Pinto, Thelma, and Louis in the draw to the river towards the Catacombs. It's hunting season but should you have a rifle if you can't distinguish sheep from big horn and deer? Tom spends part of Thursday searching Jackson Hole, no prints, no sign of any sort. On Friday he searches the draw towards the Catacombs.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Close One

James shows up at Base Camp and says he has to clear some tamarisk to put a new pipeline through to the Pot Ash Plant. Tom tells James that is many miles away and one particularly scary part Tom doesn't think James can make. James insists he has to try. Okey dokey.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Quiet Time

Winter approaches. Visitors are rare. Guests more so. What for the last eight months was the occasional far off sound of ATVs and or dirt bikes, all but gone. The tour boats cruising the river are no more and even the river begins to fade. At Base Camp, it is the quiet time.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tangren La International Airport

For the second straight day, across the river is a beehive of aerial activity. Planes landing and taking off several times a day.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

De Planes, De Planes (Saturday Morning)

Pinto, Thelma, and Louise

With Kobae gone, the sheep are venturing into his area more and more. It's good Kobae is visiting San Diego, Tom doubts he could stomach another one mile an hour chase with Kobae pursuing the sheep into the rocks.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


The story is, Faded Midget rattle snakes in their lifetime, never travel more than a mile from where they are born. Tom felt extremely comfortable that he and Kobae had hiked so much of the Base Camp property over the last few months and not seen any signs of Faded Midgets since the one he released on the Hoeneker a month or so ago (though just posted last week), that he had gotten them all. Apparently not, as he found this one run over and dead just a few feet from the Base Camp sign on the edge of the property.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Eisenhower Tunnel

West to East tunnel is Johnson. East to West is Eisenhower. The day ends, as all evenings should, with a Base Camp sunset.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Johnson Tunnel

I-70 east of Vail traveling to Denver.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Much like everything else in her life, the swine flu is unable to keep Linny (lower left) down and by Saturday she's in trick or treat mode with her brother and sisters. On Sunday morning Tom says goodbye (not for long) to his best friend and returns to Base Camp.