Dark Canyon Wilderness - Wilderness Volunteers

BJett

Member
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
519
I discovered the non-profit Wilderness Volunteers a few years ago, but at the time work schedules and my annual 3 week solo trips to Utah kept me booked up.

I quit my corporate gig back in March of 2016, freeing me up for planning the backlog of trips on my list. I've been interested in volunteering before in GSENM eradicating Tamarisk and Russian Olive and almost jumped on that trip last year but then I saw my holy grail...a canyon I've always to see, combined with archaeology and volunteering with the USFS, Monticello District. Archaeology is a passion of mine, and I was going to learn how to inventory a site from start to finish and maybe find some cool stuff along the way. It exceeded my expectations.
http://www.wildernessvolunteers.org/project/201744/Dark+Canyon,+Manti+LaSal+National+Forest.html

I drove out from Kentucky in late September, slowly making my way to Monticello by sampling microbrews in every state. Who knew Kansas had good beer? Anyway, after a night with a friend on Grand Junction, CO I headed to Monticello to meet the WV crew. At first I was surprised that at 41 I was the youngest pup there by far other than 2 seasonal archaeologists and the trip leaders son. It was a mix of Wilderness Volunteer veterans and a few first timers, 2 lead archaeologists and 2 seasonals. Everyone was great, we shared stories around the campfire, I got plenty of tips from desert veterans on places I've wanted to explore, and we ate like kings. This was a pack animal supported trip, we didn't have to carry the food down the 6 miles of Trail Canyon, only our personal gear. We were lucky that the pool near our camp was full of clear water, I heard horror stories from previous trips of carrying muddy water each day a half mile back to camp and eating silty soup. No thanks.
The weather was good for the first 4 days but then we heard from the rangers at the Monticello HQ that bad weather as coming in...decision time. The horses had to get back in and haul the kitchen and food out and needed dry ground. We debated and decided to bail a few days early instead of risk getting stuck without food. This is a very remote area, the access roads are dangerous when wet.
Each day we broke off into groups, each with an archaeologist. The sites had been discovered and surveyed but left alone. We were there to help inventory lithics and ceramics, mapping the boundaries, GPS'ing the sites and learning how to identify types of lithic scatter as well as potsherds. I was in heaven. The head archaeologist, Don, toook me under his wing and by the time the trip was over I was already scheming how to get back and get on their survey crew, and helping with office work like creating GIS maps from backlogged projects.

My crew found and surveyed a 6000 year old lithic scatter site which appeared to be a hunting camp. Others found sites with lots of ceramics, others explored and looked for new sites. This area is rich in Ancestral Puebloan sites, you can't pee and not hit one. I was able to map, document and write up the results from our inventory at our site and we wrapped it up with some good finds. This was the trip of a lifetime, and I'm heading back in 2017 to the same area for more.
I won the Wilderness Volunteers photo contest, a free trip to any project of my choice ($300). After the Dark Canyon trip next September I'm staying for another week long trip on Cedar Mesa doing trail work with a different WV crew in early October.
Winning photo...
http://wildernessvolunteers.blogspot.com/2016/12/announcing-winners-of-wv-2016-photo.html

IMG_5004.jpg


Trail Canyon
IMG_4977.jpg

IMG_4994.jpg


Elko Corner Notched Point I found.
IMG_5013.jpg


Pinto Point. Possibly as old as 4000 years...
IMG_5019.jpg

IMG_5016.jpg


Dark Canyon. Miles above the BLM managed part, deep in the USFS Wilderness.
IMG_5006.jpg


Granary. On our 3rd day we documented the condition of some well preserved granaries.
IMG_5036.jpg

IMG_5056.jpg


finger prints...
IMG_5046.jpg


From another random site, on a random bench...this stuff is everywhere.
IMG_5082.jpg


IMG_5071.jpg


Team Indiana Jones
IMG_5076.jpg


Trail Canyon trailhead
IMG_5090.jpg


This trip was a tease. I can't wait to explore more of this area, especially the lower BLM lands downstream of Youngs Canyon to the river. There is a lifetime of adventure down here, and I can't speak highly enough about the Wilderness Volunteers. I was invited to be a Trip Leader and go through the training in Idaho in May 2017, but I'm going to think on it...probably do it in 2018 and start leading trips. Look 'em up, they have trips all over the country.
 

wsp_scott

Member
Joined
May 16, 2016
Messages
829
Sounds like an interesting experience.

FWIW, I like the 2nd star photo better than the winning one :) The alignment of the tree and the milky way work well together.
 

Absarokanaut

Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2014
Messages
602
Very cool indeed. All the things we complain about today and how little people lived with before the last 100 or so years.

thanks for sharing.
 

gnwatts

Member
.
Joined
May 19, 2012
Messages
1,809
It must be very satisfying helping out like you did. Beautiful shots too.
 

Vegan.Hiker

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2014
Messages
2,090
Wow, what an great thing to get involved with. Your winning photo is amazing as well.
 

blueeyes

ephemeral excursionist
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
1,109
Excellent report! Love your winning photo. Thanks for sharing the information.

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
 

WasatchWill

Ready For More
.
Joined
Jul 23, 2013
Messages
1,539
Catching up on TR's. What a neat experience! Great photos too. Congrats on the award winner. If I could stow away in your pack for this year's outing, I'd probably try to.

Sssssshhhhh ........... Dark Canyon is relatively off the radar.......

That's what I thought too @Bob, until I stumbled into this: https://www.visitutah.com/things-to...country-southern-utah/dark-canyon-wilderness/

I figure once the official state office of tourism posts a trail guide to a specific trail/area, it's officially on the radar. That said, there's so many other places out there on the radar and that canyon is still pretty remote, that it probably often takes a backseat to so many other destinations that people plan trips for. I'm sure it still sees a lot less people than so many of the other canyons closer to the highways down there.
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
Mikjik86 8 Days Backpacking Dark Canyon Wilderness Backpacking 2
Mikjik86 Short Video: Backpacking/Packrafting Dark Canyon Wilderness, Utah. April 2019 Backpacking 0
B Dark Canyon - Young's to Lean-to Traverse Trip Planning 3
M Dark Canyon Complex Water Data Trip Planning 4
fossana An Allen inspired trip to Dark Canyon Backpacking 29
JBPHXAZ Dark Canyon Backpacking Help Trip Planning 9
regehr Allen-ish dark canyon loop video Backpacking 5
Stephanie B Behind the Rocks, Ken's Lake Faux Falls, U-Turn Canyon, Seven Mile Canyon, and Dark Angel Hiking & Camping 4
T Dark canyon - lower blm portion with pack goats?? Canyoneering 2
Gregg B. Dark Canyon/Gypsum Canyon/Cataract Canyon Loop Trip Planning 17
Kullaberg63 Allen's Dark Canyon route Trip Planning 18
MarkintheHV Dark Canyon Trip Planning 4
George_Washington_Hayduke Clearwater Canyon, Black Hole of White Canyon, Dark Canyon, Swett Canyon "Packraftoneering" Canyoneering 6
J Dark Canyon/Gypsum Loop Trip Planning 16
cmgz Dark Canyon-Woodenshoe to Sundance Backpacking 4
J Dark Canyon Trip Planning 3
Cody Dark Canyon Backpacking 6
Bob Dark Canyon - Dry Mesa Area Backpacking 3
dug Dark Cyn/Fable Valley approach roads Trip Planning 5
Nick Poll: Dark vs. Light - 2018 Edition General Discussion 9
Dave Afraid of the Dark Backpacking 12
Nick Dark to Cataract to Hite Backpacking 27
Artemus Dark skies for naked eye astronomers and photographers Photography 16
Nick Poll: BCP Dark & Light? Questions, Suggestions & Support 26
Bob Dark Sky Finder Resource Discussions 5
Backcountry Post BCP - Dark or Light? General Discussion 2
Archbishop I've joined the dark side........ And I LIKE IT! General Discussion 3
Nick Poll: Light vs. Dark Theme Questions, Suggestions & Support 11
Laura V. Four Days in Salt Creek Canyon, April 2021 Backpacking 14
NorthwestWanderer 4 Days Backpacking Capitol Reef : Spring Canyon & Various side canyons Backpacking 5
F Stevens Canyon/southern escalate water availability. Trip Planning 16
Juicifer Labyrinth Canyon in April Questions Trip Planning 2
Nick Running the Grand Canyon in a Tule Raft General Discussion 2
Udink Mount Belknap and Bullion Canyon Hiking & Camping 3
norwegianxplorer Mt Whitney Virtual Hike via Horseshoe Meadows & Mt Langley, Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park Backpacking 1
Laura V. Bears in Salt Creek Canyon, Canyonlands Trip Planning 76
Reef&Ruins Hell'n Moriah Canyon Trip Planning 5
D Grand Canyon Ideas Trip Planning 9
RyanP Maze questions---Sweet Alice Canyon, etc Trip Planning 22
gnwatts Doing fine in Labyrinth Canyon, 9-17-20 On The Water 8
BJett Honeymoon Backpacking - An Intro to Canyon Country Backpacking 14
wildwesthikes 9 Days Solo Escalante Loop in October (water advice) - Stevens Canyon, Baker Route over Waterpocket fold, Halls Narrows to Moody Canyons Trip Planning 11
Dhuff3243 Constrychnine canyon Trip Planning 0
Outdoors24 Floating Labyrinth Canyon On The Water 7
C Paria Canyon water source - August 2020 Trip Planning 2
balzaccom Fun in Mokelumne Canyon Backpacking 1
norwegianxplorer Big SEKI loop, Sequoia Kings Canyon Backpacking 1
norwegianxplorer Bear Standoff and Bluff Charge in Kings Canyon yesterday June 30th Backpacking 16
zionsky Jan's Canyon Trip Planning 2
Bob Grand Canyon North Rim wildfire Trip Planning 4

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Top