Aspen Hunting Again Near Webster Flat
For the first ten days after Abby’s accident Tom and I mostly stayed at home with her together but there were two occasions where one of us went for a hike with Terry while the other one of us was on dog watch. The day Terry and I went for a hike was unexpectedly overcast and despite a forecast that promised zero percent precipitation, we did in fact get drizzled on at one point in the morning. We were on the hunt for more yellow aspens which were already (too soon!) less and less common – even in stands at the lowest elevation – so we started our hunt at the old archery range near the national forest boundary off route 14. While not your usual hiking location, the range consists disused-but-well-constructed trails between target areas built into the side of a mountain. The meandering route goes on for over a mile. Once we ran out of trodden pathways we bushwacked up towards the valley below Webster Flat before returning to the car. There weren’t many aspens left worth photographing but it was, as all our hikes are, an excellent adventure.
From the archery range we drove less than a mile down the road to our next planned stop at Woods Ranch where we contemplated the snow clouds blowing over our heads. We agreed to walk a bit and keep our eye on the weather but after 15 minutes we could tell the storm was movng out as bits of blue began to appear overtop the mountains to the south. So we kept walking, up the seven or eight hundred feet of switchbacks on an old forest road until we reached the south side of Webster Flat. Here on the exposed ridge the aspen trees were completely bare, twisted and wavy trunks standing against the blue of the sky.
We soon passed one of the trailheads for the Virgin River Rim Trail (a section Terry and I had hiked last year) but kept to the aspen-lined forest road for another mile and a half before we reached a junction with another road we realized neither of us had been down before. If that wasn’t a good enough reason to amble that way then the fact that we could see yellow patches in the foliage of the rising mountainside ahead made up our minds. After crossing through leafless juvenile stands the road entered an area of mature aspen, beautifully draped in yellow leaves. True perfection. The road ended at private property with a gate that had sign postings about constitutional rights and trespassing which seemed a reasonable place to turn back; ranchers in Utah tend to be very serious about trespassing and this was most likely an active sheep ranch.