Thinking about this week’s article, the scenes from my 28 years of ATV adventures come back to me. Encounters with wild life on the trail seem to stand out.
My wife, Gayle, was with me on a ride up Farmington Canyon. On a trail that passes around the south end of Farmington Flats, we caught a glimpse of the flat tail of a beaver that had just come out of a culvert. We watched him work his way down a shallow ditch away from us. It was the first time I had seen a real live beaver in the wild.
Just above Manti about five miles, there is a fishing hole called Yearns Reservoir. It was a fall day and the morning was crisp and clear with the color of the sky, a deep cobalt blue. The surface of the water was as smooth and clear as glass.
As I watched from my four-seat Kawasaki, from across the lake came an osprey swooping down from a high perch. As quick as I could blink, he skimmed across the pond, dipped his claws into the water and came up with a fish. Flying back to the tops of the trees, he feasted on his catch. It was an amazing sight!
Riding the San Rafael Swell in Coal Wash, my son, Chad and I came upon a mountain goat watching us from beside the trail. As we approached, he moved out in front of us. He wasn’t in a hurry and we weren’t pushing him, but he did keep looking back at us as if to wonder why we were following him. After about a mile, he moved off to the side and watched us go by.
I have seen a lot of antelope in the Swell. Riding a road in open country on the north side, I have seen some break out of the brush and race along beside me on the other side of the fence. It is exciting to see how fast they can run.
Coming across wild animals in the backcountry is one of the things I enjoy about riding. Not all the animals I have come close to, however, have been wild. On a trail out of the Ticaboo Resort at Lake Powell, I was riding with my friend, Fred.
A herd of cattle was spread out across our trail and we found ourselves working our way through them. Riding slow and alert, we knew how unpredictable cows can be. Sure enough, one cow got aggressive and shoved another cow in front of me.
I was quick enough to get around her without making contact, but the cow was now on her back with her legs in the air. Fred, who was riding behind me, came to a stop. He was in a predicament.
That cow was going to right herself one way or another. If she rolled toward Fred, she could do some damage. Fortunately, she rolled away from him and came to her feet moving quickly away. We breathed better after putting the cows behind us.
Counting lizards is another pastime on the trail. I love to catch sight of them skittering across the trail in front of me.
On a ride with Gayle out of Aurora in late May, we had climbed high enough to encounter snow. Having made it across one snow patch, we decided not to try to go any further.
That one was tricky enough to cross so we stopped to look at the trail ahead. In the dirt in front of us was a type of lizard that I had not seen since I was a boy in Oklahoma. It was a horny toad. I used to catch them in the garden behind my house.
Coming across a snake on the trail is something altogether different. I was on a ride on the Paiute Trail near the Fremont Indian Museum on trail #01. As I climbed out of the canyon, I ran over a black snake that was so big, it stretched all the way across the trail and then some.
I was so surprised, I stopped, got off my machine, and ran back to find it. It was gone, but I thought, “What was I thinking? That was a big snake! Why would I want to find it!” Running back, I quickly rode away.
When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and go see what wild life you can find in the backcountry.