Dellenbaugh Tunnel and Secret Spire

Yesterday's ride was north of Moab. There were two legs to the ride that extended from the staging area. One took us past a red rock trench to Dellenbaugh Tunnel. After that, we returned to the staging area where we went in a different direction out to the Secret Spire.

We took a long dirt road out to the staging area that took us up to Dubinky Well. Dubinky Well was one of the landmarks directing us to the staging area, and we weren't sure what we were going to see. As we've driven these back roads, we driven past miles and miles of natural gas pipeline snaking across the landscape. Since we were traveling parallel to one such pipeline, we weren't sure what kind of well we were going to see.

When we arrived, it turned out to be nothing more sinister than a well that was dug to provide water to livestock. It was built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps under sponsorship of the Grazing Service. As it turns out the nearest water source was more than a mile to the south. It provided a way to spread out livestock away from over-grazed public lands during the drought-plagued 1930's. The above-ground storage tank was a CCC trademark, and that was added in 1939.

These are the original wooden troughs.

It was built by men ages 16-22 who were enrolled for six months of work and training during the Great Depression when jobs were scarce. They were housed, fed, and clothed, and paid a salary of $30 per month. All but $5 of that was sent home to support their families who often had no other source of income.

So that was interesting. It's always fun to stumble upon one of these CCC projects. The Civilian Conservation Corps was vital to social welfare during a time of great hardship, and its impact was felt greater in the west than any place else in the United States simply because the west had the most need for infrastructure improvements.

After that, we drove on to the staging area. The sky was clear and blue with a few puffy white clouds. This big monolith is known as a "needle" which seems to be the generic term when a huge red rock formation towers above the remainder of the flat landscape.

From here, we headed for Dellenbaugh Tunnel. Along the way we stopped to peer over the edge of a deep water-carved canyon.

There was something of a slot canyon here where water rushes over the side. It was dry when we looked at it.

While we were there, we were able to get a picture of this lizard. We've seen lots of lizards in our riding, but this one was the first to hold still long enough to have his picture taken.

In all of our riding yesterday, we were never out of view of the staging area.

We rode over rough and rocky terrain to get out to Dellenbaugh Tunnel. This has been a bit of a challenge for both of us, and it is scary at times, but in the best possible way. Mike always goes first so that I can watch how he does it. When something seems particularly scary, I just watch him go. If he dies, then I know it's best to turn around and head back the way I came. So far, so good.

This is the mouth to Dellenbaugh Tunnel. We were standing on the ledge above it.

We had to scramble over some rocks to climb down to the opening.

It was about 200 feet from one end to the other. We noted on the way in that there was a lot of animal excrement on the ground. We weren't sure what sort of critter would have left it, whether bats or rats, but we were careful to keep our hands off of the sides of the walls and out of the dirt. Rodents in these parts can carry hantavirus, and I'd just as soon avoid that.

We went through the opening at the back end of the tunnel

to find expansive views of the landscape on the other side.

After exploring here for a few minutes, we headed back through the tunnel. Along the way, I took this picture of the striations in the rock walls. Such interesting stuff.

It was dark in the tunnel, and on the way, we noticed this wilted greenery sitting on the ledge to the left. I was just considering how it arrived there, thinking that some rodent must be using it for a house or a bed or food, when this little guy came scurrying out. It was so dark in the tunnel, I wasn't really able to tell whether I was catching him in the frame of my image, and so I took three pictures. He stood there the whole time just looking at me. I'm sure he was wishing I'd move along.

The sky had filled with angry and threatening looking black clouds on our ride back to the staging area. From there we had to decide whether we were finished for the day or whether we wanted to continue in a different direction to see the Secret Spire. We ate some lunch, and then decided the clouds were heading away from us. The sky in the other direction was looking a lot friendlier.

We were riding above the washes, and so our only real concern was whether the rock surfaces would become slick if it started to rain. We are staying in the "Slickrock" RV park and there are several businesses in Moab that have named themselves with one version of "slickrock" or another. You can assume there is a reason for that.

Watching the clouds blow away from us, we decided it was safe to continue exploring, and so we rode along the actual dirt road out to the formation known as Secret Spire. What an odd formation!

It was large, and it was the only object of its kind in the entire area. Ya gotta wonder...

Standing at its base was a little like standing on the shell of a giant egg, and the undulating and striated rocks surrounding were awe-inspiring. Everything here is vast and immense.

Our shadow selves had to wait a few minutes for the clouds to pass by so that they could take their picture next to the Secret Spire. Such opportunistic people they are.

As we were leaving the area, I noticed this one lone little tree growing out of the rock above, against all odds.

The only other thing I have to tell you about today is these trees that are growing here in the RV park. They have a green leaf with clusters of brown pods.

From a distance, they look like flowers, but close-up, you can see that they are pods.

An individual pod fits easily into the palm of your hand.

Crack them open, and they have a group of large seeds inside.

Here are some that haven't yet turned brown.

This morning, I did a Google search to try to identify them, but came up empty. Maybe one of you knows what they are.

This is our last day in Moab. We've kind of decided we've done enough trail riding, and we're going to spend the day relaxing. We'll have breakfast at the Jailhouse Cafe, which is kind of a tradition for us. (You can read an article from the Moab Sun News at that link I've given you. It has an interesting history.) After that, we'll explore the town a little bit. There is a gift shop I like to visit while we're here, and we saw an interesting t-shirt shop as well. Also, I must visit the quilt shop because, of course, I desperately need to shop for some fabric. Tomorrow, we'll be heading for home.

16 comments from clever and witty friends:

crazy quilter said...

Beautiful Pictures, have a nice relaxing day. Enjoy the ride home, and let us know what you found at the Quilt Shop! Very important!

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Your photos are phenom! I can't even look when you show the 'over the edge' shots as I get that vertigo going. Enjoy a simple day and safe travels home.

Anonymous said...

I 'think' the tree is Koelreuteria bipinnata or Golden Rain tree. Brenda UK

Dixie said...

Brenda is right! See http://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/taxa/index.php?taxon=34625&taxauthid=1&cl=2954

Barbara said...

I knew you guys would know. Thanks!

barbara woods said...

i have enjoyed your vacation.

Shirley Elliott said...

I can't begin to tell you how much I have enjoyed your photos this week. They are just wonderful and I loved hearing about your adventures. Thanks so much for sharing. Wishing you a safe and uneventful trip home.

Christine M said...

I've enjoyed your trip too. A visit to the quilt shop will finish off your holiday nicely, Barbara!

Dana Gaffney said...

No explanation there for the secret spire? It's really weird and cool.

WoolenSails said...

What an amazing place, beauty, mystery and lots of wows.


Kathy H said...

I have enjoyed seeing your pictures so much. Looks like you had a great time.

Barb H said...

Love your sense of humor, Barbara. I hope you don't have to "turn around and head back the way I came."

n Carter said...

I always enjoy your blog - your photos, your sense of humor, your interesting information. I hope you have a good trip home, and hurry up. I'm missing my furry blog buddies - Smitty and Gracie.

Kate said...

Magnificent landscapes. I can see why you and Mike have visited so many times. There is definitely a lot to see.

Brown Family said...

I always enjoy your vacations. I would love to see all of this in person.

quiltzyx said...

Wow - fabulous pics Barbara! Lots of wonderful patterns & texture everywhere.
I, too, am glad you didn't have to "to turn around and head back the way I came."!