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Millard County Run July 2021


LabRatKing

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Hey gang!

 

I figured I would throw out an openish invite.

 

After my 2019 Millard county "scouting trip", I am preparing to head back for a slower, less intense exploration.

 

I'll be skipping the pay-to-play sites this time around and focusing more on the lesser known and remote areas. The research has begun, and this time around it is going to be hardcore now that I am familiar with the terrain.

 

I plan to be in the back country the week of July 18th.

 

Base camp will be in the vicinity of Ibex/Fossil mountain at a little out of the way site the tourists can't find.

 

Some of the planned spots to visit include the Tropic Shale, Cowboy Pass site 5 (the one no one goes to as it is backcountry skill level 10), Death Canyon red elrats, North Canyon and Kings Canyon, and a rehash of a few " new to me, not in the books" spots I found personally but did not have enough time to explore thoroughly.

 

Also need to see if I can actually find any graptolites at Skull Rock...I washed out last time as I'm pretty sure I was a hundred meters or so off and running a bit short on sleep thanks to traffic and construction on the 15.

 

Additionally, I'll be hunting down the elusive Rhynchomesostoma from various springs and other bodies of water along the way...and try my lock at some of the interesting mineral specimens around them there parts.

 

I generally car camp my way around the BLM, but start out on Sunday in Delta for food, brews, and the last real shower for a few days at the Rancher (pandemic permitting- otherwise straight to the middle of nowhere).

 

If you are interested in meeting up, joining me at base camp, etc. let me know. Side note, I generally am at places not suitable for the whole family...can get a bit hairy for little ones and canines.

 

So grab your adventure hat and your rock pick and feel free to hang out, I heat up a mean MRE...and it is nice to have someone to talk to other than myself.

 

 

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OY! sounds like a blast! Wish I could make it for the brews and rocks portions... The no-shower part sounds a bit less than optimal :), though not unfamiliar territory

 

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Uncle Siphuncle

That sounds like a killer itinerary!  I too enjoy off the radar, difficult access sites.  In fact, I do my best to find more of them all the time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am still in the very early planning and research phases.

 

There are a few sites I have stumbled across in my research, in the Drum Mountain formations, and Promontory Point. Sure, I know that isn't Millard, but now that the trip will be around two weeks long, I can expand out to the rest of the state. Plus there is In and Out burger on the way there and I need triple triples animal style...

 

I am however having trouble finding info on the public access for this northern peninsula of the Great Salt Lake, that is often confused with Golden Spike site which is farther north and not actually on said peninsula.

 

Was curios if any locals are familiar with the southernmost tip. I see a few ranches on the way in and a gravel pit operation on various sources, but oddly the gravel pit itself appears to be the only spot marked on BLM maps as public space. I have to swing that way to grab a few water samples and check on a few possible spots for my research worms anyway, so I figure it might be worth checking out for some of those "new" under described species of trilobite if it is not all private land.

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On 12/2/2020 at 10:23 AM, LabRatKing said:

 

 

Some of the planned spots to visit include the Tropic Shale, Cowboy Pass site 5 (the one no one goes to as it is backcountry skill level 10), Death Canyon red elrats, North Canyon and Kings Canyon, and a rehash of a few " new to me, not in the books" spots I found personally but did not have enough time to explore thoroughly.

 

 

 

Do you mean the Wheeler Shale? I'm not aware of the Tropic Shale outcropping around Delta. 

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2 hours ago, Allosaurus said:

Do you mean the Wheeler Shale? I'm not aware of the Tropic Shale outcropping around Delta. 

Tropic shale is south west corner of the state.

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2 hours ago, LabRatKing said:

Tropic shale is south west corner of the state.

Ah I misunderstood you. I thought you were saying there was Tropic Shale in Millard County. Yeah, the Tropic crops out further south. There's some really cool stuff to find down there. 

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7 hours ago, Allosaurus said:

Ah I misunderstood you. I thought you were saying there was Tropic Shale in Millard County. Yeah, the Tropic crops out further south. There's some really cool stuff to find down there. 

Yup. I camp out around Millard as that put just about everything else an hour or two away.

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So, my wife and my boss at the Uni have convinced me to turn this excursion into a meet up.

 

It doesn’t cost anything but time.

 

this has become a 12 day excursion .

 

as more show interest, we shall adapt.

 

we have already exceeded BLM requirements but I have acquired permits...

 

so, all in favor of creating the first annual Fossil Run, sound off.

 

let’s get fossil forum out in the field together.

 

all in favor, sound off. I have a grant to help fund it. Yup, citizen science!

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Well, I'm interested

 

but I have two potential limitations facing me. 

 

First is what the state of affairs of the Covid pandemic will be by July. 

 

Second is that I've lost a lot of muscle tone the past couple of years due to illness. 

 

I can build a lot of that back by July (barring injuring myself in the process),

 

but I likely still won't be able to tackle challenging terrain. 

 

So, it will depend on Covid

 

and on how many sites will be accessible for someone "moderately" fit. 

 

So I guess I'd say mark me as very enthusiastic  :raindance:

 

but only a potential participate at this point.  :Confused05:  :fingerscrossed:

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  • 5 weeks later...
LabRatKing

Still many months off however the tentative itinerary is as follows:

 

day 1 July 18 set base camp at Fossil Mountain/Ibex

19th through 23rd - fossil Mountain/Ibex , Cowboy Pass, new sites/exploring at Drum Mountains , Marjum-Death Canyon- skull rock Passes.

24th Delta Utah ( Rancher) for showers, real food and beds), replenish water and get rid of trash, etc, groceries, fuel, and shipping biological samples.

25th travel to Tropic shale sites and then into Nevada or New Mexico

...

Still researching  and planning week two but will update soon with base camp location and fossil and biology sites

 

If you are planning on meeting up or joining in the fun, PM me. BLM limits group sizes. First come first serve. Pets and minors are a bad idea as it is gonna be rugged and remote. If enough folks are interested I will need the time to secure any additional permits/ coordinate reservations at the Rancher, etc.

 

Note: I have a dry ice rig that I will be bringing, as MREs and warm beer gets old fast and my biological samples have to be kept cold...

 

If you would like to come along, please plan accordingly as I’m only a able to carry 35gal of H2O and am unable to provide transportation beyond myself.

 

Due to the pandemic, please seriously consider backcountry insurance as things can get sticky really fast. Also understand Millard county itinerary is deliberately flexible as it will be wildfire season.

 

 I’m over certified in SAR and backcountry triage, so we’re covered there. Mobile devices are useless out there, but I have Ham radio and satellite available for emergencies. Also learn how to use a map and compass by then!

 

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LabRatKing

Thanks to a a record snowstorm here in Nebraska, I have had plenty of time to continue to expand and continue to refine the itinerary. Remember you are welcome to drop in for one site or a few, though at many places I will be focusing more on work rather than rockhounding. (fossils are a side effect of my research thankfully)

 

Please note this itinerary will likely change more over the next few months due to research, weather, pandemic, wild fires, etc. If you have never done it before, this is the year to get you some backcountry trip insurance! Also note that 99% of these sites require an appropriate vehicle. A car ain't gonna cut it. I have done most of these sites in a rental mid-sized SUV without issue. I will not have the room for passengers, sorry.

 

Anyway, UPDATED Itinerary:

 

17-18 July Travel to Delta, Utah from Omaha, Nebraska

18 July Water, Fuel, Groceries and last real shower/Bed for a long while @ The Rancher

19 July Head to Little Drum Mountains and set Camp (exact camp site to TBD)

20 July Morning-Exploring "new" sites around Drum and little Drum Mountains (Cambian critters) Afternoon- Pay to Play Trilobites at Wheeler Amphitheatre

21 July Morning-break camp and travel to Skull Rock Pass (graptolites and eldonia) Afternoon- Travel to Fossil Mountain/Ibex to set base camp (exact campsite TBD as there are multiple choices depending on weather forecast)

22 July Fossil Hunting/Hiking/Rock Climbing, etc. around Fossil Mountain/Ibex 

23 July Morning- Cowboy Pass (triassic ammonites, pelecypods, etc.) Sightseeing and biology stops along the way.

24 July Morning- Break Camp and travel to Big Water, Utah Afternoon Set camp (fuel and water along the way- is a motel in Big Water if needed)

25 July Morning- (if pandemic allows) Dinosaurs and such at Big Water Visitor Center museum Afternoon- Tropic Shale! (ammonites, oysters, mammites, ptychodus teeth, and more)

26 July Morning- Break Camp and Travel to Ely, Nevada Many hotels and all sorts of stuff to do here. Time to resupply, get a shower, eat real food and toss back a few cold ones. I promise I won't wear my kilt around town...too much...

27 July Morning- Travel to Garnet Hill and vicinity (garnets, biology stop, and ammonites) Afternoon: Set Camp (site TBD)

28 July Pioche Formation, Comet Shale (exact sites in process)

29 July Break Camp and Travel to Riley's Canyon, Utah  and set camp. Please note this part of Utah is BEAR and BIG CAT country, so don't show up without a bear box and appropriate gear.

30 July Red Horn Coral! I say again, Red Horn Coral!!! Be advised, this is hiking intensive area and the main site may be a bust due to extensive poaching triggered by a far too detailed post on another site...however, I know of multiple sites in the area.

31 July Break Camp and head back to Nebraska to get ready for Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas in just a few weeks.

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If some of my plans fall through, I may be able to join you.  I will let you know.   

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LabRatKing
On 12/21/2020 at 6:16 PM, grandpa said:

Well, I'm interested

 

but I have two potential limitations facing me. 

 

First is what the state of affairs of the Covid pandemic will be by July. 

 

Second is that I've lost a lot of muscle tone the past couple of years due to illness. 

 

I can build a lot of that back by July (barring injuring myself in the process),

 

but I likely still won't be able to tackle challenging terrain. 

 

So, it will depend on Covid

 

and on how many sites will be accessible for someone "moderately" fit. 

 

So I guess I'd say mark me as very enthusiastic  :raindance:

 

but only a potential participate at this point.  :Confused05:  :fingerscrossed:

No worries. All is pandemic controlled...good news is this is the middle of nowhere and the low population is beneficial.

As for terrain, most of it is easy to moderate. Bits of fossil mountain can be strenuous...but it is a really accessible zone and the diffult areas aren’t worth the effort fossil-wise.

 Much of it is windshield time. I’ve modified plans a bit as I have developed some health issues too and doubt I’ll be in shape to get really hardcore. I did some of these sites on a cyborg ankle with a cane without issue.

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LabRatKing
19 minutes ago, jpc said:

If some of my plans fall through, I may be able to join you.  I will let you know.   

All good. I had to cancel my trip to your neck of the woods as the Uni is sending me to New Hampshire to cert as a Backcountry EMT/First responder so we can drag students out for excursions like these.

 

Not much for fossils in The Granite State sadly.

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Nope.. .the least fossily state in the union.  Have fun.

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Wrangellian

Sounds like the trip to beat all trips.... Wish I could join you but that won't be possible, so I do hope you all post pics of what you find when you get back.

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LabRatKing
12 hours ago, Wrangellian said:

Sounds like the trip to beat all trips.... Wish I could join you but that won't be possible, so I do hope you all post pics of what you find when you get back.

Nah, this is an easy one. The 30 day ten state 3 province trip I was going to do is shelved due to the pandemic !

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Wrangellian

I wasn't worried about the pandemic or the physical challenges (though I probably would need to get in better shape by the sound of it), but the financial side of it is my biggest roadblock. That's why I rely on y'all posting trip reports to get a sense of what you experience and find!

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  • 2 weeks later...
LabRatKing
On 1/31/2021 at 1:57 AM, Wrangellian said:

I wasn't worried about the pandemic or the physical challenges (though I probably would need to get in better shape by the sound of it), but the financial side of it is my biggest roadblock. That's why I rely on y'all posting trip reports to get a sense of what you experience and find!

I know that feeling. One of the reasons I go to the BLM desert is that it is cheap and virtually human free. My biggest expenses are the rental vehicle, gas, and shipping biological specimens back to the labs.

For this trip I was supposed to have a company van, but the pandemic put the hurt on that as no out of state travel is authorized in company vehicles.

 I’m actually in process of buying a Jeep as my low and slow VW sucks off road.

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LabRatKing

Update:

I have secured a 5 day paleontology permit for Escalante-Grand Staircase National Park and an 11 day biology permit. I wrote it up for a max of ten persons, it includes the dispersed camping permit and access.

yep. Vertebrates. Dakota Formation.

 

previous itinerary scrapped as a result.

 

if you are interested, please PM me for planning purposes. I have 8 slots available, and will provide water and sustenance. My grant has limits, but I just bought a grand worth of field gear that makes MREs emergency only.

 

I will still have Millard county and Nevada sites on the plan, but this is likely a one shot deal to do real science.

 

EdIt: please note this will be the real deal. The approved sites are a two day hike from any road or parking lot. In all honesty, it would be awesome to collaborate with real paleontologists- I’m avocational and will also be hunting platyhelminths and other diapause invertebrates.

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  • 1 month later...
LabRatKing

Well gang, as we inch closer to a truly epic fossil hunting excursion, I will state this:

 

Im throwing out the entire itinerary.

 

I have to replan the route, as I have acquired permits for various federal lands and private access to quarries and locations generally not open to the public.

 

 I’m going solo for sure, but for some sites/permits I have to have a headcount...

 

So, if you are even vaguely interested, PM me ASAP.

 

 I accidentally got access to a few private fossil quarries in Millard county, some of which aren’t public. I’m allowed to take a max of ten people, meaning I have 9 slots open on various days.

One is a wheeler shake trilobite quarry that historically has better stuff than the original...and it’s full on keep what you find. Please PM me.

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Wrangellian

Dang!

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  • 3 weeks later...
LabRatKing

UPDATE:

 

Hello gang, I have been persona non grata lately as the weather changed and my field season for research has kicked into high gear. If and when, on the rare occasion, I am home from slogging through wetlands and swamps and vernal pools across the Northern Plains, my precious hours before sleep are devoted to writing grants and doing research for what has come down to two years worth of "expeditions" that must be done before October this year...

 

Anyway, I am still going to Millard County and a bunch of other sites around southern Utah and eastern Nevada.

 

After some feed back from various interested parties, I decided to revamp the entire itinerary.

The first week will be all Millard county and eastern Nevada (the Ely area) this is the easiest portion of the trip, and is pretty friendly for most folks. I should note that that area is locked in an extreme, record-breaking drought, and fire season is looking to be biblical. I have completed my tope rope/SAR recertification and will be leaving town tomorrow to renew my backcountry first responder cert.

Additionally, most of the springs are dry due to the extended drought, so each person joining me needs to be able to bring their own water. I have a 35 US gallon capacity per week. You are going to need a gallon a day just to drink, and likely another gallon for eating and washing up per day...and that is what I call "misery rationing"... Please keep in mind that the entire itinerary is subject to fires, weather, and pandemic-related issues. 

 

So, I'll be heading in to arrive in Delta on the 18th as planned. I'll stay at the Rancher overnight to get a few real meals and my last real shower for a week or so...I suspect it will be "beer thirty" too, as I don't drink alcohol in the back country.

On the morning of the 19th, an early breakfast at the Rancher, top off the gas tanks and jerry cans, and head straight to the Wheeler Amphitheater for some pay to play trilobites and wild horse observations by 0900. After four hours of whetting the rockhounding appetites, The hottest part of the day will be spent on a leisurely and scenic drive through Death Canyon Pass. There are numerous fossils sites to explore, stunning scenery, and more to enjoy as we cross through the house range to Tule Valley. I assure you this is worth the drive!

 

Once into Tule Valley, we will head south past Painter Spring for a bit of rockhounding (there's gold in them thar hills!) and cross the Loneliest Road in America to Get to Fossil Mountain/Ibex and make base camp. The base camp location is variable due to fire weather and flash flood risk- Fossil mountain has excellent camping locations but all are located in the middle of a wash. Ibex is more exposed and may have wildfire risk due to grasses. There is an alternate site I call "White Rock Camp" that has served me well in the past. There is only about 18 hours of usable daylight that time of year, so sometimes it is best to stay at white rock over night as it is well protected from wind, and only a few miles from the fossil sites. (This site saved me during a nasty pop-up thunderstorm in 2019). Once base camp is set I plan on staying there till the 24th. This allows plenty of time to explore Fossil Mountain, Ibex, Crystal Peak, Skull Rock Pass, and Cowboy pass, all of which are within walking distance or a 1 hour drive.

 

On the 24th, We shall break base camp and head up to the old 6-50 once again to travel to points west. I have located a very promising new site in the Ely shale(and others), just a mile east of Garrison...however this is a walk in site only. There is some road access, but it is 4WD/ high clearance only- I'm only going to hit this site if solo, or everyone else is appropriately equipped for an overnight hike and/or what I call a "skill drive". (I should stress here that my new Jeep is a 2 door wrangler and I have outfitted it in such a way there is only room for one emergency passenger.)

If we have a group, we will push through to the "hard work" BLM trilobite site near Ely, Nevada and make base camp near it. This is open desert camping and can be harsh for those not used to being out in the open in the most literal way, however, Ely proper is just a drive away and has hotels and motels that may be available to those fully vaccinated. From that base camp, I have gained access to a total of 11 fossil sites, most of which are on private land. Weather Conditions will determine which ones we spend the next three days at, with a distinct possibility of moving base camp each day. Garnet Hill and the Pinoche shale are on this list too!

 

And that takes care of Week 1! For Week Two, I'm going to head to Great Basin National Park for a day or two of biological sampling and camping for work. Then Back into Utah to hit Big Water (Dakota Formation). From there it is off to Escalante-Grand Staircase for a pretty extreme backcountry excursion. I have procured permits and such for both fossils and biologicals, however, this is a dangerous time of year in one of the most remote locations in CONUS. If you are interested in joining me for this section, PM me as the BLM has strict requirements that must be met. There is only one source of water available that time of year, no roads to speak of, and absolutely ZERO connectivity beyond my satellite emergency box.

To be honest, I'd prefer to do this part solo, as it is not for the inexperienced or improperly geared.

 

After 5 days in that place, I plan to head on out back towards Salt Lake City for a bit of camping in the Wasatch. The red coral is no longer accessible to the public due to <expletive deleted> idiots, so the remainder of the trip is spent camping and working my back to Nebraska.

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This sounds like a great adventure.  I expressed provisional interest a while back, but my schedule is too full already.  We all appreciate your invitation.  (I don't think if I have a two day hike left in me).     

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