Saturday, August 27th 2011 Utah

When I mentioned I was going to be in the Logan area to San Antonio'a Grand Poobah he told me about a cave that was in the area near Tony Grove. Big Deal. But, I decided to go up there and maybe go for a hike anyway.

According to a historic marker at the lake, Tony Grove's name derives from its popularity with wealthy residents of Logan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Sean suggested I stop by Ricks Spring on my way up Logan Canyon. Glad he did. Pretty cool. This being a weekend there was a steady procession of people stopping by and doing the dip your feet/shutterbug thing.

There was a good interpretive sign there which I neglected to take a picture of. So, I will let WikiPedia fill in the blanks.

Ricks Spring is a karst spring, a natural water outflow from a cave in Logan Canyon within the Wasatch-Cache National Forest in northeast Utah. The spring is not an artesian source, but comes from the Logan River. Ricks Spring is the most well known of several springs in an underground water network of the area.

Thomas E. Ricks settled in the nearby Cache Valley in 1859. Logan Canyon was an area rich with timber and other resources for nearby settlements. Ricks explorations of The Canyon were some of the first documentations of the area. In 1899, at the recommendation of Brigham Young, Ricks and others in the community began constructing a road to Bear Lake Valley. The road to Ricks Spring was the first section to be completed before winter. Within a decade, the area became a popular excursion point for camping and automobiling. The road is now part of the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway, part of US Route 89.

Source: WikiPedia

Fee Station

The first thing I see at Tony Grove. Imagine that!

But, not to worry. I have my "America the Beautiful - the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass or 'Interagency' Annual Pass" at the ready. I paid 80 bucks for it and I love to use it so I can get my money back.
I showed it to the two "guards" who were taking money from people so they could then park. The lady looked at it and had obviously never seen one before. Where do they get these people!

After I explained to her what the annual pass was and what it was for, she waved me on. I parked and started to get my stuff ready for the hike. She came over and asked if I worked for the Forest Service. HUH?? I told her "No." Then guard number 2 came over. Hearing my "No" to her question he said the pass was no good here. I told him he was incorrect and again told them what the "Interagency annual pass" was for. Still, he insisted - it's no good here and I have to pay the parking fee. I could see then and there resistance would be futile and if I persisted I might end of talking to someone in enforcement.

So, I thought: "F*ck-it!" - I had already formulated a plan. So, I headed back down the road about a quarter of a mile and parked at another Day Use Fee Area which was unmanned. I displayed my Annual Pass as required and soon found a trail which took me up to Tony Grove and the lake which had a trail around it.

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This is looking up the meadow towards Tony Grove, elevation 6,000'. Sean told me there would probably still be wild flowers in bloom but I never expected to see such an incredible display.
The tall blues flowers are Western Larkspur.

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A close up of the Western Larkspur (Delphinium hesperium).

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After walking up the meadow a bit the trail cut to the left towards the campground and then up to the lake.

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Pretty nice. The classic alpine lake. What is not shown here are all the people who were there for pic-nics, swimming, boating and fishing.

I started my walk around the lake, glad to leave the throng behind.

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I spotted this fern on one of the trailside boulders. It is Brewer's cliffbrake (Pellaea breweri). We have two species of Pellaea in my neck of the woods and they are generally not to difficult to identify. I am not sure if cliffbrakes can be considered xeric plants, but they can certainly grow in very hot, exposed locations.

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With a carpet of wild flowers in front and fab clouds in the back a monkey could end up with a good shot of the lake.

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The trail was flanked by thick stands of Parry's Goldenrod ( Oreochrysum parryi) and Engelmann's Aster (Eucephalus engelmannii).

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A nice stand of Engelmann's Aster (Eucephalus engelmannii).

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It doesn't get much better than this.

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It was good to see my old friend the Elderberry (Sambucus).

This common plant has an interesting history of use in the State of Utah, as well as throughout a good portion of North America. There are seven native species, two of which are mostly shrubby and found in eastern North America. Five species, more or less arborescent, grow throughout the Rocky Mountains and west to the Pacific Ocean from SW Canada to NW Mexico. The most abundant species found in Utah is Elderberry (Blueberry Elder or Blue Elderberry). The scientific name is Sambucus glauca Nutt. or some authors classify it S. cerulea. Common names seem to vary with local usage.

Source: Utah State University Extension

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These two were the only other folks I saw actually walking around the lake.

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When I introduced myself and told them about EpicRoadTrips.us they gladly agreed to have this shot taken for inclusion in my trip report.

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This is Western False Hellebore (Veratrum californicum). The Hellebores grow in moist, rich soils and there were plenty of nice specimens of this plant growing along the lake and trail.

In the early days of medicine, two kinds of hellebore were recognized: black hellebore, which included various species of Helleborus, and white hellebore, now known as Veratrum album ("false hellebore"), which belongs to a different plant family, the Melanthiaceae. Although the latter plant is highly toxic, containing veratrine and the teratogens cyclopamine and jervine, it is believed to be the "hellebore" used by Hippocrates as a purgative.

Source: WikiPedia

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Fortunately, Tony Grove escaped complete devastation.

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More "fragile beauty".

My walk around the lake complete, I thumbed my nose at the guards and then started back on the connector trail to the van.

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I had seen these stands of Variegated Scouring Rush (Equisetum variegatum) earlier and now the light was good enough to take a snap.

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I have seen many plants of Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja) in many places since arriving to the Logan area.

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja) can be found in many different habitats around the state, from high alpine areas down to the driest deserts. But you would have a very hard time getting them to grow in your garden! They are often partly parasitic on the roots of other plants, such as sagebrush and rabbitbrush. This makes them very difficult (or impossible) to grow in a home garden, which does not have the needed host plants.

Source: RootCellar.us

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I sure love those Trembling Aspens (Populus tremuloides)!

The name references the quaking or trembling of the leaves that occurs in even a slight breeze due to the flattened petioles. The specific epithet, tremuloides, is given for this trembling characteristic. Other species of Populus have petioles flattened partially along their length, while the Quaking Aspen's are flattened from side to side along the entire length of the petiole.

One of several species to be referred to by the common name Aspen, or American, Quaking, Trembling, Mountain or Golden aspen, the name poplar, Trembling Poplar, is used along with Quakies, Quakers, Popple, Álamo Blanco, and Álamo Temblón.

Source: WikiPedia

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A look back down the meadow from whence I came. Clouds, clouds, more fabulous clouds!

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Meet Dane and Justin.

When I got back to the van these two came strollin' out of the woods with these two nice looking mushrooms. I made some smart ass comment about their intended use and we got to talking.

What they had collected were two specimens of Boletus edulis, also know as Penny Bun. They told me the ones they found were two old to eat but they were taking them back to show their parents.

I said my good-byes to Dane and Justin and then got ready to head up to Yurtopia.

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Sean had drawn me a detailed map to the yurt access road and I found it with no problem. And, that turned out to be the easy part. Now comes the trek of the hill to the family getaway, a yurt the family built from the ground up. Pretty ambitious project!

The road to the yurt is only usable by 4x4 or snowmobile so I would have to park in the meadow at the bottom of the hill and hoof it up.

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This hill seemed to get no shorter or less steep no matter what my effort and I huffed and puffed my way to the to the top which is about 7200' elevation.

I made it to the top and found the yurt, and, as instructed, got it opened up in an effort to get it cooled off. I then organized the stuff I had brought up into one area and noticed something was missing. I looked around the yurt. I looked around outside. CRAP! I had left my camera in the van. Great.

So, I headed back down the hill in the late afternoon heat and blazing sun. This time I walked the 4x4 road. It was longer, but at least I would not have to bushwhack through all the sagebrush.

I got to the bottom and retrieved my camera and then walked over to the small steam I had crossed before. I got down to the water and soaked my ball cap and tshirt and then my head and neck. Ahhh... much better.
Hoping for a ride back up with Sean I hung out by the creek for about 15 minutes and then got bored and started back up the road on foot.

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Guess what this is? A badger den - right in the middle of the road. It's hard to see - it's the dark spot in the middle of the road. Sean hopes to get a GameCam so he can get a look at it one of these days.

Badger photo from WikiPedia

Photo from WikiPedia.

I would love to see one of these critters!

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I knew this would happen. As soon as I was nearly to the top I heard the steady rumble of the Land Cruiser and Sean appeared from around the bend.

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Along with son Corbin and his buddy Simon, Sean emerged grinning from the Cruiser.
And, there is the yurt with the incredible view Sean had promised me.

After unloading the Cruiser it was time to cook some vittles!

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Chef Sean

A small can of baked beans, some leftover cubed summer sausage and smoked sausages I had hauled from West Virginian constituted the main course. This along with some hummus and crackers and other goodies made for a hearty outdoor meal. Delish!

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I knew the kids would be good for something!

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While Sean scans the horizon for wildlife the youngin's clean up.

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Now, it is time to hit the sack. Sean and I bunked in the yurt and the kids set up cots on the deck.
Soon the melodious sounds of snoring reverberated up and down the canyon.

Good night!!!