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San Juan Mountains: Day 3 - Yankee Boy Basin to Moab

Travelogue

San Juan Mountains: Day 3 - Yankee Boy Basin to Moab

Joe Rossbach

Awaking in the basin well before dawn, I stumbled from my tent and shuffled over to the back of the truck for my morning coffee. Sipping the black gold under the stars I watched as the sky unfolded in hues of blue and purple above a canopy of Spruce. I knew I needed to get moving soon to catch the display of light over the jagged peaks and verdant fields of flowers, so I walked down the dusty dirt 4x4 track to an area of lush flowers and waterfalls. 

False Helebore, Columbine's and Queen Annes Lace at sunrise, Yankee Boy Basin, Colorado

As the sun rose it painted the clouds in hues of pink and vermillion. It was a perfectly still morning making the photography an unusually easy process. I wandered from one clump of flowers to the next lining up compositions. After I had my fill of flowers and while the light was still warm and soft across the sky, I waded into the small stream and spent some time working in the cold fast flowing water.

After a couple hours of shooting it was back to camp for more coffee and breakfast before breaking camp and the drive out of the mountains and into Ouray for supplies and internet service. 

After sitting for an hour or more studying the forecast and radar maps, I decided that the best clouds and light would not be in the San Juan's this afternoon but in fact a few hours east in the desert canyonlands of Moab, Utah. After a three hour drive we arrived in Moab to stormy skies and temperatures rocketing into the low 100's. With many hours before sunset I was not very excited to sit on a shadeless canyon rim and burn all afternoon, so we decided to have a little fun before heading up to our camp. I know of a place just on the outskirts of town where there is a perennial stream and watering holes for swimming. So off we went for a few hours of soaking and bathing in the cool water along the red rocks of Moab. 

As we soaked and swam, the sky grew ever more threatening and it was indeed time to leave the water and begin our drive over the burning pavement up to Malboro Point, a remote and not very often visited overlook between Island in the Sky and Dead Horse Point. I won't be giving away directions to this place, but if you want to find it you can pretty easily nowadays if you know where to look. At any rate, I  absolutely love this place! The road, if you want to call it a road, is a rough 4x4 unmarked track across the desert crossing loose sand and exposed rock. A rough drive for sure, but when you arrive absolutely worth the effort involved.

After establishing camp, we marveled at the canyon vistas and took in the scenery for a bit. Then the storm intensified and winds of 50+ blew inform the west. Our tents, barely held down in the shallow dirt, began to blow away! So we did our best to save them and mine in fact blew at least 30 yards towards the abyss before catching on a juniper saving it from a dive over the 1000+ foot cliffs to the bottom of the Colorado. I took no chances after retrieving the tent and staked it down and added rocks to the interior of the tent for reinforced stability against the super heated desert winds.

Once camp was in order, I made my way to the rim as the sky was beginning to explode in color and drama. It was simply amazing to have this view all to ourselves...not another soul in sight. All the while knowing that just a mile to the east and west the overlooks were surely jam packed with summer tourists!

That night I enjoyed a desert sky filled with billions of shining stars and some whiskey for enhanced contemplation.

Last Light from Malboro Point, Utah

Sneffels Creek, Yankee Boy Basin, Colorado

 

Utah Juniper and Canyonlandsfrom Malboro Point, San Juan County, Utah