Roger's Utah 1999 Gallery 2

The Topaz Mountain Trip

updated 18 Mar 99

Here we are at Topaz Mountain. This is a truly "off the beaten path" place. It's twenty minutes down a dirt road that connects to US 6, which is often billed as the 2nd lonliest highway in the US. (the loneliest is US 6 in Nevada) Page is to the left, Donna in the middle and yours truly on the right. Topaz Mountain Party
Oh, and Marty's here too, behind Marty is the way in.

Utah and Nevada are basin-and-plain country. Hundreds of millions of years ago this part of North America started getting stretched apart in an east-west direction. In essence, California headed into the Pacific faster than Colorado wanted to follow. The crust responded by breaking into huge blocks, and those huge blocks started tipping over on their sides. The tops of those huge blocks make the mountains. The valleys between the huge blocks spent a lot of time filled with lake water and are now filled with flat lake bed sediment. The result is flat plains punctuated by mountains that rise up without foothills to block seeing them. Very photogenic.

Marty's here, too
Topaz Mountain is not a block fault mountain, it's a volcano, but an unusual one. Most volcanos spout rock from the basalt family, a few, and Topaz Mountain is one, spout rock from the granite family.

Topaz crystals are nestled in rhyolite, a granite-family rock with the consistency of concrete. If you were doing a Hollywood movie about working on a chain gang, you'd be right at home here. That's the bad news. The good news, as we discovered with some practice, is that the topaz is always located in little holes in the rhyolite. Instead of chipping away under a mercilous sun, you get a screwdriver and poke in the little holes looking for something shiney... under a mercilous sun. Actually, this day was pretty chilly, so the sun was beating down on us mercifully, and as soon as it went behind the mountain, it got really cold.

Roger banging away at rhyolite
This is desert land, but not completely barren. Rain runs off the rocks of the mountain and collects in the shallow soil of the stream beds. The bedrock under the stream beds keeps the water table high. In the stream beds the juniper trees, such as those behind Page and Marty, can reach the moisture and thrive. Marty and Page taking a break in the shade of junipers
This is not the world's largest topaz, but it was the biggest I found. You can see it sparkling along the center edge of the rock I'm holding.

Compared to a lot of fishing expeditions I've been on, this was a very productive day.

My prize topaz for the day

Cross Country Skiing at Brighton

February 1999

Off we go... into the wild, white yonder. Brighton, Utah nestles in the Albion Basin high above Salt Lake City. The west end of the basin is a picturesque alpine lake surrounded by deep pine groves. Winter cold freezes the lake and winter snows transform the area into a world-class nordic (cross country) ski area. Heather, my middle daughter, is leading the way. Nordic skiing is quite different from downhill skiing. The skies are narrower and the bindings lighter and simpler. Only the toe is attached to the ski, so the heel can rise.

This means that Nordic style skiing is quite different from downhill skiing, and, in fact, there are several styles. Heather is demonstrating the "Nordic lookback" style.

Demonstrating the lookback style
Adrienne, my youngest daughter, is demonstating another style that is very popular with beginners in both downhill and Nordic styles. It is called the "kross-de-skies" style. Demonstrating the krossdskies style
Here we are, all in the groove, cruising around the lake in classic Nordic crosscountry style. This style harmonizes the skies and the body nicely. A person can go on for miles and miles using this style.

Roger, my youngest and oldest son, is in the middle.

Cross country style skiing at Albion Basin
This is a style we developed on our own while we were there. We call it Nordic Choochoo. No one goes anywhere doing Nordic Choochoo, but you have a great time getting there, and it makes a great picture. Doing the Nordic Choochoo

The end