Chew the Air Before You Breathe It!!!!
Being old has some advantages. Ole Dangerous and most of his friends grew up in Utah during the 50's and 60's. They remember Pleasant Grove as a sleepy little town where everyone pretty much knew everyone else, and the air was relatively fit to breathe. Even with Geneva Steel booming, hay fever caused most runny noses and itchy eyes from fresh cut hay and fruit orchards in bloom. Geneva Steel is where Dangerous' father worked for 34 years and is long gone and all the orchards have been cut and replaced with houses -- true signs of 21st Century progress. Step outside today and try taking a deep breath. You will experience the real impact of crowding over 300,000 people into a bowl shaped valley -- Inversion Cough.
Well, what can a person or more importantly sheep dog do to get a breath of fresh air? Fortunately, for Dangerous and me, we can drive to Grover or St. George to shake our Inversion Coughs for a while. Short of making the long drive south we take day trips up American Fork Canyon to see blue skies and breathe fresh air.
Dennis (AKA Iowa) and Rosie on the Alpine Loop Road
I suppose I shouldn't share our secrets spots with you, but I suspect either you already know about American Fork Canyon or are probably too far away to actually visit. Dangerous and his family have been associated with the Canyon for generations. His paternal grandfather and father worked at the mines driving a team of horses pulling a Fresno Scraper. His maternal grandfather also worked at the mines and along with his sons herded sheep in the Canyon during the 1920's, 1930's, and 1940's. Dangerous has carried on the tradition working at Timpanogos Cave National Monument during the 60's to help pay his way through Utah State and BYU. Over thirty years ago he and Utah Jack hunted deer in Major Evan's Gulch every October, and camped regularly on Graveyard Flat with their children. These days the Canyon is our winter retreat to escape the pollution that shrouds Utah Valley during the winter. In the fall and summer, we take day rides when we can't get to Grover.
Rosie and Dangerous
Even in winter, American Fork Canyon can be busy. With all the crowding along the Wasatch Front, everyone is looking for a retreat from the crowds and traffic. We are fortunate because neither Dangerous nor I have a job, so we can visit during the week when there are fewer people around. Our standard rule for hiking or riding in the Canyon is Monday through Thursday, but never weekends or holidays. If we follow our simple rule, we pretty much have the place to ourselves.
Dennis Discovers Winter Mountain Bikes
Recreation is the principal activity in the Canyon these days -- mining and stock grazing are long gone. With winter snow there is lots of cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling on the Alpine Loop Road. In the past, we have only seen mountain bikes during the summer and fall, but with more technological innovations the bikers are now pedaling in the snow. Dennis found these two heavily built mountain bikes equipped with incredibly large tires chained to a highway sign during our last visit. We never saw the riders, but I sure wish I could have seen them pedaling though the deep snows.
As spring gets closer, you can frequently find Dangerous at his computer checking with friends. The warm weather schedule is already taking shape. In May, we will take a week long hike in the Grand-Stair-Case National Monument. After that, the riding season starts in earnest in Grover. In July, Dennis, an experienced river runner, has extended Dangerous an invitation to run the River of No Return in Idaho. I suspect I will be sitting out that trip. August usually means a horse packing trip in Wyoming. Dangerous is already pouring over maps and hopes to spend a week riding in the Wind Rivers. But, we always have time to visit with friends, so drop me a note, and if you are ever in Wayne County, you will usually find us sitting on the porch discussing the day's ride. Remember dinner is usually at 6:00 PM, and there is always room at the table.
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