Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Today I headed out into the field for my second day of my new contract with the US Forest Service, and I went to Bountiful Peak Campground, a place closer to my home than most, but also very, very far away. Once the road turned to dirt, I traveled only 36 miles roundtrip, but it took me two full hours. It wasn't the worst road I've ever been on - far from it, actually - but it was indeed the scariest. For long traverses across the top of the Wasatch Front, the road hugged the mountainside thousands of feet above the valley floor. In some places, I bet the road was only 12 feet across and it sure made for some sketchy corners and the occasional passing of another vehicle. It was the first time in my two years and 22,000+ miles of driving for the Forest Service that I felt compelled to turn down my music so I could concentrate. And that's saying a lot.
According to Google Maps, this is the road as it climbs almost 3,000 feet in elevation and snakes over 18 miles of mountain. Below, that's what it looked like on the ground. The tiny white ribbon is the road, and the peaks above are pushing 9,500 feet, while just off the edge of the road is 3,500 feet of nothing but air. It was a little unnerving for a time, but I made it out safe and sound. I even saw a ptarmigan. And words can't describe how happy I am to be back on the road to finish up my work.