Oil Rigs, Petroglyphs, and Stuck in Mud

In Nine-Mile Canyon 

Onward, with a plan to visit Nine-Mile Canyon. I left Vernal behind (thankfully) and went through Gusher and Mernal, and well, I think you get the picture. There were oil pumps everywhere I looked, along with burley looking men spitting on the ground and stomping out cigarettes, and oil hauling trucks that almost blew Mitzi off the road as they drove by.

To reach Nine-Mile Canyon I had to drive down Wells Draw, and all the side roads led to oil pumping stations. However, I found a place to camp for the night just before entering Gate Canyon, and I think there were a few other potential spots. I feel lucky that I found a spot that was not sandy, because it rained all night on and off. I wasn’t far from a wash, and I worried a bit, and figured that if a gully washer came I’d skedaddle no matter what time it was in the middle of the night. It had been raining heavily in Salt Lake for the past week (or so I’d heard) and floods were on my mind. Getting stuck in mud was too.

When I drove out in the morning, it turned out that driving through Gate Canyon into Nine-Mile was the more worrisome place. Most of the roads had been paved, but the decent through here was pure mud. There were signs saying that trucks (oil trucks) were to put chains on, and some had. The road was a torn up mess, and even in 4wd Mitzi skizzed around. Nine-Mile Canyon has been paved because of all the oil traffic, which makes it easy for tourists in nice cars to visit the canyon now (I wish it was still dirt, somehow paved roads detract from the experience of seeking out Native American history). I was having a very relaxed time enjoying the sunshine, and the hundreds of bluebirds flitting around, until I saw a sign for a trailhead and without thinking pulled into the parking lot for it. That’s when I suddenly found I wasn’t going anywhere. When I opened my car door I saw that Mitzi had sunk into the clay-like mud, and the tread on her tires was totally caked with it and had turned into four smooth balls of slickness. The more I tried to rock free, the more I sank in and slid to the really wet area. So I resigned myself to the fact that I was stuck, and would have to seek help.


I grabbed some breakfast, and went to wait at the road. I’d seen a couple of vehicles, mainly big oil hauling trucks, so I guessed I wouldn’t have to wait too long. Sure enough a huge rig came along and saw me waving. The trucker was kind enough to help me. He pushed while I drove, and in no time I was free.

I truly believe that it’s better to spend money on experiences instead of things and this experience is proof of the pudding. Without it I wouldn’t have had the joy of scraping about 2-buckets worth of mud from around my wheel arches in camp that night (before it turned to concrete), or driving through every puddle I could find at high speed yelling “Whooo hoooo!” (in an attempt to wash some off), which inevitably distributed a little more muddy water onto my windshield, doors and so on, but it did help. I also would not have experienced how good it felt for a little woman like I to bring a big rig to a halt in the road, and actually learn that there are still some men out there willing to help a damsel in distress. I thought they were extinct. (Yes, I have stories, naturally).

As for the petroglyphs, well I was following one of those tourist brochures and I succeeded in finding a few of the glyphs but not as many as I would have liked. I truly wish I’d used the Kelsey book instead (my go to for adventure), but that’s okay, I can always return another time and search again.

That night I camped just outside of Nine-Mile on the south end.

Losing track of the days…

Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature

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