Sunday, 11 December 2016

Into the desert

Wednesday September 14th and at last we were truly on the road.  It was getting late as we arrived at our destination for the day - the site of East Rush Valley Pony Express station about ten miles away. Not much is known about this station, though it was probably a dugout.   Here you can see Lucy's rig cosied up to the Pony Express Monument - it was going to be luxury compared with much of my previous travels! 
The camper sleeps two people comfortably, and has heating, stove and fridge. Lucy had equipped the trailer with a large water tank, and it was carrying hay and feed supplies as well as extra baggage.   It also has a lockable small tack storage area. (For the uninitiated, tack is horse equipment such as saddle, bridle etc)  The corral on the right (containing Lady) attaches to the side of the trailer. The corral on the left (containing Mo) is free standing and the panels are joined by Velcro strips. When not in use the corral panels are hung neatly on either side of the trailer.
The next morning Thursday September 15th it was a short ride to Faust, which was the site of Faust Pony Express Station, sometimes also known as Rush Valley or Meadow Creek station.  It was named after Henry Jacob "Doc" Faust, a German immigrant with some medical knowledge who ran the station.  The valley is watered by a small creek, now called Faust Creek but previously Meadow Creek...
.... and Faust homesteaded 160 acres of meadowland, raising horses for the army and the Pony Express.
In front of the Faust Pony Express station monument...
...although the actual site lies about three-quarters of a mile further south on private land.  It was a log building with a pitch roof, and may have served as a home station.

Although I had seen Mo being ridden, and tried him out briefly before buying, I had used him exclusively for packing up to Salt Lake City.  His behaviour had been impeccable throughout. Now I hoped to alternate riding the two horses, so after a short lunch break down the road, I saddled up Mo and clambered on.  To my utter surprise he took off like a bucking bronco and I flew through the air, luckily landing on the grass verge undamaged apart from bruised pride. At my advanced age I was not keen to tempt fate by trying again, so this was a slight setback, particularly as my cousin Rowena was due to be riding him in a month's time . 
I had already arranged to leave Mo with Mike at the end of the ride, so I phoned him to discuss the next move. We decided that he would take Mo back to Eagle Mountain in the next couple of days to ride on a bit, but would come out the next day to ride him alongside me. So once again it back to my faithful Lady while Mo took it easy.

The ride ahead now seemed fraught with danger.  First a sign cautioning us to watch out for a local welcome of the warm but inhospitable kind .... wildfires are a common risk in these dry areas. Shortly followed by this notice.... 
warning of the remote desert conditions we will shortly be encountering.
In Pony Express days of course there was the added danger of attack by Indians.
Arriving at the site of Lookout Pass Pony Express station, and our camp for the night.
A meagre spring provides a trickle of water which was held back by a small dam, now just a rushy area located uphill from the present monument, but I startled a couple of deer looking for a drink when I wandered up there.
 It seems that Division Superintendent Howard Egan built a log cabin here in April 1860 to serve as a Pony Express station.  After being abandoned in July at the time of the Paiute war, Burton recorded that it was in ruins by September. It was later rebuilt and was run by Horace Rockwell (brother of the renowned Orrin Porter Rockwell) and his wife Libby for over twenty years until 1890.  Childless Libby poured all her affection onto her pet dogs, and there is a little cemetery on the other side of the road where they were laid to rest. The story goes that she once even called out the local doctor from Toole, forty miles away, to treat a sick dog on the pretence that one of the ranch hands was ill. Not unsurprisingly Dr Dodds was far from pleased, though mollified when she presented him with a $20 gold piece!  
Bad moon rising..

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