I am not an adventurous person. It will come as no surprise then that I have not found myself exploring any of Utah’s plentiful outdoor opportunities. So when my buddy David asked me to join him for a weekend of hiking and adventuring in his hometown of Delta, I tried my best to figure out a way to avoid going. I feigned an attitude that I was bummed I couldn’t go. David, however, is a good enough friend to see through my ruse and not to take no for an answer.
I packed an overnight bag and we drove 125 miles southwest of Salt Lake to Millard county. Delta experienced an economic boom in 1986 when the Intermountain Power Project (IPP) was completed. The IPP is a coal-fired power plant, currently scheduled for conversion to natural gas by 2025 at a cost of $500 million. It provides power to Los Angeles as well as income for the majority of Delta’s 3,500 residents.
These facts and many more, were relayed to me as David and I drove through that autumn night. After a good night’s sleep at David’s parents, we set out to grab what David called “a typical small-town breakfast” at the Rancher’s Cafe. Then our adventures began. We first journeyed to an area which boasts an impressive collection of extinct volcanoes and hiked through the lava boulders and eroding lava rock debris which ranged in size from huge crystals to pebbles small enough to line an aquarium.
Our hike eventually took us to the West Desert Sinkhole. The sinkhole was discovered in 1927 by Joseph Nielson when he chanced upon it while traveling back to his camp at night. This sinkhole is said to have been carved by an ancient underground river. Approaching the fenced-off area made me realize the beauty of geology. By this point in our day, we had experienced nearly every kind of weather that Utah has to offer.
When we had first set out it was blue skies, followed by rain, snow, and then a pleasant, light overcast that gave the valley a blue glow. Our next stop was U-Dig Fossil Pit, which encompasses 40-acres dedicated to amateurs digging for trilobite fossils. For $28 a person can spend a half-day digging fossils, and we were able to find several. Our last stop impressed me the most. Following old Highway 50/6, we found ourselves at Marjum Pass.
In 1929, a World War I veteran named Bob Stinson found himself stranded after his car broke down. Stinson decided to stay in the area and built a stone wall along the opening of a shallow cave. He survived off trapping animals and from the small garden he grew. It is also said that he made a fantastic home brew of sugar, yeast and water.
He secured a job with the government, keeping the highway clear of rocks and debris. A new highway came along in 1951 and Stinson was forced to relocate to Delta where he died at the age of 80. His ashes were scattered around his home at Marjum pass.
As the sun set, we sat in what remains of the old hermit’s home. We reluctantly decided it was time to head back to Delta. My perception of my home state had changed with this trip. I realized I live in a vast wonderland of excitement and adventure, and that it is all outside my front door, waiting for me to explore it.
For information on the amazing things Millard County has to offer, visit http//:millardcounty.com.