A buddy Bill and I loaded up the JKU for a quick overnighter exploring the Henry Mountains over the weekend... he is pretty familiar with them and I was not, but wanted to see more. We headed out from Grand Junction early in the evening to Hanksville, then hit the dirt on the Sawmill Basin road on the North, but not before stopping at the BLM office and checking out the Wolverton Mill, which was pretty neat to see.
We gained elevation quickly, passed up some campground seeking a high elevation camp for the cool weather. On the way up we took a break for some wild raspberries, which were perfectly ripe. As the sun set we were treated to the redrock canyons to the West of us covered in the setting sun's light. Bill knew a road that turned off the main route and started climbing... and climbing and CLIMBING! The road ended up being a mine access road and had seen a lot of water recently, washing it out and making the remaining rocks very loose. We dropped into 4 low and locked both diffs and let the Jeep work it's way up the bulldozer-cut grade, with thick undergrowth on the sides of the road. Eventually we climbed to over 10k feet, found the mine (and a flat spot!) and setup camp just as the last of the day's light faded away.
The sky was clear and it looked like a great night, so we both decided to leave the tents in their bags and sleep under the stars. Bill setup his hammock at the front of the Jeep and I laid out my cot on the ground behind the Jeep. We ended up without a campfire, staying warm with some tasty beverages...
We watched the stars come out in full force, saw several shooting stars and headed to bed pretty late as it got chilly.
I didn't sleep to great that night, but it wasn't due to the cot! At one point I was woken up by the distant sound of kittens meowing... I thought it was in my head, as we have cats at home. Shortly after that, I heard branches breaking on the mountain above us. That really got in my head, so I made sure my pistol was very near by. I ended up sleeping in until after 7 AM and as we started stirring and prepping breakfast, Bell mentioned that he heard meowing, verifying what I heard. We quickly realized that there was a den of young mountain lions or bobcats not far up the mountain.... and the mom was probably out looking for food, setting the kittens off with their meowing! We had a small fire, packed up camp and made our way back down the mountain to the main road.