San Rafael Spring 2015

Wildflowers and cans of vegetables were once again in bloom at this spring’s semi-annual geocaching event in the San Rafael Swell. I had just sold my camp trailer and had plans to buy a different (older, bigger, and cushier) one but hadn’t yet found the right one. Instead, I planned to sleep in my Jeep, or possibly set up a tent if the weather allowed it. I drove down Thursday after work, and just as I hit the turnoff to camp the Jeep turned over 100,000 miles. There were already a few people at camp, and after saying hello and catching up briefly, they said that there was a package waiting for me before they arrived. It turned out to be some canned vegetables from some Canadian geocachers–a very cool surprise! I quickly set up my camp and walked around enjoying some wildflowers while letting the dogs run.

100,000 miles on the Jeep
100,000 miles on the Jeep

Awesome package left by JRAV
Awesome package left by JRAV

Camp on Thursday evening
Camp on Thursday evening

Castilleja chromosa (Desert Paintbrush)
Castilleja chromosa (Desert Paintbrush)

Boulders on top of the Red Ledges
Boulders on top of the Red Ledges

Primrose
Primrose

Camp
Camp

On Friday morning I went for a short motorcycle ride on Sand Bench to a point overlooking camp. Later in the day I took the dogs in the Jeep and hiked a bit at the Little Wedge. I walked down a closed road to an old mining area. There I found what I believe to be a concrete water tank, a dugout cabin, and a shallow mine shaft.

Friday’s sunrise
Friday's sunrise

DR-Z250 on Sand Bench, rockin’ the pink helmet
DR-Z250 on Sand Bench, rockin' the pink helmet

View of camp from Sand Bench
View of camp from Sand Bench

Fremont’s Mahonia
Fremont's Mahonia

Closed road leading to an old mining area
Closed road leading to an old mining area

Pediocactus despainii (San Rafael Cactus)
Pediocactus despainii (San Rafael Cactus)

Concrete water tank
Concrete water tank

Improvised filter
Improvised filter

Dugout cabin
Dugout cabin

Top of the dugout cabin
Top of the dugout cabin

North Salt Wash
North Salt Wash

Jeep at the trailhead
Jeep at the trailhead

Coal on the ground near a small mine shaft
Coal on the ground near a small mine shaft

Mine shaft
Mine shaft

Before heading back to the Jeep I checked out a tiny little slot canyon tributary to North Salt Wash. I was hoping to get to a viewpoint into North Salt Wash from the end of the slot but a big pothole stopped me. Chris showed up at camp that evening and we spent it around a camp fire with a stiff breeze and occasional sprinkles.

Echinocereus triglochidiatus (Claret Cup Cactus)
Echinocereus triglochidiatus (Claret Cup Cactus)

Small slot canyon
Small slot canyon

Camp fire shenanigans
Camp fire shenanigans

Traci drove the truck down on Saturday and planned to spend the night in the back under the camper shell. That morning our whole group did a trash clean-up event at and around the OHV trailhead at the north end of Coal Wash. I went for another dirt bike ride but I got chased back to camp by a rain storm before I could reach my destination (Sid and Charlie). It rained most of the evening and night, but that didn’t keep a few of us from having another good night at the camp fire.

Outrunning a storm on Sand Bench
Outrunning a storm on Sand Bench

Waiting out some rain in the Jeep
Waiting out some rain in the Jeep

Corn in the camp fire
Corn in the camp fire

There were concerns on Sunday about getting everybody back to the pavement. Mike was the first to leave–pulling doubles!–and though he did briefly get stuck, he made it back to Ferron just fine. Traci and I waited around until nearly everybody had left. Jan and Ken were the only ones without 4WD, and they decided to stay another day to let the road dry out. I offered to return the next day to follow them out just in case they did get stuck, but they were pretty confident they’d make it out safely. I followed Traci back to Ferron. We stopped where a group of motorcyclists in a U-Haul truck had slid off the road and gotten stuck. I took over the driver’s seat in our truck and pulled them out of the mud, then we continued on our way toward home. Jan and Ken were able to drive out the next day, much to my relief. Due to the weather the event was shorter and had lower attendance than usual. I hope this fall we can make up for it.

Torrey and Boulder sunning in the Jeep
Torrey and Boulder sunning in the Jeep

Mike getting after it in the mud
Mike getting after it in the mud

Following Traci home
Following Traci home


Photo Gallery: San Rafael Spring 2015
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