I wanted to do some hiking today, but the weather played a mean trick and dumped a couple more inches of snow on the ground last night–so much for 30% chance of snow. Over the past week I’d noticed that most south-facing slopes were free of snow, and I was hoping to be able to hike down into North Salt Wash today to check out a canyon between Saddle Horse Canyon and McCarty Canyon. When I woke up this morning and saw that it was snowing, I decided to go anyway and hope for the best. However, by the time I got to Buckhorn Well (where I’d planned on leaving the truck and riding the ATV the rest of the way) it was obvious that the Swell had gotten more snow than Price did and there was no way I was going to be able to hike the steep slickrock trail into North Salt Wash.
So, I didn’t get to hike much, but I had a fun ATV ride in the area anyway. I rode south to Fuller Bottom and crossed the San Rafael River, which looked to be frozen solid. I was worried that there would be some flowing water with ledges of ice on either side, but when I arrived and saw a perfectly flat surface, I was wary that the ice would be too thin to cross. I left my ATV on the north bank of the river and walked out onto the ice with a shovel, prodding the ice in front of me to test its thickness. It was solid all the way to the south bank so, after doing some donuts on the ice, I continued along my way south. I stopped at a barricade at the Wilderness Study Area boundary and hiked a short distance to get a glimpse of a pit house that Scott photographed a few months ago. My next stop was at the Sid’s Mountain trailhead to eat lunch and enjoy the view down into North Salt Wash. This is where I would have began my hike if it wasn’t for the snow. After some food and hot chocolate, I followed the road as it curved to the west and came to a “Y” intersection, where I followed the north fork. That road paralleled the Red Ledges straight back to Fuller Bottom, and it was a fast (and cold!) but boring stretch of road.
Since I wasn’t in any hurry, I let Torrey run for as much of the ride as she wanted to. The ride was about 25 miles, and she ran alongside for about ten of those. I was in third gear doing about 13-15 MPH whenever she was off the ATV. I was surprised that she was able to run that much, since she preferred to run just off to the side of the road in the deep snow. Since we got our first big snow last month, there had only been a few full-sized vehicles on any of the roads I rode on today, but no ATVs had been on them, so I didn’t have any good ruts to ride in and was pushing snow for most of the ride. There was only one place, near the Sid’s Mountain trailhead, where I ran into any seriously deep snow. I managed to power through one big drift just before I lost all my momentum, though I had a snow shovel with me just in case I needed to dig my machine out.
After returning to the truck and securing the ATV, I drove to the Wedge Overlook hoping to see the Little Grand Canyon covered in snow. Instead, all I saw was fog. The entire canyon was fogged in. I took some photos anyway, enjoyed another cup of hot chocolate while I was there, then headed home. I passed Scott and stopped to chat briefly. He was on his way to the Wedge Overlook, and it looks like he and I took several very similar photos from there (mine vs. his; mine vs. his).
I really enjoyed getting out in the snow, and it really wasn’t too cold. This summer I found a great deal on some good winter boots, which are something I’ve never had before. I also got some spendy (but worth it!) winter gloves for Christmas, and combined with the many layers of clothing I was wearing, I was pretty comfortable all day.
GPS Tracklog and Waypoints (Google Earth .KML format)