San Rafael Spring '10

Pullin' the trailerWe started out our camping trip to the San Rafael Swell in typical fashion–with a flat tire on the trailer. I was giving the camp trailer one last look to make sure everything was ready for the road when I heard air escaping from one of the tires. There was a large screw in the right-front, so I quickly drove to a nearby parking lot so I had a flat surface on which to work, and removed the tire. Traci took it in the car to get repaired, then returned about 20 minutes later, and I replaced it on the trailer. We made a quick stop at home, then hit the road. The drive to our camp spot seemed to go quickly. I had been worried about pulling the trailer up Spotted Wolf Canyon, which is extremely steep, but it wasn’t bad–I only slowed to just over 40 MPH. I think going westbound over Salina Canyon last year slowed us down even more than Spotted Wolf.
Around the campfireWe pulled in to our campsite a little after 3:00 PM and spent about an hour getting camp set up. Once we got settled in I took a short ride on my ATV, and a few minutes after I got back to camp the Hunts pulled in. A couple from Ogden, Terry and Karen, showed up a while later pulling their toy hauler. We all spent some time around the campfire, and the last of us turned in to bed a little after midnight. It had been a relatively low-key and relaxing evening.
On the Wickiup loop trailOn Friday morning we awoke and found that Chris had gotten there during the night. The weather had gone from calm and mostly sunny the previous day, to cloudy, colder, and even a bit snowy in the morning. A few of us went for a quick ATV ride after breakfast to try finding a trail that would get us close to some old uranium mines, but we weren’t able to find one. We went back to camp and ate lunch, then set out for another ride that would take us on a loop around the Wickiup. The weather had improved since the morning, and it was perfect for a ride. About halfway through the loop, we stopped to scramble up Round Knoll and placed a geocache on top. When we got back to camp there were more people there, and even more trickled into camp throughout the evening. It was a typical night around the campfire–loud, rowdy, and late.
Arch at Locomotive PointMost everybody slept in late on Saturday morning. When we finally got up, we had breakfast and formulated a plan to go on a 4-wheeler ride to Locomotive Point. We set out with ten people on five ATVs–my family, the Hunt family, and Mandee. The road near Locomotive Point has several short spur roads that lead to rock art or campsites at the base of the cliffs, and we just followed all of the spur roads and stopped at each site to hike around and take photos. We spent several hours in the area, then headed back to camp for dinner and a quiet evening around the fire.
Black Dragon WashSunday was much the same as Saturday. We got kind of a late start, and went for a ride to Black Dragon Wash. We had the same group as on Saturday, plus Terry and Karen on their dirt bikes. It was quite a bit farther than our ride the previous day, and the roads were a lot rougher. It was also a lot dustier. We encountered a lot of other ATVs and motorcycles on the trail. Our first stop was a geocache that I’d been wanting to find for a long time. It was only a quarter of a mile from a rest area along I-70, but there was a deep canyon in the way, and I had never felt like crossing it on foot the several times I’d been at the rest area. We pressed on toward the rock art in Black Dragon Wash, and although it was only three more miles along the trail as the crow flies, it seemed to take forever. When we got to the rock art panel, I immediately began climbing a big pile of boulders and rocks against the north canyon wall. I’d seen Scott’s photos of a cave in that area, although at the time I wasn’t certain that’s where the cave was. Luckily my recollection was correct, because at the top of the slope there was a cave entrance. The cave was very wide and sloped down steeply, and the floor was very sandy. It stretched down about 200 feet or so to the bottom, but it was pretty nondescript inside–sandy floor, sandstone ceiling, and not much else. At least it was cool inside, which was welcome after the scramble to the entrance.
Black Dragon CaveAfter checking out the cave, I returned to the group waiting below and ate a quick lunch, then we started heading back to camp. The ride back was about the same as the ride there, but we took a slightly different route. We saw some wild donkeys near Rattlesnake Reservoir, and an interesting stone and earthen dam on Jerry’s Flat that had been breached. It was late afternoon/early evening when we got to camp, and everybody immediately began packing up and getting ready to go home. We said our goodbyes to the Hunts, then ended our campout by heading separate ways on I-70.


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4 thoughts on “San Rafael Spring '10

  1. Yeah, I noticed that. It was a 15-second exposure, and I think one of the dogs stopped long enough to partially expose itself there. Looks pretty cool. 🙂

  2. Hey we notice you had this posted on u tube..Behind the Reef Trail, May 12, 2007 ….how was the ride can a person go it alone ….

  3. Behind the Reef is awesome! It was a great ride, and if conditions haven’t changed since I was last there a few years ago, then it should be fine for somebody to ride alone. That was my first ATV ride, on a borrowed machine, and with my wife as a passenger sitting behind me. There was a spot or two where she got off and walked the trail because it was rough or steep, but it was all doable in 2WD when I rode it.

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