It’s becoming increasingly difficult for Traci and I to leave southern Utah after attending the annual geocaching event there. Three days wasn’t nearly enough time to get our fill this year, even though we packed a lot of fun into those three days. Eric and Sherie once again offered us a room at their house for the weekend and this time we brought our kids and dog, and Chris stayed there as well. My family and I left home as soon as I got off work on Thursday and met Chris in Cedar City during the drive south. We spent what little was left of the evening simply hanging out at Eric and Sherie’s house. On Friday morning we all met up with friends and fellow geocachers Kenny and Paul. We convoyed our Jeeps (two Wranglers and two Grand Cherokees) up onto Sand Mountain to do some rappelling. A few weeks earlier Eric had placed a geocache in the middle of a cliff in the same canyon we’d checked out together when I was camping in the area with my sons. Nobody had tried finding the cache in those three weeks, so the rest of us went there hoping to get the coveted first-to-find. We used Kenny’s Jeep as an anchor, and Chris, being the most experienced, rappelled first after waiting for Sherie and Traci to drive two of the Jeeps to the bottom of the rappel so Sherie could belay Chris. Paul went second, then me, then Kenny, and finally Eric. (Incidental side note: as I was typing the last sentence, another geocacher called me asking for help on finding this cache.) With the help of the belayer we all signed the log in the geocache on our way down, except for Kenny who was trying to focus on the rappel. He didn’t have a lot of experience before this weekend but now he’s got a few more rappels under his belt.
We piled into the two Jeeps at the bottom of the cliffs then drove down the canyon a bit. Several of us waited in the canyon while a few got into the most capable Jeep (Eric’s) and drove up a steep sand dune to retrieve the other two Jeeps, the rope, and any remaining gear. When they returned we all stopped for lunch at the place where I camped last month. After lunch we ended up on the opposite side of the canyon from the previous rappel, and we found another place to rappel and place yet another geocache. This rappel consisted of two vertical drops down a dryfall with a nice platform in the middle where Chris hid his geocache. All the guys rappelled at this location as well, then we split up for a couple of hours to get cleaned up. We met back at Eric and Sherie’s place for burgers and cocktails that evening.
Saturday was the big geocaching event at Golden Corral in St. George. It’s usually the biggest geo event in the state, although the best part about it is the after party. People often gather in the parking lot before breakfast and make plans for the day. In the past two years we’ve gone to the Grand Canyon at Toroweap and the Tri-State Corner where UT, AZ, and NV all meet up. This year, our small group had already made plans to hike around the interesting rock formations south of Yant Flat. I’d seen this area several times online in the past month, purporting to be a secret location, but it was easy for me to ascertain the location. We drove there after breakfast with the same group as the day before, except with a few extra wives this time. 😉 The first part of the hike was along a now-closed dirt road. It was a pretty easy mile and a half along the road before reaching the slickrock portion of the hike. The scenery exploded into a colorful, textural wonderland after that point. We stopped for lunch after reaching the slickrock, then those able to do so explored the sandstone formations. I knew Nick would be there and we met up and chatted for a while, but somehow I missed meeting up with Lisa and Yvonne who were exploring a different part of the area. I found a couple of arrowheads and a piece of pottery while hiking the area. We didn’t have time to explore the entire place, but I got a good feel for it. We returned to civilization and cleaned up again before meeting up at Kenny’s house for dinner. My kids ended up staying there Friday and Saturday nights because of their allergies to Eric and Sherie’s cat. I’m tremendously grateful to Kenny and his wife for letting those brats stay there. 😀
Our plan for Sunday was to meet up for some more rappelling. However, Kenny got called out on a search-and-rescue mission to a place where he himself had been rescued a few years ago. He placed a geocache where he’d gotten his Jeep stuck then, and now he found himself in the place of the rescuer three years later. Paul and his wife couldn’t make it on Sunday. 🙁 Anyhow, our smaller group did some rappelling at Cougar Cliffs. On our way there, Sherie took pity on a homeless man riding his bicycle up the hill west of the Quail Creek Reservoir turnoff, and we lost a bit of time towing him up the hill. “Lost” may be a poor term for me to use, ’cause I’m sure the guy and his two dogs really appreciated it. The kids and noobs did some easy rappels after we got to Cougar Cliffs, the we moved along to a 130′ rappel that gave pause even to those of us with more experience. It was my longest continuous rappel to date, and somehow I ended up going down the rope first. It was exhilarating! Kenny even made it there to do the long rappel after his rescue mission. Since we’d gotten a late start that day, after the rappelling it was time for my family to start the long drive home. It was difficult to leave. To make matters worse, we ran rain and snow on the drive home, doing the space warp over Salina Canyon when the snow was at its worst and I was driving with only the fog lights on.
I’ve been to southern Utah twice already this year and I’m left craving more. Traci has even been talking about moving there (which is pretty amazing considering how attached she is to her family here!). In another couple of months it may be too hot for me to venture down south, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be back at least a couple more times this year.