This autumn’s semi-annual San Rafael geocaching/camping event was October 22-27 at the base of Cedar Mountain on Buckhorn Flat. My friend, Dave, made it there a few hours before me on Tuesday and had already set up his camp by the time I arrived. I set up my camp and unloaded a big load of firewood from the truck before eating dinner with Dave. After sunset we hopped in the truck and made the 35-minute drive back to Price so I could trade the truck for the Jeep so we’d have a capable vehicle to drive around for a couple of days before the rest of the group arrived. The following morning I had to change a tire on the trailer that had gone flat sometime after setting up camp. With that chore out of the way, Dave and I drove to Fuller Bottom to check out the condition of the San Rafael River crossing just in case we decided to take the group that way later in the weekend. The old crossing was badly eroded and washed out, but somebody had cut a new, steep entrance/exit on the south side of the river. I gave it a try in the Jeep and made it to the opposite river bank easily, though a vehicle with a long wheelbase might have a problem with the steep approach/exit angle of the bank.
After playing in the river we drove to the Wedge Overlook. I’ve been there enough times that I’ve become desensitized to the view, though I still snapped a few photos. Later that afternoon I went for a drive alone and tried finding a boulder with some petroglyphs that I’d tried locating years earlier. It turns out that I was just a few hundred feet short of stumbling upon it during my last attempt. The boulder is interesting in that it’s four-sided and there are petroglyphs on all sides. The south side holds the best of the rock art.
Most of the group was planning on arriving on Thursday. Dave and I were rolling out of camp that morning on our way to the top of Little Cedar Mountain when we ran into Michael on his way in. We talked for a minute then continued on our respective ways. Upon reaching the top of Little Cedar Mountain I could see our camp 1.3 miles away, and not only was Michael all set up, but Terry had his trailer parked and Dean had driven his car over from Huntington. That afternoon/evening, we gained a motorhome and a couple more parties in tents, and Traci showed up with the truck. Before dinner I went for a short drive east along the base of Cedar Mountain and managed to find a small boulder with some rock art right alongside the road that I’d never noticed before.
Friday was my favorite day. Chris and I had reserved that day for some adventure, though we didn’t specifically make plans until that morning. We decided to descend into the Goblin’s Lair (also known as the Chamber of the Basilisk) in Goblin Valley State Park. Accompanying us was Chris’ girlfriend, Rachael. We tried using the waypoints on Climb-Utah.com but when I entered them into my GPS they were all off by quite a bit according to the topo map. Instead, we used the geocache coordinates to navigate to the start of the rappel into the cavern. I though we’d have some difficulties by not having intermediate waypoints between the parking lot and the rappel, but we found our way through the goblins and ledges pretty easily before finding the webbing marking the start of the descent. The approach was relatively short and the rappel went quickly for the three of us. Once inside the Lair we stayed for a while and enjoyed the interesting natural formation. We exited the cave and began the hike from the backside of Goblin Valley around to the parking lot. An airplane buzzed us once, then circled around and made another pass overhead as its occupants got a tour over the valley.
Saturday and Sunday were very laid back. On Saturday I accompanied a group through Buckhorn Wash where we did some short hikes and found some geocaches. Many of the cottonwood trees in the canyon were a brilliant yellow. For our potluck dinner that evening Traci and I made a big pot of clam chowder and I was surprised when it was completely gone at the end of the meal. There was some great food provided–I especially enjoyed Terry’s smoked chicken from his 50-gallon drum smoker. On Sunday Chris and I bummed around through Buckhorn Wash and around the Wedge looking for a place to rappel and place a geocache but we couldn’t find just the perfect spot. Camp was nearly empty when we returned, so we ate lunch then headed home. Though it was a great six days for me, it was a little difficult finding nearby areas that I hadn’t already visited multiple times. I think for next spring perhaps we’ll branch out a little farther from the Swell and go somewhere new.