I had hiked the Slash Trail twice, the latest time being with my two sons about three years ago. “Slash Trail” is actually a name given to it by Alan, just to help us differentiate between this and the Cove Trail. The name derivations should be obvious. 😉 I hiked the Slash Trail a third time with Alan in early April, but this time we continued on into Little Park Wash and downstream to an old stone cabin. The cabin is shown on the USGS topo map of the area and was probably constructed by the same people who made the cabin near Trail Canyon. We got an early start and arrived at the trailhead before the sun rose, witnessing a colorful sunrise during the drive south on Highway 6.
We ascended the trail through the Book Cliffs while the cloudy weather kept the sun at bay. A few wildflowers were present, but not nearly as many as I expected with the heavy snowfall we experienced during the winter. A short distance up the trail I discovered a sledgehammer that I’d missed on my previous trips. It appeared that a chisel was buried near the hammer, but I pulled it out of the dirt and was astounded to find a pick. Alan found the nearly-disintegrated pick handle nearby. After some research at home, I found that the hammer was made by Yerkes & Plumb sometime between 1869 and 1888!
Continuing up the trail, we crossed a layer of clay and then a bouldery section before reaching the “notch,” where a fault has fortuitously broken the cliff bands and left a route up the Book Cliffs. Alan and I rested at the top of the trail before heading into a short drainage that leads into Little Park Wash.
Near Little Park Wash we found signs of a camp that included tobacco tins and broken glass. There was also a large cairn that marked the route’s departure from the watercourse toward the trail down the Book Cliffs. Downstream in the wash we discovered a rudimentary corral and old cans, bottles, and even a stovepipe but no stove. Farther down the wash there were several cairns marking old mining claims.
Just beyond a major confluence where a large wash joined Little Park Wash was the cabin. A lot of old junk was left near the cabin that hinted at the lifestyle of those who used the trail. A boot heel, tobacco tins, broken jars, and rusty cans littered the area. The cabin’s broken door laid nearby, and the roof was partially caved in. A broken shovel sat near the cabin door along with a short piece of rail that appeared to have been used as an anvil. I was fascinated by all of it, imagining the isolation the stockmen must have felt and the self-reliance they employed.
It had been overcast all day during the hike to the cabin. On the way out, however, the sun made its presence known. I shed my long sleeves and took more rest breaks than on our way in. We briefly explored a side canyon that looked promising for a cowboy or even Indian camp, but all I found was a large coal seam. Our return route followed much the same route as the hike in, though we made some interesting finds that we’d missed on the way in, such as a bottle fragment from Dr. Kilmer’s Swamp Root. We clocked in a little over nine miles round-trip. I enjoyed the long hike in rugged country that’s rarely seen.