For the second Friday in a row, I continued my explorations of Horseshoe Canyon by hiking in from Spur Fork. I was hoping to find some rock art that had been hinted at in something I’d read, but I didn’t know the exact location. Alan joined me on this trip, and since it was such a long drive to get to the start of the hike, we drove in on Thursday evening and camped nearby.
We awoke before sunrise, quickly and efficiently making coffee and a light breakfast while packing our gear back into the Jeep. A short drive down a dirt road led us to the beginning of our hike. We dropped into the canyon using a fairly popular canyoneering route and headed toward Spur Fork. Along the way I saw horseshoe tracks on the sandstone canyon bottom, probably from the same horse whose tracks I’d seen many miles away during the previous week’s hike. At the confluence of Spur Fork and Horseshoe Canyon, there was an interesting inscription from May 26, 1919. The last part was illegible, but the inscription appeared to be a message, saying, “GONE TO …”
Turning up Horseshoe Canyon, we looked carefully for rock art, inscriptions, or anything else that may catch our interest. A large alcove at the top of a steep talus slope drew our attention and we climbed up into it. It was huge inside! There were a few inscriptions and signs of prehistoric occupation, but surprisingly not much else.
Farther up the canyon were some wild burros with interesting coloring and markings. Near a series of dryfalls with large pools of water below them, we checked out two side canyons. In one of the side canyons, Alan and I each found a broken point. At the mouth of the other canyon were some inscriptions dating to 1939. I ventured up the canyon alone and found a lot of clear, running water, a rarity in this area. I was suddenly certain that this is where I’d find the rock art I was looking for, but it wasn’t there.
I hiked another half a mile up the main canyon while Alan took a break but I didn’t see anything of interest. We felt that we’d searched the area thoroughly and were pretty disappointed to have not found any rock art. The hike back out was a long slog, especially the last mile or so climbing back up to the Jeep. When we returned to the Jeep, however, we were treated to a very nice sunset. We’d spent nearly every daylight minute hiking, covering just over 14 miles. I’m thinking that for any future trips into these canyons, I’ll have to try backpacking so I can cover even more ground. There are still things in there waiting to be found.
Photo Gallery: Spur Fork to Horseshoe Canyon