On the last weekend in April I got a bunch of geocachers together for a camping trip near Red Knoll in the San Rafael Swell. As usual I drove down solo on Tuesday after work and claimed our camp spot. I set up camp and then went for a short hike with the dogs, then retired to the trailer for dinner and some reading before bed.
I took Torrey and Boulder for a hike on Wednesday morning, circumnavigating Red Knoll. I expected to find some inscriptions, but was surprised to find a couple of writings by Warren Allred from 1935 and 1939–he was well outside his usual turf in the central Swell. Torrey is getting old enough (she turned 12 in January-ish) that the hike left her exhausted, so we just chilled at camp for the rest of the afternoon until Traci arrived. We drove to the Wedge Overlook for sunset, the first of three such trips during this outing.
On Thursday morning I went to Fuller Bottom to check out the San Rafael River flow (it was way too high to drive across), then did a short hike to a corral that I’d spotted in Google Earth. There wasn’t much to see there.
Next I drove to Little Holes to look for some rock art I’d read about in a guide book. I didn’t find the rock art but I did see many grinding slicks in a nearby wash.
After lunch I hiked from camp south along the Red Ledges. I didn’t really see anything of interest after a couple of miles of hiking, but while I was gone five more people arrived at camp. The wind kicked up that evening and we endured quite a dust storm which settled down after the sun went down.
Paul, Ken, and I went for a bit of a drive on Friday. Since we couldn’t ford the San Rafael River even in Ken’s Jeep, we drove the long way around through Castle Dale and Ferron to the Red Ledges north of Horn Silver Gulch. We hiked down through a little canyon that cuts through the Red Ledges and found some Fremont pictographs that a friend had told me about years ago. Bright sunshine made the rock art difficult to photograph, so we sat down and took a break until clouds obscured the sun and I finally got some decent photos.
Next we drove to Molen Seep Wash to try finding some rock art. I had been there exactly 10 years and one day earlier but a storm was rolling in and I didn’t dare stick around to search for the rock art then. This time the weather was still threatening but we persevered and located some pretty nice pictographs!
We returned to camp and found it pretty full with about 23 people there. We again drove to the Wedge Overlook for sunset and it turned out to be a beauty!
Saturday was the day for our easy group trip, and we drove along the old railroad grade at the base of Cedar Mountain finding geocaches, rock art, and inscriptions. I attempted to drive over what appeared to be a large dried mud puddle but ended up sinking to the axles in mud. Luckily Kenny was there to winch me out, and one other truck had to be extracted from another similar mud hole.
The rest of the group headed back to camp after our traverse of the railroad grade, but Chris and I returned to Little Holes to try locating the rock art I’d missed a couple of days earlier. Not only did we find the petroglyphs, but we also ran into a few people who were there following the same guide book that I was!
On Saturday evening we again drove to the Wedge Overlook where there was some nice light on the cliffs and clouds at sunset. We returned to camp and threw a couple of one-gallon cans of vegetables in the fire for entertainment.
I don’t normally do much on Sundays during these outings but since we were camped relatively close to home, Chris, Dollie, and I decided to hike to the Horse Heaven natural arch. I brought Boulder along but left Torrey at camp with Traci since she couldn’t handle a longer hike. The canyon we hiked up to get to the arch had many potholes filled with water, so Boulder had plenty to drink and went for a couple of swims. We got to the natural arch and rested there, then headed cross-country to the old Smith Cabin.
The last I’d heard the cabin was still standing but was leaning quite badly. We arrived to find it with only one wall fully standing. There are still a lot of artifacts hanging around, including a stove and bed. We left the cabin and hiked down a different canyon back to the Jeep, and this one was just as full of water as the first.
Back at camp almost everybody had left. Traci and the kids had our trailer mostly ready to go home, so they took off while I hitched the trailer to the truck and headed home myself. I got to Highway 10 and got out to check on my dirt bike which was strapped to a rack on the back of the trailer, only to find it gone! I did a big U-turn in the middle of the highway and hauled ass back down the gravel road, dreading what I might find. After four miles I came across two young men standing next to a Jeep Cherokee, and my dirt bike was propped on its kickstand in front of the Jeep. They’d found the bike in the middle of the road and picked it up, then didn’t quite know what to do. I thanked them for moving it off the road and one of them helped me load it back onto the trailer. I strapped the bike down good and tight this time (and after the trip bought new tie-downs to prevent this from ever happening again). The only damage to the motorcycle was a broken throttle tube and bent handlebars, which cost me about $40 to fix. At least it was a cheap lesson to learn!
Photo Gallery: San Rafael Spring 2019