San Rafael Swell, Fall 2019

October 22-27, 2019

For the 31st semi-annual San Rafael Swell geocaching event, the group camped at our usual fall spot near the junction of the Temple Mountain and Goblin Valley roads. I drove down on Tuesday afternoon to secure our camp spot. You may notice from the photos that I got a new dog, another Brittany Spaniel named Loa. Having three dogs with me made things difficult and I didn’t do much hiking for the first couple of days I was there. We went for short hikes–sometimes with just two dogs, and only one time with all three–that was enough! On late Wednesday afternoon my wife, her mother, and my niece arrived but it was too late for me to get away for a decent hike without the dogs. Later in the evening my friend Chris arrived, and we had some good plans for the next couple of days.

Lonely Tuesday evening at camp
Lonely Tuesday evening at camp

Walking two of the dogs
Walking two of the dogs

Boulder, Loa, and Torrey in the trailer
Boulder, Loa, and Torrey in the trailer

Camp and Henry Mountains at dusk
Camp and Henry Mountains at dusk

Wednesday’s sunrise over the La Sals
Wednesday's sunrise over the La Sals

Bright clouds over the La Sals
Bright clouds over the La Sals

My crew arriving at camp
My crew arriving at camp

Wednesday’s sunset over the Henrys
Wednesday's sunset over the Henrys

On Thursday and Friday I went on a couple of adventurous trips–one to Buck and Pasture canyons, and another to the West Fork of White Roost Canyon–each worthy of its own trip report, but I’ll post a couple of photos here as well.

Crossing the Dirty Devil
Crossing the Dirty Devil

Fighting men
Fighting men

Faint petroglyphs and very faint pictographs
Faint petroglyphs and very faint pictographs

Spiky head guy
Spiky head guy

Lunch spot under the dryfall
Lunch spot under the dryfall

Georgia dropping into a dark slot
Georgia dropping into a dark slot

An unexpected rappel
An unexpected rappel

Starting up the exit
Starting up the exit

Last of the Navajo Sandstone
Last of the Navajo Sandstone

Saturday was reserved for an easier trip which most people could participate in. First we visited some pictographs in the San Rafael Reef that only required a short hike. Next we hiked up Straight Wash into Eardley Canyon as far as the dryfall with a large pool below it. In Straight Wash I saw several inscriptions that I hadn’t seen on earlier trips. Of note were undated writings by Dafton Thomson and Warren Beebe, both relatively obscure names in the cattle industry of this part of Utah, though I’ve read a fair amount about each of them. We also visited some nearby petroglyphs, though the lighting was terribly poor and even my best photos were obscured by some tree shadows.

Pictographs in the San Rafael Reef
Pictographs in the San Rafael Reef

Pictographs in the San Rafael Reef
Pictographs in the San Rafael Reef

Almost twins
Almost twins

H. Twitchell, 1/20/67(?)
H. Twitchell, 1/20/67(?)

Dafton Thomson and Neil McDougall
Dafton Thomson and Neil McDougall

Undated Warren Beebe inscription
Undated Warren Beebe inscription

R.D. Adams, February 17, 1926
R.D. Adams, February 17, 1926

BS, MIN, February 19, 19??
BS, MIN, February 19, 19??

Dappled bighorn sheep
Dappled bighorn sheep

Only six of us continued all the way for the longer hike into Eardley Canyon. I missed the easier route toward the mouth of Eardley Canyon that I’d taken 11 years earlier, so we all had to scramble a bit to get there. We reached the pool, found a geocache there, and spent some time enjoying the beauty of the area before returning to our vehicle at the trailhead. Jim took some time to interview Chris and Brent during the hike if you’d like to see more of the scenery and learn about each of them.

The group hiking ahead of me
The group hiking ahead of me

Spring water in Straight Wash
Spring water in Straight Wash

Eardley Canyon cutting through the San Rafael Reef
Eardley Canyon cutting through the San Rafael Reef

The mouth of Eardley Canyon
The mouth of Eardley Canyon

Below the pool in Eardley
Below the pool in Eardley

Brent alongside the pool in Eardley
Brent alongside the pool in Eardley

Reflection
Reflection

On Sunday after breakfast everybody scattered to their own corners of the state. About 25 people had attended, with many others scared off by bad weather in the forecast the never materialized. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, I had to cancel the spring 2020 geocaching trip to the Swell, so it’ll have been a year since I’ve seen many of these people if the October 2020 trip actually happens.


Photo Gallery: San Rafael Swell, Fall 2019

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