In my quest to camp at least one night each month this year I did a quick overnighter near Beehive Butte this past weekend. I had originally planned a couple of nights in the San Rafael Desert the previous weekend when the high temperatures were suppsosed to be in the 50s, but I injured my foot and wouldn’t have been able to hike the 13+ miles on that trip. Instead I delayed my camping plans for a week and ended up doing this one-nighter with a couple of short hikes in much colder weather. I left home after work on Friday afternoon with my dog Loa on what would be her first car camping trip. I passed up Beehive Butte in a rush to view the sunset from an overlook above Taylor Canyon above the Zeus and Moses formation. I lost the race, however, and got to the overlook after the sun had sunk below the horizon. Loa really didn’t enjoy the fast and bumpy ride to the overlook, so I slowly made my way back to Beehive Butte and camped for the night. I’d hoped to have a camp fire but it was too cold and breezy outside, so I spent the evening inside the Jeep reading a book.
The forecast called for a low of 17 degrees that night (compared to single digits nearly everywhere else nearby) and it got down to 19 inside the Jeep. I was warm and comfy inside my two sleeping bags, though I had to cover Loa back up several times in the night after she wriggled out of her bag. My alarm went off at 7AM and we got up, ate breakfast, and started a circumnavigation around Beehive Butte. For a lone butte sticking up out of the relatively flat desert, I found what I’d expected–many inscriptions from sheepherders and cowboys. They dated from 1895 through the 1960s. Although things started off quite cold, by the time I rounded the south side of the butte I had to shed my jacket and gloves. It never got above freezing but I was quite warm while hiking up and down the slopes below the cliffs surrounding the butte. There was a single petroglyph in one spot on the south side of the butte, as well as several metates, one whole and several broken ones.
While hiking along the relatively barren north side of Beehive Butte back toward the Jeep I spotted some alcoves in the distance. My original plan was to hike around Whitbeck Rock next, but those alcoves changed my mind. My GPS showed a road that led to the alcoves, though as I tried driving there I encountered a “No Vehicles” sign. The road obviously hadn’t been driven in many decades, so I leashed Loa back up and we hiked toward the alcoves. I reached one alcove and found a juniper trunk leaned up against a cliff below it. I tied Loa’s leash up to a tree and attempted to climb up the juniper but it was too sketchy to do alone. The other alcove could only be reached from the first one, so I was essentially shut down there. I hiked a little bit more along the cliffs and found a single inscription possibly from 1899, but there was surprisingly little else to see there. It was only 11AM, but I’d intended for this to be a short trip so I headed toward home. I did at least stop by Whitbeck Rock where I’d earlier planned on hiking, but it would take several more hours to explore that area so it will have to wait for another day.
Photo Gallery: Beehive Butte