After breakfast I loaded the dogs into the truck and we headed to the starting point of the hike. Getting to the search area was easier than I expected and I wandered around looking in only the most likely spots, planning on hitting the less likely areas on the way back only if I struck out. I checked under many small overhangs without any luck before eventually finding a large overhang with a small ledge under it. From below the ledge didn’t look large enough to hold much of anything, but I found a Bud Light can at the bottom of the small cliff below the ledge and that actually seemed promising to me. Nobody would be hiking and drinking beer in this area unless they had a particular destination in mind, right?
The cliff below the ledge, maybe 20 feet tall, proved to be difficult to get Boulder and Delta up. I could have climbed it easily in a couple of spots, but only one would work for the dogs and it involved me lifting each one up onto a small ledge and then climbing up behind them, then repeating a couple more times until we were all on top. If the storage cists really were on the ledge I didn’t want the dogs on it so I secured their leash to a tree off to the side and went over alone. Sure enough this was the place! There were many storage cists in various shapes and states of ruin. I took a lot of time to examine them all and check the place out for other artifacts that I could photograph, then I returned to the dogs and we all had a snack and a drink before reversing the process of getting back down through the ledges.
I headed back toward the truck but took a different route and found several inscriptions along the way. The most interesting was a Warren Allred inscription that was carved into a poor surface that had eroded quite a bit. The date was partially illegible but it appeared to maybe say 1950-something? If so that would be the most recent inscription of his I’ve seen, the previous record being 1949 (and the oldest would be 1890–he sure was out cowboying for a long time!). It was after noon and getting fairly warm out for the remainder of the hike. I kept offering the dogs water and sometimes they’d drink some, other times they wouldn’t. By the time we got back to the truck I was completely out of water, but I hadn’t realized it until then because apparently I’d given the last drop to the dogs at our last stop maybe 10 minutes earlier.
I got back to the trailer and had a bit of lunch and took a hard-earned nap, then cleaned up the best I could without taking a full-on shower. I felt great despite being a little sore from the 5.5 miles of hiking earlier. The sunset this evening wasn’t as good as any of the previous nights, but the smoky/hazy skies still made for some nice views of distant buttes.
Photo Gallery: Secret Mesa