February 28-March 3, 2019
Our annual southern Utah trip was super laid-back this year. Normally we spend much of our time outdoors driving and hiking and finding geocaches, but this time we hung out in town a lot and made only a few short excursions. Traci and I drove down on Thursday and left the kids and dogs at home, and we stayed at Paul and Pam’s house once again. That evening Paul, Eric, and I drove to Sand Mountain to check out a new road being constructed through Warner Valley, then returned to Washington for dinner and drinks after Chris and Dollie arrived.
On Friday a few of us drove to Harrisburg Bench above Quail Creek Reservoir to find a couple of geocaches and see a concrete navigation arrow. While we were there, I noticed an arrow chiseled in a boulder and followed it to find a survey marker in a boulder.
Saturday morning there was a geocaching event in St. George where several dozen people from throughout the state showed up for breakfast. I had plans later that day to hike to some petroglyphs in the Virgin River Gorge and we picked up a few people at the event to accompany us. We parked along the side of I-15 and hiked upstream along the river. It had been raining most of the morning but stopped after we began the hike–sweet! I didn’t know exactly where the rock art was so we just wandered around checking out the most obvious spots and found several panels, all of which were excellent. Almost immediately after starting our hike we could all smell the strong odor of smoke but couldn’t tell where it was coming from. The smell dissipated quickly and I’d forgotten about it until the return hike when we all smelled it in the same area as before. I decided to find the source and followed the scent to a large boulder with a rodent’s nest below it. The nest had apparently spontaneously combusted and was smoldering. I’d heard of that happening and it was fascinating to see an actual occurrence.
Sunday’s activity was supposed to be easy but it turned out being a little more difficult than any of us had expected. First we drove through Warner Valley and Paul took us to some petroglyphs on Warner Ridge. For the second time in as many months I saw boulders with lightning marks on them, which I’d never seen before this year. Next we drove near the rim of Fort Pearce Wash and planned to hike down to the “Red Man” pictograph which I’d missed several years earlier while hiking down in the wash. From looking at the satellite imagery it appeared easy to descend a short distance from the road to the pictograph, but in reality it took a lot of searching for an easy way down. Even after finding a way below the top cliff band we had a steep and rocky traverse to the small overhang with the rock art. I hadn’t brought any water since I was expecting an easy hike, and I was hot and sweaty by the time we arrived at the pictograph. After visiting the rock art we found a much easier way back up through the cliffs. We returned to town and Traci and I packed up our Jeep and headed home, sad to leave our friends but grateful for the friendships we’ve made in the southern end of the state.
Photo Gallery: Southern Utah ’19