Category Archives: Camping

San Rafael Fall 2016

I arrived on Tuesday evening at the semi-annual San Rafael geocaching event to find that Ken and Jan were already there holding down our camp spot. It was a good thing, ’cause the area was pretty busy for a weekday! Dave and I had convoyed down to the Temple Mountain/Goblin Valley road junction together. We set up camp and had three RVs at camp that night. Sunset that evening and sunrise on Wednesday morning were wonderful, as always.

Tuesday evening at camp
Tuesday evening at camp

Sunrise over the La Sals
Sunrise over the La Sals

Camp and the Henrys
Camp and the Henrys

Dave on the hill above camp
Dave on the hill above camp

On Wednesday morning I took the dogs for a walk to my favorite arrowhead hunting spot. I’d previously found two arrowheads within a short distance of each other, years apart, in the same wash. I was only somewhat surprised when this time I found yet another arrowhead in the same stretch of the drainage. I also stopped by a nearby area where I’d found a very nice metate years earlier and was happy to find it where I’d left it.

Taking the dogs for a walk to look for arrowheads
Taking the dogs for a walk to look for arrowheads

Ooh, a pretty rock!
Ooh, a pretty rock!

"The Metate" is still there!
"The Metate" is still there!

The rim of South Temple Wash, with debris in the center showing how high the last flash flood reached
The rim of South Temple Wash, with debris in the center showing how high the last flash flood reached

That afternoon I took a spin on the dirt bike and then hiked part of upper Wild Horse Canyon. A friend had told me about some possible rock art at a sharp bend in the canyon. I searched and searched but came up empty. I did find an alcove with a recently collapsed ceiling, and I hope the rock art wasn’t in there.

Wild Horse Canyon
Wild Horse Canyon

Big wall in Wild Horse Canyon
Big wall in Wild Horse Canyon

Fallen alcove
Fallen alcove

Natural arch in Wild Horse Canyon
Natural arch in Wild Horse Canyon

After lunch on Thursday I went for another ride, this time to the northeast to revisit some rock art I’d discovered the day after Christmas in 2011. While hiking to the rock art I ran across a spot where somebody had been prospecting for copper. There was a large pit dug in the Navajo Sandstone with greenish rocks full of copper ore all around. I visited the pictographs and then continued up the canyon that I hadn’t had time to check out on my previous trip.

Someone has improved upon the fire ring I built here 4.5 years ago
Someone has improved upon the fire ring I built here 4.5 years ago

Old drilling rig
Old drilling rig

Old mining claim
Old mining claim

Sandstone full of copper ore
Sandstone full of copper ore

Slight overhang above the pictographs
Slight overhang above the pictographs

Weathered pictograph panel
Weathered pictograph panel

Left side of the panel
Left side of the panel

DStretch enhanced pictographs
DStretch enhanced pictographs

Right side of the panel
Right side of the panel

DStretch enhanced pictographs
DStretch enhanced pictographs

The watercourse ended at a dryfall with a large pool at the bottom. Nearby were two sets of cement tanks that, based on previous experiences, I assumed were used in the manufacture of moonshine during prohibition. Similar tanks exist in Moonshine Wash that many people assume were used to make moonshine. Since returning home and doing some research, however, I reasoned that such cement tanks would serve no purpose in the moonshine process. The tanks were likely built by sheepherders for their livestock. On my way out of the area I found a broken metate and mano, and decided that I need to return once again to do a very thorough exploration of the area. Since I was nearly overdue and Dave was keeping an eye on my dogs at camp, I ended up riding my dirt bike on the pavement along Highway 24 back to camp.

Colorful cottonwoods surrounding a pool below a dryfall
Colorful cottonwoods surrounding a pool below a dryfall

Cement tanks
Cement tanks

More cement tanks
More cement tanks

Hole-in-top can
Hole-in-top can

Shallow alcove which contained some modern names and dates in charcoal
Shallow alcove which contained some modern names and dates in charcoal

View from the alcove
View from the alcove

Broken metate and mano
Broken metate and mano

Ready to ride Highway 24
Ready to ride Highway 24

Several more people showed up that night. We stayed up around a nice camp fire and tried a little night photography.

Kenny
Kenny

Around the camp fire at night
Around the camp fire at night

Temple Mountain Road
Temple Mountain Road

On Friday Kenny drove his Jeep and Chris and I hopped in with him to do some exploring to the south. I’d heard about a spot along the old wagon route between Green River and Hanksville where wagon tracks were still visible across the slickrock. We found the spot easily, but the tracks were more visible in the satellite imagery than on the ground. We checked out some nearby sandstone pillars rising from the desert floor and found a few inscriptions. Near Well Draw we visited a corral built between some narrow canyon walls, then climbed through some cracks in the walls to reach the Curtis Formation sandstone domes on top. Finally, we made a stop in Hanksville for fuel and to check out Wolverton’s mill at the BLM office.

Friday’s colorful sunrise
Friday's colorful sunrise

Walking the old wagon route between Green River and Hanksville
Walking the old wagon route between Green River and Hanksville

Small pillar with some inscriptions
Small pillar with some inscriptions

Karl Teeples, August 27, 1933
Karl Teeples, August 27, 1933

Golden Durfey and Albert Weber, April 4, 1929
Golden Durfey and Albert Weber, April 4, 1929

W.E.(?) Ekker, April 4, 1929; Ford Weber, November 26-27; Fay Brink
W.E.(?) Ekker, April 4, 1929; Ford Weber, November 26-27; Fay Brink

Crotch shot!
Crotch shot!

BACON8R
BACON8R

Climbing down
Climbing down

Wolverton’s mill at the Hanksville BLM office
Wolverton's mill at the Hanksville BLM office

I can’t believe they don’t use spellchecker at the Jeep factory
I can't believe they don't use spellchecker at the Jeep factory

Having fun in Hanksville
Having fun in Hanksville

In the evening we did our usual shenanigans–beer and exploding vegetables.

PJ¹
PJ¹

On the way to shenanigans
On the way to shenanigans

Friday’s fire
Friday's fire

For Saturday’s group activity several of us set out to hike to Wild Horse Window. Once we made it to the alcove/arch and spent some time there, I continued farther while everyone else headed back to camp. Two years earlier I had spotted an alcove that I tried accessing from Wild Horse Canyon but was denied by some cliffs. This time I tried a different approach and managed to get there pretty easily by hiking up the San Rafael Reef. I was bummed to arrive and find that the alcove wasn’t accessible, but I did find some faint incised glyphs and a natural arch near the alcove. I tried descending into Wild Horse Canyon but ran into the same cliffs I’d been stopped by a couple of years earlier. It was a long and hot hike back to my waiting motorcycle.

Bradley on the slickrock
Bradley on the slickrock

Jan hiking to Wild Horse Window
Jan hiking to Wild Horse Window

Wild Horse Window
Wild Horse Window

Wild Horse Window
Wild Horse Window

Ken and Jan in Wild Horse Window
Ken and Jan in Wild Horse Window

W. Beebe, probably the only legitimately old inscription at Wild Horse Window
W. Beebe, probably the only legitimately old inscription at Wild Horse Window

Traci seeing me off
Traci seeing me off

My shadow through Wild Horse Window
My shadow through Wild Horse Window

Hiking up the San Rafael Reef
Hiking up the San Rafael Reef

The inaccessible alcove
The inaccessible alcove

Incised glyphs
Incised glyphs

Barely a natural arch
Barely a natural arch

Looking into Wild Horse Canyon
Looking into Wild Horse Canyon

DR-Z parked at the Wild Horse Window TH
DR-Z parked at the Wild Horse Window TH

Our last night at camp was a late one. Chris and I lit up some steel wool for some night photography, and a few of us stayed up visiting until stupid o’clock around the fire.

Full moon rising
Full moon rising

Gayle’s tent illuminated
Gayle's tent illuminated

Me sparking one up
Me sparking one up

Headlamps and a blurry Bradley
Headlamps and a blurry Bradley

Chris lighting up
Chris lighting up

Sunday was a typical last day at camp. Everyone had a longer drive home than did my family and I, so they boogied out early in the morning. Traci took the kids and dogs home around lunch time while I stayed behind to load my motorcycle and button up the trailer, and make sure camp was cleaned up. It’s becoming increasingly depressing to leave these gatherings at the end of the weekend, but I’ve always got the next one to look forward to in six months. :D


Photo Gallery: San Rafael Fall 2016