Category Archives: Family

The Wedge and Little Holes Canyon

My wife, Traci, and I skipped out of town on Thursday afternoon and headed for the Wedge for our first desert camping trip of the summer/fall season. We left the kids at home, and they’d drive down the following day after school. We’d invited some friends, and one of them, Terry, had beaten us to the campsite. We settled in for a lazy and relaxing evening with a campfire and a few beers.

Arriving at the Wedge
Arriving at the Wedge

Camp on Thursday evening
Camp on Thursday evening

On Friday morning I set out to try a possible route into lower Good Water Canyon. I had already explored all of the side canyons leading into Good Water above its large dryfall, but I was hoping to discover a route into the lower canyon that would eventually lead to the San Rafael River. The hiking was easy and pleasant, but my progress was halted by a series of unclimbable drops well short of the main canyon. I did find some meager signs of prehistoric habitation in the small drainage I’d hiked down. A couple of shallow overhangs held pieces of chert (some worked into rough tools), a hammerstone, and a possible grinding stone fragment.

Entering a side canyon of Good Water Canyon
Entering a side canyon of Good Water Canyon

Good Water side canyon
Good Water side canyon

Signs of prehistoric habitation
Signs of prehistoric habitation

Worked chert
Worked chert

Stupid cairn
Stupid cairn

Impassable slot section
Impassable slot section

Looking into Good Water Canyon
Looking into Good Water Canyon

Slickrock walking
Slickrock walking

Worked chert
Worked chert

One final tricky climb out
One final tricky climb out

I returned to camp for lunch and then went for a quick mountain bike ride on the Good Water Rim trail that passes right through camp. One thing I’ve observed on this and other mountain bike trails is the prevalence of rock alignments and trail “art.” I’d put up a hefty wager that the same people who rearrange rocks along mountain bike trails would get their panties in a twist if I rearranged some sand particles in a dry wash with my dirt bike tire!

Dogs at camp on Friday afternoon
Dogs at camp on Friday afternoon

Mountain bike on the Good Water Rim trail
Mountain bike on the Good Water Rim trail

Stupid hippie rock alignments
Stupid hippie rock alignments

Dirt road riding
Dirt road riding

Our kids arrived at camp that evening, as did Terry’s wife and son and our friend Chris. Chris and I stayed up until early the next morning.

A wonderful beer
A wonderful beer

Saturday morning found Chris, my two sons, and I driving toward Little Holes Canyon. We dropped Michael’s Subaru off at the mouth of the canyon and then drove the truck to the head. I’d done no research on the canyon and didn’t even know whether it was passable without technical gear, but we dropped in optimistically thinking that we could do it. The upper canyon was a ton of fun! There was a lot of scrambling, some climbing and bushwhacking, and the entire place was incredibly scenic. We bypassed one dryfall with a tough climb both out of and back into the canyon. Farther down we encountered a drop into a stagnant pool with no apparent bypass.

Hiking into Little Holes Canyon
Hiking into Little Holes Canyon

Tiny red-spotted toad
Tiny red-spotted toad

Drill holes in the canyon wall
Drill holes in the canyon wall

Under a boulder
Under a boulder

Ducking between the cliff and some tamarisk
Ducking between the cliff and some tamarisk

Scrambling around a boulder-choked canyon
Scrambling around a boulder-choked canyon

A sketchy climb around a slot
A sketchy climb around a slot

Climbing back down into the canyon
Climbing back down into the canyon

Are you ready for some more bushwhacking?
Are you ready for some more bushwhacking?

Overhanging walls
Overhanging walls

A puddle to jump over
A puddle to jump over

Scrambling down a boulder
Scrambling down a boulder

Stagnant pool below an impassable drop
Stagnant pool below an impassable drop

We retreated back up the canyon looking for a route to the rim so we could scout farther down-canyon looking for another way in below the pool. Bradley got stuck on a ledge while attempting to climb out in one spot, and I had to climb up and help him down. Chris found his way out of the south rim but said he didn’t think the kids could make the climb. The three of us continued up-canyon, attempting in several places to climb out, but we didn’t find a way to the rim until reaching the first dryfall that we’d had to climb around. The kids and I were on the north rim and Chris on the south. We walked downstream along the rim but the canyon only got deeper and the walls more vertical. We scrapped our plan to descend the canyon and instead drove around to try ascending from the bottom up.

Reversing the route
Reversing the route

Little Holes Canyon below our exit point
Little Holes Canyon below our exit point

Little Holes Canyon from the rim
Little Holes Canyon from the rim

Old bridge supports at Furniture Draw
Old bridge supports at Furniture Draw

Michael and Bradley were eager to get back to camp and their various electronic devices (phones and Nintendos), so they ditched Chris and me. We hiked into the mouth of Little Holes Canyon and found a pair of 100-year-old inscriptions there. The hiking was mostly easy, with some climbing and scrambling past a few boulder-choked sections. I didn’t find the scenery nearly as appealing here in the lower canyon. The heat was already getting to us, but when we reached yet another rockfall to climb over, we called it quits. A chair and a cold beverage at camp sounded more fun than hiking any farther. While hiking back to the truck I almost stepped on a tiny, beautifully-crafted arrowhead.

Einar Johnson, Ma(r)ch 30th, 1917
Einar Johnson, Ma(r)ch 30th, 1917

P. Monnet, March 30, 1917
P. Monnet, March 30, 1917

Grassy canyon bottom
Grassy canyon bottom

Lower Little Holes Canyon
Lower Little Holes Canyon

Boulder-choked canyon
Boulder-choked canyon

Teeny, tiny arrowhead
Teeny, tiny arrowhead

Fremont petroglyph in Buckhorn Wash
Fremont petroglyph in Buckhorn Wash

We returned to camp and found that my sister and her family had come to visit for the day. We all sat outside at camp visiting until a brief rain shower chased everyone inside. A rainbow emerged after the rain subsided, and we re-emerged from the trailers and visited some more into the evening.

Faint rainbow visible from camp
Faint rainbow visible from camp

On Sunday everyone packed up camp and made for home. Traci went with the kids in Michael’s car, leaving the dogs and I with the truck and trailer. I saw Terry and Karen one last time at the RV dump in Price before they continued their long drive home. ‘Til next month, friends.


Photo Gallery: The Wedge and Little Holes Canyon
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