Category Archives: San Rafael Reef

Backcountry® Fest 2019

April 4-7, 2019

My first camping trip of April was with a great bunch of folks from Backcountry Post. Nick planned a big get-together not far from where I normally camp each October near Temple Mountain. I arrived after work on Thursday and found a few people already there who I knew online but had never met in person. After some greetings I snagged a camp spot and then went for a short hike to the top of a little round knoll just south of Flat Top. From there I had excellent views of the Henry Mountains, La Sals, and Thousand Lake Mountain. A few of us spent some time around the camp fire that evening, and I went to bed in my cot under the stars.

Arriving on Thursday evening
Arriving on Thursday evening

What a camp view!
What a camp view!

Thousand Lake Mountain and Hen’s Hole Peak about 45 miles away
Thousand Lake Mountain and Hen's Hole Peak about 45 miles away

Temple Mountain panorama
Temple Mountain panorama

The La Sals above South Temple Wash
The La Sals above South Temple Wash

Steph & Blake, Dennis, and Miya and Bobbi at camp
Steph & Blake, Dennis, and Miya and Bobbi at camp

Gilson Butte
Gilson Butte

Interesting little knoll atop the San Rafael Reef
Interesting little knoll atop the San Rafael Reef

On top of the knoll south of Flat Top
On top of the knoll south of Flat Top

San Rafael Reef and Henry Mountains
San Rafael Reef and Henry Mountains

Neighbors!
Neighbors!

Temple Mountain and our favorite RV neighbors
Temple Mountain and our favorite RV neighbors

Thursday’s camp fire
Thursday's camp fire

On Friday I headed out for a solo hike in a short side canyon off Wild Horse Creek that had always intrigued me. Instead of taking the long way down Wild Horse Creek and then up the side canyon, I took a shortcut up a steep and loose hillside into the head of the canyon. I explored around the head of the canyon quite a bit, but found the going pretty rough down the canyon itself. Not seeing anything of interest, I headed back to camp and took a little nap in the sun.

Hiking up a short side drainage off Wild Horse Creek
Hiking up a short side drainage off Wild Horse Creek

Temple Mountain to the north
Temple Mountain to the north

Panorama from a Wild Horse Creek tributary
Panorama from a Wild Horse Creek tributary

View down the short canyon
View down the short canyon

Lots of rock fall
Lots of rock fall

That afternoon I went for another hike in my favorite arrowhead hunting grounds and found one whole and one broken point within a few feet of where I’ve found several others in past years. That evening Chris the “Banana Man” arrived, as did many other people. We had a good night around the camp fire and did a little bowling.

Broken point
Broken point

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

Dave, Steph, and Nick’s rigs
Dave, Steph, and Nick's rigs

Friday night bowling and Banana Man
Friday night bowling and Banana Man

Bowling
Bowling

The larger group split in two on Saturday morning, with about half doing the loop hike through Ding and Dang canyons, and the rest (including me) hiking to some nice pictographs. We took three vehicles and drove as close as we could until reaching a large washed-out section of road, then walked the road the rest of the way. We hiked the road, then through a wash, and finally up an old mining track into the head of a canyon where we found the rock art and stopped for lunch. There was a huge rock fall along the mining road that wasn’t there the last time I did this hike, and man I wish I could have seen all that rock come down! I was checking out cairns as we hiked in and I found one with a mining claim dating to 1950 inside a tobacco tin.

Hiking around the washout
Hiking around the washout

Colorful badlands and nice clouds
Colorful badlands and nice clouds

Climbing up an old mining road
Climbing up an old mining road

Recent rock fall
Recent rock fall

Chris, Dave, and Miya working through the rock fall
Chris, Dave, and Miya working through the rock fall

Huge fallen boulder
Huge fallen boulder

Drill cores
Drill cores

Tobacco tin with a mining claim inside
Tobacco tin with a mining claim inside

Mining claim from 1950
Mining claim from 1950

Pictographs from afar
Pictographs from afar

Chris gettin’ the shot
Chris gettin' the shot

Amazing pictographs
Amazing pictographs

More amazing pictos
More amazing pictos

We hiked back out and then visited a faded pictograph panel on the way back to camp. That night we had a good ol’ time around the camp fire. A few of us stayed up ridiculously late and ate some strange meat I brought back from the Philippines a couple of months earlier. I slept in the front seat of the Jeep and slept in relatively late the next morning.

Hiking back down the mining track
Hiking back down the mining track

Final trudge back to the vehicles
Final trudge back to the vehicles

More pictographs on the way back to camp
More pictographs on the way back to camp

Our rigs parked in a wash
Our rigs parked in a wash

Broken point
Broken point

Temple Mountain viewed from camp
Temple Mountain viewed from camp

Nick’s Lincoln log camp fire
Nick's Lincoln log camp fire

‘Round the fire on Saturday evening
'Round the fire on Saturday evening

Artemus playing the bag game
Artemus playing the bag game

On Sunday morning Chris and I said our goodbyes and went for a hike near Little Wild Horse Canyon to see some more rock art that I’d stumbled onto years earlier. I had told Randy about it earlier in the weekend, and since Chris and I were getting a late start we ended up following his footprints into the canyon. The rock art was pretty cool and not very well-known, but this time we found some cist granaries and carved sticks that I hadn’t noticed the last time I was there.

Following Randy’s footprints to some rock art
Following Randy's footprints to some rock art

Fremont pictograph in the San Rafael Reef
Fremont pictograph in the San Rafael Reef

Fremont pictographs in the San Rafael Reef
Fremont pictographs in the San Rafael Reef

Cist granary
Cist granary

Sticks with grooves carved into them
Sticks with grooves carved into them

Henry Mountains above Wild Horse Creek
Henry Mountains above Wild Horse Creek

I dropped Chris off at his car and headed home, but saw a familiar 4Runner on the shoulder of Highway 24. I hit the brakes hard and backed down the shoulder of the road, then assisted Chere with changing a flat tire. She was more than capable of handling it herself, but she prides herself on timing her flat changes and trying to beat previous times. Hopefully we put a dent in the previous record! ­čÖé

Giving the assist to Chere with a flat tire on UT-24
Giving the assist to Chere with a flat tire on UT-24


Photo Gallery: Backcountry® Fest 2019