WHAT A RIDE!
As usual lately I got a small window of time to hike with a large # of goals. Found out that the alcove was open at Keet Seel and this has been on my list since I went in 2000 or 2001 and came back to realize when I developed my ex's film that only one picture had been taken of the dwelling from the campsite.
I knew I needed to either go to the orientation the day before or the morning of the hike. Forecast was for 96 degrees and I wanted nothing of getting a 9:00 am start for that day to do this as a day hike.
I also wanted to use that day efficiently since I was already up there.
HATCHED A PLAN!
Talked Keet Seel rangers into letting me do the orientation at 8:00am the day before and then drive up to Grand Gulch/Cedar Mesa to check out a couple of other places on my list.
1:30AM Up on my way out the door for Navajo National Monument. 3 hrs. of sleep less than Ideal, but excited for the next couple of days.
7:30 Arrive at Navajo NM early hike out to Betatakin overlook (sandal trail?)for a view while waiting for office to open. Permit in hand and out the door by 8:45 for Grand Gulch Cedar Mesa.
MOONHOUSE! AMAZING! Had wanted to visit these since the Grand Gulch trip last year and Alex told me about this dwelling as we were driving past the access road on the way home from the backpacking trip. It wasn't until this year that I came across Rob and Randall's photosets which I somehow missed when they went. They did not disappoint.
Got my day permit at the Kiosk after running rob del desierto off the road.
(Ok he was nice enough to pull over as I passed him on the way to the TH. I didn't know it was him at the time, but thought as I drove by, the truck looked an awful lot like his HAZ ride.)
It was probably 11:30 by this time and hot.
I explored up and down from the main complex of dwellings and found quite a bit of evidence of habitation. First time using the new camera and could not tell if I was getting the dwellings with them shaded by the overhang, but they turned out better than I thought. Also, found a pictograph of a red figure up canyon, but it came out blurry due to user error.
Of course the less interesting ones came out clear. I really found this place amazing and spent way more time here and had to adjust my schedule accordingly. I didn't have time to hit one of my destinations and explored the canyon farther up snowflat rd. I will be back to do a section of this canyon in the future.
SOUTH FORK OF MULE CANYON/MULE CANYON RUINS: The latter was a roadside stop. The former was the only place I saw people as I dropped in there was a large group of kids with a couple of adults camping. It was 7:00 pm by the time I started this and I was hoping to get the last sun on the ruins before it went below the canyon. Not as good as I hoped, but worth the visit. When I first got to the ruins the light wasn't that good so I hiked further up the canyon and climbed to a high point to search for habitation and get a view of the last rays of the sun disappearing and to eat! Was so impressed with Moon house I lost track of time and realized I had only had a couple pieces of beef jerky and a cliff bar all day. Went back to the dwellings took some more pictures and tested the camera on some low light flower pictures. Got to the truck 9:30 pm.
DRIVE BACK TO NAVAJO NM: Most adrenaline pumping action of the trip! Before Mexican Hat in a dark desolate section of the highway I saw something beyond my headlights and immediately slammed on the breaks stopping just short of two very unconcerned horses blocking both lanes.
Later, between Kayenta and my destination once again I saw something beyond my headlights identified a cow and swerved as there was no other traffic at 12:50am. I got to my campsite which I scoped out after orientation because of the two trees at 1:00AM and was tucked into my hammock by 1:15. Woke up at 6:00am packed up cooked breakfast and on my way to Keet Seel by 7:00-7:15. I went light and brought the go lite umbrella to do my best Mary Poppins impersonation once the sun got out for the forecasted scorcher. I had good shade in the canyon until about 30 min. before getting to the dwelling. I found that this hike is not nearly as difficult when you aren't carrying your water and the person you bribed to come alongs water as well. Even with Tibber picture taking the hike in took about 2.5 hours. Unlike Joe, I was in heaven upon arrival and Cassandra Parrish took me on the tour. I spent 2 hours there and she learned me more than a few things and pointed out some other things that weren't pointed out to me during the previous tour I took. Awesome! It took about 3 hrs to hike out probably because I took less pictures. It was hot on the way out 96 in the canyon and surprisingly on the climb out my watch said 109
I thought it was a mistake and took it off during a break in the shade and it still said 109. I hate steep uphills in sand and was thankful for the switchbacks.
The sand was so hot I could feel it through my shoes and socks and found myself doing the lizard dance when I stopped on a couple breaks standing on one foot at a time. My feet are pretty heat insensitive after wearing the vff's for so long so I know the sand was hot. I had the entire canyon to myself.
I guess the two other scheduled day hikers and three campers decided not to go.
I made it home back to Mesa before 7pm. Great trip and I don't even like hiking when it's hot.
Waterfall at Keet Seel was flowing nicely. http://youtu.be/dQN61PLb2Zw