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Hovenweep Hikes
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mini location map2017-10-15
29 by photographer avatarAZWanderingBear
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Hovenweep HikesSoutheast, UT
Southeast, UT
Hiking avatar Oct 15 2017
Hiking5.00 Miles 700 AEG
Hiking5.00 Miles
700 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Days 12 and 13 of a 14-day run through SE Utah. Left Moab early Sunday. Try getting breakfast in Moab on a Sunday morning without standing in line. I blew it off and went to the grocery store for provisions and grabbed something there.

Drove through Blanding and turned towards the old Hatch Trading Post. It is closed now, fenced and grown up, sign says its for sale for a bit above a million. History doesn't come cheap.

Stopped off at the Cajon Group first. The seep that gave life then still seeps from the head of the canyon. No one around, silent, big views, impressive structures.

Stopped at the Visitor Center, asked about the campground hoping he'd say full and I'd have an excuse to boondock. Plenty of room. Chose site 26 for the angle between the bright sun and the little slatted shelter. Sleeping Ute Mountain was the backdrop east. Set up camp and relaxed a bit. Would be cold tonight so I grilled dinner early and tried to read until even a quilt over me couldn't make it uncomfortable. Could hear the heaters in all the RVs cycling on and off all night.

Water I'd left out was frozen in the morning. Solid. Guessing 29 as a low. Slept good though. Made two thermoses of coffee, and a quick breakfast. Hiked the Square Tower Group Loop from camp. This was a busy place in the day. Lots of fairly well preserved ruins. These guys were masons extraordinaire. Great houses, high towers, kivas, creative entrances, everyone was busy surpassing the Jones and one upping the Smiths here. Bet I can build a house on that rock over there. No you can't. Watch me.

Took Bullit for a drive to the groups north. Mostly alone out here, few souls care enough to take bumpy roads to old places, no tour buses. Horsehoe was a unique design and like the other groups there are many rock mounds of houses fallen down. Hackberry was a delight. The tree for which the unit is named still dominates the spring at canyon's head. This was a thriving little village, you can feel it. Sherds were thick, found a few painted ones as I knelt in the detritus of a proud people. The work area was down by the spring, still a pool scooped out by hands long gone frequented by the feathered and furred current inhabitants. The smoke stains on the rocks tell you so much.

I heard voices at Painted Hands, not ancient, just a woman complaining about the scramble down and her partner chirping back to just do it. I worked my hike to avoid them. Missed the delicate white hands at first, doubled back and slowed down to find them. The thought universal, this is me, I was here. These are found around the world.

The Cutthroat Castle Group was last. There are two trailheads, the upper and lower. A sign at the upper points to the lower along a rough track with admonitions of high clearance and 4WD and other discouraging comments. This was my last dirt of the trip. I shifted down and went to the lower.

The hike to the ruins from the lower is much shorter, just several hundred feet. I heard voices below, two ladies, thought erroneously they were together. I dropped in, tipped my hat and began to explore. The allowed maneuvering room is small and I could hear the conversation, mostly one sided. The more senior of the two was lamenting the unrelenting sun, the impending climb out. I moved close enough to interrupt and offered a ride, explaining the short hike and bumpy road and the fact I had removed the rear seats in my 4-door truck to save weight and add space and thus could offer only one ride. After a spell of verbal thinking she accepted. Seems she was on a solo 3-month trip with no particular destinations and no definitive end in the largish RV I'd seen at the upper trailhead.

Back in camp I grilled one last steak with some squash and beans. I'd saved the last chapter of Craig Child's Stone Desert for my last evening in camp. Both the meal and the chapter were filling, nutrition to build on. Hovenweep is about building.
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