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360 triplogs

Sep 19 2018
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Lower Fish Creek w/ face Comb RidgeSoutheast, UT
Southeast, UT
Hiking avatar Sep 19 2018
AZWanderingBear
Hiking6.00 Miles 322 AEG
Hiking6.00 Miles
322 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Hike up Fish Creek to 2 ruins.
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
May 07 2018
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Traverse of the Kaiparowits PlateauSouthwest, UT
Southwest, UT
4x4 Trip avatar May 07 2018
AZWanderingBear
4x4 Trip78.00 Miles
4x4 Trip78.00 Miles
 no routes
1st trip
Partners partners
AZBeaver
Steph_and_Blake
When offered a chance to explore a place which everyone else seems a bit afraid of visiting I get nervously excited. I'd never given much thought to the area bounded by Lake Powell on the south, Escalante to the north, Hole In The Rock Road to the east and Cottonwood Canyon Road to the west. The area, Kaiparowits Plateau, was something you drove around.

Steph (of Steph and Blake) was keen to see what was up there. She is great at research, burrows into the internet like a mole, as undeterrably ruthless as a badger when confronting anyone she thinks might have a nugget of information about someplace she in which she is interested. There isn't much to know about Kaiparowits Plateau (KP) but she tried mightily. My role was mapping and logistical planning. Blake was to provide doses of sanity, if such can exist in Quixotic expeditions such as ours.

We all rendezvoused in Escalante and spent a few days camping, hiking and enjoying that area before attempting our traverse of Kaiparowitz. I can highly recommend both the tasty breakfast offerings and pizza for dinner at Escalante Outfitters. Their showers are nice too.

Our little group got a leisurely start on Day 1. The drive out of Escalante has a one sign mostly meant to scare people from proceeding. It had information on the massive number and variety of bees on the Plateau (I did see one on Day 2) and an ancient photo of many people trying to push a vehicle out of the mud in a wash. The tone and tenor were decidedly neither warm nor welcoming. Personally that just goaded me on.

KP's sandstone is densely dotted with arches and bridges. We stopped after a few miles for a gentle hike to up Calf Canyon to Serenity Bridge, a handsome span 41 feet wide and 27 feet high. Calf Canyon would make a nice hike, but we needed to make some miles. The land alternated between large areas of low scrub and pinion/juniper forests with sandstone buttes thrown in. A lunch stop on a small rise with a 360 view was a nice break.

Somewhere near Right Hand Collett Canyon we encountered some cows. One young calf was having a nice lunch under mom in the middle of the road and really didn't want to stop and mom wasn't mooving (see what I did there) until junior was happy and full. We tried to be patient, but milk on the hoof is portable and we cleared the roadblock. The Plateau is dotted with old corrals, but most seemed abandoned. These would be the only bovines we'd encounter.

Smoky Mountain Road drops into Alvey Wash for a while and was a bit bumpy, just small rock ledges to bounce over. The climb out of Alvey wasn't much better, but not technical in any way. I'd spotted what might be decent campsites in the vicinity of the corrals and line shack in the Big Sage area just north of Collett Top. None were all that great but we found a decent one with some shade.

The next morning was a drive and hike to the Collett Top granary and arch. There really isn't a trail, so you just try to stay off the cryptobiotic soil and find your way. The granary is decent sized and still largely intact. Found some lithic scatter nearby from tool and arrowhead making, but no pottery sherds and no signs of any other dwellings. We followed up that hike with another to Circle Spring, a rare riparian area on the KP. The National Wild Turkey Federation had put a pipe and tank at the spring. It was producing about a liter a minute of really good cold water. Lots of game trails down into the canyon and to the tank.

The day was warm, so an exploratory drive seemed in order for the afternoon. We went south on BLM 340 to try to find the "fire holes", fissures that vent coal seams that are burning below ground. There are some others over on Smoky Mountain and these were in the Burning Hills area. The drive was easy, lots of scenery and big country. We found the coal seams and I accidentally parked across a very small one. There was a lot of heat coming up from them. Sulfur smells filled the air and yellow deposits of the stuff was all around. One of the peaks was smoking pretty well from its large vent. This was an odd place, like nothing any of us had seen before. We didn't stay too long, too hot, too smelly.

Back in camp there was a discussion of the heat (80s, but the sun was killer)and the bugs (of which there were not many but those few were aggressive and bit regularly and viciously). A consensus arose to reduce the population of KP by 4 the next morning.

The drive out was easy, just a few bumpy spots on Smoky Mountain Road. A quick stop at some small roadside graineries and a short discussion with a two vehicle convoy was all that slowed us until we neared the Smoky Mountain overlook. We did pass a guy on a bicycle heading north on Smoky Mountain Road. That was unexpected to say the least. We pulled off to visit the coal seam fires on Smoky (hot, sulfur and tar smelling, and equally as eerie as Burning Hills) and then the magnificent views from the overlook down towards Lake Powell and the moonscape of the geology to its north.

Going down the Kelly Grade was probably the highlight of the trip. It is steep and lots of hairpin switchbacks but amazing views that reminded us all of portions of Death Valley. Blake and Steph were leading and spotted a good number of mountain sheep just off the road which showed little fear of us allowing some opportunities for photos. The drive out to Big Water was easy on smooth roads with little wash boarding. For the first time in 3 days I slipped out of 4WD and onto pavement. Our little band made goodbyes over tacos in Page.

KP is a unique place, vast, stark, largely dry, uninviting, no permanent human inhabitants. People for millennia have come up it, hung around a bit and left, leaving very little to mark their passing. Being there seems to make a person uneasy, a bit unsettled, for no apparent reason. For that reason alone I am glad it exists.






_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
6 archives
May 06 2018
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Cosmic AshtraySouthwest, UT
Southwest, UT
Hiking avatar May 06 2018
AZWanderingBear
Hiking8.40 Miles 1,055 AEG
Hiking8.40 Miles
1,055 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
AZBeaver
Steph_and_Blake
Fun out and back hike with a nice payoff. The start had some sand to slog through, but most is on slick rock. Great scenery along the way. Had to be thousands of moqui marbles (iron concretions) with some being quite large. One area had lots of pieces of volcanic extrusion from a thin layer breaking apart above us.

The Ashtray is visually stunning and different from anything I've seen yet. The orange sand is wind deposited and sifted fine and free of anything else. There are some moqui steps carved into the rocks face for accessing the sandy floor, but they looked a bit sketchy. With some rope at least one of our group would have tried dropping in.

I scrambled up to the highest point above for some photos. If you do that, be careful. There are a lot of large sandstone slabs that have broken loose and are ready to give you Mr Toad's Wild Ride to the bottom. But it is a nice view.
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
2 archives
May 05 2018
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Cottonwood CanyonSouthwest, UT
Southwest, UT
Scenic Drive avatar May 05 2018
AZWanderingBear
Scenic Drive47.00 Miles
Scenic Drive47.00 Miles
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Taking the shortcut to Escalante to join Steph and Blake for some adventure. Cottonwood Canyon shaves 86 miles off the paved road route through Kanab. Had driven Cottonwood before north to south, but this was first south to north transit. Funny how you see things differently from their other side. Road was in great condition, so we made good time stopping only for a few photos.

Several nice campsites down on Cottonwood Creek off small side roads. Couple of nice hikes to be had as well. Would have love to have had the time to hike Yellow Rock.

_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
Apr 13 2018
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Nine Days - Cedar Mesa Comb Ridge (Part 2), UT 
Nine Days - Cedar Mesa Comb Ridge (Part 2), UT
 
Hiking avatar Apr 13 2018
AZWanderingBear
Hiking17.30 Miles 1,510 AEG
Hiking17.30 Miles
1,510 ft AEG
 no routes
For Part 1 of this trip see [ triplog ]

The wind beat the side of the Super 8 in Blanding all night. Most everyone in the hotel had bailed out of a camp somewhere in southeastern Utah to escape the Spring storm that blew in from the west, unsettled souls huddled in escape. Sleep was intermittent, the wind bringing crazy dreams with it. Morning brought escape from all that and a passable hotel buffet breakfast with Blake and Steph.

The weather would not abate until tomorrow. We’d spend another day and night, the 5th of my 9 day trip, waiting out the weather. Determined not to waste the day, I headed over to Edge of the Cedars museum. Steph had heartily praised it, a first rate institution in a backwater town. Hosting a well displayed collection of Basketmaker and Puebloan artifacts, Edge of the Cedars contains a ridge top pueblo with numerous rooms and 3 kivas, one excavated and open for visitors to enter.

The wind hurled the cold air like a weapon of war, hatred in how hard it hit you, so cold it burned. Endured a few seconds of it to check out a really nice looking teardrop trailer in the parking lot before sprinting into the Museum. Ten dollars gets you a few thousand years of history and a warm hiding place.

I took my time working through the various exhibits, after all I had all day. The pottery collection is extensive and after a while you can recognize styles and time periods without a cheat sheet. These folks got pretty artsy with their clay. Wonderful geometric designs on large jars, small pitchers done in fanciful bird effigies, utilitarian cooking pieces, so much variety. Given the coldness of the day, a display on making feather blankets and robes caught my eye. Domesticated turkeys provided feathers which were attached to the cross hatched base of yucca cordage by the pared down quills of the feathers. I’d assumed the yucca cordage was tied to the feathers, not the other way around. So they had down blankets before we knew the word. So much for modern innovation. Arrowheads and atlatl points under glass made a large and colorful display. An atlatl well employed could bring down an elk at moderate ranges. Arrowheads were smaller than expected, but that just meant a deeper penetration and quicker kill.

One amazing artifact was a sash made of Scarlet MaCaw feathers dated to 1150 AD. Found in the Canyonlands area, it is perfectly preserved and has yielded valuable information to modern archaeologists. Scarlet MaCaws only live in the jungles of Central and South America, so this the sash is evidence of trade. However, the fur on the sash is from an Abert’s Squirrel who only ranges in the higher dry elevations of the southwest. The cordage forming the frame of the sash is local yucca. The feathers were imported, but the construction was local.

Wanting to make at least a quick run through the ruins, I zipped up my coat and opened the door to brave the wind. I am sure the above ground rooms were nice, but I bolted quickly to the kiva. Once down the wood ladder and out of the wind I realized this was a really great place on a bad day. Being subterranean, it would be cool in the summer and with a tiny fire reasonably warm on the winter. For now it was out of the bitter wind.

Eventually climbing out of the kiva, I spent a few cold minutes admiring a piece of artwork that functions as a calendar and clock all in one. Using typical symbols found in local petroglyphs and pictographs as cutouts, the sun marches these symbols through the clock of the day, with changing declination providing a reliable calendar. We have seen this done throughout the Anasazi world, brought to its heyday when Chaco culture reigned supreme in the 4 Corners.

Later that evening Blake and Steph produced two pizzas cooked at a local gas station. They were surprisingly good. Anyone looking to open a restaurant, I’d suggest opportunity and need can be found in Blanding.

Day 6 of my trip started with me playing catch up. I’d set a clock for early. Blake and Steph got going earlier. They are ever patient, but I evacuated the hotel as opposed to moving out of it. The FJ led the way to Comb Ridge and our planned camp for remainder of the trip. Again, we had plotted likely sites along Butler Wash on the east side of Comb Ridge. Steph had decided on her preferred site. There was a car parked there of course, but no sign if they were just away hiking or planning to camp or whatever. I ranged ahead and found a decent enough place not too far away and we set up camp before heading over to the trailhead for Procession Panel about a mile away.

Somewhere there is a guide book that says the Procession trailhead is some number of miles up from Highway 163. They are off about a mile. We had numerous vehicles drive into camp asking if this was the trailhead. I needed to get the name of the not-so-guide book but never did.

The hike to Procession Panel was under glorious skies with just bit of breeze left over from the storm. I was enjoying the gently upsloping slick rock and the sandstone swells of Comb Ridge. Cairns were spaced just right and Steph had the route on her phone anyway so why should I be bothered with paying attention to anything but my own enjoyment. So of course we overshot the beginning of the short climb up to Procession, but the alternate route was a lot of fun ledging up.

Procession Panel is an important petroglyph. It shows three lines of small figures all marching towards a central circle. The figures are small but detailed. One has a duck, or is it a domesticated turkey, on his head. A small section of figures in one of the parades is waving at us. Larger figures above show people carrying crooked staffs, a symbol of the revered aged or perhaps leaders of this procession? There are deer or sheep with atlatl symbols scattered around with other small figures, two who seem to be holding hands. There is a lot going on at Procession, but why is it here on this rather nondescript peak of the Comb?

We mosied over to the very tip of the tooth of this particular Comb in the Ridge to take in the dramatic views, Cedar Mesa west and Monument Valley south. The Comb is such a pronounced geological feature, a monocline fold in the earth’s crust running north south. I can always orient myself when flying over the area by its unique look. A group of teens, probably some group or school outing, soon invaded the hill in their own rambunctious procession. We departed spotting a few small glyphs and tool sharpening grooves we had missed on the way up.

Not having had our fill for the day, we took in Monarch Cave and its ruin a bit farther north. An easy hike with an exposed final entry into the ruin, Monarch was surprisingly interesting. First off, at the entrance is an inscription carved into the rock by the Illustrated America Expedition of 1892, an anthropological foray into the area funded by the American Illustrated Magazine which generated a lot of interest in southwestern prehistory.

This once was a much larger collection of structures. Numerous holes in the cliff side are evidence of support for roof timbers along the north wall of the canyon. Hand prints are abundant as are grinding holes and bedrock metates, a magnificent double one in the cave structure behind the main ruins. At the head of the canyon is a large deep pool of water under an impressive pour off. With easy access to the larger valley below and Butler Creek, this was a good place to live.

It was good to be back in a camp. The exodus to Blanding had left me with an extra steak and I convinced Blake, after much arm twisting, to consume it for me while sitting around the fire he builds almost every night and morning. A nature call at 4am yielded a crystal clear sky, horizon-to-horizon Milky Way, two meteors, and most amazingly absolutely no airplanes in the sky and zero noise. That’s living good right there.

Day 7 began with Steph offering poached eggs on English muffins with bacon, if I’d only toast the muffins and heat the bacon on my Weber grill. No sane man turns down bacon.

We headed back up onto the edge of Cedar Mesa and Mule Canyon to hit House on Fire. In her research, Steph had read that 1000 to 1100 is the optimum time to photograph the phenomenon that gives this ruin its name, literally the stone overhanging the ruin appears to be tongues of flame emanating from the ruin. We were a bit behind schedule. Steph took off down the trail like a photographer on fire. Blake and I had no chance of matching that pace. I arrived on scene to a very disappointed Steph. The house was not on fire. We putzed around for a bit examining the ruin and watching the sun move across the sky thinking the lighting would change and there would be fireworks. It didn’t happen. Thinking of the time frame, the light, etc. I concluded the timing is based on not the foreground being in the same shade as the dwelling and using camera white balance to create the flames. While I was never balanced enough to get flames, there was some smoldering.

Our next stop was another section of the Mule Canyon complex. A small gated side road leads to a parking lot where mere mortals can hike to some ruins. We of course took the rest of the road signed as dangerous and for high clearance 4WD only. It was pretty tame. The draw is a few tower ruins, a la, Hovenweep. We expected those and they would have made the stop worthwhile, sitting at the head of the side canyon above a generous spring fed pool. We didn’t expect seeing so many well preserved cliff dwellings as we sat on the canyon rim eating our lunch and scanning with binoculars and long lenses. One was an impressive structure on a small shelf with a single very exposed access point. A large pictograph hung above above and behind it, a circle with a crescent moon shape with the corners pointing up and triangles above pointing down into the circle. I looked like an early smiley face. Was this the long lost Emoji Clan??

While strolling around the area scouting a route for future exploration, Steph announced we had a rattlesnake nearby. We finally located the small critter peeking out at us from a rock topped depression. No amount of coaxing could convince him to abandon his personal shelter.

Last stop of the day was a brief hike of Upper Butler Canyon to Target and Cave Ruins. The hike is along a sometimes flowing stream in a pretty sandy bottomed little canyon. Target was a fairly easy trip up a side canyon but the entrance to the dwellings on the north side at the head of the side canyon looked like more exposure than we were comfortable with sans rope. Viewing from canyon bottom was enough. The construction was of varying styles and thus probably varying centuries. A square tower with protruding roof beams and a plastered and painted exterior wall looked most interesting. We never found the target pictograph that provides the ruin namesake. (Hint: climb to the small granary on the opposing canyon wall.)

Cave Ruins was an easy approach. Three anthropomorphic pictographs, in red, orange and yellow right to left, were interesting in a Warhol sort of way. Love finding handprints and there were some here. The cave is very deep and Blake did a bit of exploring finding a long row of bedrock metates. There are some walls, purportedly a kiva or 2 buried, but debris from the collapsing cave ceiling has taken its toll over the centuries. A large midden pile at the cave mouth yielded corn cobs and sherds, and to Steph’s delight, her first squash stem.

A generously long hot shower followed by heating a frozen homemade meal of roast beef, carrots, potatoes, rice and gravy led to a very early night and some great sleeping.

The day 8 plan was to explore Arch Canyon after another poached egg, muffin, bacon breakfast (friends with bacon, the best kind). There are some ruins and eventually an arch, as would be expected. It is hikable or drivable if you are a dang good driver with a heck of a good vehicle. Blake was keen to drive it, so we aired down at the trailhead. First stop was Arch Canyon ruins real quick down the trail. This ruin was once a sizable complex. Today there are two structures still in decent shape with very dissimilar construction style. Steph assured me one was very “Chaco like”. I think I am headed to Chaco soon. Holes for roof supports hinted at 2 to 3 story towers now reduced to rock rubble at our feet. Geometric petroglyphs and anthropomorphic pictographs decorated the canyon side walls.

Arch Canyon road is narrow with few spots to pass opposite direction vehicles. Luckily we only encountered one group at a fortuitous spot with a pull out for us. It crosses and recrosses the streambed numerous times, some of the crossings wet, some rocky, some with large obstacles. We worked on our driver/spotter skill set in those. 4 LO was an often used option and my exhaust pipe will be seeing a muffler doctor soon. Skid plates are expensive and very very worth the cost. You will have to ask Steph if there is anything to see in the Canyon. My eyes seldom left the trail, and I suspect Blake was similarly employed.

We did spot one ruin high up on the north wall in a window, sticks from perhaps a jacal wall giving off a jailhouse impression. At 8.13 miles there is a camp spot with a picnic table some worthy soul brought in. That was lunch and the turn around with the bonus of a great view of impressive Cathedral Arch on the north wall. To our northwest was the tip of the easternmost of Bears Ears six or so miles away.

The drive out went smooth, having already scouted and solved the riddle of the trails obstacles. The trailhead was blocked by a pick up attempting to pull a 35 foot camper trailer across the creek bed. I thought were going to be blocked in for sure, but they made it across eventually. While airing up, a teenage boy from the camper crew came over to inquire about us and our rigs. Well spoken, confident, barefoot, and from Spokane, he answered Stephs questions deftly. “How long was the drive from Spokane?” “Thirteen hours ma’am.” After comparing notes on what we had all done and were going to do, Steph was pulling pages out of her trip planning binder for the young guy. It is nice to meet people who have it together in one pile. This kid did.

We’d hardly noticed the wind down in Arch, but once we left its sheltering walls it was really howling. Back at camp my tent cot had blown across the sandy desert. Our camp was on the edge of Butler Wash with a 20 foot vertical drop into the tree and brush studded creek floor. Someone had cut a steep footpath to the bottom. Staying up top was not practical, so we grabbed chairs and snacks and headed down into the lee of the cliff. The wind was not going to allow dinner, so at darkness we all went topside to make the best we could of the night. I put my tent cot downwind of the truck and climbed in, dusty clothes and all. Not knowing if the wind would blow the cot and me away during the night, I tied my shoes to the frame so at least I would have footwear to hike back to camp wherever the wind might take me. Sand had blown up into the cot from below, so it was to be a warm gritty night. The canvas slapped around loudly with every gust. There is a saying in the military, “embrace the suck”. I just let it all go and actually slept far better than I had hoped for.

Sunrise found the wind still raging. I’d hoped for another day on Comb Ridge, but this trip was over. Blake and Steph had come to the same conclusion. We packed as best we could in the gale and headed for breakfast in Bluff. The restroom sink in Duke’s at the Desert Rose Inn served as a sand repository as I tried to become somewhat less of a bedouin and more an acceptable patron of this nice little restaurant. The staff served us a really tasty breakfast with no comment on our well worn look.

Goodbyes were made in the calm air inside, lest we tarry in the wind outside. It was a good trip, a memorable and informative adventure. Steph and Blake make wonderful fellow sojourners. No one could ask for better or more patient company. Cedar Mesa and Comb Ridge will see me again.

Culture
Culture
Inscriptions
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
4 archives
Apr 10 2018
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Nine Days - Cedar Mesa Comb Ridge (Part 1), UT 
Nine Days - Cedar Mesa Comb Ridge (Part 1), UT
 
Hiking avatar Apr 10 2018
AZWanderingBear
Hiking17.60 Miles 2,159 AEG
Hiking17.60 Miles
2,159 ft AEG
 no routes
Partners partners
Steph_and_Blake
Southeastern Utah is a passion of mine with its beauty, geology, remoteness, and ancient sites. Blake and Steph were thinking of a Spring trip centered on Cedar Mesa and Comb Ridge and asked if I wanted to participate in a part of it. The answer was obvious, though MJ had a previous engagement involving her sister, a massive canyon, large river, and a raft. I’d be on my own.

My first day found us approaching Cedar Mesa from opposite directions. Blake and Steph had snuck off to the Hanksville area a few days earlier to rope down some skinny slot canyons. I don’t do skinny. We’d chosen some potential Cedar Mesa campsites ahead of time. The plan was for them to choose an unoccupied good one and then pass the location to me via our InReach devices since cell phone reception is spotty at best in this area.

I hit Mexican Hat for a fuel top off a little ahead of schedule and sent them a message on the device, expecting a quick reply. Roared up Moki Dugway admiring the views of Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley. No reply. The sites we’d spotted were mostly near Bullet and Sheiks Canyons. I took the road to Bullet but every site was already taken. Hmmm. Checked messages again. Nope. Cut through to Sheiks. Even marginal camps on the cut through trail were occupied. I pushed the accelerator harder hoping to at least find some camp unoccupied. Turned down Sheiks road moving quick with my best site just ahead. Dang, there was a flag flying on a pole at the turn in to the campsite. My heart sank. Had everyone come to Comb Ridge at the same stinking time? Wait, that flag looks a little familiar. Hit the brakes hard and slid into the campsite entrance only to see a sand colored FJ and matching trailer with Steph waving at me. We later figured out our InReach devices work fine. You just have to make sure you send the message to the other device, not to the non-working cell phone.

Day 2 began with a cold morning ( a thin crust of ice in the water bottles), hot coffee and a quick but substantial breakfast. We were in a hurry to get going. The plan was Sheiks Canyon to see Yellow House in the upper canyon and then push to the confluence with Grand Gulch to see the haunting Green Mask. But first we needed permits and a visit to the Kane Gulch Ranger Station for Steph to “get a few questions answered”. That visit became a morning ritual for the rest of our days on Cedar Mesa. Steph had heard that one of the guys volunteering at Kane Gulch had long ago spent some time on Kaiparowits Plateau, a future trip we are working on. He beamed when she asked about Kaiparowits, so remote that it was the last mapped area in the Lower 48. “No one has ever asked me about Kaiparowits, much less said they wanted to go there.” It was a while before we left.

The Sheiks trailhead has been moved about a mile east due to a small washout on the road (but it is actually easily drivable). We road walked to the old trailhead. The upper canyon begins shallow and broad but a pour off soon forces decisions. We’d been advised to hug the north wall and then drop down past Yellow House and double back. Finding a way down took a few minutes and roping down our packs.

Yellow House is relatively small. We didn’t find any glyphs and almost no pottery. But we were in the neighborhood of the Ancients finally. Cameras clicked. Each offered observations and commentary on the construction, possible modern stabilizations or ancient remodeling done to the rooms, the elaborate mortaring of one door. We didn’t dawdle. The mask was calling.

A small granary on the north wall warranted a quick visit. Well built and situated on a very accessible shelf not too far up the canyon side, the granary was peculiar in that it had soot covered interior walls. Granaries are for storage, often high up and somewhat hidden from the canyon floors, usually not easily accessible. This one seemed odd to me, but a possible answer could be it was actually a pottery kiln. The amount of pottery sherds around most sites bespeak a huge pottery production process. But we never find the kilns necessary to fire the clay into a pot. Are we looking in the right places? I know nothing about firing pots, but it was a thought.

Soon we hit a decent pour off, but one easily bypassed. A spring feeds the canyon from here and there were impressive hanging gardens on the walls of the pour off. From this point on there were plenty of pools of water on the canyon bottom. Sheiks gets deep very quickly beyond this point.

At the next large pour off Blake and Steph opted to bypass it high and left, but I friction walked the coarse sandstone along the left edge of the pour off, zig zagging back and forth on tiny ridges between thin layers of stone. At the bottom while sitting in the shade against a boulder waiting on my compatriots, voices echoed up from below. Two men were working up the canyon. I watched to see the route they’d take since there was another large pour off with a massive boulder field between us. Turns out they were part of a 6-person group backpacking Grand Gulch. Camping at the confluence with Sheiks, they’d taken a down day to do some more localized exploring. We all talked routes and sites and then went our ways.

The boulder field associated with the pour off we named the Rabbit Hole since you have to scoot under a rectangular leaning slab of sandstone about 8 feet thick, 20 feet wide and 30 feet long near the left side. The passage is easy and unnerving. From this point on we stayed high on the right (north) canyon wall following, losing, and finding a trail. A few scrambles on talus fields of loose rock and sand were frustrating, but mostly it was just getting on the right bench layer or some boulder hopping. I was glad to have some experienced rock hoppers with me and we made use of Blake’s rope several times.

Eventually we hit a ledge where Grand Gulch was visible to our right and Sheiks was below our left. The Thumb rock formation looked pretty cool down in the Gulch. We took photos and rested only a bit knowing the Mask was near.

The final approach was easy along a sandy wet canyon bottom with towering cottonwoods providing a bit of shade. Steph checked out a large empty alcove guarded by an huge cottonwood just before we all spotted the first panel of ancient rock art high above. Cameras clicked as lenses zoomed and random “oh, look at that” comments flew. Blake, cameraless, pressed ahead and worked up to the small remaining ruin, calling down for us to join him. “You are going to like this.” We didn’t tary.

The lower, and more recent, panels were a delight. Headless anthropomorphs in dark red paint, hand prints of all sizes, images of birds (perhaps domesticated turkeys), a back wall of a now fallen room painted black with plastered circles where a finger had created the swirling design often associated with the history of a clan's travels, faint white painted ghost figures. There was much to take in, glyphs and pictographs large and small on nearly every flat surface. Steph spotted some pottery sherds in designs none of us had seen before. Blake found a collection of corn cobs partially hidden by a large rock. And finally Steph spotted the Green Mask high and right.

We searched, photographed, and speculated until retreating to the unused alcove for lunch. After eating, I worked up onto a tilted fallen slab of rock directly under the mask. Laying on my back, zooming my little point and shoot camera I took a few half decent shots of the Green Mask. Archeologists digging this site had found a human head, expertly deboned, the face painted with green and yellow lateral stripes, the hair dyed red and a white yucca rope protruding from one side over the top and into the other side. It was identical to the pictograph. There are other mask pictographs like this one, colored differently but with the rope and other real masks have been unearthed in burial sites. Were these a trophy of war, a strong enemy defeated in battle, his head now a symbol of strength and bravery meant to strike fear into the hearts of potential aggressors as its owner yelled and held the mask high above him in warning? Was this a way of honoring a revered relative or clan leader, preserving his image and thus his/her legacy? The mask offered no answers and simply stared into the canyon as it had for over a thousand years.

Two backpackers came up from Grand Gulch asking if there was water. We pointed them to a pool 30 feet away and they set about filtering. Later as we were leaving, and likely hearing some of our conversations, they asked for a brief history lesson on the area saying these were the first rock art they had seen. Sometimes you have to look up I thought. But their presence explained why the panels of rock art were here. This was a crossroads, the marriage of two large dainages, water reliably available. Travelers, migrants, traders for centuries passed by, stopped, camped. The panels were there to communicate, to record passings, the billboards, newspapers, books of their time. And now they had drawn three more travelers to stare up at them. If only we had not lost the ability to read them. I made sure to leave nothing that marked my passing and taking away only their imprint on me.

We began working up canyon and back towards camp. The exit was easier since the riddle of the route was now ours. We only had to backtrack a few times. I was shocked to see the Rabbit Hole so quickly. It had been a long and tiring but great day. A shower made me feel like a new old man. A steak cooked on my little Weber Q tasted great. Steph wanted instruction on making fire with my fire steel, bark from a juniper and an assemblage of small twigs. She did well and we all enjoyed the fire and conversation until the good day caught up with us.

Day two found us all moving a bit slow. Coffee and breakfast preceded the daily visit to the ranger station and yet another round of questions, with one of Steph’s rather informed questions evoking a response of “where did you hear about that? You shouldn’t know about that!” from a female ranger. Blake and I studied the small selection of books and trinkets for sale.

We opted for a visit to the Citadel, a less strenuous hike than the previous day. Blake and Steph had been there before, but not me. The drive out Cigarette Springs road was bumpy but easy. We walked along the south rim of Road Canyon, staring across the abyss to its north wall searching for the numerous dwellings and graineries that dot the canyon. We spotted perhaps a dozen using binoculars and zoom lenses. Road Canyon had been a very busy place in its day.

Only three small scrambles are required to get to the Citadel. Blake led us expertly through them. The “bridge” out to the peninsula of the Citadel had the remains of two defensive walls and lots of water filled potholes. While the ruin is impressive and largely well preserved, the views and the pure uniquely defensive position of the site are the main draws. There is but one way to approach the Citadel and it is easily defended from a sieging force.

Around the fire that night the conversation turned to the weather. A front was coming through with lots of wind and some serious cold according to the InReach weather forecast. This wasn’t unexpected and, at Steph’s insistence, we’d made reservations in Blanding just in case. The wind really picked up during the night making it a rough one for Blake and Steph in their tall tent. We were definitely headed to Blanding. Blake and Steph opted to do a long scenic drive to get there. I wanted another hike and ruin on Cedar so we split up with plans to rendezvous in Blanding.

I selected Moon House, an interesting ruin in McLoyd Canyon that requires a day pass to limit the number of visitors. Off I went to the ranger station. This time alone. The volunteer ranger was totally disappointed that it was just me. The access to Moon House is off Snow Flat Road, part of the original route taken by the famous Hole in the Rock Mormon pioneers who founded Bluff. The first part of the road seemed pretty good, the spur off to the Moon House trailhead definitely required high clearance.

The trail down to Moonhouse is short but very steep with one ledge that uses a precariously stacked pile of rocks to descend or mount. A howling wind made the drop into McLoyd faintly unnerving blowing sand into my face and eyes. Hitting canyon bottom only means a steep 80 foot scramble up the other side to access the Moon House in its protective alcove.

Others were already there. I explored the outer dwellings until they departed, leaving the main rooms for my own solo entry. By entry I mean only that you enter the outer wall into a unique long vestibule which shelters the entrances to the large inner rooms. Peep holes in the outer wall provided protected viewing of points of entry into the site. The vestibule is decorated with a white band about two feet in height running most of the length of the outer wall of rooms. It is further adorned with a row of filled in white circles running above the banner and paired white triangles at intervals below. The rooms have interior plastering and painting as well. The feeling was one of loudly stated ostentatious opulence.

I only saw one pictograph. No one could miss it. On a rock face above the main rooms and clearly visible to anyone approaching the site was a snake figure, thick, over 6 feet long, white slashes above and below every twist in its red outlined body. To me it screamed clan symbol. The entire Moon House complex runs for over a quarter mile extending both ways from this main dwelling. Well built graneries, various dwellings and one set of rooms with five windows are tucked into crannies along the canyon wall. But none are as dramatic as the main house. None have the snake symbol above. Someone important, powerful, lived here and wanted everyone to know it.

Sand was in my eyes, in my mouth, teeth gritty, my nostrils feeling like twin plots of land ready for planting the sacred corn. I abandoned Moon House just as it’s owners had sometime before the 1300s. A gust of wind hit me broadside as I tried to find a decent hand hold to haul up the wobbly stack of rocks. I cursed and lunged and flopped up on the ledge. Hiking was no longer an option until the gale winds left.

Back in the confines of the truck I nibbled a snack and weighed my options. I could exit as I had come in and drive pavement to Blanding. Safe, easy, boring. Or I could channel the Hole in the Rock folks and complete Snow Flat Road coming out into Comb Wash, drive through Bluff and then on to Blanding. Knowing there is a descending section of Snow Flat called The Twist sort of sealed it for me.

Snow Flat turned out to be an easy crossing of the eastern half of Cedar Mesa, mostly easy riding soft sand with some sections on bumpy bedrock. The road follows a ridge separating McLoyd Canyon on the north and Road Canyon on the south. It descends 1500 feet crossing the flood plane created as Road Canyon plays itself out before linking up with Comb Wash. Driven another day, it would have taken twice the time given the number of scenic viewpoints off either side of the truck. The wind, vicious on the ridgeline, kept me mostly inside and moving.

The Twist is an area of ledges and huge boulders that the Mormons laying out the original road had to traverse in a winding corkscrew of a descent. Today it just makes for fun wheeling and good views east towards the Comb.

The sand crossing the lower stretches of Road Canyon was plenty deep enough to need 4 wheel drive and an attempt at keeping steady forward progress. I hadn't aired down and had no desire to accomplish any sort of recovery in the present conditions. Complicating this was every tumbleweed in Utah bouncing down the road at the truck. Wind gusts created waves of sand 30 feet high that crashed over the truck like a tidal surge on a rocky shore dropping visibility to a few feet. Bushes and small trees had been torn from the loose sand and came flying past the truck’s windows like a witch on a bicycle in a cyclone right after she stole your little dog. I tried to stay sort of on the road and kept catching glimpses of Comb Ridge off to my left.

Pavement felt pretty good when I finally found it. I slowed down to see what was happening in Bluff, but they were buttoned up tight. Rolling into the parking lot at the Super 8 in Blanding I found a sand colored FJ and matching trailer maneuvering into a parking spot. Jeeps and other rigs kept pulling in. Campers of all sorts were abandoning the mesas and ridges as the temperatures plummeted. I felt sorry for all the backpackers and hoped they’d find an alcove out of the wind to ride out the storm. The dust and a few clouds to the west created an eerie metallic gray glow as the sun got lower.

We unpacked what we thought we’d need. My first priority was a shower. The sand poured off and out of me leaving a dune in the bottom of the tub. It felt glorious to be clean again, though I’d find hidden pockets of grit in various personal orifices for the next 48 hours.

In Sandstone Spine, David Roberts refers to Blanding as the most gustorially challenged town in Utah. The three of us perused the extremely short list of restaurants in town and their decidedly limited offerings. We opted to pull out our precooked and vacuumed sealed meals from the coolers and microwave up some dinner as the wind howled outside our modern pueblo.
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7 archives
Feb 23 2018
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Spring Valley TrailPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 23 2018
AZWanderingBear
Hiking8.17 Miles 1,029 AEG
Hiking8.17 Miles   4 Hrs   14 Mns   2.14 mph
1,029 ft AEG      25 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Partners partners
AZBeaver
KactusKutie
Cool, cloudy and a little windy -- good time to head to the Hieroglyphics for a hike. KactusKutie had enjoyed Governors Peak with the girls, so I thought a return to the area was in order.

Spring Valley was as easy as promised in the description, but still a pretty little trail. A group of 10 hikers from Peoria passed us heading out. Peorians apparently wake up earlier than I do.

We soon dropped down into Garfias and walked up the wash enjoying the multitude of differing rocks along the stream bed. Lots of great areas for the burros and plenty of evidence they had been there, but no burro sightings. Took a break near a quartz geode broken open but embedded in some granite. That became our turn around point.

Spits of rain began as we neared the trailhead, but never amounted to much. A burro sounded off nearby as we loaded up in the truck to depart.

Drove up to check on the progress at Castle Hot Springs Resort. Lots of activity and a sign announcing a planned opening in October!!! Can't wait.
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1 archive
Feb 16 2018
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Governors PeakPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 16 2018
AZWanderingBear
Hiking6.10 Miles 1,949 AEG
Hiking6.10 Miles   3 Hrs   18 Mns   2.06 mph
1,949 ft AEG      20 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
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AZBeaver
The cool overcast day seemed to cry out for an interesting hike with some decent elevation gain. We parked just off Caste Hot Springs road just after 10.

The trail starts easy enough, slightly uphill and crossing some washes, well marked, decent footing, well defined trail, lots of cairns. Ran into 3 other hikers coming back down about the halfway point. From here it gets interesting -- loose footing, rock scrambles, fainter trail. Had the track on Gaia on my phone and cross checked it fairly often. The trail seems to have two routes as you start up the final wash. One set of cairns keeps you low in the wash with significant scrambling. The high route run parallel on the eastern side and is much more accommodating. We figured that out on the way down.

The recent rains had left a lot of small rock pool of water in the drainages. Life is good in the hills right now.

The saddle at the top of the last wash had a surprise for us. Looking east at the at the edge of the ridge line was a small window. It is in the vicinity of N33° 58.355' W112° 22.078'.

The summit had the great views you'd expect. Seems to be a lot of construction work at historic Castle Hot Springs. Another Arizona destination in the works?

Back at the trailhead we poked around the old ruins at the mouth of the wash before heading back to find a huge garbage burger with all the fixin's.
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2 archives
Feb 07 2018
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Virginia May MineInland, CA
Inland, CA
Hiking avatar Feb 07 2018
AZWanderingBear
Hiking8.89 Miles 1,450 AEG
Hiking8.89 Miles
1,450 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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AZBeaver
Steph_and_Blake
The wind had been unrelenting all night. MJ and I had been enjoying sleeping out under the stars the previous 3 nights. She opted to move into the tent, but I figured the winds would die down as the night progressed. Sometimes you just get it wrong. So I was dragging a bit as we headed from camp to visit Virginia May.

Obviously this was a big operation as evidenced by the remaining concrete slabs and old equipment near Horn Springs. Lots of old rusty stuff about to include a car down in the wash. Everyone enjoyed poking around and seeing if we could figure out what things might have been back in the day. There were even rusted aerosol cans.

The road split and Blake and MJ (who were both feeling much better than me) scouted the upper road in search of Virginia. I think Steph held back to make sure I was OK. Nothing that way so we continued west in search of Virginia. I was real happy when we found that hole in the mountain. Got some more water and an energy bar in me and that gave me courage to join the rest in the mine shaft, something very out of my comfort zone, but it was highly interesting (and dark).
_____________________
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3 archives
Feb 06 2018
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Mopah Peak Viewing KnollInland, CA
Inland, CA
Hiking avatar Feb 06 2018
AZWanderingBear
Hiking4.50 Miles 243 AEG
Hiking4.50 Miles   2 Hrs   25 Mns   2.16 mph
243 ft AEG      20 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
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Steph_and_Blake
Started off at a decent TH with some informational signage at the wilderness boundary. The trail begins as a tral and then drops into a wash. Along the way there is an old airstrip carved graded into a flat area and what might have been a stone cabin, now just a wall. Steph said 5 miles round trip. Mopah Peak looked a little farther than that, but it was a nice morning. Lesson learned. Old rocks know where they are. GPS tracks might lie.

We stopped off to check an old mine claim marker. The little knoll had a nice view so theat became both our lunch break and turn around point since we had to find our next campsite as well as replenish our ice at Vidal Junction. (Possibly ice cream was consumed there as well the ice replenishment.) A coyote, the largest animal we'd seen yet in the Turtle Wilderness, entertained us during our repast as he tried to slink away unnoticed.

I'm sure the Mpah Springs would have been wonderful, but this was a nice little hike.
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1 archive
Feb 05 2018
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Coffins Springs - Turtle Mountain WildernessInland, CA
Inland, CA
Hiking avatar Feb 05 2018
AZWanderingBear
Hiking5.22 Miles 675 AEG
Hiking5.22 Miles   3 Hrs   16 Mns   1.83 mph
675 ft AEG      25 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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AZBeaver
Steph_and_Blake
Day 3 of our Turtle Mountain Wilderness trip with Steph and Blake. We drove the bumpy road to the trailhead from camp, 4x4 high clearance required.

The hike was fairly easy even though the day was unseasonably warm. We found two seeps near the coordinates for Coffin Springs. There was some plumbing and a metal tank down lower making it obvious the springs used to be more productive.

Blake found us a good lunch spot with a great view and evidence of mountain sheep using it for shelter.

The geology on display here is amazing.
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And the place you need to reach
2 archives
Feb 05 2018
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Obsidian DepositInland, CA
Inland, CA
Hiking avatar Feb 05 2018
AZWanderingBear
Hiking1.36 Miles 207 AEG
Hiking1.36 Miles      55 Mns   1.48 mph
207 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
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AZBeaver
Steph_and_Blake
The drive over from the Coffin Springs trailhead was more of an adventure than the short hike. I managed to bump both the front and back ends of the 4Runner on the same rock, just not at the same time. The right seat occupant was less than impressed.

We'd seen this annotated on a map. If it is on a map it might be worth a look. I'd never seen obsidian in the wild and expected jet black glass with razor sharp flakes laying about, not crumbly gray stuff. There was a small hole dug into the deposit, so maybe the center was my idea of obsidian and some rock hounds had dug it out.

I crumbled a few pieces of the obsidian which did yield small hard black nuggets at the center.

We did see a good sized covey of quail at the entrance to the shall canyon, the largest animal we'd seen in the wilderness area to that point. The were clustered around a small seep and retaining structure built of bags of concrete. Pretty austere environment out here.
Geology
Geology
Obsidian
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1 archive
Feb 04 2018
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Mohawk Springs - Turtle Mountain WildernessInland, CA
Inland, CA
Hiking avatar Feb 04 2018
AZWanderingBear
Hiking5.14 Miles 552 AEG
Hiking5.14 Miles   4 Hrs   46 Mns   1.38 mph
552 ft AEG   1 Hour   2 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
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AZBeaver
Steph_and_Blake
Day 2 of our adventure with Steph and Blake found us waking up on the NE edge of the Turtle Mountain Wilderness. Haven't heard of it before you say? Neither had I until Steph mentioned it. We had gotten in a bit behind schedule the evening before. The roads range form easy to somewhat of a challenge. We scouted for a good camp spot right at dusk. MJ and I elected to sleep under the stars and really enjoyed the experience. With a good breakfast in us, we all set off for Mohawk Springs.

We explored the mine at the trail head noting that the trailhead makes an excellent campsite with a picnic table and some level ground. The hike is an easy trail over a saddle, along some large rock outcroppings and down into a wash. We scrambled up the wash looking for the spring (dry) and glyphs (not found). Noted some claim marker cairns on a small side trail and explored those on the return.

Not having enough mileage yet, we went off exploring the Lost Arch Inn, surrounding prospects, a unique old car corral created by BLM when they took old wrecks out of the wilderness area upon its designation as such. We rambled over to Lisa Dawn Camp visiting the site of a grave we'd seen annotated on a USGS map. The collection of rusty cans at Lisa Dawn had us guessing at the original contents. Certain some were evaporated milk.

The explorations made for a nice day. We returned to camp for tasty refreshments and stimulating conversation, a pattern that would repeat for the remainder of the adventure.
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4 archives
Feb 03 2018
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Mule Mountain Archaeology, CA 
Mule Mountain Archaeology, CA
 
Walk / Tour avatar Feb 03 2018
AZWanderingBear
Walk / Tour1.80 Miles 150 AEG
Walk / Tour1.80 Miles      20 Mns   5.40 mph
150 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
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AZBeaver
Steph_and_Blake
Met up with Steph and Blake in Blythe. We'd plotted a route through the web of desert trails to some sites Steph had researched. Getting there was sort of fun plowing through deep sand with our rigs. This would be the first adventure of a six day trip.

The origins of the "dance circles" are up for debate, but they are definitely not a natural phenomenon. Our speculations ranged from the interesting to the absurd to the downright funny.

Not far away is a compact collection of petroglyphs. We scrambled over boulders and up canyon sides finding busy panels and small isolated single glyphs almost every where we looked.
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And the place you need to reach
5 archives
Jan 20 2018
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Cave Creek Indian Ruins at Chalk CanyonPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 20 2018
AZWanderingBear
Hiking12.11 Miles 1,487 AEG
Hiking12.11 Miles   6 Hrs   15 Mns   2.31 mph
1,487 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
After meeting Steph and Blake on El Camino del Diablo, we knew we wanted to hike together and plan some future explorations. They hadn't hiked much in the north valley, so we took them to one of our favorite areas, Spur Cross, to visit the Chalk Canyon Ruins and Petroglyphs.

Rain was in the forecast, but we were undeterred. A mountain bike race was using the Maricopa Trail through Spur Cross when we arrived so we had to accommodate the bikers, meaning it took 5 minutes to go 200 feet until they turned west onto the Spur Cross Trail while we continued north.

The rain began about 3 miles into the hike, so the rain gear came out. Spent time exploring the glyphs, a quick look at the overturned rusty old Ford pickup and then a break at the 6L Ranch. The rain stopped as we climbed east out of the creek canyon. The connector trail between 6L and the Cave Creek #4 Trail has really become overgrown since I last used it. Lots of catclaw and loose footing. We examined the plane crash site and turned south along the #4 trail.

The bushwack over to the ruins was easy enough and we spent time examining sherds, walls and pondering life here back when.

The rain has really popped out the color of the varied rocks and a few went into packs for additions to rock gardens back home. The red fishhook barrel cacti were showing off all along the trail. We sidestepped onto the Metate Trail to admire the huge saguaros but all of us were getting footsore and tired and ready for the trailhead and some warm showers back home.

MJ had prepped some enchiladas for dinner and the wide ranging conversation went for a good while into the evening. A good day with good friends!
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1 archive
Jan 16 2018
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Verde Hot SpringsCamp Verde, AZ
Camp Verde, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 16 2018
AZWanderingBear
Hiking3.00 Miles 300 AEG
Hiking3.00 Miles
300 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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The easiest way to get to the Verde Hot Springs is through Fossil Creek and then the Childs Power Plant road and then swim or ford the Verde River to the springs. Of course I didn’t go that way. I’m still trying to determine the limits of my 4Runner. The hot springs are 80 miles from my house going north from Carefree, 25 of that paved. The drive took almost 7 hours -- slow, scenic, bumpy hours.

In the middle of the intersection of FR 57 and Dugas Road, a Ford Explorer sat with a flat right front tire, no tire or rim on the right rear, a caved in running board and a kayak tied to the top. The missing rim lay off to the side with tears in the aluminum and a shredded tire. No one was around and there were no answers to yells or several horn honks. Later I’d meet the owner at the springs, a young man for Colorado who had heard of the springs, looked at a map and chose Dugas Road as his route. Not the best choice, obviously. He’d gotten one bar of cell service and sent a text to a friend in Flagstaff who hoped to come in via Childs Power road and ford the river bringing new tires. I was doubtful, but wished him well.

After checking out the old ranch nearby, I hiked down to the hot springs. A dog and five young folks, including the Explorer owner, were hanging out and camping . I explored a bit and then fetched my trunks for a dip. The water was certainly nice and much of the art work on the walls and rocks was admirable.

My camp was right by the river. After a grilled steak with sweet potatoes and veggies, I sat by my fire a while. My cell phone found that elusive 1 bar and sent a good night message home. Sleeping was easy with the the fast flowing Verde singing to me all night. 34 degrees at sunrise made some hot coffee even more enjoyable. I had thought of a morning dip, but opted out.

The drive out was just as bumpy and slow. The Ford still sat forlornly in the intersection
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2 archives
Jan 13 2018
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Unknown Ruins, AZ 
Unknown Ruins, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 13 2018
AZWanderingBear
Hiking3.50 Miles 400 AEG
Hiking3.50 Miles   3 Hrs   20 Mns   1.50 mph
400 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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A friend from work invited me on a little exploration. Seems a mutual friend had spotted some extensive ruins while flying along a canyon up north. A lot of research had turned up nothing about this extensive cliff dwelling. Knowing my interest in such things, they asked if I'd like to go with them as they tried to hike to the site. I was all in.

We plotted some forest roads that would get us in with in 1.5 miles of the site. It was a bumpy drive the closer we got. The hard part was where to drop off into the canyon. Looked like coming in above would cliff us out and going too low would result in a steep loose scree climb. We side hilled for a good way trying as best we could to stay on the same elevation contour as the ruin. Spotted a solitary mountain sheep ram on the way in. The hike was short but interesting given the slope of the canyon walls and and the very loose footing.

Found some faded petroglyphs and sherds as we got closer. The glyphs were a combination of animal symbols and geometric shapes. The ruin location, glyphs and color/texture of the sherds convinced me that the ruin was Sinaguan and likely dated between 1200 and 1300.

The ruin proved to be fairly large, situated under a shallow overhang, with a combination of single and multi story rooms and towers. Most of the rooms had significant damage. One central tower was in fairly good shape with either two stories and an upper balcony or three stories. The upper roof had collapsed at some time, but must have held for a long time given the difference in interior plaster weathering above and below the roof line. The roofs were the usual rafter, lattice, mud arrangement supported by the walls and drill holes in the rock face. At some time core samples had been taken from the rafters of the best surviving roof for dating purposes. The upper room contained a few corn cobs and also fibers that had obviously been woven at some time.

The base of the rock layer into which the dwelling was built had numerous small caves at the bottom. Many of these showed signs of being used as granaries with some stout walls still in existence.

The trip made for a interesting day with two friends.
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All you have is your fire...
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1 archive
Dec 13 2017
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Charlie Bell Road - Cabeza Prieta NWRSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 13 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking3.25 Miles 361 AEG
Hiking3.25 Miles
361 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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AZBeaver
Steph_and_Blake
After completing El Camino del Diablo [ photoset ] earlier in the day we ventured out Charlie Bell Road to find some petroglyphs. A friendly Federal Wildlife Officer stopped us along the way to check our passes and give us some advice on the area and security. MJ was excited to see the pronghorn feeding area south of the road on the drive in.

We parked on the saddle above Charlie Bell, as far as vehicles are allowed, and hiked down. Luckily we had the official track and found the large scattered areas of glyphs and the village remains above it easily enough.
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All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
4 archives
Dec 11 2017
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Redemption on El Camino del Diablo, AZ 
Redemption on El Camino del Diablo, AZ
 
4x4 Trip avatar Dec 11 2017
AZWanderingBear
4x4 Trip136.00 Miles 2,322 AEG
4x4 Trip136.00 Miles3 Days         
2,322 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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AZBeaver
Steph_and_Blake
Back in January a buddy and I attempted a traverse of the El Camino del Diablo in less than ideal conditions. In the midst of a wet winter, we knew sections near the Pinacate Lava Flow and San Cristobol Wash would be difficult. We were stuck in mud of the worst sort for an hour east of Pinacate and San Cristobol proved completely impassable forcing a turn around. We back tracked to Wellton, our start point, and vowed to seek redemption another day.

While researching a future trip to Canyonlands, I emailed Steph and Blake about one of their recent trips. I’ve been envious of how much they explore for some time now. In the exchange they mentioned wanting to try El Camino this month. Though we had never met, pretty quickly we had arranged another west to east run, including Bob,my friend from the last attempt and his wife Jill.

We rendezvoused in Fortuna Hills, gassed up and aired down, setting out with 3 Toyotos (4Runner, Tacoma, and FJ), 6 people and 1 German Wire Terrier named Addie and high spirits. This was a different entry point than the previous attempt and we knew less about the road conditions. Skirting the western edge of the Gila Mountains was fairly slow going with a lot of wash crossings but nothing too technical or rough. The crew stopped and explored Fortuna Mine. There is an interpretive trail here but we only had time to do a bit of it. Fortuna was a huge operation in the day with shafts over 800 feet deep and boasting a 20 stamp mill, the largest I have heard of in the southwest.

The drive got easier and sandier as we worked south towards the Tinajas Altas Mountains. We made a few stops to admire the weathering of the granite that comprises the hills and mountains here and to check out the man-made features associated with the south to north flow of illegals. We cut east through the Tinajas Altas Pass and made camp in a little box canyon I’ve enjoyed a few times. With a bit of time before dinner, Jill and MJ did some rock scrambling along one of the walls of the canyon. Addie of course went along to show them the best way up. Ferguson, our portable potty, was a delight to the ladies. A pair of F-18s dogfighting just above us provided entertainment. The night passed uneventfully except for poor Addie who found some cholla.

While MJ and I spent a lot of time breaking down our camp the next morning, Blake, Steph, Jill and Addie tried to summit the ridge east of camp. These rocks make a fun scramble.

We stopped by the high tanks that give the Tinajas Altas their name and were a vital water source for early travelers on El Camino. Today the mountain sheep and other wildlife still depend on them as a somewhat reliable water source. We spotted grind holes and petroglyphs, both modern and ancient, as we worked up the steep drainage that holds the granite tanks. There was still water in the lower two tanks. The views east were fantastic.

We pushed out to the west border of the Cabeza Prieta where the Border Patrol had a high powered camera on a tower mounted on a truck. We waved when they panned down to check us out. We’d seen eastbound footprints in the sandy road. A few miles into the Cabeza we came across two young ladies backpacking the El Camino, an impressive undertaking when you consider the trail is over 120 miles with only 2 reliable water sources (not counting the Border Patrol stations who would likely chivalrously lend a hand to any young lady in the desert). The group made a quick stop at the Circle 8 gravesite, and then Tule Well for lunch. The Tule water spigot provided a nice little wash up for everyone. The Pinacate Lava Flow crossing is rocky and slow. We stopped at Nameer’s grave, still unknowing of who he may have been.

All along Steph had been teasing me about seeing the infamous “mudhole” that captured me last time. We pressed into the Pinta Sands. This time there was no mud, just the talcum powder fine sand and clay mix. We stopped at the site of the previous disaster, not as imposing looking this time. Except for Bob and I, the group was relatively unimpressed. I created a mini mudhole just off trail as a part of my revenge on del Diablo and then threw up as much dust as I could leading the expedition forward.

As is the custom, we made offerings to the trail at O'Neill's grave, sped past the Border Patrol’s Camp Grip and pulled up at Papago Well for the night’s camp. There was another group there already, but the site is large. Bob grilled some ribs to share with the group. Good ribs and a great sauce. A nice sunset provided the backdrop for dinner. Blake and Steph had brought along firewood, a nice touch for the cool evening. The conversation was lively, deep, varied, interesting as campfire conversations tend to be. We lingered by the fire late.

The group got a good start the next morning. We encountered the deepest sand yet in the wide swath of the San Cristobol Wash, passing the turnaround point for the last attempt. The Border Patrol trucks have created deep ruts in the sand and once in them you were not coming out. We just kept the rpms and forward momentum high and plowed through. Likely our three dust plumes were visible for miles. There is a another Border Patrol station at the boundary of the Cabeza Prieta and the Organ Pipe national Monument. We stopped to read all the signs and chuckle about the sand now that we were through it.

This was new territory for me on the El Camino. It was an easy and pretty drive eastward. We explored around Bates Well, an old ranch that operated from 1920 until 1976. The operation was grandfathered in when the Organ Pipe National Monument was formed and ceased only on the death of Henry Gray, the rancher.

From Bates Well the road turns northerly towards Ajo and is in good shape. We pushed up the speed, worked through Growler Pass, a favorite route for me into the bombing and gunnery ranges to the north when I wore a younger man’s clothes and flew A-10s out of Tucson. Soon there was a stop sign and pavement. The other two trucks pulled up in line. We’d covered over 120 miles, made new friends, had an adventure, made some memories.

Redemption was ours.
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
8 archives
Oct 31 2017
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Joshua Tree NP, CA 
Joshua Tree NP, CA
 
Hiking avatar Oct 31 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking33.50 Miles 4,550 AEG
Hiking33.50 Miles
4,550 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Headed out to Joshua Tree for 4 days of camping and hiking. We didn't get a real early start, so we were very lucky to find an available spot in Ryan Campground, our second choice. Not a fan of campgrounds, but they can be a necessary evil. Ryan is centrally located and our little spot backed up to some nice granite. Apparently half our neighbors were there to mostly be loud. Of the other half, we were pleasantly surprised to meet a young couple from Switzerland who are doing a few years exploring North America in their iconic 2002 Land Rover Defender. I love Land Rover's unofficial motto - "making mechanics out of drivers since 1948."

We tackled Ryan Mountain first to get a nice view of the area. Drove part of Geology Road which isn't all that interesting when you don't have the accompanying guide for what's significant at each of the sign posts. The guides are not available at the large metal box at the start of the road marked "Guides", only at the visitor centers miles and miles away. Did have fun exploring Squaw Tank, a small dam with some good rocks to scramble on nearby. Desert Queen Mine, Wall Street Stamp Mill and the Barker Dam provided a look back into the history of the area. Stopped by Skull Rock for a belated Halloween celebration and some more rock scrambling fun.

Ryan Ranch was very close to our campground so we strolled out to explore our second morning. Interesting place. Willow Hole is hike not listed on HAZ. We saw it on a park brochure and thought the name was worth exploring. It is a 7 plus mile round trip through sand to several willow trees in some damp earth. Took the opportunity to drive north and hike to 49 Palms. Yes, we counted them and there were 3 palms too many. MJ corrected the error and they are back to 49. Coyote Corner offers gifts, souvenirs, and 7.5 minute showers for only $4 per token. Highly recommended!

Keys View is a nice drive and a small walk. Gives a great view of the San Andreas Fault below, which of course isn't mentioned on the informational signs at the view point. We took a side dirt road on a whim and found a trailhead for Lost Horse Mine. We opted for the entire loop. The mine had a 10 stamp mill and operated for a long time. Water was pumped the 3.5 miles from Ryan Ranch to support the mine and mill. The southern half of the loop offers nice views and some other mine ruins. White bursage was blooming and when you brush against it or crush some in your hands it smelled like lemons. We explored around the Hidden Valley area and watched some friendly climbers at work for a bit.

The drive out took us past Cottonwood Campground and the Mastadon Peak and Mine Loop. The scramble to the top of Mastadon was short but fun with a chuckwalla lamenting our intrusion into his morning sunning routine.

We stopped off at the General Patton and Desert Training Center Museum at Chiricao Summit. The US Army trained in southern CA and southwestern AZ before embarking to North Africa to confront Hitler and Rommel in the Sahara, our entry into WW-II. The training was vital in learning to cope with desert conditions. The outline of the road network from the many camp towns established as part of the Desert Training Center are still visible when you fly over the area. The museum has an impressive collection of artifacts from the period.
Fauna
Fauna
Chuckwalla
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
1 archive
average hiking speed 1.86 mph
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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