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Thread: San Rafael Spring 2014

  1. #1

    San Rafael Spring 2014

    The semi-annual San Rafael geocaching event this spring was pretty low-key this year, but provided me some relaxing time to myself early in the week and some fun with friends on the weekend. For the past couple of years Dave has accompanied me early in the week before the events. This season he had some other commitments, so I drove down solo--just me, Torrey, and Boulder, that is--on Tuesday evening. I set up camp just off the Moore Cutoff Road a short distance southeast of Lone Tree Reservoir, then poured a drink and threw some chicken on the grill. It was windy with dark clouds moving in, so I hunkered down in the trailer and read a book, Tales of Canyonlands Cowboys.

    Astragalus mollissimus (Locoweed)

    Dark clouds blowing in

    Dark clouds over camp

    The dogs' restlessness woke me just before sunrise on Wednesday morning, so I let them outside for a bit then went back to sleep for another hour or so. After breakfast I hopped in the truck for a short drive along the eastern edge of Molen Reef and then began hiking to some pictographs that I've known of for years but had never visited. I've become so spoiled with my Jeep that driving the truck felt like driving a tank. Worse, actually. I found an arrowhead and saw a lot of wildflowers while hiking. It was overcast and cool--perfect weather for hiking and rock art hunting. I only knew roughly where the pictograph were, somewhere within a half-mile stretch of a small canyon. I found it easily and took a few photos before heading back toward the truck.

    Wednesday's sunrise

    Truck parked with Molen Reef stretching across the background

    Ooh, a pretty rock!

    Outcropping of orange soil

    Physaria rectipes (Bladderpod)

    Oreocarya flavoculata (?)

    The Observer

    The Observer

    The Observer

    The Observer

    Allium textile (Onion)

    Allium textile (Onion), which I dug up and ate with dinner

    Section corner survey marker

    In the afternoon I made another short drive to find another pictograph that I learned of just a few months ago. During the drive I had to stop for a nice, bright Claret Cup that was in bloom a couple hundred feet from the road--the first I'd seen blooming this year. The "Fairy" pictograph was easy to find since Alan had been there several weeks earlier and narrowed the location down for me. The quality of the rock art wasn't great but the Fairy figure was unique.

    Echinocereus triglochidiatus (Claret Cup Cactus)

    Canyon along Molen Reef

    Fairy pictograph

    Indiscernible pictographs near the Fairy

    Pictograph near the Fairy

    Thursday was probably my favorite day. I spent several hours exploring Short Canyon. I began hiking after I drove my truck into the canyon about as far as it could go. There's quite a bit of rock art in Short Canyon, and though I didn't know the location of any of it, I think I found it all. It was a clear, sunny day, so the dogs got hot quickly with all the running they do, but I kept a slower pace and was fairly comfortable. I had actually been in Short Canyon twice before, each time to find a geocache, but each time I'd hiked in from the main road because the BLM had posted closure signs at the Short Canyon turnoff--I simply wasn't interested enough in the rock art back then to continue the hike to look for it. This time there were no closure signs and I cheerily drove on the Short Canyon road. The rock art got better and better as I ascended the canyon on foot. The first pictograph panel isn't terribly well made and looks quite bright--I'll hesitate to call it recent, but it doesn't look very ancient, either. There was a smattering of pictographs and petroglyphs before reaching the very cool Wavy Arms Guy. Next was a large pictograph panel that had petroglyphs pecked over the top of it--certainly two different cultures, perhaps the more recent trying to diss the older. Finally, there was a great Barrier Canyon style figure with large eyes, antennae, and an upheld, perfect five-fingered hand.

    Thursday's sunrise

    Truck parked in Short Canyon

    Torrey and Boulder cooling off in the shade of a tree

    Phacelia crenulata (Notched-leaved Phacelia)

    Short Canyon pictographs

    Paint splatter near some pictographs

    Short Canyon petroglyphs

    Wavy Arms Guy

    Spiral pictograph with horns

    Short Canyon pictographs with overlaid petroglyphs

    Short Canyon pictographs with overlaid petroglyphs

    Short Canyon pictographs

    Head and antennae detail

    Torrey and Boulder drinking from Short Canyon Spring

    I got back to camp and found that Terry and Karen had arrived and set up their camp outfit. Traci and the kids showed up late in the evening after Bradley's soccer game, bringing my precious Jeep so I wouldn't have to drive the tank any more. Chris got there late at night and we stayed up until early in the morning around the campfire. No surprise--I spent Friday lying in bed until the afternoon. :) Ken and Jan got to camp sometime while I was konked out. Chris, Bradley, and I went for a short drive on Friday evening along the Moore Cutoff Road and hiked around a bit, and a while after returning to camp I noticed a tire on the Jeep going flat. I didn't want to change it right then so I put the jack under the axle to keep the wheel from sitting on the tire and left it that way for the night.

    Dinosaur footprint near the Moore Cutoff Road

    Pediocactus despainii (San Rafael Cactus), an endangered cactus, this being the first I've ever seen

    Large snake petroglyph at Dry Wash

    Camp on Friday evening

    I changed the tire on Saturday morning and forgot to chock the wheels or use the parking brake and the Jeep rolled off the jack. There was still room to get the jack back under the axle and raise it again, but I had to hammer the brake heat shield back into shape. The tire had a damned sidewall puncture (my third this year after already having one on the truck and camp trailer), and later at home I ended up putting two new tires on it and using the other good used tire as my spare. Later in the morning the whole group headed to the Rochester Panel. It had been several years since my first visit, and I still chuckled at some of the pornographic petroglyphs.

    Jeep brake rotor on the ground

    Our group parked at the Rochester Panel trailhead

    Hiking to the Rochester Panel

    Rochester Panel

    Rochester Panel

    Rochester Panel

    Rochester Panel

    Rochester Panel

    Circular iron stains in the sandstone

    Muddy Creek northeast of the Rochester Panel

    Rain and hail moved in as we were hiking back to the parking lot and everyone in the group split up for the afternoon. I had my family and Chris in the Jeep and we drove to an interesting place south of Emery near the Coal Cliffs, overlooking Quitchupah Creek. There, the sandstone has turned a reddish color due to heat from an active underground coal seam fire. A fault in the ground, likely caused by subsidence from the coal reduction below, was spewing out heat and noxious gases. We returned to camp and found my sister and her family there, and the group was joined later by one other geocacher. It was a small group but we enjoyed a great potluck dinner followed by another late-ish night around the campfire.

    Rain over Emery and the Wasatch Plateau

    Vent hole for an underground coal fire

    Camp on Saturday evening

    Chris and Torrey

    Laminar clouds at sunset

    Spinning wool


    On Sunday morning Chris and I took the kids and dogs for a short hike near camp. Everyone cleared out pretty early, though as usual Traci and I were the last to leave. It was pretty wonderful getting home from a trip early in the day 'cause it left time to unwind after unpacking the truck and trailer.

    Camp before leaving on Sunday

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  3. #2
    Very nice. I hope to make it to one of these events in the future

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by New Mexico View Post
    Very nice. I hope to make it to one of these events in the future
    It'd be nice to have you there! :) I usually plan these for about the third weekend in April and October.
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  5. #4
    Isn't it about time to ban this guy/troll?

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor View Post
    Isn't it about time to ban this guy/troll?
    Blog | FB

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