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Ladybug

The Most Magnificent San Rafael Swell and Capitol Reef! October 2018

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I just can't believe how truly magnificent this part of our wondrous USA is!! We traveled through the upper part of Capitol Reef National Park, then headed over to Goblin State Park and then finally behind the Swell. I have so many pics to share...and will do my best not to overwhelm the thread!

 

And yes, the nights were sometimes cold, and one day rainy, but other than that, we only made one trip adjustment, and the weather cooperated with us the rest of the time!

 

Many thanks to those who came with us to share this most remarkable journey! And many thanks to JohnPa for being such a great tailgunner! Coming along with us: Mike Buckner, JohnPa, Dick and Joyce (Elkpakr), Darryl (Azrninthejeep), guests Bob and Nancy, and Bob from Moab who joined us for a day.

Feel free to post pics! Mine may take awhile!! LOL!

smiles, ladybug

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We started out on Saturday morning through Monument Valley.

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A stop at the Goosenecks State Park, overlooking the San Juan River.

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Then up the Moki Dugway onto Cedar Flats.

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From there we head over towards Hite Marina on Lake Powell. Overlooking the Colorado River.

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I just loved seeing the snow on the Henry Mountains!

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And then into Hanksville for our first night of camping, and one of 3 showers on this trip! We met Mike there.

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On Sunday morning, we acknowledge the amount of rain that this area had the prior week, and I continuously check the road conditions hotline of Capitol Reef National Park, to find that the western part of our loop has been declared impassable. So our loop trail through the upper part of the park becomes a spur trail. We enter via Cainesville, and head over the hills to Glass Mountain, Temple of the Sun, and Temple of the Moon - all in Cathedral Valley of Capitol Reef National Park.

 

On our way towards the Temples.

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Looking back to the snow capped Henry Mountains.

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The Glass Mountain is actually a gypsum plug. The Temples are in the background; the gypsum "mountain" is in the foreground.

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Lunch was at the Temple of the Moon.

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We drive onto Upper Cathedral Valley, past the Wall of Jerico. We see rain coming, and snow in the hills!

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We drive up to the overlook. The rain starts so we don't spend alot of time at this elevation!

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A stop at the Morrell Line Cabin. Originally built by another family, in another location, it was purchased by a rancher who relocated it and used it for his cowboys. It is preserved on the national park.

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The opposite of a gypsum plug? A gypsum sinkhole! 50 feet wide and 200 feet deep!

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We say goodbye to Cathedral Valley and start looking for a campsite.

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Our campsite is along the trail on BLM land.

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I have to also include many thanks to Johnpa for the most excellent campfires each night! While the first 2 nights were not so bad, other nights were coldish, and that campfire made all the difference in the world! I packed, and wore!, good quality thermals and heat retentive socks to bed each night, so between the clothing and Conan, it was only those early mornings that had me shivering most. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! Yes, yes, yes!

smiles, ladybug

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On Monday, we left Capitol Reef and headed over to Goblin State Park, where I had reserved the group site. I have to admit, the faces of the group as they saw the site were rather dasturdly. It was a parking lot, large ramada, and wet clay soil around it. No private bathroom. (Although the bathroom, with showers, was within walking distance.)

 

Given the damp clay soils around the ramada, we chose to set our tents up under the ramada, using picnic tables to tie off our tents, since we couldn't stake them.

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We waited around for awhile, as it looked like rain, waiting for it to pass, so we could go for a hike among the goblins. I should report that BLM recommended we stay out of the slot canyons of the swell, due to the rains of the prior week, and the puddles that would be within those slot canyons. If you are ever in this area, I highly recommend the slot canyons, but given this advise, we chose instead to hike among the goblins.

 

Dick and Joyce

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The goblins are fun to climb around.

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There are tons of these goblins all over the place...Pretty cool! I head off with Bob and Nancy for a short hike.

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And then the rains came. And they came. And we slipped and slided our way back to the parking lot. Thankfully it was only the 3 of us that got soaked through. Those showers felt so good after that downpour!!

See how the clay soils glisten during and after rains!

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And a FULL double after all that rain!

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And who knew that we were all so thankful for the ramada campground that night!!! Obviously someone was looking out for us! Now the rest of the explorers were thanking me for a fine campsite!! LOL!

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The next morning, fog had settled in along the reef. This picture barely shows Temple Mountain in the distance, and the remainder of the campground in the forefront.

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But the explorers that we are, we head out! Hoping for good weather!

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On Tuesday, we cross through the Swell and head "behind the Swell" and into the most wondrous world!

Our first stop is along Temple Mountain petroglyphs. This panel is unique in that it includes pics from both the Barrier Reef period, as well as the Fremont period.

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Granted that Moses got rather turned around and we ran the Red Canyon loop in the opposite direction from what I had planned, but it actually worked out better, as we saw the reds of Red Canyon in the morning easterly light, and it was much more photogenic that way. Pictures simply cannot do this area justice!

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Picture courtesy of JohnPa...official fire chief as well as group pic taker.

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We drive right through the Red Canyon below.

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Lunch was at Lucky Strike Mine...an old uranium mine. I did not pick up rocks on this trip!

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We head to Tomsich Butte and the Hondoo Arch, seen in the distant. We also visited the Dirty Devil Mine on Tomsich Butte....another uranium mine. Uranium was heavily mined in the Swell in the Cold War. The uranium mined at Temple Mountain actually went to New Mexico for the making of the first atomic bomb.

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Cowboy Camp, along the Muddy River, with the Hondoo Arch above.

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Then we head over to the Hidden Splendor Mine, a spur off the Red Canyon loop. Another uranium mine, the original owner got really rich, then sold it and that guy went broke.

Crossing through Penitentiary Canyon....

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Onto Hidden Splendor...One postcard view after another....

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While we did not explore the uranium mine here, we did check out the air strip....This is still an active air strip...out in the midst of the Swell!

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Needless to say, we parked quick, took a quick pick, and moved off quickly!

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Down along the Muddy River.

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A great campsite, tucked along a small ridge among the cedars....

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Ahh...but it was a cold night....Not that I noticed it until I left the tent in the morning, and saw the frost on Gracie...

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Wednesday! We drove over to Swasey Cabin. The Swasey brothers, 4 of them, were described as skillful, able, and wild. They lived in caves and slept on the ground during the late 1800s. It was them who named many of the features of the Swell. They built this cabin, but not until 1921, and from trees found in Eagle Canyon, nearby. Our drive goes through Rod's Valley, because Rod Swasey liked it so he named it after himself!

 

The rock behind the cabin is known as the Broken Cross. John checks out the inside of the cabin while Dick does patrol...

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John is a good sport about displaying the bling that we found for him....

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It took us a bit of walking and time, but we finally found the Ice Box. Its a short distance from the cabin, and where they stored their meats and foods all year long... (sorry the pic is sideways...turn your head)

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We head off down Eagle Canyon. Understand that the entire time we are behind the Swell, we maybe saw 3 vehicles. Well look what's on the trail in front of us...He decided at the last minute that the trail was tough and he was going to turn around....

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We anchored Gracie to the jeep behind us, then winched him back onto the trail. He did a fair amount of damage to his vehicle, but was mostly happy that we came along. Bob walked him down the trail and guided him in turning around....

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After that, we were able to head into Eagle Canyon. We were surprised at the Douglas Fir in the canyon too!

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Eagle Arch....our lunch spot...

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And then under Interstate 70!

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We had a bit of a climb coming up out of the canyon....This is the one spot that I spoke to BLM about, and they only said that they couldn't confirm the trail conditions...only that the map shows it passable. We took our chances on this trail and made it...

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And then we had to go back under Interstate 70 once again...This time it was a much tighter fit.

 

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Our fearless Tailgunner!

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From here we head over to the Copper Globe Mine, via Devils Canyon.

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Just along the spur to the mine, is this memorial. It did not bode well to be a sheep herder in this cattle country.

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This was a copper mine, unlike the uranium mines in the area. It did not do well...It was too costly to transport the ore out of the area, so the miner and his son built a smelter on site....But they ran out of adobe brick and used green brick, so not only did the smelter melt the ore, but it also melted the smelter. There is still a pile 75 feet long of wood on site for the smelter.

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A beautiful view up by Lynks Flat from our campsite.

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The next day, we head down Cats Canyon, and then over to Kimball Draw. One thing to note is that there are 2 big wild horse herds here behind the Swell. One was near where we camped the first night (behind the swell) and the second was here, near Lynks Flat. And we saw LOTS of horse scat, much of it fresh, but never a horse. We saw this pile of horse hair along the trail, and could only imagine what caused so much....fighting or breeding... (another one of those turn your head shots)

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After exiting Cat Canyon, we climb up, before dropping into Kimball Draw.

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In Kimball Draw we saw interesting erosion and a small herd of antelope, but no pics on either! Just more awesomeness!

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After a fuel stop in Castle Dale we head to the Wedge! This is the Little Grand Canyon of Utah, in the upper regions of the San Rafael Swell.

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Our campsite on this night was on the ledge!!

 

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