San Rafael Swell Rock Art XVI | Friday – Sunday, March 23-25, 2018
This weekend I decided to take a break from exploring Canyonlands National Park and Bears Ears National Monument, so I headed over to the San Rafael Swell instead. This allowed me to avoid driving through the area surrounding Moab during the popular and very busy Easter Jeep Safari. I had decided earlier this year as I was making my plans for the spring that it was finally time to hike to the Kofford Cabin on Sids Mountain since it had been on my to-do list for a pretty long time. Originally, I was planning on spending the weekend hiking alone, but a few weeks ago I thought it might be nice to hike with my friend Jerry again, so I asked if he was interested in joining me, and he was.
I left after work on Friday afternoon and headed west into Utah on I-70. I had planned to get fuel in Ferron, but when I arrived I found that the only gas station in town was closed, so I had to make an unexpected detour to Castle Dale before meeting up with Jerry along the Dutch Flat Road. Had I known it was closed, I probably would have stopped in Green River instead. After meeting up with Jerry we continued on towards the trailhead on the Little Wedge at the edge of North Salt Wash and found a spot to camp for the night.
A colorful sunrise from the Little Wedge on Saturday morning.
We woke up to a vibrant sunrise on Saturday morning and I quickly grabbed my camera for a few photos. When the color in the sky was gone we got ready for our hike and then finished the short drive over to the hikers trailhead. The clouds that had created the colorful sunrise overtook the sky and left us with overcast conditions for much of the day until later in the evening. Apparently the original forecast of mostly sunny skies with wind was wrong, which seems to be happening a lot lately. At least they were also wrong about the wind and it stayed pretty calm out for most of the day. The hike started out by crossing North Salt Wash and then we followed a horse trail across the top of Sids Mountain to the Kofford Cabin, which is sometimes mistakenly called Sids Cabin.
I didn’t set an alarm for Saturday morning and figured that I would wake up when the sun came out, so when I was awakened by colorful light and clouds shortly before sunrise I had to quickly grab my camera and scramble for a few photos.
The Kofford Cabin on Sids Mountain. I believe this cabin was built up on posts on overturned pans to try and keep mice out.
This cabin was built by Clayton Kofford and his sons in 1936.
I found this old axe by the cabin. The edge was a little dull…
The Auto Stove
A closer look at the window in the cabin.
A corral located near the cabin.
After spending some time checking out the cabin and surroundings, we climbed up to the Swazy Benchmark on the top of a nearby high point. On top we actually found three markers that were pointing to each other, which I assume was used for some kind of triangulation or something? If anyone knows how these are used, feel free to let me know in the comments below!
Here’s a view from the Swazy Benchmark (1952) looking out over Sids Mountain with the Wasatch Plateau in the distance.
From the summit there was a pretty nice view over the upper reaches of Virgin Spring Canyon and No Mans Mountain.
Instead of following the trail we had taken to reach the cabin back, we hiked down Long Hollow Canyon so we could visit a few petroglyph panels along the way.
A panel of very old linear sheep petroglyphs.
One of the bigger and nicer petroglyph panels we found on Sids Mountain.
It’s funny, I had been telling Jerry earlier in the day how much I really wanted to find an arrowhead this year since I had already found an awesome mug in January, and then I came across this one during our hike back.
While hiking through Long Hollow we startled two bighorn sheep in the wash who quickly climbed up the steep sandstone walls out of the canyon. I managed to get a quick photo of this one.
An interesting sandstone pedestal we found along the wash.
After following the canyon back to North Salt Wash we were stopped by an impressive pourover with a great view. We stopped here for a snack and then climbed out of the canyon we were in and returned to the main trail.
Hiking along the rim back to the horse trail we had used to cross the canyon in the morning.
We visited a few more petroglyph panels on our way back to the trailhead.
Looking up Saddle Horse Canyon before starting our final climb out of the canyon.
We finally saw some blue sky and nice light on the landscape as we left North Salt Wash.
After hiking a little over sixteen miles in ten hours, we arrived back at the trailhead pretty late in the day. We had some dinner and then decided to drive over to Sid & Charley to camp so that we could spend Sunday morning visiting a few more rock art sites in the area that I wanted to re-photograph and that Jerry had not been to before.
Nice light across the Swell as we drove back across the Little Wedge.
We made it to our campsite near Sid & Charley at dusk.
Just like on Saturday morning, Sunday started with an amazing sunrise that I wasn’t prepared to photograph. I quickly got ready and grabbed my camera to take a few shots before the color was gone.
Nice clouds above camp.
These are some of the pictographs and petroglyphs we visited this morning…
After spending a few hours looking at rock art, Jerry and I called it a day early and headed back home. It was a very nice weekend in the San Rafael Swell and I’m glad I was finally able to hike on Sids Mountain!