Perfect Kiva Loop

gnwatts

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I'll admit it. I am obsessed with Grand Gulch, and many of the other canyons in the vicinity. Lucky for me I have a very understanding spouse. Many of the trips have been with friends, others by myself. My friend PJ and I for awhile had a standing rule on our excursions: all of them had to be loop hikes. And there are many possibilities on Cedar Mesa. Out of a dozen or so hikes we did my favorite was this one. I could always get to the start of this hike in my old cars at any time of year it seemed. It has everything I like, varied terrain and great ruins and rock art. The Sheiks Canyon car park has a pretty custom camp spot, with a table and everything:






In February of 2003 my friend Spencer and I decided spend a few day's on Cedar Mesa. My trips with him were often unpredictable, which is what made them so much fun. We did not really know where we were going, other than I wanted to find a short way into Bullet Canyon to eliminate the longer hike in from the Bullet trailhead. It was a beautiful first day, we hiked SW (on nice hard snow) from the Sheiks Canyon car park/camp spot, and in less than an hour we were at the canyon rim. We then worked our way down off the rim and found an old abandoned fire ring, some cool tent spots a nice little ruin nearby.



View larger map.













Below: Perfect Kiva is in the alcove center right






Then the wind picked up, and we knew the weather was changing. I slept so good that night, even with the wind howling. We awoke to 3 or 4" of snow, cold nasty snow. I have no idea why I have no more pictures of the walk back that morning, as we said enough and walked back to the car, and had breakfast in Blanding. But I had accomplished part of my agenda, there were a few ways down to the bottom of Bullet from here, all of them a little hairy with some exposure but doable with a pack I thought.

It is a really great way into the lower part of Bullet. Once you can see Perfect Kiva from the rim, start looking for ways down, there are 2 or 3, and you can take your pick. All of them have some exposure, be very careful.

Perfect Kiva:
2008







Below:
One of the best (at least in the top 3 IMO) camp spots ever. Continuing down canyon from Perfect Kiva, this spot is near Jailhouse Ruin (which is around the corner in the distance in the pic below). It is completely protected, I was once stuck here for a day and night (bummer!) due to a freak spring snow, an amazing experience. There is small intermittent spring right below. It is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. And you can fit probably 20 people easy.
From 2007:







Below:
One way out of Bullet is out the end of this cave, it leads diagonally up to the rim (to the camp spot described previously). Usual caveat about the exposure.





Jailhouse Ruin, just down canyon:








Continuing ....
This is one of my favorite ruins. It has the upper level in the distance, with this garden level apartment. The person who designed this building was truly inspired. A big slab of rock and 2 walls at either end. Nice sunny terrace. The simple things in life!



Continuing down Bullet then up to Sheiks Canyon and Green Mask Ruin.
There are already posts about this ruin, so I won't add too many. As a ruin it is ok, pretty much destroyed, although the little ruin up above is very cool. The shot below is from the entrance to the higher ruin, which is kind of through it's roof. You can also see how high this cave is, with rock art on it's roof:



From inside:





There is a camp spot under the far end of the overhang about 100' from the ruin, but I prefer the one shown below, raised to the perfect height at the bend in this beautiful canyon out in the open. The sounds get amplified to a crazy level here. A very intense, spiritual place.





A good day hike, which we did on this fall day in 2011, is from Green Mask ruin, and up Grand Gulch a couple miles. The picture below is actually from Sheiks Canyon looking into Grand Gulch showing the Thumb. Our day hike climbed up to the Thumb and across to the right, with a rock art panel on the point on the right side of the image. We then contoured up canyon on the slickrock above. Easy walking and we found some fun stuff.









Lot's of finger prints:









I think the back wall of the building in the pic below once went to the ceiling to seal off the cave behind, which is very deep. Maybe a 2nd floor roof covered this small building?



Shot from behind the building above, looking back towards some granaries, and what appears possibly to be the remains of a wall that sealed off the cave. Who knows? It is a big space back here, and quite dry.










All that is left is the hike back to Green Mask and out Sheiks to the car. I find Sheiks Canyon to be a very difficult canyon with a full backpack on. For the first mile it is very steep and technical, but at the same time it is a lot of fun, in a sadistic kind of way.

Below:
Loking up canyon just past the Thumb overlook, which is above the first big rock fall you will go through. I believe there are 3 (someone can correct me on this)? All of the others are smaller. From Feb. 2008:





Looking back down canyon:





The Sheiks Canyon trailhead, behind my 4x.




I have spent 4 days doing this hike with side trips. I have also done the basic loop as a long day hike.

I really don't know why I don't have pictures from one trip for this whole loop hike, start to finish. Big Mystery! Thanks for looking.

Sunset from 2003, above Perfect Kiva:



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DAA

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Jun 14, 2012
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Love that section of the Gulch too. Have not been able to explore it as thoroughly, yet.

- DAA
 

DrNed

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I've yet to do a desert canyon trip. Your images inspire me to change that. Thanks Greg!
 

Dave

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Nice to see the area so green in your pics. It was all dead when I just went through.

I second that camping site next to Perfect Kiva… I didn't stay there but scouted it on my way through.
 

Michael

Alien from over the pond...
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Very impressively, Greg!
That's a beautiful area.

BTW, I know the man w/ the red 4x4 BMW. He gave me some hints about: How to reach the TH of Sheiks by a RV. :)
I've done the Sheiks-Bullet Loop in a 2-day backpacking trip, 2 years ago.
But never I would go the other direction - that's sadomaso. :eek:
 

gnwatts

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Thanks for the comments.
Michael, that was probably me, as that is my BMW. Did you make it in your RV?
Nick, that is one of my favorites also.

Something I kind of glossed over in my post was the remarkable amount of rock art found @ Green Mask. Not only the walls, but all across the roof of the cave. The first time my wife and I ventured through here we spent the better part of day just staring up at the ceiling, trying to figure it all out. It seemed like the story of the universe, spanning across this monumental roof of stone, 30' in the air!
How did they get up there? We had no answers, of course. Just theories.
 
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Dave

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Green Mask is probably the best single rock art panel I've seen.
 

Michael

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Yes I did it Greg.
I took the south road, 'cause the north road has 2 washes crossings. Found a nice spot on the connecting road, where 3, or so, spots for RVs are located.
Next morning we hiked in the upcoming sun to Sheiks TH.
 

Slot Canyon

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Jul 7, 2013
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Greg, thanks for your update on this trip. My brother and I are going to give the route off the rim a shot in April. Appreciate the ideas and map.
Well Done!
 

Duke

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Greg, I realize that it is only a tangent for such a good TR, but I really like the shot with the blue leaves. You have a good eye for art in photos.
 

Slot Canyon

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Greg, My bother and I will be at the Grand Gulch in about 2 weeks. In considering an overnight Backpack trip, do you think it would be practical/reasonable to hike down Sheik's (we have day hiked down about 2 yrs ago) and then proceed to Green house to explore and return up to lower end of Bullet to camp. Next day we would visit Jail house and Perfect Kiva and hike out via the rim route and cross country to Sheik's TH. Would the first day be excessive. I know we could always camp near the mouth of Green House. Appreciate your opinion. Anything else we should be on look out for in the area. Other ruins in Green House?
Thanks
Don
 

Bob

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Camping at Green House is interesting.... One year two of our party slept under/near the overhange area.....both woke up with bad headaches, complained of nightmares all night. ?? It's a strange place to stay. Before our lower three dayer I think a day hike to GM and back next week. Can you get down the overlook spot headed to the 'thumb' I can't find notes if doable or not.
 

gnwatts

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Greg, My bother and I will be at the Grand Gulch in about 2 weeks. In considering an overnight Backpack trip, do you think it would be practical/reasonable to hike down Sheik's (we have day hiked down about 2 yrs ago) and then proceed to Green house to explore and return up to lower end of Bullet to camp. Next day we would visit Jail house and Perfect Kiva and hike out via the rim route and cross country to Sheik's TH. Would the first day be excessive. I know we could always camp near the mouth of Green House. Appreciate your opinion. Anything else we should be on look out for in the area. Other ruins in Green House?
Thanks
Don

Don

I did the exact same route basically in 3 leisurely days. You are going down Sheiks and then Grand Gulch to Green House, then back to Bullet (about 8.5 miles). Visiting some ruins and rock art along the way, that would be a tough day, at least for me. Not much sightseeing. But I do not know how fast you are. There is a lot to see. I only visited the Green House ruin (which is very cool) and then we camped in an alcove (maybe the same one Bob camped in) a little further up Green House Canyon, and then swam in a great pool up canyon a little ways. It was very hot out when we were there.

When I did this route we went down Sheiks late in the day, arrived at Green Mask at dark and camped. Next morning we hiked down to Green House and the camped there. Next morning we hiked up to Bullet and then found the cave nearJailhouse early in the afternoon and decided to stay another day in the canyon. We could easily have hiked out and over to the car at Sheiks TH that afternoon.
I hope this helps.

Bob

Before our lower three dayer I think a day hike to GM and back next week. Can you get down the overlook spot headed to the 'thumb' I can't find notes if doable or not.

I have wondered if there was a way down, I have looked at it a few times.
 

baltocharlie

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Dec 21, 2012
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Nicely done trip report. Love the contrast of the leaves(blue/green as well as yellow) against the red rock. I wish I had continued to search for the Bullet way down. I settled for Sheik in, Sheik out.
 
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