San Rafael Swell March 2009


Jan 18, 2012
Day 1

So, this was to be our first official camping trip of the year. We typically get out camping around Bill's birthday, but this was our own trip and we could not coordinate our schedules to be there when Bill was going (which is the following weekend). We brought my brother's Russ, Jeff, and Billy. We had planned to do some hikes that we thought they would enjoy (Goblin Valley and Little Wild Horse Canyon) and hoped to get in a hike of something we had never done (Crack Canyon) but our plans were altered by an un-happy baby and the worst sand storm I've ever seen at the Swell.

All in all we had a great time. We got to do some rapelling and my brothers got to see a part of Utah that we really love.

We left SLC around 2:30pm, meeting up with Jeff and Billy in Springville and leaving there around 3:30pm. We had a few stops along the way because Bailey was NOT happy sitting in the car that long. Also, Jeff was the un-lucky sucker to get pulled over along the infamous Wellington town along Hwy 6. He and I were both doing 60 coming into town and slowing down when we saw the 40 mph sign, but the cop decided to pull him over anyway. Pretty lame if you ask me, but that hole in the wall has to get some money in their budget somehow.

We arrived to the Temple Mtn junction around 7pm and drove to the campsite we love in the North Temple wash. Low and behold it was empty (we've lucked out the last 3 times we've tried to camp there with it being empty). I think it's one of the best campsites in the Swell because you're tucked right up against the reef with easy reef-scrambling right out of your campsite to get some great views of the area. Plus it's pretty central to both the southern and northern parts of the reef.

We set up camp and set up a small little rappel for Caiden to test out. The incline was not fully vertical, so it was a good one for him to practice on:

It was close to dinner time, so Bailey was first to eat

We had a little breezy night around the campfire, but dinner was good and we just kind of chilled for a bit.

Bailey was so cute, hanging out with her Uncle Russ

She was really good around the campfire. Just stared at the fire and chilled and eventually fell asleep in my arms

She looked as if she was going to sleep "like a baby", but that didn't go so well...

Bailey was up literally every 30 minutes, with Alene rocking her back to sleep. Very hard to "rock" a baby back to sleep in a tent. I felt so bad for her.
Day 2
So, after a horrible nights sleep (well, mine wasn't as bad, plus whenever I was sleeping I was snoring so loud it would wake up my brothers in their tent 40' away from us), we got up and found it to be pretty cold. That gave us motivation to scale the reef behind our campsite to see if there was a viable anchor on top to tie off my climbing rope to do some rappelling later in the day after our hikes.
Alene stayed in the tent to stay warm with Bailey. Jeff, Billy, Caiden, and I headed up to the top of the reef to inspect. We found a GREAT group of LARGE rocks to anchor off of. We worked our day back down the reef, made breakfast, then dinged around teaching Billy how to rappel off a smaller wall (about 15'-20' tall). Caiden did really well again.

We then headed out for our two hikes. We first stopped by Goblin Valley state park. That place gets more and more packed with visitors every year. It didn't help that we were there on a Saturday.
I'm not going to list all of the pictures we took, but here is a link to them (along with past times we've gone). The first 13 of them were from this trip.

Goblin Valley

The brotha's

Me and Bailey

Alene and Caiden riding the camel

Russ, riding what I like to call "turtle rock"

Flexing my toothpicks

Jeff aka "the karate kid"

After Goblin Valley, we headed on over to Little Wild Horse canyon, which is probably the most famous slot canyon to visit for the "average" person. The hike was great, but I'll say this: NEVER GO TO THIS CANYON ON A SATURDAY. We used to be able to go here on a saturday and maybe run into a dozen people, if we were lucky. This day we easily passed over 100 people in the canyon. LOT'S of Boy Scouts too.
Again, I won't post all of these pictures (I took most of my pictures here), so I'll post the link to the photos and a few of my favorites. Again, the first 40 pictures in this set were from this trip, the others beyond that were from previous trips

Little Wild Horse Canyon

Me and my brothers on the trail into LWH

Alene and Bailey made it through a pretty tight squeeze

Footage of walking through a slot
Posing at the large choke stone in the slot

Inside the ribs of the beast

We stopped a couple of miles in to each lunch, then turned around and went back out.

Me and Alene

Bailey was so happy to be leaving

We got back to the campsite and by then Alene and I had to decide if we could go through another night with Bailey. We decided it was best that Alene go to Green River, get a hotel and hopefully she and Bailey can get a good nights sleep. I was sad to see her go because I know Alene wanted to be here. However, it was probably best (I'll explain why on Day 3).
For the rest of the day we ended up anchoring my 90m rope to a couple of large rocks that were big enough for me, Russ, and Jeff to hang from the rope, so we figured we would be safe. We're not experts, but it was fun rappelling this large cliff behind us. It wasn't 100% vertical in all places, but still fun to do.
Here are is the link to our rappelling and some of the pictures and video clips:
Alene waiting her turn while Bailey hams it up for the camera

Russ' first attempt

Jeff's first attempt

Billy's first attempt

Alene's attempt (she bolted after this for Green River)

My first attempt. This section was easier compared to what we did the next day (a little more vertical)

Caiden did a few rappel's later that night too

Later that night we just ate dinner and chilled around the fire until it was time to doze off. Jeff and I attempted to take some night time pictures. Jeff's were much better.
My shot of the moon (too shaky, even on a tripod, but I think it has to do with the focus)

Jeff's shot of the moon through his telescope

Jeff's tent with the stars behind it (I'm posting the large version to show the details)

Day 3
I actually slept better than I've slept in a LONG time. I woke up a few times out of habit from Bailey waking up, but man, it felt great. I noticed during the night the breeze was picking up and by morning it was really blowing hard. We made our breakfast (which took a long time to burn since the wind was really blowing our burner around), packed up our stuff and did some more rappelling before leaving our campsite.
Here are more rappels from this day. This section of the cliff was much more vertical and easier to do since you didn't have to navigate your feet over a crack.
My first attempt of this section

Jeff's rappel
Billy's rappel
Caiden's last rappel of the day as I gathered the longer rope

After breaking down our ropes, it was getting really dusty/windy, but I wanted to show my brothers more of the swell, so we drove up North Temple wash close to Temple mountain to show them some old miners cabins and and old abandoned chevy.
Inside the miners cabin

The old Chevy

On our way back out of the wash, you can see how bad the dust storm is (this is looking East, through the reef)

We decided to do a little target practice too

On our way out the dust was REALLY bad east of the reef. This is looking eastward from the mouth of North Temple wash

This is looking North at the reef

From the temple mtn road, this is looking south toward goblin valley

A group of cows huddled together. I'm sure they were thinking the cow gods were not looking on them fondly that day

It really was a fun trip. I'm bummed we didn't do Crack Canyon, but you never know with clouds and dust, what kind of weather you're going to get, so we high-tailed it out of there. I wish I lived closer to the swell and we could get there easier.
wow, great trip with a lot of fun.
Too bad that your little one didn't like to sleep.
Anyway, it was a great weekend. I really like the Swell a lot and hopefully I can get back sooner or later.
wow, great trip with a lot of fun.
Too bad that your little one didn't like to sleep.
Anyway, it was a great weekend. I really like the Swell a lot and hopefully I can get back sooner or later.

Thanks. She's 3 years old now and LOVES camping (sleeps through the night now). Not sure how our newborn is going to do as he'll be a bit younger than she was when he first camps, but he already sleeps so much better than she did, even at home.
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