Thursday, May 7, 2009

Are You Ready for Adventure?

I first want to start by congratulating Seth. On April 30th he finished one more semester of school! Not only did he finish, but he was able to maintain a GPA of 3.59 while taking 19 credits AND working full-time. I like to call him Professor Hanson because he's such a genius!

To celebrate finishing the hardest semester ever, we decided to take our first camping trip of the season to get away and relax. No work or school to worry about, just nature and relaxation.

We decided to go to Buckhorn Wash down in the San Rafael Swell. If we'd been there before, neither of us could remember it, and it was a somewhat close, fairly people-free spot. I got all our stuff packed up and ready to go so we could leave in the morning on Friday, May 1st. Seth got a brand new big 2-room Cabelas tent from his parents for his birthday so we were pretty excited about trying it out. Plus we'd decided to splurge and get a 3 burner Coleman camp stove (with accompanying griddle!), so we stopped off at Cabelas on the way down to pick one up. Wahoo for camping stuff!

We couldn't believe how beautiful the drive was. It felt like we were driving through an Irish Spring commercial when we went through Spanish Fork Canyon! Maybe they should make a new soap called Spanish Fork Spring. Ok maybe not.

When we got to Buckhorn Wash we decided we'd better go pick out a camp spot before all the good ones were taken. We found a place near the far end of the wash, nestled in a cove below a towering sandstone cliff and started to set up our new gear.

I'm used to setting up tiny dome tents and Seth wasn't too familiar with our tent style either, but somehow we managed to get the thing up. It was huge! It has a 10x16' floor so we felt like we were in an outdoor mansion!

After getting all our gear organized Seth gathered up a little wood and made a fire for us. We sat around the campfire and talked and admired the scenery. Not too long after roasting our hotdogs and oatmeal creme cookies, it started to sprinkle. Luckily it was starting to get dark by this time so we headed into the tent with our chairs. We also decided to bring in our campstove, cooler and anything else we wanted from the car. We had so much room inside that tent!

This is the rock face above our campsite. Seth dubbed the figure "Spirit Man."

Another rock face at our campsite. There's two figures in this pic, but they didn't have names.

The next morning it was still raining pretty good and I was glad we'd brought everything into the tent the night before. We spent the morning figuring out our new camp stove and cooking a leisurely breakfast of pancakes and bacon. I ruined a couple pancakes trying to get used to the griddle, but that's to be expected, right?

Our tent had a little awning on the front which we'd just rolled up out of the way when we put it up, but we decided to put it up while we were making breakfast so we could open the screen door (to ventilate for the stove) without getting wet. Surprisingly enough it stayed strong too and after a couple adjustments, we found a way to keep the water from pooling up on top. It was a great morning just relaxing and watching the rain.

The famous 3 burner Coleman stove!

Well, about the time we were done with breakfast the rain stopped. We cleaned up the dishes and then headed out on a designated route to try and find some petroglyphs and pictographs that were scattered along the wash. It turned out to be a bit of a hide-and-seek game as some of the features weren't exactly easy to find.

Our first stop was a huge wall of pictographs and petroglyphs. It's right along the road so they're easily seen. Apparently the drawings are from two groups of people. The pictographs (paintings) are from an older civilization about 2000 years ago. The petroglyphs (carved pictures) are from a civilization from about 1000 years ago. They aren't sure exactly what tribes of Native Americans they were from or exactly what all the pictures mean. Seth has a theory that the people drawn in the pictures are representations of figures they saw on the rock walls. If you look at the markings on the rock walls just right, they look just like people. I think Seth is onto something! Who needs scientists and anthropologists when you've got Professor Hanson?

The next stop was a signature on a rock wall from Matt Warner, dated February 17, 1920. I guess he was some guy who used to run around with Butch Cassidy. It took us a minute to find it, but eventually we did. Maybe we should've parked at the pull-out right in front of it and followed the footpaths. Eh, we'll make our own pathways! Anyway, you could tell why Matt became an outlaw. He must not have been the brightest of guys... he spelled his own name wrong (Mat) and his "9" was backwards so it looked like a "P." Stick with what suits you I guess.

The next stop was another set of pictographs. I used my deductive reasoning and decided it'd be best to pull over in the parking area and follow the man-made trail (the pictographs weren't visible from the road). Seth headed off in the other direction towards another large rock wall. In his defense the instructions told us the pictographs were on the East side of the road (they were on the West side) and we'd seen 3 climbers up there the day before. Plus there was a small trail. I followed my woman's intuition up the trail on the west side and found the large group of pictographs (not to gloat or anything...).

After this stop we drove to another smaller group of pictographs. It was easily found by spotting a set of initials someone had shot into the rock next to it. They must have been using some sort of bazooka though because those bullet holes were huge! You could have put a stick of dynamite into those suckers!

Our next item was a bit tougher to find. There was supposed to be a dinosaur track up on this sandstone ledge, but there were no signs or anything to show where it was. We wandered around for a little while before finally climbing over a big bunch of rocks onto a second sandstone ledge. I was looking everywhere for the thing and was about to just call it quits when Seth found it. It was under a rock! I think people cover it so it doesn't get ruined, but still. A sign or something would be nice. So, we did what anyone else would've done... we took pictures and then put a giant rock on top of it again. To our credit we drew a big "X" on the rock and wrote "The track isn't here." Come on, people would totally look there anyway!

Right across from where the dinosaur track was located, was a camp spot with a small canyon behind it. We decided to stop and eat lunch at the mouth of the little canyon (pre-assembled tuna salad kits from the store are the best!) and then began hiking. We walked a little ways to were the 4 wheeler tracks stopped and ducked through some bushes. The trail wound around for a short distance and then opened up into a little alcove where the hike ended. It was this beautiful shaded room with high rock walls on all sides, probably no more than 10 feet across. And what did we find? Secret petroglyphs on the wall! We didn't know they were there, as I'm sure many people didn't, and we found them! We had talked about finding our own secret pictographs and we found some on our first exploration! I'm sure we weren't the first to see them, but I bet there aren't many people who have.

When we got back from that hike, we decided to find another place to explore. There was a short hike mentioned on our little guide paper so we decided to go check it out. That hike wasn't much farther than our first one, but it was still fun. We probably could've gone farther, but it involved a little climbing and I wussed out. Seth was able to climb up the place where we stopped and found a magic brown sparkly rock. We're not really sure what it is, but it's probably worth A LOT.

We decided to go back to camp after the last hike and just relax for awhile. We went for a little walk around our campsite and found this rock that looked like a giant butt. It was so funny. We even climbed in there! There was a lot of prickly pear cactus around and I mentioned to Seth that I'd never tried any but that for some reason it looked really good. With that, he whipped out his pocket knife and cut off a chunk so I could taste it. It wasn't as good as I thought it'd be, though it wasn't necessarily bad. I thought it tasted like spongy cheesies. I'm sure you've eaten cheesies before, all kids have. If you don't remember what they are look here.

Come on, it totally looks like a giant butt!

That evening turned out to be really beautiful and clear so we stayed up late and star gazed and talked around the fire. Oh, I forgot that a bunch of people wussed out after the first night and ditched their campsites so me and Seth went around to all of them to raid their firewood. Maybe THEY should've gotten a fancy Cabelas tent too! Crazy City Slickers with their Walmart tents and Barbie sleeping bags. Don't they know this is the WILDERNESS? Not just anybody can survive out here!

The next morning we ate another lovely pancake and bacon breakfast (much better this time... I think I got that griddle all figured out!). It had rained a bit early that morning so we hung out and cleaned things up while we waited for the tent to dry out. Then with sad hearts we took down our desert mansion and put all our stuff back in the car.

Doesn't he look so happy with his plate of bacon?

I told Seth he had to "Steamroll" the tent to get the air out.

Before we left we decided to go for one last hike in the canyon across from our campsite. We thought maybe it'd turn into a slot canyon or something. This hike had a lot of big boulders and things to climb over and under so it made it a bit more exciting. The hike only went for about a 1/2 mile or so before we hit a big wall that was too tall to climb over. Oh well, maybe next time.

Seth decided from this trip that it'd be fun to take up canyoneering. We would've been able to go a lot farther if we'd had a rope and some basic gear. I think canyoneering could be fun. It doesn't seem quite as death-defying as rock climbing (I don't want to fall 1000 feet to my death, thank you very much!). Maybe we'll get a book or something and learn some of the tricks.

Just outside the wash is the Wedge overlook. The Wedge is like a small scale Grand Canyon. It was amazing! We couldn't even tell there was this magnificent canyon there until we were right up next to the cliff! So beautiful! We sat on the edge of the cliff in the warm sun and ate another lunch of tuna sandwiches before we got back in the car to drive back to civilization.

It really was tough coming back to real life after such a great weekend. Seth and I wanted to thank Mom and Daddy Hanson for the awesome tent (without which we surely would have been miserable), Annie and Eric for checking on Gracie the cat while we were gone, and Cabelas for allowing us to purchase their fine merchandise. Without all of you, this weekend would not have been possible. Oh, and thank you God, for creating nature without which we wouldn't have had a place to camp.


It's Me said...

Wow...Talk about a weekend rolled up into well, a really long novel.... (THAT WAS A LONG POST!!)I liked all your pictures, you look really cute for being in a tent camping. Looks and sounds like you had a great time! I'm jealous!

heidi said...

You could fit a woolly mammoth in that tent! It's SO huge! I love that big campstove, too!

I also love the bandana'd look you guys sported all weekend. And happy Seth with his happy bacon. And steamrolling Seth. Also all the pix of sweet cute Karen.

The views were breathtaking! I can see why you guys wanna try canyoneering. It seems to me that Paul knows at least a LITTLE about that.

What a blissful vacation! And you totally made me laugh!

XO heidi