San Rafael Swell & Goblin Valley in Utah
#1
Just a quick note with a few photos of the trip to the San Rafael Swell & Goblin Vallley in Utah this past week.  Charlie Horse was a fantastic guide!  His sister, Sarah, her 10 month old daughter (who is adorable and always happy!), Larry Robinson, Eldon Otta, Nan & Phil Hassey and I had a wonderful time hiking, visiting and enjoying the goats.  Here are a few "teaser" photos of the trip.


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My 3 month old wether, Captain Morgan, thought "UP" was the place to be!


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Goatberries Happen!
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#2
How cool! Looks like a great adventure Taffy! What amazing rock formations
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#3
Very cool!
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#4
Finally got my FTP service fixed so I can post pictures again.  So here's my belated write-up:

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Its an easy but long-ish drive from Salt Lake to the bottom side of the San Rafael Swell, where you'll find the slot canyons, goblin valley, and generally what is called the 'reef' which is up upwelling of rock, pushed up by an ancient and deeply buried salt dome. (See below)

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Once we met Phil and Nano, we all headed out on the dirt road, about 4 miles to Wildhorse Canyon.  We had to carefully get the horse trailers down the wash, closer to the canyon walls, but it worked out and we ended up with THE supreme camp spot right under some epic cliffs, and some giant slabs that will someday fall down and cover the camp site.  We set up some tents and such, and left the trailers to drive to Chute Canyon for a short hike of 5 miles.  

Here is a picture that gives a sense of the height of the cliffs in Chute Canyon:

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Here are Phil and Nano's goats:  Finn, Cusco, Sputnik, and Pack Man

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Some may remember the little Lamancha in Northern Utah that needed a home, and I ended up rescuing.  I wasnt sure I wanted another, but this guy (Vincent VanGoat) has really turned out to be fantastic.  He sticks right with you, he doesnt get into trouble, and he loves people.  This was his first big night out camping and he did great!

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We got back to camp at dusk and had some of Taffy's home cooking.  She also made the pumpkin seed chocolate chip cookies she had discovered at a previous pack-goat gathering and I have to say, they were an excellent way for me to kick off breaking my diet.  I could go on about them-- the giant salt flakes on the top, the choco... Lets just say Taffy was awesome and provided a great meal.  I donated a loaf of white-chocolate with walnut bread (I know a good bakery-- I dont really cook much.  I eat mostly Bachelor Chow) and it went over well.  I heard Cusco got the last end piece.  The only other campers we encountered way back at the road started lighting large-scale fireworks which were spectacular lighting up the cliffs and echoing like they did.  It was a perfect, almost too warm evening.

The next morning, Friday, we had breakfast and headed down Wildhorse Canyon.  Taffy stayed behind due to her knee acting up, but she still went some of the way down the canyon and saw some of the more awesome formations.  Today's hike was 11 miles total.

Here's Woodstock, a half Alpine, half Boer that Sarah picked up at Rendy in '13 at the auction.  He's a fantastic pack goat with lots of can-do and is as easy going as his name.  His main problem is that he's got the perfect camouflage in the desert!  If it werent for his packs I doubt I could have seen him.

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Larry and Cusco hanging out in what I call the Rock Garden...  

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#5
Here's a neat shot of Bacchus (2.5 years old) on some awesome sandstone:

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Here we are going past some interesting dry pools in the stone floor of the canyon.  Some of these were full of water as you'll see later.  BTW, a few days after we left, the San Rafael got 1.1 inches of rain.  That'll cause trouble in the washes for sure!  But I bet it was spectacular.

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Sarah decided to come on the trip at the last minute and brought her baby, Saskya, who is apparently super cheerful and easy going.  She really was no problem!

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One of the dry waterfalls dissappeared into a giant crack on the floor.  We went around, though I think humans could have climbed down.  The crack went on for a while and we backtracked into it to take a look.  Here you'll see Captain Morgan, a 4 month old Alpine/Nubian doing what he does best:  Climb on stuff and strike a pose.

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Dont you love the sound of your new packs scraping against sandstone?  Here's Shelby GT showing how its done, being a legit pack goat.

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Wildhorse Canyon turns and runs along the reef for a while, with one side being huge, super smooth cliffs and the other side being more of a rocky hilly type of terrain with a lot of junipers.

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It seems that if you're going to encounter some narrows, it'll be near the end of any of the canyons.  This one is not that narrow nor that tall compared to Little Wildhorse, but even so its still kindof a slot canyon for a hundred yards.

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Traffic Jamb

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#6
Just past the narrows you're out of the canyon and the reef. I've never been to Wildhorse Window, but I have wanted to visit it. Last time I attempted to find it, I was looking for an obvious trail and failed. This time I just looked at a map of the reef and decided on a good spot to head up onto the upper surface of the reef to cross-country it. Here you can see us planning.

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No wonder I never found a trail... the reef is just solid stone dunes. We found a few of those stacked rock cairns that helped, but they disappeared further up.

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Its not really as hard of a hike as it looks. It was my first time on top of the reef and I have to say it was amazing.

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The wind started picking up and some rainy looking clouds passed over. The shade was nice though. My hat nearly blew off a few times.

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My turn to carry Saskya. We shall not discuss what happened to the back side of my North American Pack Goat Assn. T-shirt!

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We started finding a lot of amazing, deep and cool pools hidden way up on the reef surrounded by rather mature trees and lots of vegetation.

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#7
Here we are approaching Wildhorse Window.

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Just to give you a sense of the scale of this thing:

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This is why its called the Window

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In any case, it was time for a break and for lunch. Apples and those tunafish-and-cracker kits. They're cheap and make for a good light lunch.

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Apparently we were not the first humans to lay eyes on this place. Someone beat us here by a few thousand years. The Freemont Indians.

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Can you believe Cusco is 13 and did this trip with no complaints? He's tough. A cool dude. Finn is only 2 and did no better.

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I could tell the trip so far was starting to take its tole on Sasha's hips. She gets creaky these days and I have to be careful that there are no jump-ups or she's toast. This trip was pretty smooth and she did fine.

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Here's the view out into the San Rafael Desert from inside the Window.

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#8
Saskya did not mind getting out of the papoose carrier thing. Cheerful as usual.

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Time to head down. I'm thinking someday I'll bring a pad and a good book and hang out for a while.

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Sarah, her kid and her other kid.

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Off in the distance you can see Goblin Valley sticking up. Heading down the Reef.

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By now everyone was ready to march back to camp. The goats kept themselves in the shade. So down the reef and back up Wildhorse Canyon to camp!

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Eldon brought treats. How he kept them a secret this long is a mystery.

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Back at camp, Sasha had had enough and was going to settle down for long stretches to rest her old joints.

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The wind kicked up and a cool mass of air moved in. Not cold but with the wind it was jacket weather. We did brats and hot dogs and smores provided by Nan and Phil! Then Phil did some lively tunes on his violin and I have to say he has real talent. Some of that stuff was tricky!

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Here's the White Lemon and Sarah's tent the next morning. It was a cooler night but very comfortable-- perhaps more than the previous warm night.

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By the way, I recommend these cot-tents for car camping with goats. They dont try to climb over them nor mess with them as much as ground based tents. I do love my hammock but out in the Swell there arent always enough trees to use it. Apparently Cabellas stole the design for this tent from Cotopaxi, so if you want one, I'd get one from them to be fair. They're nice because like a hammock you can hang your legs out and deal with shoes and feet without tracking sand in.

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#9
Here you see Nan and Phil ahead of us on a rise, with Temple Mountain in the background. Thats the last remaining rock from that white layer of stone. I have no idea why it remains but because of it being the last of that layer, its also the highest thing around. Its easy to tell where you're at judging by Temple Mountain. Its also where the road comes through the reef so you just cant get lost.

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On the road to Goblin Valley, I had to stop and take a picture of the reef head-on. See Wildhorse Window there? And on the left side the exit to Wildhorse Canyon. Looks different from this angle-- its hard to get a feel for the depth.

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Vincent VanGoat, first goat on Mars!

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I know the goats would have been having more fun if this wasn't the third day. It started to get a bit warm, though it was overcast.

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Goats, why arent you climbing up here with me? Lazy critters!
There are many caves here. I never found the big one I had seen last time.

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To be the first to explore this planet... but wait... If he's the first, then who is taking the photo?

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Shelby GT tried to wedge between some stones he had no business wedging in. Doesnt he know he's got packs? Honestly. By this time I was a little short on patience and kinda didnt react fast to keep him from trying in the first place. By now we had about 19 miles on us. Getting a little frazzled. A shame because this is a crazy planet.

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The one thing I didn't like about this planet is that there are some very, VERY large sand worms out in the deep desert.

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PS, Taffy gave me a whole bunch of cookies to take home. Sarah and I saw to it that they did not survive the trip.

For those that missed this trip, well, I'm pretty sure I'm doing more of these in the future. Perhaps we'll even kinda make a thing of it every year. Consider it for next year! Thanks to everyone who attended. We had people from WA, ID, CO, and UT, and 9 goats and a dog.
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#10
Oh my! The pictures are beautiful. What strange landscape. The goats looks great with that back drop. So do all the people especially the mother and baby girl.
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