GROUP HIKE! -- One Week In The San Rafael Swell
Well, can't post pics from anything but last day, darn. And AT&T, no help as usual. So think I better post this one before we lose it too.

Herb, this is for you. While you have searched every crevice and cave in Utah for the hiding place of "The King" (Elvis), we just stumbled upon "The Duke", tending bar in Hanksville, where he poured us a final toast to a fabulous time and Utah's best tour guide.

Here's to you, Herb!

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Here are me and Phil's photos of the first day on the Morrison Formation. 
Starting out... 

While most of us avoided any steep terrain, Phil and Eldon took a detour and scaled this high, rocky ridge. Naturally their goats followed faithfully behind. A climb like this is nothing to a nimble goat!  

Ahh... the top at last!

Eldon and the boys taking in the view. 

We're all still heartbroken about Pac-Man, but Eldon's new little goats, Elliot and Hobbes, are fantastic little buddies and seem to love their packgoat life. They certainly love Eldon! 

And here are the rest of us who were not ambitious enough to climb the ridge. 

At some point, Robert and Connie’s young packgoats got confused. They didn’t like the two dogs that accompanied us, and they were also afraid of the big packgoats with horns. Phil and Eldon and their goats had gone one direction while the rest of the group went the other. I’m not sure Sprite and Blackie knew which way their own people had gone, so they set off on their own!

Sprite and Blackie disappeared up the ridge where Phil and Eldon had gone, but by then Phil and Eldon had circled back down and rejoined the rest of the group. No one was around, so Sprite and Blackie kept right on climbing! They disappeared over a high, distant ridge line so Phil and Herb went on a recovery mission. They found the two errant goats at the highest point they could reach, stopped at the edge of a cliff. Robert and Connie did not let them off-lead after that little adventure!

While up top, Phil and Herb found a partially exposed dinosaur skeleton. If you look carefully you can see traces of it in the soil. Herb plans to go back and do some more exploring. 
Nan and Taffy examine their treasures. 

We stopped for lunch in the shade of some large boulders. 

Herb took us to the outcropping of purple and gold rocks that Phil and I had visited on our last trip to Ferron in 2018. Sputnik’s halter and my t-shirt were very appropriate for the scenery. It’s always good to dress for the occasion!

I liked this rainbow-like ridge of rock. 

Mighty Warrior Woman Nan! With arms of steel, she splits rocks like pie crust!

Sometimes the rocks disguise themselves as dinosaur skeletons.

On closer inspection, maybe it’s a large desert caterpillar. See the dark eye and the antenna on the left? Phil and Finn better watch out!

Eldon and his crew enjoy the bright yellow rocks. 

Taffy's goat, Bourbon, enjoys the few sprigs of dry grass he can find. 
Arriving at the San Rafael Reef (part of the San Rafael Swell), Herb scouted ahead for a place for us to camp.  While he, his dog Luna and his goat Shelby GT are traveling in a Lexus SUV and can go anywhere the rest of us had trucks, trailers and campers that needed a little more room.  He found a great spot where we were near both Goblin Valley State Park and the Wild Horse Window.


We set up our camps and gathered in the shade of my trailer for visiting and more rock painting.  We had a very talented group of artists in the group!

The next morning we headed to Goblin Valley State Park.  You would never know this existed looking at the landscape.  After paying admittance we drove up the road and as we pulled into the parking area Goblin Valley opened before us.  Are we on a different planet?!


The park features thousands of hoodoos, referred to locally as goblins, which are formations of mushroom-shaped rock pinnacles.  Using your imagination you can see all sorts of images created by the hoodoos.

Can you see the camel?


Bourbon loved looking up at the cliffs.  We ran into a lot of dead end canyons.  He thought we should scale the wall!  I told him we needed to retrace our steps.


I could not believe the number of people that began showing up about 45 minutes after we arrived.  Our goats were a magnet and I met people from France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and throughout the US.  One gal had lived in Utah her entire life and never visited Goblin Valley before!

Once we were all back at the parking lot and loaded up we headed out.  Everyone else went to hike Crack Canyon while I decided I wanted to go back to camp.  They were gone a long time and I later heard the road to Crack Canyon was a real bugger but that Crack Canyon was beautiful.
Goatberries Happen!
A beautiful wash of colors. 

Contrasted with the lovely starkness of this whitewashed boulder field. 

It was obvious from the soil that there had been quite a bit of moisture earlier in the year. The top layer been washed over, leaving a fascinating micro-replica of the larger formation. There were tiny “goblins” and pinnacles formed from the soil and pebbles.

I loved this pinto-colored sandstone. It was fairly common in the dry river bottom. I brought home a couple of specimens, including one to decorate Jet’s grave.

There was a large culvert we had to pass through on our way in and out. The goats were a little suspicious.

And here we are on "The Wedge" overlooking the "Little Grand Canyon". What a view! 
Thursday was the day I had been waiting for since the last trip to the Swell in 2016.  I was going to see Wild Horse Window I hadn't been able to see then.

After some scouting Herb and Nan decided we should hike from our campsite to the Window instead of starting at the trailhead.  The hike from the campsite would entail less climbing.  Off we went.  We walked in a wash, up and across sandstone hills, crossing small ravines and cracks in the sandstone along the way.

This is where I have to admit I finally met my match.  My heart does not process oxygen like it should but the doctor said exploratory surgery to find out why is more risky than living with it.  I'm usually able to pace myself and not have too much trouble.  I ended up lagging behind and it was a real struggle at times to keep going in between numerous breaks.  I was bound and determined to make it to the Window or die trying.

Here's a photo I took on the way up.  The views and scenery were so pretty.


I made it!



Once I rested I saw the beauty of the cave.  The Window (which is shaped like an eye), the pictographs, the view looking down the hills to the desert floor.  It was worth the climb.  Everyone was gathered in the cave visiting and exploring.

Here is a photo showing most of the rocks we painted.  Some were hidden on the way to the Window, some around the caves and some on the way back to camp.


I hope the ones Debbi and Connie painted of Bacchus are still there the next time Herb does this hike so he can find them.  He had a real affinity for them.

The trip back to camp was a tough one for me.  Herb stayed with me the entire hike.  He even saved my life when we were crossing a ravine between two sandstone hills.  I lost my balance on the last step across and his arm was there to keep me from falling!  Nan backtracked from camp to check on our progress when we were about 1/2 mile from camp.  In spite of being exhausted I was finding uniquely colored and shaped rocks while we were walking.  My Dad was a rock hound.  He would have loved this area.

I cannot say enough about how wonderful Bourbon is.  He stays with me no matter where I am or what I am doing.  In camp and on the trail.  I used him to lean on and help pull me along a couple times on the Window hike.  He acted like he'd been doing it all of his life.  At 5 years old he's at the beginning of his prime packing years.

Back at camp I took a much needed rest.  Connie & Robert napped, Eldon & Debbi headed out for a drive around the area and ended up having dinner in Green River.  Herb, Nan & Phil hadn't had enough hiking so went on another hike above camp.  Oh, the energy of youth! Smile 

That night was our last night in camp.  Our new "family" would be heading their separate ways.  After dark, under a starlit sky, Phil serenaded us with his fiddle.  He is so talented!  The goats seemed to enjoy it, too.  What a wonderful end to a spectacular trip.

Herb headed home because he didn't have anyone to do his morning chores at home.  The rest of us turned in.

The next morning we all said our goodbyes and headed back to "the real world."

I'll never be able to bake enough of my chocolate pumpkin seed cookies to thank Herb for all he did to make this trip one of the most memorable of my lifetime.

Goatberries Happen!
The trip home didn't quite go as smoothly as hoped.  Eldon, Debbi & I traveled caravanned to and from Utah.  They only live about 3 miles from me.  The 2nd morning on the trip home we stopped in Sand Hollow, ID for a late breakfast.  We'd ordered and were sitting enjoying a cup of coffee when the waitress yelled, "Does someone own a goat?"  The three of us went flying out the door.  Bourbon was standing in the middle of a busy intersection looking dazed and confused!  I walked out to him and his hair was standing on end,  He was obviously spooked.  A good samaritan had stopped her car and was making sure traffic didn't hit him.  I walked him back to the truck but she'd left so I didn't get a chance to thank her.  I had locked the truck canopy latches but they hadn't locked into the frame properly.  When Bourbon's nose had pressed against the glass when he was looking out the canopy window lifted open.  He'd jumped out with the tailgate up while the truck was hooked to the travel trailer.  So many things could have gone wrong with this whole scenario.  The Lord was definitely looking over Bourbon.  I will always double check the latches from now on.  Here's a photo Debbi took of me leading Bourbon back to the truck.


The next "adventure" happened about a 1/2 mile before I was down Cabbage Hill east of Pendleton, OR.  It was pouring rain driving down this 6 mile long 6% grade twisty-turny hill.  The passenger windshield wiper flew off!  I radioed Eldon & Debbi on the walkie-talkie to pull into the truck stop at the base of the hill.  I turned the windshield wipers on and off only as needed.  A scratched windshield was less of a worry than being able to see.  I bought a replacement windshield wiper, it was installed and we headed home on the final leg of the journey.
Goatberries Happen!
Misty morning at the Little Grand Canyon. 

Finn admires the view. 

Finn and Sputnik performing daredevil cliffside walks. 

"How far down is it?"

Since it's Sputnik, I know he's not actually as close to the edge as he looks--he's a pretty cautious fellow. 

Bacchus commands center stage. 
That afternoon we drove to the bottom of Buckhorn Draw and hiked a short ways up Calf Canyon. It took us a while to get going, and it was during the prep time that a cyclist came by that I'd seen the day before on top of The Wedge. He had been coming just as we had been going, but today he stopped because he was curious about our goats. We told him a little about ourselves and then he told us he was on an adventure to ride his bicycle from Canada to Mexico using almost exclusively dirt roads. So far he had been mostly successful at avoiding pavement. His name was Matt, he was about 30 years old, he had a broad, infectious smile, and he was a Coloradan like us! He had snuck across a rancher's land so he could quickly touch foot on Canada, and now he was headed for the southern border. He was the epitome of the carefree, wandering spirit. He'd spent time in Montana teaching a marching band class to earn money for his trip. He'd spent time playing in a jazz band in New Orleans to earn money for a similar bike trip the year before. He traveled impossibly light and would camp in the open on public land, filtering water from creeks and stock tanks. What a marvelous young gypsy! I'll never forget that great, toothy smile, deep tan, and dark eyes sparkling with the joy of adventure. We shook hands and wished him best of luck on his journey then packed our goats and set off on a much shorter journey of our own.  

I spent the first part of the hike with Taffy. We went slow, but that gave us plenty of time to visit.  

We ate lunch in this little grove near a spring before heading back. It was a short hike but a merry one!
On Tuesday morning we stopped by the San Rafael Museum before heading out to the Goblin Valley area. We were greeted by a replica of a famous petroglyph in the area that Phil and I saw once before in person when we visited Ferron in 2018. I didn't remember seeing this goat! Of course, the replica is somewhat more clearly etched than the original, and also there are a LOT of figures on this panel. But here is the goat now since I apparently missed it the first time...   

Phil poses with Finn's distant relation. 

Phil was intrigued by this school spanking paddle. The word PAIN is drilled into this "board of education"! 

We found a wonderful campsite near Goblin Valley, and the best part was that there was a scenic little wash that went right by so we could explore or go for interesting walks right from camp. We did a little exploring that first night before dark. 

Eldon and Hobbes share a moment. 

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