The weather forecast was good, and it was time to leave my buried in snow town for some sun and desert. Three year old Kessler was ready for some exploring as well and desperately wanted to get outside. The San Rafael Swell seemed like a good choice.
I had wanted to explore Iron Wash and Lone Man Draw to the Cedar Mesa Sandstone to see if there was a slot. I also wanted to hike Iron wash through the Reef since I haven’t done it before. Having already explored Ernie Canyon and Upper Iron Wash (the technical section), I wanted to explore the rest of Iron and Lone Man to complete the series. It would be a long hike for Kessler in two days, but I didn’t bother to measure it on the map.
February 3, 2006
After driving down Thursday night, we were ready to start early the next morning. Iron Wash was scenic and spectacular with high red rock walls, as it cut through the Reef and was a pleasant walk. The main difficulty was the slippery ice in the shaded sections. There was a bit of snow as well, but it wasn’t a problem. We made the first four miles to Lone Man Draw in 2.5 hours, which was much quicker than expected. Lone Man Draw looked pretty dry, and since Iron Wash had a nice creek at this point, and some inviting campsites, we decided to drop the packs here and day hike the rest of the canyon. It would be a long day however, if we could make it.
After a nice lunch, we hiked up Lone Man Draw was open, sunny, and pleasant since it faces south. After hiking a couple of hours, we stopped for a rest near where the canyon cuts through the Cedar Mesa Sandstone. There was a shallow slot, but it doesn’t look as deep as the one in the main fork. We had made it with time to spare.
Since we had time, and since Kessler wanted more, we climbed up the slopes to the east for a peek into the canyon. We climbed several hundred feet to a nice and high overlook, where we “discovered” a nice (presumably) Fremont Indian Ruin. It was right on top of a butte. There is no water up here, so it must have been a winter campsite where one can look for miles in all directions. We continued up to another point with fine views. We had made it much farther than expected, and it was time to go back.
We reached the edge of a canyon and Kessler wanted to explore it. I had wanted to take the faster rim walk, but he wanted to go down the canyon. It was a rugged scramble in and there was an eight foot cliff to get over. Luckily, I brought a short rope to lower Kessler down. There was a shallow Chinle slot that Kessler like to hike through. After reaching the main Lone Man Draw we headed back to camp arriving not long before sunset. It was a long day.
It was getting cold, so we built a nice driftwood fire in the wash bottom (so it would wash away with the next rains). Kessler was tired and asked to go to bed after dinner. I told him it was a long hike today. He agreed and asked “Daddy, are you proud of your buddy?” Obviously I was.
February 4, 2006
The next morning was 19 degrees, so I started the fire with some small sticks so Kessler could sit by it while eating breakfast. We quickly ate and decided to hike up Iron Wash to the slot since we still had time. We walked up to the slot with the huge pools of water. They were all covered with ice. We left the main drainage and hiked a side canyon so we could peer into the slot. Kessler wanted to see the slot his daddy hiked down before he was born.
After some exploring, we ate lunch and headed back to camp. Camp was packed up, and we started back for the car. The last four miles were long because Kessler said his feet were sore. We hiked a little slower and reached the car very tired. It was a six-hour drive back home. On the way back, Kessler asked “Daddy can we hike those canyons again sometime?”
After reaching home, I had wanted to measure (on the computer) our distance covered because I was curious if Kessler might have broke his record of eight miles in one day set last September on Marsh Peak. I measured our first day distance and was astounded. I had to measure it again because it seemed too much. The figure was the same. We had covered just over 12 miles the first day! Kessler had shattered his old record. It was all trail-less walking as well, and some of it quite rugged. Day two was 10 miles, quite impressive as well for a three year old. We had covered 22 miles in two days. Kessler was very proud of himself, and I was too. He excitedly told his mom that he hiked 22 miles. We ate a few popsicles before going to bed. I wonder what our next adventure will be?