Wednesday, July 15, 2009

San Rafael Swell Freehike - Sept. 2007

We cancelled the Freehiking Utah Group hike to Price on Saturday, September 22, because the weather was supposed to be rainy all day. Still, Ben, Cherie, and I decided to travel down to meet Aaron and at least check out the area's potential for a future hike. We didn't expect we'd get to hike naked - wrong - big time!

We left Salt Lake City 45 minutes late (about 8:45) and drove about two hours south to meet Aaron in Price. He led us south through Buckhorn Draw to the Little Grand Canyon of the San Rafael River. The scenery on the way was fantastic. We passed the Buckhorn Wash Rock Art Panel (at which we stopped to take photos on the way back). Just past the old San Rafael Bridge and campground we parked, stripped down, and started hiking.

The trail ran along the San Rafael River, a slow moving, greenish colored stream about 10 to 15 feet wide. Majestic red-rock cliffs and rock formations rose high on both sides of the river. Tamarac, cottonwood trees, and juniper trees partly filled the valley along the river, adding a touch of green to the otherwise dry and rocky scenery. It was spectacular.

The trail was worn and easy to follow, with very few footprints. It was mostly flat making for a very easy hike. The temperature was just right for a nude hike - not cool at all, but not overbearingly hot either. The slight breeze was wonderfully refreshing on our nude bodies. The sky started blue, but clouds slowly moved in to fill the sky - rain was on the way, but not arriving quickly.

We hiked for quite a distance along the river until we reached an area with some interesting specimens of petrified wood. Ken collected a nice specimen.

Then we turned back to hike a branch canyon we had passed. We thought it might go only a small distance, but instead it turned into a large wash with high cliffs on each side. There were no footprints in this area. We were truly isolated from the world in a fantastically beautiful place. We hiked some distance until we realized that the canyon wasn't likely to end soon, the weather was slowly getting more ominous, and the time was passing quickly, so we headed back.

On our return we hiked down the wash to the river. The bank was muddy, with many animal tracks (perhaps cat tracks). The water was cool, but it would have felt very nice on a nude body on a hot day. As we returned we had to cover up as several other hikers passed. Aaron said it was quite unusual to meet people hiking in this area.

Very soon we returned to the car, and had to dress. The weather was moving in more quickly, but we were up Price Canyon before it got bad.

Don't miss this freehiking this area if you can possibly make it. It is a marvelous area as can be seen from the photos we took. (See this link: )

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