A Swell outing in the San Rafael

JCMatthews

Tour Guide
I have needed an outing for some time and on the morning of Friday, January 9th I told my 8 year old son Isaac that I would take him to sleep out in the truck if he had a good day at school.

I should tell you that he is a character, he loves to talk and does not love to always do the work his teacher gives him. Can you imagine? Being an elementary school teacher, I know how hard it can be when students won't do as they are asked. I also know that school can be torture especially for little boys full of energy. I have heard that at Guantanamo they forced the detainees to sit quietly at school desks, and complete six hours of school work each day with only three fifteen minute breaks. Some of the toughest detainees spilled their guts under these conditions.

Fast forward to Friday afternoon. When I arrived home my son reported that he had had a great day. He reminded me I had made him a deal. He told me I could not back out, and that we were going. So we kicked into high gear, and got the minimum packed to stay warm and enjoy a night out. I decided that we would stay at the Wedge overlook in the San Rafael Swell. Before we left town we made a quick stop at Wal-Mart to acquire new camp entertainment. I purchased a Crossman air rifle so that we could make swiss cheese of our pop cans. With dinner from the Wal-Mart Deli and the new camp entertainment in hand we headed for the great outdoors.

We found the Wedge in good time seeing how we only had a 1 hour drive from Price. We found us a good spot unloaded the fire wood and then realized in our hast had left our Estwing axe in the driveway. I problem solved and quickly found a solution. Using a claw hammer and 2 lbs sledge I was able to split the wood in no time. My son was impressed and thinks that I can do anything. We built us a nice fire, looked at the Milky Way and Orion, and figured out how to take night shots with the camera. The tripod will be on the next trip for sure.

We are fans of the TV show "Alaska the Last Frontier" and I had downloaded a few of this seasons episodes to the Ipad as an added reward, so we got in our beds and watched a few.
 

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JCMatthews

Tour Guide
The next morning we slept in until a little after 8:30. We awoke to a temperature of 30 degrees f. and the entire world covered in a layer of frost. It was quite beautiful. Also not being too cold it was easy to enjoy. We took a stroll down the road to a beautiful BLM vault toilet, and enjoyed the views of the Wedge. When we returned to camp we built up the fire and made an oatmeal breakfast. We broke out the new BB gun and sighted it in. Isaac soon became a pretty good shot, and saved the can to prove it. We shot for probably an hour then packet the truck and headed out. I took an unimproved road from the Wedge towards the Buckhorn Flat. It was much longer than the main route, but proved fun and scenic. Isaac spotted a herd of 37 pronghorn antelope that my poor eyes would have missed.
 

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JCMatthews

Tour Guide
We continued on towards the Buckhorn Draw Pictograph panel. I have brought my family here at least yearly, but Isaac said he could not remember seeing the dinosaur track, so we stopped to see it. We also stopped at a small panel I had never investigated before. My eyes are bad, and not getting a new cornea until summer, so I did not look long for Matt Warner's signature and continued on to the Buckhorn Draw Pictograph panel.
 

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JCMatthews

Tour Guide
I have been coming to this spot for nearly 30 years, but I have never noticed or thought about it before that all but one of the ancient pieces of art are painted. It just kind of made me wonder. Leaving the panel, we headed for an, off the beaten path, sight called the Silent Sentinel. I really like this petroglyph, being first introduced to it at the age of 14 on a Boy Scout camp. I have returned here often sharing it with many of my friends. At the parking area for the Silent Sentinel Isaac needed to practice his shooting skills once more before heading home. I stopped at the Buck Horn Reservoir to take a picture or two, because this is the only time of year it really has any water in it. It looks like a lot, but it is probably no more than a foot deep. We had a good trip that lasted less than 24 hours, but I'd do it again next week without much prodding by any or all of my children.

The first seven pictures here are of the Buckhorn panel. The next two are the Silent Sentinel and a panel next to it. Finally the last one is a parting shot of the Buckhorn Reservoir
 

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seeNik48

Adventurer
You must be an awesome teacher. And, what a wonderful dad to share the outdoors with your son. We have trip planned in early April to spend at least 2 weeks in the Swell, both north and south parts. Looking forward to checking out those rock art panels. Bring an illustrator, I am sure I would have written on those walls, too. Actually got in trouble as a kid for marking a wall with crayons. Hope you share many more adventures with your son. He will learn more with you than in school.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
What a great trip! Thanks for sharing. Can't wait till my kids are just a little older finally hitting 3yrs this March for the youngest and 6 this summer for the oldest. We are for sure getting our camp game going this summer! Though most likely local near by trips. I've read just about every Swell blog I can find really interesting area. Wish we were a little closer though.
 

JCMatthews

Tour Guide
What a great trip! Thanks for sharing. Can't wait till my kids are just a little older finally hitting 3yrs this March for the youngest and 6 this summer for the oldest. We are for sure getting our camp game going this summer! Though most likely local near by trips. I've read just about every Swell blog I can find really interesting area. Wish we were a little closer though.
When my oldest was three months old we took her camping for the first time. Then when she was six month old we took her on her first backpack trip. We took both girls backpacking carrying their own water when they were 5 and 7. We take them all camping several nights a year. Sometimes we tent it, sometimes we take a camp trailer, and like this trip, sometimes we sleep in the truck. Last year we went into the dollhouse in CLNP and my girls did a great job surviving a sand storm in their own tent. The next day they, (7, 10, 12) completed an 8 mile hike down into the Maze. Not only was I amazed, but all those on the trip seemed impressed. This summer we are planning a month traveling to Alaska and back. Most of this trip will be tent camping, we might get the occasional room if we feel we can afford it.
 
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