This Northrop Backpacking Club trip to this wilderness area just north of Grand Canyon was mainly to see rock art. (It's like, the club thing this year). The trip was designed for four days, about 38 mi in length, descending Snake Gulch to Kanab Creek, then climbing out in Slide Canyon. The idea was that we'd meet Mike and Jenni Thomas, shuttle the cars, (about 15 mi each way) and be on the trail early Friday morning. As it turned out, only Brian and I ended up going from here, so we drove to Hurricane UT on Thursday and got us some comfortable $15 bunks at the Dixie Youth Hostel. Up at 0430 Friday, we met Mike and Jenni at the gas station and finished the 100 miles or so to the trailhead, with one of the best sunrises I've ever seen (and I get to see lots.....no, really).
Snake Gulch is one of Kanab Creek's longer tributary canyons, and is one of the best places to see rock art on the entire Colorado Plateau. Most are pictographs done in red paint. I haven't been able to find out very much about the place, relatively, but the paintings are supposed to be Anasazi, and though I don't know for sure, I think they should be of the Virgin subculture. Many of the images resemble Fremont art of further north, and Virgin Anasazi symbols are supposed to be stylistically similar. But I'm not an expert.
This was supposed to be a four-day trip, with our group of four relying on springs, which, according to the Kaibab NF Backcountry Dude "should be" gushing due to recent heavy rains. BUT the single spring that we found running (at Mile 10) was a mere dribble of a bad-tasting mineral-laden water that soon gave three of us 'backpacker's distress', thereby earning this trip a record breaking 3-Trowel rating!! (This then would be the exact opposite of the more common backpacker's complaint, but I won't go into that here......)
So without a sense of trust that springs further downcanyon were running, we chose the prudent option to return to the trailhead on the second day. We were not disappointed by the rock art, most of which was concentrated in the ten mile stretch we did hike, so here are some photos.
Gratuitous starting group shot. We have perfect weather for this trip today.
At elev 6000', upper Snake Gulch looks a lot like this. It's dry but easy walking, and most of the pictographs turn out to be on the right side so we don't have to keep crossing the arroyo.
Two miles downcanyon is the first rock art we find in an alcove. Here we find some sheep and human-figure petroglyphs and some paintings
Another alcove. Human-figure pictographs are the main thing we'll see on our hike here. I'll try to show mainly my best pictures that best represent the rock art here, but there is lots here.
Pictograph of a deer
Brian and I pose for our picture in front of two larger human figures.
More tall human figures. Hiking along, we pass many of these alcoves along the way, and virtually all of them have paintings.
Note how the human figure on the right here has kind of a chevron-shaped collar symbol
These figures are good representations of this recurrent chevron symbol. However many of the images have very similar-looking U-shaped symbols.
Wherever we saw a high ledge like here, usually paintings would be seen just above them.
These spooky figures are 2 to 4 ft in height, high up in an alcove. We could see them from afar so we climbed up to take photographs from immediately below them. The more you look at this photo, the more pictographs you can see.
Mile 10, Brian pumping some water from a horsetank at Wildband Spring. Notice the mineral-encrusted pipe it's dribbling from. Yummmmy. It was mean water but it is all we have. Here we spent the better part of an hour slowly pumping water for the night. We'll camp by here, Brian and I sleeping outside.
Saturday hiking out, I noticed a low rock ruin-wall from our lunch spot. Climbing up to it, it looks like this. Cows had wrecked it.
3:00 PM, sucking back some cool ones back at the truck. We'll still
have to retreive Mike's truck at the top of the plateau, but we'll make
Kanab UT before dark.
So NOW what are we gonna do? Our fabulous 4-day backpacking trip is sorta scrubbed down. Though not without success, but we're still 500 miles from home, with two more days off from work. A quick reference to maps and guides and we pick what looks like a pretty good dayhike, and it turns out to be a good choice. Check out the photos here.