Hovenweep National Monument
Trip Start Aug 12, 2013
47Trip End Oct 02, 2013
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Where I stayed
My destination today was the Hovenweep National Monument. I first headed to their Visitor Center where I watched their movie and checked out the displays. I then hiked the two-mile loop trail around the Square Tower Group of ruins, which are right next to the Visitor Center.
There are a number of other ancestral Puebloan sites within Hovenweep. I next headed to the Cajon Group. The ruins there are very close to the parking lot so I didn't spend much time there. They were similar in style to the Square Tower Group ruins.
Next were the Hackberry and Horseshoe Groups, which are on the same roughly one-mile round-trip hiking trail. They're also similar in style to the Square Tower Group ruins.
My last stop was the Cutthroat Castle Group ruins. They're a relatively short hike from the parking lot. It started to rain while I was there. I hopped in the car and headed back to the nearest paved road roughly two or three miles away.
While I was still driving on the dirt road back to the nearest paved road it started to rain very heavily. The road went from dirt to mud and got very slippery. I eventually slid into the ditch on the left side of the road. After the rain let up a bit so I could see what I was doing I drove with two wheels in the ditch until I got to a spot where I could get out of the ditch. My success didn't last long. I soon came across a flash flood blocking the road.
I waited until the flash flood petered out enough that I could see what I was driving into. I made it through there easily. My GPS told me I had 0.4 miles left to the paved road.
With 0.2 miles left to the main road I came across a much larger flash flood. It was over 100 feet across and I couldn't gauge the depth at all. I waited in the car as it slowly subsided. Every now and then I'd get out and survey the situation. It looked like most of the area was slickrock but the water had carried in a lot of mud, much of which was now in the road. I waited several hours until the flowing water had pretty much stopped but the situation still looked pretty bad.
I had to go through about 60 feet of relatively solid mud that hadn't been in the flood waters. Then there was about 80 feet of very soft mud over slickrock, which stopped it from drying out, that was up to around eight inches deep. Then there was around 10 feet of relatively bare slickrock. The last obstacle was a mud lip around a foot high at the start of a 30-foot long muddy incline.
I didn't have much confidence in being able to make it through and if I got stuck in the middle of the mud I'd be in an even worse situation than I was already in. Around 10pm I started putting on my chains. Around 11pm I finally decided to give it a shot.
I'm sure glad I put on the chains. I barely made it through and up the hill with then and I don't think I would have made it without them. I continued the rest of the way to the paved road before stopping. I took off the chains and headed for my hotel. I got there around 1am. It was a long day.