Well, so much for early-morning stargazing; we awoke to cloudy skies, so it was a good excuse to sleep-in. The day started out promising as the clouds started to break and the sun came out. However, the weather report on the radio was predicting snow by afternoon, so we knew this wasn’t going to last. I began to get concerned about the remaining amount of fuel in the Xterra. I was down to half-tank of gas and we were using quite a bit with all the driving around. We decided to make a run to Hanksville, about a twenty-minute drive from the entrance to the San Rafael swell, and get more gas in the vehicles and a couple of food items we were getting low on. As we approached the town we could look out to the west and see the approaching storm. We didn’t want to get caught hiking in one of the canyons in the middle of a snow storm, so we decided to head straight back to camp and wait it out.
By afternoon, the snow arrived. I took a look at my thermometer and the temperature at 2:00 was 18 degrees. Larry crawled into his sleeping bag and Vince and I hung out by the fire and watched it snow. We placed our water jugs up against the fire pit to keep them from freezing. Good thing we have this large awning to cover our camp; otherwise we’d have to spend the day in the car. Not having done any hiking today, we felt we needed to get out and stretch our legs. So, we walked up the basin above our camp and went as far as we could get to the base of the Family Butte before the canyon cliffed-out. We hiked back towards camp, then up a small saddle that overlooks the next drainage. Through the falling snow, we could see numerous holes dug into the canyon walls, the remaining
evidence of the uranium mining that occurred here 30 years ago. We were the only people around for miles and there wasn’t a sound except for the falling snow hitting the ground and trees.
By sunset, there was a couple of inches of snow on the ground. By 9:00 PM the snow stopped and the stars came out. Looks like we might have a good day for hiking tomorrow.