Tuesday, June  18, 2019
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Fully satisfied both in terms of food and archaeological experience, we returned to the bottom of Slickhorn and continued down-canyon. The use trail becomes quite nice and well-defined in spots, and the trek through the almost garden-like desert shrubs was quite pleasant. We were becoming better attuned to guessing where ruins might be -- in one spot, we discovered a ruined dwelling that was not mentioned in my guidebook!
Beautiful Lower Slickhorn
Lower Slickhorn Hiking
Hiking in Lower Slickhorn
Dwelling, Lower Slickhorn
Dwelling, Lower Slickhorn
Potsherds, Lower Slickhorn
Eventually we made our way down to the vicinity of the 3rd side drainage of Slickhorn, where we stopped and scrambled up to a very well-preserved granary. From there, we started our way up the 3rd side drainage, heading towards where we had parked one of our trucks.
Balanced Rock
Well-preserved Granary
Well-preserved Granary
courtesy BConnell
Jenn examines Granary
Jenn and Bob enjoy the view
Paintbrush and Tea
Not too far aong this drainage, we encountered another excellent ruined dwelling area, this time right at the floor of the canyon (usually they seem to be higher up on ledges). It was sheltered underneath a large clean sloping wall. It had a central dwelling structure (which seemed mostly made of wood), and several other smaller, granary-ish structures. There were bits of bone, pottery shards, and some rock art. There were also thousands of what looked like round splats of rock art paint scattered all over the wall above. It looked as if someone had had fun with some sort of ancient blow-gun!
Slickhorn, 3rd side canyon.
Dwelling, 3rd Side Canyon
Ruins, 3rd Side Canyon
courtesy PChen
Rock Art and Soot
Interior, ruined dwelling
Examining the Alcove
Bone Fragment
Dwelling, 3rd Side Canyon
Up 3rd canyon
With that as an excellent finale to our ruins exploration, we continued up the 3rd side drainage, soon climbing steeply amongst bouldery terrain, as we made our way back up to the Cedar Mesa Plateau above. We crested the rim and were greeted by some dark and angry looking clouds (but no rain yet!).
Up 3rd Canyon
Back on Mesa
Back at the truck
Now back on flat, wooded terrain, we made our way quickly back to the truck, hoping to beat any bad weather that might come. Fortunately, the rain held off. In fact, even after we had retrieved the other truck and made it back to the main paved highway, it still had not rained (although things were still looking somewhat dark).

The end of the Slickhorn Canyon hike marked the last hike of our trip. We had hiked well over 100 km over the previous seven days, and seen many different and interesting landscape and points of interest. Pretty full-featured!

We headed south on highway 261, heading for the nearest little town, where we hoped for a decent motel and place to eat. The closest spot looked to be a place called Mexican Hat, on the edge of the immense Navajo Indian reservation.

We were still on top of the Cedar Mesa, and Mexican Hat and the surrounding terrain were not. Meaning we had to get down from where we were. Highway 261 provided the answer to that with what is called "the dugway". The dugway is a non-paved (gravel) section of highway 261 where it carves it's way in tight switchbacks off the edge of the Cedar Mesa to the flats below. (Why the dugway is not paved is beyond me. I would have thought that the most important spot to pave would be steep, cliff-bound switchbacks....)
Mysterious structure
Top of the Dugway
Edge of Cedar Mesa
Stopping at the edge of the Mesa, we took in the fantastic sweeping view of the lowlands below. The dark clouds and approaching rains created fantastic lighting conditions, and everyone oooh-ed, aaah-ed, and took many pictures. Off to the east, we could various beautiful buttes and towers -- in an area known as the Valley of the Gods.
Brian Captures the Moment
Pu and his 5D
Edge of Cedar Mesa
Descending down the switchbacks to the bottom of the dugway, the paved road resumed and soon we were driving across the lower flats towards Mexican hat. Again, the beautiful scenery combined with the active weather above made for some memorable scenes.

We arrived at one of the gas stations in Mexican Hat just as the heavens opened up (fortunately for us, since we were now done with hiking and were simply looking for food and lodging for the night).

We cruised up and down the small strip of houses and businesses that defined the little town of Mexican Hat. After a bit of back and forth, we settled on a straightforward but clean looking motel called the (somewhat unimaginatively) Hat Rock Inn. The rooms turned out to be surprisingly luxuriously-appointed.

After a good clean-up, we went in search for a place to eat. There's not a lot in Mexican Hat, and we ended up at a quaint little spot called "The Swinging Steak". It's basically an outdoor patio-only restaurant, and the main apparatus for cooking is a large, swinging grill over a wood fire. Out in plain view, the grill is continuously swung by the chef. Never seen anything quite like it before.
courtesy PChen
courtesy PChen
Rain in Monument Valley
Swingin' Steak
Swingin' Steak's Grill
The menu was pretty basic, consisting of only a few items of steak, burger, and chicken, all served with pinto beans and "Texas Toast". I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner, although the rain storm (which had now passed) had caused the temperature to become pretty cool.

We returned to our motel for the night, looking forward to the scenic drive back to Vegas the next day.
Interactive Trackmap & Photo Points - Slickhorn Canyon - click link to expand
Slickhorn Hike, Elevation over Distance
Slickhorn Hike, Elevation over Time

Hike Data Summary
Start Time:
Start Elevation:
6129ft (1868m) *
End Time:
Max Elevation:
6194ft (1888m) *
Min Elevation:
5407ft (1648m) *
13.53 km (8.41 mi)
End Elevation:
6194ft (1888m) *
Average Speed:
2.0 km/hr (1.3 mph)
* : +/ 75 feet
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