I know him to be a very strong hiker. He once invited me to go with him on a most logistically challenging hike. It involved four-wheel-drive vehicles, a boat, four-wheeler ATVs and an overnight campout, just to get to the beginning of the hike. The airplane came later to drop supplies.
There must be some sort of arbitrary definition of what qualifies a hike as “little.” I think a little hike lies somewhere between a walk and a day hike. In order for a hike to be little, it ought to take less than an hour to reach a destination and less than an hour to return.
I suggested to my friend that he take the kids to the Comb Wash Cave. It is the cave that has man-size stalagmites standing back in the shadows. It has been a while since I was there, but if my memory is correct, the cave is about 90 feet across the front, about 70 to the back wall and the ceiling ranges from about 8 feet to maybe 12 feet high. My friend had been there many years ago and thought it would be a good “little hike” for the grandkids.
I continued thinking about little hikes and came up with a few others for those times when you need to get the grandkids out of the house. One hike that would qualify as little would be to hike down into the channel of the cutoff meander on the San Juan River at the end of Lime Ridge. It’s a pretty steep hike and the limestone can be sharp enough to draw blood if you fall on it. But it is a fascinating place with a geologic history that still amazes me.
Another little hike begins at the Cave Tower Ruins on a side canyon of Mule Canyon. If you go around the pour-off to the left and walk to the nearby point, there is a way to get down off the ledge. In the distance on the left or northeasterly side of the canyon are interesting ruins. It is a fun hike to go down there. If it is summer, it would be best to go in the morning while there is still shade along the way. In winter it is a better afternoon hike under the winter sun.
The hike to the Fish Mouth Cave is a wonderful little hike. The cave is huge and visible to the west from Butler Wash. You could place a good-sized building inside. There are Anasazi corncobs and charcoal inside the cave. Some have taken the charcoal and written names inside the cave, but I have acquired a more preservationist attitude and would discourage writing inside the cave.
A visit to the Wolf Panel involves a nice little hike. It is easier than any of the others I have mentioned. The Wolf Panel has exquisite petroglyphs, including the realistic depiction of a man wearing interesting clothing. A trip to the Wolf Panel provides an opportunity to teach the grandkids about the importance of leaving the petroglyphs untouched. There are several pockmarks on the panel that appear to have been made by bullets fired from across the canyon. They are a sad example of what not to do.
When I get to thinking about it, there are countless little hikes in the area. A hike any distance up Arch Canyon, or Mule Canyon or Johnson Canyon, is a good hike. Among other things, they provide water to play in in the summer.
Few activities provide better opportunities for making memories and teaching the grandkids than little hikes.