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West Needle Mountains: Crater Lake

Saturday & Sunday, July 13-14, 2019

This weekend I wanted to finally get out on our first backpacking trip into the mountains for the season. I was looking for an easier overnighter that wasn’t too far from home, preferably in the San Juan Mountains, and after looking at recent satellite images to see how much snow was left in the high country I decided that we would give Crater Lake in the West Needle Mountains a try. From the recent satellite images it looked like there might still be a little snow on the ground in the area, but nothing we shouldn’t be able to get through. All of the other options I was looking at still had considerable snow on the ground and would have to wait a while longer. This six mile trail starts out in the Andrews Lake Day Use Area located just to the southwest of Molas Pass and climbs up to Crater Lake, nestled on the north side of North Twilight Peak in the Weminuche Wilderness. Last year our first backpacking trip into the mountains was also in the Weminuche Wilderness, but thankfully this time we didn’t have to inhale smoke the entire time!

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The Highest Point in Grand County: Mount Waas

La Sal Mountains Peak Bagging | Pilot Mountain, Green Mountain & Mineral Mountain
Friday – Saturday, July 5-6, 2019

After spending the last month on the river it was finally time for me to start getting back into the mountains again! Like last year around this same time, I decided that this would be a good weekend to continue my peak-bagging pursuit in the La Sal Mountains near Moab. Since I’d already climbed the San Juan County High Point a couple years ago, I thought it was about time that I finally got to the summit of the Grand County High Point. Originally, Diane was supposed to come with me on this trip and we were going to spend the full weekend in the area, but at the last minute she decided to take a shift at work on Saturday, so I ended up going by myself. I’m not going to lie, I was very worried about this hike. Since I’ve been on the river every weekend for the last month I felt that I was quite a bit out of shape since I haven’t been hiking much lately. It feels like I haven’t put on my hiking boots in forever; not to mention that I haven’t been up in the high country since late September of last year! I was really concerned that I wasn’t going to make it to the summit this time, but still, I knew that I needed to try…

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North Fork of the Gunnison River

Paonia River Park to the Gunnison Forks Recreation Site
Independence Day | Thursday, July 4, 2019

This year for the Fourth of July I was looking to go on one last river trip before I started heading into the mountains for the summer season. Since I only had one day off from work for the holiday I wanted to go somewhere close to home and on a river that was still not running too high, which was hard to find this year! On Wednesday afternoon Jackson, Chris and I decided that we would give the North Fork of the Gunnison River a try from the Paonia River Park to its confluence with the Gunnison River. The North Fork of the Gunnison is formed just below the Paonia Reservoir by the confluence of of Muddy Creek (not that Muddy Creek) and Anthracite Creek, which originates in The Raggeds of the West Elk Mountains. Since we have already floated most of the Gunnison River from Pleasure Park to Whitewater, we thought it would be nice to work our way further up the North Fork and finally check it out.

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The White River: Floating through the Uinta Basin

Bonanza Bridge to the Enron Ramp | Fantasy Canyon & Goblin City
Friday – Sunday, June 28-30, 2019

For the last weekend of National Rivers Month I definitely wanted to keep the streak going and get out on the river one last time before I started heading up into the mountains. I wanted to go somewhere new that wasn’t going to be crowded and that didn’t require a permit, so after looking at my options I decided to give the White River in Utah a try. There’s not too much information out there about this stretch of river, but from what I could find it looked like this would be a nice relaxing desert trip that doesn’t see too many people. The White River is born from snowmelt in mountain headwaters of the Flat Tops in western Colorado near where we hiked Sleepy Cat Peak early last summer, and then it flows west through Meeker and Rangely before entering Utah. From the state line it continues winding its way through the gas fields of the Uinta Basin along the northern edge of the East Tavaputs Plateau and joins the Green River in the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. Our journey this weekend would begin at the Bonanza Bridge and end at the Enron Boat Ramp, which is about 35 miles of the river.

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Little Grand Canyon: Floating the San Rafael River

Fuller Bottom to the Swinging Bridge
Friday – Sunday, June 21-23, 2019

When I decided to float The Chute of Muddy Creek a couple of weeks ago I thought at the time that I was making a decision between doing that or floating the San Rafael River this year. I really didn’t think that the San Rafael River would have enough water left for me to float it later this month and I had already made plans for last weekend’s trip through Slick Rock Canyon. I was very wrong about that and was surprised to see that it was still going to be flowing very high again this weekend, so I asked my friend Jackson if he wanted to join me on a day-trip through the Little Grand Canyon. I had talked to him a number of times over the years about floating this section of the San Rafael River and he was definitely up for going with me this time. This would be a great opportunity for us to float through the newly-created Sids Mountain Wilderness area.

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