Circling The Island

New Year’s Day | Sunday, January 1, 2017
Wedding Canyon Loop 2017

Colorado National Monument Sunrise 2017
The first sunrise on the Colorado National Monument in 2017 from the Wedding Canyon Trail.

On New Year’s Day Diane and I were up before sunrise to go on our first hike of 2017 in the Colorado National Monument. As usual, we returned to the Wedding Canyon Loop which makes a complete loop around The Island. We went to bed early on New Year’s Eve so we would have no problems getting up for the hike, although we were awoken by fireworks at midnight, and made it to the Monument Canyon Trailhead just before sunrise. We typically hike this loop in a counter-clockwise direction because I prefer to climb the steeper trail in Wedding Canyon and then descend the more gradual trail in Monument Canyon. There was plenty of snow and ice on the trail in Wedding Canyon, but we never had to put on our microspikes this time. As we ascended Wedding Canyon we were treated to a very nice sunrise, but as soon as we reached Independence Monument at the middle of the loop more clouds moved in and blocked the sun for the remainder of the hike back down. We completed the five mile loop in just over two hours and were off the trail before the ground could thaw out and turn into mud.

Nice clouds over The Island from the Lower Monument Canyon Trail.

Lower Monument Canyon Trail

The Wedding Canyon Trail below.

Wedding Canyon Trail

Sunrise & Shadows

Sunrise & Shadows

Nice light on this sandstone point.

Sandstone Point

Parts of the trail in Wedding Canyon were steep and icy, but we never needed to use our microspikes.

Icy Trail

Lower Wedding Canyon

Lower Wedding Canyon

Diane stops to enjoy the view in Wedding Canyon.

Wedding Canyon View

A closer look at the Sentinel Spire.

Sentinel Spire

Wedding Canyon Panorama

Wedding Canyon Panorama

Snow on the ground in upper Wedding Canyon.

Canyon Snow

Our first view of Independence Monument.

Independence Monument View

Looking back at Window Rock.

Window Rock

Standing below Independence Monument, the midpoint of our hike. It’s all downhill from here!

Independence Monument

Hiking back down Monument Canyon to complete the loop and return to the trailhead.

Down Monument Canyon

It’s always great to start out the new year with a hike!

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