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Month: January 2020

Spine of The Swell: San Rafael Reef Wilderness

Uneva Canyon & Three Fingers Canyon Loop
Saturday, January 11, 2020

For the past couple of years it seems like I always end up hiking on the San Rafael Reef at the beginning of the year in early to mid-January, so I guess this year is not going to be an exception! Maybe it’s because it’s an easy drive from home on I-70 and makes for a good day trip when there is snow on the ground in the desert. Anyway, this weekend Diane was supposed to go snowshoeing with a couple of her friends on the Grand Mesa so I planned to take it easy and go on a day trip to the San Rafael Reef on Saturday by myself. Although I have visited the petroglyphs at the mouth of Three Fingers Canyon a few times before, I had not really done much else in the area, so I decided to hike a loop combining Uneva Canyon and Three Fingers Canyon that would take me along the front and the back of the Reef in this area. Just like with the Muddy Creek Wilderness, this area also became an official Wilderness Area last year with the signing of the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.

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The Mountain Belle at Red Mountain Pass

A Winter Weekend Snowshoe Hut Trip
Friday – Sunday, January 3-5, 2020

If you know me or have been following along with my blog for any amount of time, then you probably already know that I prefer to spend my winters hiking in the desert rather than playing in the snow in the mountains. However, this weekend I decided to finally try something new that has been on my ‘to try’ list for a long time, which is to snowshoe to a hut in the mountains. Back in August I decided I was finally going to try it this winter and booked the Mountain Belle cabin above Red Mountain Pass for the first weekend of the year. I chose this particular cabin since it’s not far from home, it’s in an area that I’m very familiar with, and the hike to it isn’t very difficult since this would be our first time doing something like this. We were a little concerned that the Million Dollar Highway might be closed by a winter storm like it had been the previous weekend, but thankfully we missed the storm that moved through on New Years Day and had great weather for our very first hut trip.

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Ringing In A New Decade: Wedding Canyon Loop

First Day Hikes: Colorado National Monument
Wednesday, January 1, 2020

As per our annual New Years Day tradition, Diane and I went to bed well before midnight on New Years Eve so we could get up early for our first hike of 2020 on the Wedding Canyon Loop in the Colorado National Monument. We arrived at the trailhead shortly before sunrise but the sky was pretty much overcast and we would not see any sunlight during our entire hike. When I checked the weather forecast the night before there was a winter storm that was supposed to move into the area later in the day, but it apparently got here early since it started to snow on us just as soon as we entered the mouth of Wedding Canyon and it continued to snow throughout the rest of our hike. We didn’t mind though, since it was fun to hike through the falling snow and I really liked the way the fresh snow clung to the sandstone boulders and canyon walls. It’s always nice to see a familiar landscape in different conditions. We didn’t run into anyone else on the trail until we were on our way back down Monument Canyon where we passed about a half-dozen hikers coming up the canyon. Hiking this loop trail is always a great way to start a new year no matter what the weather does!

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