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Category: Backpacking

Mount Columbia via Frenchman Creek

Saturday & Sunday, August 10-11, 2019

I had such a nice time in the Sawatch Range a couple of weeks ago when I climbed Mount Yale that I decided to return again this weekend with Diane so we could go on an overnight backpacking trip along Frenchman Creek and climb Mount Columbia (14,073) on Sunday morning. Since we didn’t have a long hike ahead of us, we slept in later on Saturday morning before heading out on our way to the Arkansas River Valley. We stopped at K’s in Buena Vista for lunch and then from there it was a quick drive over to the Frenchman Creek Trailhead at the boundary of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. When we arrived I was pretty surprised to find that there were no other vehicles parked there, plus we would not seen anyone else on the trail all weekend. It was a little bit strange, even for a non-standard route on a 14er, especially on a weekend on this side of the mountains, but I’m not complaining!

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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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Navajo National Monument: Keet Seel & Betatakin

Thursday – Sunday, May 30 – June 2, 2019

After a quick visit to Navajo National Monument back in 2011, which was when I was on my way to visit The Wave for the very first time, I knew that I needed to come back another time so I could actually hike to the Keet Seel and Betatakin ruins. Every year since then I have thought about going back but I never got around to making the advance reservations for the Keet Seel hike which typically fills up early in the year. When I made the decision that I was going to try to obtain some hard-to-get permits earlier this year (i.e. Havasupai), the hike to Keet Seel was up near the top of my list! On the first day that reservations were being taken for Keet Seel in February I called and reserved an overnight permit for Diane and myself for the first weekend in June because it was the first Saturday of the season that you could do an overnight hike this year. Since this particular hike is only available from Memorial Day to Labor Day, which is typically the hottest part of the year on the Colorado Plateau, I hoped that the weather would cooperate with us this year and not be too warm…

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Big Dominguez Canyon: Cactus Park to Bridgeport

Saturday & Sunday, May 18-19, 2019

This weekend we had some stuff to get done around the house but we still wanted to try and squeeze in a backpacking trip this month, so we decided to head over to the Dominguez – Escalante National Conservation Area for a quick overnighter into Big Dominguez Canyon. While I have hiked into lower Big Dominguez Canyon many times over the years, Diane had never been in this canyon before and wanted to finally check it out. We planned to do a repeat of my very first backpacking trip by starting out in Cactus Park and hiking down the canyon to Bridgeport so it wouldn’t be just another out and back hiking trip, plus I’ve wanted to redo this trip again now that I am much more experienced. After we had returned home from this trip I learned that Saturday was Colorado Public Lands Day, which I had never heard of before, so I guess it was pretty fitting that we actually stayed on public lands in Colorado this weekend instead of heading over into Utah like we usually do at this time of the year!

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Heart of the Salt Creek Archeological District

Five Years Later | Return to Salt Creek Canyon
Wednesday – Sunday, April 10-14, 2019

After spending the past couple of years searching for rock art and ancient ruins in Grand Gulch during our annual spring backpacking trip together, this year Dave, Jared and I were really looking forward to getting back into upper Salt Creek Canyon in Canyonlands National Park to see what we had missed on our first visit almost five years ago. I made sure to secure our camping permits earlier this year so we could spend four days exploring the heart of the Salt Creek Archeological District.

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