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Category: Camping

West Side Wandering: Fingers of Salt Creek Canyon

Thursday – Sunday, March 12-15, 2020

This year for our annual early season backpacking trip to The Needles we returned to one of my favorite places on the Colorado Plateau- Salt Creek Canyon. Although I have spent a lot of time in this canyon over the years, Diane had never been here before, so I was looking forward to showing her around on her first visit and searching for new traces of the ancient ones that called this canyon home. Instead of it being just the two of us, this time we also invited our friend Jerry along since I know he’s always up for a nice walk through Salt Creek Canyon. We planned to meet up with him on Friday morning at the Visitor Center since I had to stop there to pick up the permit that I had reserved online four months in advance.

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The Canyons of Trachyte Creek

Trachyte Canyon to Maidenwater Canyon
Friday – Sunday, March 6-8, 2020

Since we ended up cutting our trip to the San Rafael Swell a little bit short last weekend because of snow and mud, this weekend we decided to head a little further south and lower in elevation on an overnight backpacking trip along Trachyte Creek near the foot of the Henry Mountains. A little piece of history from this area is that Trachyte Creek was named by Almon H. Thompson of the 1871-72 Powell Expedition for the light-colored igneous stones called trachyte that wash down the canyon from the Little Rockies. This is actually an area that I have not spent too much time in before, so I was looking forward to the change of scenery. Plus, it’s always nice to be out backpacking during the Daylight Savings Time change since we don’t really notice it while we are out in the backcountry where time doesn’t matter much. It always makes the adjustment easier for me.

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Leap Day at Swasey’s Leap

Leap Day | Saturday & Sunday, February 29 – March 1, 2020

This year Leap Day (February 29th) happened to fall on a weekend, so I thought it would be fitting to finally get out to Swasey’s Leap in the San Rafael Swell to celebrate. Swasey’s Leap (sometimes spelled Swazys) is a narrow part of the canyon near the beginning of the Lower Black Box of the San Rafael River that is only about 14 feet wide and 50 feet deep. The lore associated with Swasey’s Leap is that back in the late 1800’s Sid and Charley Swasey made a wager about Sid’s horse jumping the narrow gap at the top of the canyon. Sid said his horse could make it while Charley wagered his herd of cattle that he couldn’t. In the end Sid made the leap and won the cattle from his brother. From then on, this spot has been known as Swasey’s Leap or Sid’s Leap. Later, a sheepherder named Paul Hansen built a bridge over the gap made of cottonwood logs and an old wagon box, but this old bridge collapsed and fell into the river sometime in 1997. While I have driven out to the end of the Swasey’s Leap Road once before, I never actually hiked out to Swasey’s Leap, so I was looking forward to finally checking it out this weekend!

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Returning to the White Sands of the Tularosa Basin

White Sands National Park: Same White Sand, Different Name
My 40th Birthday Foray into Arizona and New Mexico
Valentines Day | Friday & Saturday, February 14-15, 2020

Three years ago Diane and I had visited White Sands National Monument for the first time while we were traveling through the deserts of the southwest on our Honeymoon Adventure. We really enjoyed our experience camping within the world’s largest gypsum dunefield, so when I started planning my 40th birthday trip I had considered returning for another overnight visit and added it to the possible list of places we could go. While it wasn’t high up on my list at first, as soon as I found out that White Sands National Monument officially became the 62nd designated National Park on December 20, 2019 when the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 was signed into law, I quickly moved it up on the list since I figured it was probably going to start getting even busier in the future now that it’s a full-fledged National Park!

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Grand Canyon of the Sonoran Desert: Aravaipa Canyon

Our First Time Backpacking Among the Saguaros
My 40th Birthday Foray into Arizona and New Mexico
Tuesday – Wednesday, February 11-12, 2020

Today was the part of the trip that I was looking forward to the most since I first started making these plans last year. I have wanted to hike through the perennial waters of Aravaipa Canyon, sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Sonoran Desert, for a long time and this experience was one of the main reasons I had planned this birthday trip into southeast Arizona in the first place. Back in November I secured an overnight permit for my 40th birthday when they first became available for the date, and chose to start from the more popular West Trailhead since I knew we would most likely be driving Diane’s Edge for the better fuel mileage and comfort on this road trip. For those not familiar, anyone who hikes into the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness requires a permit from the BLM in order to help preserve the wilderness experience of the area. A total of 50 people are allowed per day, from which 20 may enter from the East Trailhead and 30 may enter from the West Trailhead. This can be a popular hike during the busy season, but the middle of February is probably the lowest use season because of the colder water temperatures of the creek. This sounded like the perfect time of the year for us to hike among the saguaros into Aravaipa Canyon!

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