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Canyons of the Escalante: Phipps Wash & Deer Canyon

Southern Utah Wanderings in a Sandstone Wilderness
Friday & Saturday, September 27-28, 2019

Back in early October of 2010, Jared and I started our annual tradition of going on a week-long trip to different parts of the Colorado Plateau together. That first trip started out along the Hole-In-The-Rock Road in the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, so we decided to return to where it all began this year and planned to spend an entire week hiking around the Canyons of the Escalante. I was really looking forward to our trip this year since it seems like I’ve been neglecting the Escalante area for a couple of years and I felt that I was overdue to return! This year we planned to hike a few of the more popular routes in the area that we have skipped over the years and I wanted to try to stay away from the Hole-In-The-Rock Road. We were also going to try to take advantage of having both our vehicles there by doing hikes that we could shuttle ourselves.

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Holy Cross Wilderness: Fancy Lake & Holy Cross City

Saturday & Sunday, September 21-22, 2019

Although I wanted to try to climb Mount of the Holy Cross (14,005) with Diane this summer, we just never found the time to squeeze it in. Still, I wanted to get in at least one short backpacking trip into the Holy Cross Wilderness this year since I really haven’t spent much time in the northern Sawatch Range before, so we decided to go on an easy overnighter to Fancy Lake this weekend. From Fancy Lake I would also be able to revisit the 1880’s ghost town of Holy Cross City which I first visited way back in 2005 by driving the rough 4×4 road in my Jeep. Now that it’s getting late in the season, this will probably be our last backpacking trip into the mountains for the year since it’s starting to cool down and it’s time to get back to exploring the Colorado Plateau!

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Packrafting the Colorado River: Fruita to Loma

Sunday, September 15, 2019

After spending Saturday morning in the mountains near Telluride, I decided to stay closer to home on Sunday so I could try out my brand new packraft on the Colorado River. I was originally planning on buying a new packraft over the winter so that I could take it on some trips that I am tentatively planning for the spring, but I ended up buying it a little early thanks to a Labor Day sale. I ended up picking up a Kokopelli Rogue-Lite since I don’t really plan on running any big rapids with it and wanted one that was pretty light since I’m going to need to carry it in my backpack on occasion. For my first time on the water with it I wanted to do something easy to see how it handles, so I decided to drive to Loma and then ride my bike back to the boat ramp at the Fruita Section of the James M Robb – Colorado River State Park. I would lock my bike up there and then float back to the Loma Boat Ramp where I would get back in my Jeep and then pick my bike back up on the way back home. It worked out well and I had a nice afternoon on the Colorado River!

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Towering Over Telluride: Ajax Peak

Friday – Saturday, September 13-14, 2019

This weekend Diane and I had another concert to go to on Saturday evening, so just like when I climbed Red Mountain #2 a few weeks ago, I decided to climb another easier peak in the San Juan Mountains on Saturday morning so that I could return home in the early afternoon. I’ve had Ajax Peak (12,785) near Telluride on my to-do list for a while, and that looked like it would be the perfect quick and easy mountain to summit this weekend. Ajax Peak may not be a very high peak by Colorado standards, but it is a prominent sight when you are in the town of Telluride, and I believe it is also a popular hike from town since there is a good trail all the way up to the summit. The peak sits along the ridge separating Ingram Basin from Savage Basin and is down below Telluride Peak (13,509), which I climbed at the end of last summer. Of course, I was not planning on climbing Ajax Peak from Telluride like most people do, instead I planned to drive over Black Bear Pass and spend the night in Ingram Basin where I would start my hike in the morning.

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Destined To Fail: A Failed Attempt at Longs Peak

Friday – Monday, September 6-9, 2019

I took a day off from work to climb Longs Peak, but all I climbed this weekend was Cupid (13,117). Earlier this year when I was making plans that required permits in advance, climbing Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park with an overnight stay in the Boulderfield was near the top of my list. While I know that many people climb Longs Peak in a long day, that is not the experience I was looking for and I was looking forward to spending a night in the Boulderfield before the climb. I was able to secure a permit back in March for this Sunday night and had hoped that this popular route wouldn’t be too crowded on a Monday in early September after Labor Day. Since I was unsure about my climbing ability and the exposure along this route, I invited my friend Jackson and his fiance Amy along to join me on this trip because I know that Jackson likes to climb and scramble. Unfortunately, this would not end up being my year to climb Longs Peak. Not only were we unable to make it to the Boulderfield on Sunday because of the weather, but even if we had made it up there I know that I would not have been able to climb the Keyhole Route on Monday morning since there was snow overnight and the route was covered in ice. I guess winter in the high country has arrived! Maybe I’ll give it another shot next summer…

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