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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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First Yurt Experience: Goblin Valley State Park

Snow in the Valley of the Goblins
Friday – Sunday, December 27-29, 2019

Well, here it is, my last trip report of the year and of the decade! After spending one night in a fire lookout tower over the summer I thought it might be nice to try planning a trip to a yurt since neither of us had stayed in a yurt before. So back in August I booked a yurt at Goblin Valley State Park for the last weekend of the year between Christmas and New Years. While I have visited Goblin Valley a couple of times over the years, Diane has never been there before and was interested in checking it out. Even when I had visited Goblin Valley in the past I never really spent much time there, so I thought it might be nice to spend a full weekend in the park.

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Christmas in Arches 2019

Christmas Day | Wednesday, December 25, 2019

It’s Christmas time again and that means it’s time for our annual Christmas trip to Arches National Park! We left home early on Wednesday morning and headed west into Utah during the tail end of a winter storm that left a little snow, ice and fog in its wake. This slowed down our drive just a little bit, but we still made it to Arches in about two hours. We headed straight to the Devils Garden Trailhead so we could start off the day with our annual hike to Landscape Arch to make sure it’s still standing after another year.

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Otho Natural Bridge & Mill Creek Canyon

Moab Winter Weekend: Arch Hunting & Ancient Petroglyphs
Saturday & Sunday, December 21-22, 2019

This weekend Diane and I headed over to Moab to search for arches and rock art, like we usually do at this time of the year. The weather can be unpredictable at the end of December, but we lucked out this weekend with comfortable hiking temperatures during the day and no snow or ice on the ground yet. I’ve wanted to visit Otho Natural Bridge for many years so I made that a priority this trip and we headed there first thing on Saturday morning. I had originally planned to hike up the North Fork of Mill Creek from the bottom to reach the arch, but we were stopped by a deep water crossing near the confluence of the two forks of Mill Creek. I had hiked this canyon before from the bottom without getting wet before, but it appears there are new beaver dams along the creek which have made that impossible now. We weren’t prepared to get wet this time in these temperatures, so we turned around and drove up into the Sand Flats Recreation Area to find another way down into the canyon instead. I’d never been up this far into this canyon before and the views and scenery were beautiful as we searched for a route into the canyon. I think I ended up liking this route into the canyon more than the one I had originally planned!

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Island in the Sky: Taylor Canyon & Upheaval Canyon

End of Trails at the Island in the Sky
Friday – Sunday, December 13-15, 2019

After I finished hiking all of the official trails in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park last year, I decided in November that I was going to do the same with the official trails in the Island in the Sky. At the time I had hiked most of the trails on top of the Island, but had not hiked any that went down to the White Rim. Well, after four more trips to the Island in the Sky over the past two months (Over the Edge, From West to East, Syncline Loop Trail) I have now finished that goal this weekend with the Alcove Spring Trail on Sunday morning. But don’t worry, just because I have now hiked all the official trails in the Island in the Sky doesn’t mean that I won’t be returning to this district of Canyonlands since there is plenty of backcountry to keep exploring! As a matter of fact, I already have permits for a trip planned in early February that I am looking forward to.

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