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Social Distancing: Rabbit Valley Ridge

Sunday, March 22, 2020

This weekend we were originally supposed to go to a concert in Salt Lake City, but that obviously didn’t happen because of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Then I figured that I would be able to spend the weekend in the San Rafael Swell or Robbers Roost areas to socially distance myself and get in some hiking and exploring, but then the Southeast Utah Health Department cancelled those plans for me. No big deal I thought, I’ll just stay closer to home and hike some canyons near the state line. Well, then the weather intervened with snow and rain making the roads and ground wet and muddy in the area that I wanted to hike in. I actually still drove out there on Saturday morning hoping for the best, but decided it wasn’t worth it when I arrived and headed home instead.

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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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Gila Cliff Dwellings of the Mogollon Mountains

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
My 40th Birthday Foray into Arizona and New Mexico
Thursday, February 13, 2020

After our nice overnight trip into Aravaipa Canyon, Thursday was going to be a shorter and easier day for us. Today we planned to drive up into the Mogollon Mountains from Silver City to visit Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, which is a small Monument that was established in 1907 by Theodore Roosevelt at the edge of the Gila Wilderness. In case you didn’t know, the Gila Wilderness was the nation’s very first designated wilderness area. Although we didn’t have much time to visit this large wilderness area on this trip, I would certainly like to return in the future for a longer backpacking trip.

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