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Tag: colorado

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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North Fork of the Gunnison River

Paonia River Park to the Gunnison Forks Recreation Site
Independence Day | Thursday, July 4, 2019

This year for the Fourth of July I was looking to go on one last river trip before I started heading into the mountains for the summer season. Since I only had one day off from work for the holiday I wanted to go somewhere close to home and on a river that was still not running too high, which was hard to find this year! On Wednesday afternoon Jackson, Chris and I decided that we would give the North Fork of the Gunnison River a try from the Paonia River Park to its confluence with the Gunnison River. The North Fork of the Gunnison is formed just below the Paonia Reservoir by the confluence of of Muddy Creek (not that Muddy Creek) and Anthracite Creek, which originates in The Raggeds of the West Elk Mountains. Since we have already floated most of the Gunnison River from Pleasure Park to Whitewater, we thought it would be nice to work our way further up the North Fork and finally check it out.

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River of Sorrows: The Dolores River

Slick Rock Canyon | Big Gypsum Valley to Bedrock
Friday – Saturday, June 14-15, 2019

Early Spanish explorers called it El Rio de Nuestra Señora de Dolores, or the River of Our Lady of Sorrows translated into English. Today it’s known as the Dolores River, which begins as snowmelt high up in the San Juan Mountains near Bolam Pass and empties into the Colorado River in Utah after traveling through the canyon country of western Colorado. For a long time I have wanted to float the Dolores River through Slick Rock Canyon, which begins at Big Gypsum Valley and ends at Paradox Valley, but since the water of the river is usually siphoned off at the McPhee Reservoir upstream there is typically only a very short window of time to actually do it, if there is any opportunity at all! So far I had never been able to make the timing work for a trip, however, with the high snowpack in the San Juan Mountains this year it looked like I was finally going to be able to get my chance!

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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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Triangle Canyon: Cactus Park to the Gunnison River

Dominguez Canyon Wilderness | Ten Year Anniversary
Saturday, March 30, 2019

I spent the last two weekends hiking in the Needles District of Canyonlands and will be going back again in another week and a half, plus we had a concert to go to on Sunday evening, so this weekend we planned to stay close to home and take a little bit of a break from driving. Saturday was also the ten year anniversary of the designation of the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area through the passage of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, so we decided to celebrate the occasion by hiking down an unnamed canyon within the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness to a petroglyph panel that I first visited on a river trip back in 2012. This canyon, located just north of the more popular Dominguez Canyon, has no official name on any map that I’ve seen, so I’m simply going to refer to it as Triangle Canyon since it sits just below Triangle Mesa.

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