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Spine of The Swell: San Rafael Reef Wilderness

Uneva Canyon & Three Fingers Canyon Loop
Saturday, January 11, 2020

For the past couple of years it seems like I always end up hiking on the San Rafael Reef at the beginning of the year in early to mid-January, so I guess this year is not going to be an exception! Maybe it’s because it’s an easy drive from home on I-70 and makes for a good day trip when there is snow on the ground in the desert. Anyway, this weekend Diane was supposed to go snowshoeing with a couple of her friends on the Grand Mesa so I planned to take it easy and go on a day trip to the San Rafael Reef on Saturday by myself. Although I have visited the petroglyphs at the mouth of Three Fingers Canyon a few times before, I had not really done much else in the area, so I decided to hike a loop combining Uneva Canyon and Three Fingers Canyon that would take me along the front and the back of the Reef in this area. Just like with the Muddy Creek Wilderness, this area also became an official Wilderness Area last year with the signing of the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.

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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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Island in the Sky: From West to East

Wilhite Trail & Lathrop Trail
Friday – Sunday, November 22-24, 2019

I was originally supposed to go hiking with my friend Alan this weekend, but he had some issues come up on his trip and had to change plans earlier in the week, so I was on my own to find something to do. I figured this would be a good opportunity for me to return to the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park so I could continue hiking more of the official trails there. I planned to leave right after work on Friday afternoon, but the sky was looking nice when I got out of work so I drove over to the base of the Book Cliffs to watch the sunset before heading out of town. When the sun was down I grabbed a quick dinner in Fruita and then made my way over to Canyonlands and found a spot to camp outside of the Park.

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Return to Range Creek Canyon

Friday – Sunday, November 15-17, 2019

I’ve wanted to return to Range Creek ever since my first visit at the end of the season in 2013, and since Diane had never been there before we decided that it was finally time to head back this year. So back in August I secured a pair of permits for this Saturday and hoped that the weather would cooperate and not close the road into the canyon before our visit. We left after work on Friday and drove to the north entrance gate of the property in Range Creek Canyon where we set up camp so we would be able to get started hiking early in the morning. After a good night of sleep we woke up on Saturday morning to a brisk 29 degree temperature and clear blue sky above. Although it was a bit cold in the morning the temperature would warm up nicely during the day and it was very pleasant hiking weather.

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Little Death Hollow & Wolverine Canyon

Canyons of the Escalante | Southern Utah Wanderings in a Sandstone Wilderness
Thursday & Friday, October 3-4, 2019

After an easier day exploring the colorful sandstone around Big Horn Canyon on Wednesday, it was time for our next overnight backpacking loop hike and this was one that I was pretty excited for since I’ve wanted to hike through Little Death Hollow for a long time! I slept in until just after sunrise on Thursday morning but I heard Jared get up before sunrise to wander around camp for a few photos. Once the sun was up we took our time taking down camp and packing our backpacks for the overnight hike. Since we weren’t sure if there was going to be water in Horse Canyon with the dry summer we’ve had, we decided it would probably be a good idea to carry all the water we would need for the loop, so I ended up taking 4 liters to be on the safe side. Then we drove the short distance over to the Little Death Hollow Trailhead and were on the trail shortly before 10:00am.

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