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Tag: san rafael swell

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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Muddy Creek Wilderness: Chimney Canyon

Veterans Day Weekend | Friday – Monday, November 8-11, 2019

While we have been spending the long Veterans Day Weekend backpacking somewhere along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon these past couple of years, this year I decided to find something a little closer to home since we just hiked down into Havasu Canyon a couple weeks ago and I didn’t really want to drive back to the Grand Canyon twice within a couple of weeks. After hiking through the Grand Gorge of Muddy Creek last year and then floating through The Chute of Muddy Creek earlier this year, I felt that it was time to get back to exploring more of the brand new Muddy Creek Wilderness area with a backpacking trip into Chimney Canyon. While I have spent a lot of time in the San Rafael Swell over the years, I realized that I have never actually gone on a backpacking trip there, so this would be my very first backpacking trip in the Swell and most likely our last backpacking trip of the year, too.

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Little Grand Canyon: Floating the San Rafael River

Fuller Bottom to the Swinging Bridge
Friday – Sunday, June 21-23, 2019

When I decided to float The Chute of Muddy Creek a couple of weeks ago I thought at the time that I was making a decision between doing that or floating the San Rafael River this year. I really didn’t think that the San Rafael River would have enough water left for me to float it later this month and I had already made plans for last weekend’s trip through Slick Rock Canyon. I was very wrong about that and was surprised to see that it was still going to be flowing very high again this weekend, so I asked my friend Jackson if he wanted to join me on a day-trip through the Little Grand Canyon. I had talked to him a number of times over the years about floating this section of the San Rafael River and he was definitely up for going with me this time. This would be a great opportunity for us to float through the newly-created Sids Mountain Wilderness area.

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The Chute of Muddy Creek

Tomsich Butte to Hidden Splendor
Friday – Saturday, June 7-8, 2019

With the big snowpack we’ve had this year and the cooler spring temperatures that delayed the snowmelt, now that it’s finally started to warm up I decided that I would try to take advantage of the higher flows this month and get out on some sections of rivers and creeks around me that have been on my to-do list for far too long. High up on that list is The Chute of Muddy Creek in the San Rafael Swell, so for the past couple of weeks I’ve been keeping an eye on the water level hoping for an opportunity to run it on a weekend. Since it looked like it might peak this weekend, which would be perfect timing for me, I decided to give it a try on Saturday. I asked my friend Chris if he wanted to go with me and he said he was in, so we decided to leave after work on Friday so we could get on the water early on Saturday morning. Last year I was able to hike through the Grand Gorge of the Muddy Creek just downstream from Hidden Splendor, so I was looking forward to exploring more of this beautiful area- this time by boat!

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Roaming on The Reef: Hurst Bridge

Backcountry Fest 2019 | Friday – Saturday, April 5-6, 2019

I was originally supposed to spend this entire weekend with Diane in the San Rafael Swell at the very first Backcountry Fest, but then Underoath announced a concert in Grand Junction on Saturday night that we wanted to go to which kind of messed up our plans. Instead of cancelling the weekend trip completely, I decided that I would still head down on Friday evening to meet up and hang out with the group at a campsite near Temple Mountain, and then I would go for a shorter hike by myself on Saturday morning before heading back home to attend the concert later in the evening. Thankfully this event wasn’t too far from home!

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