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Grand Basin Traverse: The Basins of Mineral Creek

Black Bear Pass to Columbine Lake
Saturday, August 17, 2019

This weekend I decided to skip the peak bagging for a minute and just wanted to go on a nice hike in the high country through the upper basins of Mineral Creek near Silverton. I have wanted to hike to the turquoise blue waters of Columbine Lake for a long time but I didn’t really want to follow the steep trail that everyone else does, so I decided that I would drive up to Black Bear Pass and then hike over to the lake by passing through a couple different high alpine basins and maybe stop at a couple of passes along the way. Now after hiking this route I’ve got to say that it was pretty amazing! One of the nice things about this hike is that it was all above treeline and pretty much stayed between about 12,600 feet and 13,000 feet. There were a lot of ups and downs along the way, but it didn’t feel like I was climbing a steep mountain and the route offered spectacular views in all directions right from the beginning. This Grand Basin Traverse takes you through Mineral Basin, Porphyry Basin, Silver Cloud Basin and Mill Creek Basin on your way to Columbine Lake. Along the way you have the option of climbing up to two different passes for views into Mud Lake Basin and Bridal Veil Basin, plus you will also pass by Porphyry Lake, Bullion King Lake and a number of other small tarns along the way. This is definitely the way to hike to Columbine Lake!

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Jersey Jim Fire Lookout Tower

Overlooking the Four Corners | Sunday – Monday, July 21-22, 2019

After spending Saturday hiking to the summit of Centennial Peak and Sunday morning attempting to hike to the top of Hesperus Mountain it was time for me to head back into Mancos so I could pick up the keys to the Jersey Jim Fire Lookout Tower where I would be spending the night. I first laid eyes on the Jersey Jim back in 2010 when I was exploring a few roads near the La Plata Mountains on my way home from a week of adventure through the mountains of Colorado. At the time I knew it was available to rent for a night or two during the summer and I thought to myself that I should plan to do that sometime. It was almost nine years later and ‘sometime’ still had not come because I kept putting off making reservations for the tower each summer until it was too late. But since I have been trying to get to some places this year that I have been putting off for far too long, spending a night at the Jersey Jim was near the top of my list and I was thankfully able to secure a reservation earlier this year, even though it was a frustrating process on the phone filled with busy signals!

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Exploring The Esplanade

The Hades Site | Veterans Day Weekend
Thursday – Sunday, November 8-11, 2018

Over the past couple of years I have been trying to spend a long weekend during the late fall searching for Grand Canyon Polychrome Pictographs on the Esplanade in the Grand Canyon. This year Diane and I met up with our friend Jerry and went on a three day – two night backpacking trip in search of the Hades Site. Diane and I left after work on Wednesday evening and spent the night in St. George so we could see if the ancient mug I found earlier this year was on display yet. Unfortunately, it was not on display when we stopped by the BLM Visitor Center on Thursday morning since it’s apparently in Cedar City right now for some reason, but at least we were able to sleep in later and not have to drive very far this morning.

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Labyrinth Canyon: Ruby Ranch to Mineral Bottom

Thursday – Monday, September 20-24, 2018

I was pretty excited that it was finally time to get back on the river! I had been looking forward to this trip all summer since it’s been way too long since my last river trip and I was really missing floating through desert canyons. I’ve actually wanted to float this stretch of the Green River for a while now, and I was finally able to convince a few friends to go with me this year. I did most of the planning for this trip which would take us down about 45 miles of the Green River through Labyrinth Canyon from Ruby Ranch to Mineral Bottom. Even though it was a bad snow year in Colorado, the Wind Rivers had a pretty average snow year so the level of the Green River at 2,000cfs was pretty typical for this time of the year. There was originally supposed to be six of us in our group, but at the last minute my friend Jackson and his son had to drop out because his son got sick. This also changed our plans for the shuttle at the last minute since we wouldn’t need two vehicles at the end, so Chris ended up riding with me to Ruby Ranch after work while Steve and Nic would run the shuttle vehicle down to Mineral Bottom in the afternoon and we would all meet up in the evening.

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Imogene Pass Peaks

Friday & Saturday, September 14-15, 2018

This weekend I decided to stay close to home and only go out for one night since I needed to spend some time getting prepared for an upcoming river trip that I’m leaving for in a few days. I ended up going on an quick overnighter into the San Juan Mountains between Ouray and Telluride so I could hike to the summit of a few peaks near Imogene Pass. It’s actually been a few years since the last time I drove up to Imogene Pass, so I was looking forward to checking it out again. I left after work on Friday, stopped for a quick dinner in Delta and ended up making it to the top of Imogene Pass shortly before sunset. During my drive up to the pass I did have to wait for a group of 18 Jeeps to pass me since I guess the Jeep Jamboree was going on this weekend. I would also have to wait for another large Jeep Jamboree group on my way back down on Saturday. From the pass I watched and photographed the sunset before driving back down into Imogene Basin and finding a spot to camp for the night.

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