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Tag: snow

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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The Malpais: Badlands of New Mexico

El Malpais National Monument & El Morro National Monument
My 40th Birthday Foray into Arizona and New Mexico
Sunday, February 16, 2020

The last day of my 40th Birthday Foray into Arizona and New Mexico had finally arrived and although we technically had one more day left for the trip because of Presidents Day on Monday, we decided that we would rather drive home later this evening and have Monday off to rest and get ready to go back to work on Tuesday than stick around another day. After spending the night in Los Lunas we started driving west on historic Route 66 toward Grants so we could visit The Malpais (an extensive area of rough, barren lava flows) of New Mexico for the first time. We had started this week-long adventure along the old Route 66 at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona the previous weekend, and now we would be ending it just down the road from there in New Mexico.

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Celebrating 25 Years: Ouray Ice Festival 2020

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Last year I wasn’t able to make it to the annual Ouray Ice Festival since I was busy exploring the Paria Plateau that weekend instead, but this year I made sure to spend a few hours at the festival on Saturday morning since it’s the 25th Anniversary of the event! I left home early on Saturday morning, grabbed a quick breakfast on my way out of town and arrived at the Ouray Ice Park just in time to watch the beginning of the Elite Mixed Climbing Competition. After watching a few of the ice climbers on the competition route from the bridge, I wandered around the vendor booths and then watched and photographed other climbers on the ice in the Uncompahgre Gorge. I left in the early afternoon and grabbed a Mocha Shake from Mouse’s before heading west into Utah for the remainder of the weekend.

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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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The Mountain Belle at Red Mountain Pass

A Winter Weekend Snowshoe Hut Trip
Friday – Sunday, January 3-5, 2020

If you know me or have been following along with my blog for any amount of time, then you probably already know that I prefer to spend my winters hiking in the desert rather than playing in the snow in the mountains. However, this weekend I decided to finally try something new that has been on my ‘to try’ list for a long time, which is to snowshoe to a hut in the mountains. Back in August I decided I was finally going to try it this winter and booked the Mountain Belle cabin above Red Mountain Pass for the first weekend of the year. I chose this particular cabin since it’s not far from home, it’s in an area that I’m very familiar with, and the hike to it isn’t very difficult since this would be our first time doing something like this. We were a little concerned that the Million Dollar Highway might be closed by a winter storm like it had been the previous weekend, but thankfully we missed the storm that moved through on New Years Day and had great weather for our very first hut trip.

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