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Tag: utah

West Side Wandering: Fingers of Salt Creek Canyon

Thursday – Sunday, March 12-15, 2020

This year for our annual early season backpacking trip to The Needles we returned to one of my favorite places on the Colorado Plateau- Salt Creek Canyon. Although I have spent a lot of time in this canyon over the years, Diane had never been here before, so I was looking forward to showing her around on her first visit and searching for new traces of the ancient ones that called this canyon home. Instead of it being just the two of us, this time we also invited our friend Jerry along since I know he’s always up for a nice walk through Salt Creek Canyon. We planned to meet up with him on Friday morning at the Visitor Center since I had to stop there to pick up the permit that I had reserved online four months in advance.

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The Canyons of Trachyte Creek

Trachyte Canyon to Maidenwater Canyon
Friday – Sunday, March 6-8, 2020

Since we ended up cutting our trip to the San Rafael Swell a little bit short last weekend because of snow and mud, this weekend we decided to head a little further south and lower in elevation on an overnight backpacking trip along Trachyte Creek near the foot of the Henry Mountains. A little piece of history from this area is that Trachyte Creek was named by Almon H. Thompson of the 1871-72 Powell Expedition for the light-colored igneous stones called trachyte that wash down the canyon from the Little Rockies. This is actually an area that I have not spent too much time in before, so I was looking forward to the change of scenery. Plus, it’s always nice to be out backpacking during the Daylight Savings Time change since we don’t really notice it while we are out in the backcountry where time doesn’t matter much. It always makes the adjustment easier for me.

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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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White Crack Trail to The Confluence

Friday – Sunday, January 31 – February 2, 2020

After I finished hiking all of the official trails within the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park late last year, it was time for me to turn my attention to other parts of the backcountry that I still wanted to explore in this amazing park. While I’ve seen the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers from both The Needles and The Maze before, I felt that it was finally time for me to see it from the Island in the Sky!

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The Needles Overlook & Slickrock Bike Trail

Saturday & Sunday, January 25-26, 2020

After spending a couple hours at the Ouray Ice Festival in the morning it was time to head west into Utah so I could get some hiking in the desert in this weekend. From Ridgway I crossed the Dallas Divide and followed the San Miguel River to Norwood, then crossed a couple large valleys and the Dolores River on my way to Dove Creek and finally stopped in Monticello for an early dinner. From there I was originally planning on heading into The Needles for the evening and was thinking about hiking the short Slickrock or Pothole Point trails to hopefully catch a nice sunset. However, as I was driving down Highway 211 I quickly decided I didn’t feel like driving all that way for a short hike and turned around at Photograph Gap. Instead, I thought it would be nice to spend the evening at the Needles Overlook in the Canyon Rims Recreation Area since it’s been a long time since I visited that viewpoint at the edge of Hatch Point. This turned out to be an excellent last minute change of plans!

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