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Tag: wilderness study area

Getting Lost in the West End

Silveys Pocket to the Dolores River, Petroglyphs in Paradox & La Sal Creek
Friday – Sunday, April 3-5, 2020

With all of southern Utah essentially shut down to non-locals right now, this weekend I tried to pick one of the more remote areas in western Colorado that wasn’t too far from home to go explore. Ever since I floated through Slick Rock Canyon on the Dolores River last year I have wanted to get back to hike some of the side canyons that we were unable to visit on that trip, so I thought the Dolores River Canyon Wilderness Study Area would be the perfect place to go. I left right from work on Friday and was completely self-contained in my Jeep with food and fuel for the entire weekend so I wouldn’t have to make any stops along the way. I followed the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Byway to Naturita and then headed over to Big Gypsum Valley where I crossed the bridge over the Dolores River beyond the boat ramp and found a place to camp along the rim of Silveys Pocket.

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Otho Natural Bridge & Mill Creek Canyon

Moab Winter Weekend: Arch Hunting & Ancient Petroglyphs
Saturday & Sunday, December 21-22, 2019

This weekend Diane and I headed over to Moab to search for arches and rock art, like we usually do at this time of the year. The weather can be unpredictable at the end of December, but we lucked out this weekend with comfortable hiking temperatures during the day and no snow or ice on the ground yet. I’ve wanted to visit Otho Natural Bridge for many years so I made that a priority this trip and we headed there first thing on Saturday morning. I had originally planned to hike up the North Fork of Mill Creek from the bottom to reach the arch, but we were stopped by a deep water crossing near the confluence of the two forks of Mill Creek. I had hiked this canyon before from the bottom without getting wet before, but it appears there are new beaver dams along the creek which have made that impossible now. We weren’t prepared to get wet this time in these temperatures, so we turned around and drove up into the Sand Flats Recreation Area to find another way down into the canyon instead. I’d never been up this far into this canyon before and the views and scenery were beautiful as we searched for a route into the canyon. I think I ended up liking this route into the canyon more than the one I had originally planned!

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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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Canyons of the Escalante: Big Horn Canyon

Southern Utah Wanderings in a Sandstone Wilderness
Wednesday, October 2, 2019

After our long day hike on the Boulder Mail Trail on Tuesday, we decided to try to take things a little easier today. Kind of like a rest day. Of course, as we have found out over the years, Jared and I are not very good at taking rest days. We tell ourselves that we are only going to hike a couple of miles, but then we end up hiking over ten! We slept in a little later this morning and planned to head into Escalante for a hearty breakfast before our hike. Unfortunately, every place in town that serves breakfast was closed for some reason this morning and we ended up at Subway. Not really the hearty breakfast I had envisioned. Next we headed back to the Old Sheffield Road so we could hike a loop through Big Horn Canyon from the top. The funny thing is that when I was planning our hikes this week I thought that this canyon is where we would find the most solitude, but in reality we crossed paths with more people at the lower end of Big Horn Canyon than we would see on all our other hikes this week combined. I had no idea that this was such a popular place!

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The Boulder Mail Trail

Canyons of the Escalante | Southern Utah Wanderings in a Sandstone Wilderness
Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Old Boulder Mail Trail is a 15 mile trail that was originally established in 1902 as a mail route that linked the isolated towns of Escalante and Boulder Town and was traversed by pack mules twice-weekly to carry mail, medicine and occasional travelers. In 1911 a telephone line was strung between trees, rocks and poles along the route by the Forest Service to connect the ranger stations in both towns. The ranger in Boulder even let the townspeople tie in with their own lines. Some of the glass insulators can still be seen in the treetops along the trail today. The line was used until 1955 when a microwave system replaced it. When Utah Highway 12 was completed in 1940 the Boulder Mail Trail fell into disuse.

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