New Year’s Day | Monday, January 1, 2018
After going on my last hike of 2017 the previous day, it was now time for me to go on my very first hike of 2018! I woke up early on Monday morning and drove over to the Lower Monument Canyon Trailhead in the Colorado National Monument so I could hike the Wedding Canyon Loop. This is one of my favorite hikes in the Monument and one I recommend to anyone who asks me about hiking in the area. Hiking this loop on New year’s Day has become somewhat of a tradition for me the past couple of years, and I wanted to keep that up. Plus, it’s just a great way to start off the new year close to home!
After arriving at the trailhead in the dark, I started hiking about twenty or thirty minutes before sunrise and made my way toward the mouth of Wedding Canyon where I hoped to catch the first sunlight of 2018. I prefer hiking this loop in a counter-clockwise direction so I’m hiking up the steepest parts of the trail in Wedding Canyon and then descending down the easier and more gradual Monument Canyon Trail. What was different about hiking the trail this year is that there was absolutely no snow or ice to be found anywhere, not even in the shadows! Typically I need to wear microspikes for at least a couple sections of the trail at this time of the year, but not this time.
Following the Wedding Canyon Trail along the front of The Island at dawn.
Entering the mouth of Wedding Canyon shortly before sunrise.
There was a little bit of color in the sky above the Grand Valley just before the sunrise.
Early morning light strikes the sandstone next to the Sentinel Spire. You can also see the roof of the Book Cliffs View Shelter on the edge of the canyon rim above.
Sunlight on the Pipe Organ as I continued hiking up Wedding Canyon.
The view back down Wedding Canyon as I neared the intersection with the Monument Canyon Trail.
Looking up at Independence Monument- halfway point of the hike. It’s mostly downhill from here…
The point of The Island towers above the other side of the trail.
Leaving Independence Monument behind as I started hiking down the Monument Canyon Trail. It was in this area that I passed two trail-runners who were the only people I would see during my hike this morning.
The sandstone walls of the east side of The Island viewed from Lower Monument Canyon.
Of course I visited a few Ute petroglyphs since I was in the area.
I took the long way home after the hike and drove Rim Rock Drive through the Colorado National Monument where I found a group of bighorn sheep along the road in Fruita Canyon.