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Category: Backpacking

Grand Canyon Polychrome: Exploring The Esplanade II

Veterans Day Weekend | Wednesday – Saturday, November 10-13, 2021

I can hardly believe that it’s been over three years since I last set foot on the Esplanade in 2018! Back in 2019 Diane and I took the year off from visiting the North Rim so we could finally go see the Waterfalls of Havasu Canyon on the other side of the Grand Canyon, and then in 2020 we cancelled our planned trip due to the weather forecast and other things we needed to get done at home. I’ve been looking forward to getting back and was happy to finally return this extended Veterans Day weekend with Jerry. It felt great to be back on the Esplanade! The sky was clear and the high temperatures were in the 70’s while the lows at night were very comfortable in the 40’s. We even found some water in a couple shallow potholes. As usual, I’m not going to get into all the specific details of this trip, but I will share plenty of photos below. We found everything we were looking for and had a pretty great time, until we started climbing out of the canyon on Friday…

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The Sound of Silence: Dinosaur National Monument

An Autumn Return to Jones Hole, Island Park & Rainbow Park
Friday – Sunday, October 15-17, 2021

A little while back Diane found out that she was actually going to have this Friday off from school, and she immediately let me know that she really wanted to go to Dinosaur National Monument over this three-day weekend for her birthday, so I also took Friday off from work and planned the trip. She didn’t have anywhere specific in the park that she wanted to go, she was just looking forward to getting outside away from school for a bit, so she left all the details up to me. I thought she would enjoy an easy overnight backpacking trip along the trail into Jones Hole since it happens to be one of my favorite hikes in the park, so back in September I called and reserved one of the campsites at Ely Creek for Friday night. The last time I had hiked into Jones Hole was in the spring when everything was lush and green, so I was looking forward to checking it out in the fall. I figured we could then spend the rest of the weekend hiking a couple of trails that we had not been on yet and maybe revisit some rock art sites, too. We were certainly looking forward to spending a long weekend in Dinosaurland together!

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The Highest Peak in New Mexico: Wheeler Peak

Finishing the Four Corners State High Points | Friday & Saturday, September 3-4, 2021

After climbing Humphreys Peak on Thursday, and then spending this morning on Mount Taylor near Grants, it was now finally time to finish off the Four Corner state high points with Wheeler Peak in New Mexico. Following my short visit to the La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs near Santa Fe this afternoon, I continued north to Taos and then headed up to the trailhead in the Taos Ski Valley. I was hoping to find a place to spend the night along the way, but the Taos Ski Valley was not really my kind of place to visit and camping options were very limited. Luckily, just before leaving home I had thrown my backpacking gear into the Jeep, just in case, so I thought it would probably be a better idea to just backpack up to Williams Lake in the late afternoon and then hike to the summit of Wheeler Peak first thing in the morning. The weather forecast for the rest of the evening was looking good, so that’s what I decided to do. The hike up to Williams Lake is not very long, just under 2 miles with about 1,000 feet of elevation gain, so it didn’t take me long to reach the lake, but like the other hikes I had done earlier in the day, it was still very humid out.

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The Wind Rivers: Green River Lakes & Slide Lake

Headwaters of the Green River | Tuesday – Saturday, August 17-21, 2021

After Diane and I visited the Wind Rivers for the Great American Eclipse in 2017 we decided that we should try to return every other summer to visit somewhere new in the range. Two years ago we came back and hiked to the Cirque of the Towers, so this year I thought it would be a good idea to check out the area around the Green River Lakes and planned a four day backpacking trip for us. Since Canyonlands is the heart of the world to me and I have spent a lot of time exploring along the Green River on the Colorado Plateau, I though it was finally time to visit its headwaters in the Wind Rivers. Lucky for Diane, she had a week off between semesters at school at the same time we try to go in late August, so the timing worked out perfect for us!

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Carved from Calf Creek Plateau: Powderhorn Lakes

An Introduction to the Powderhorn Wilderness & Cannibal Point
Saturday & Sunday, August 14-15, 2021

On Friday Diane finished another semester of school and finally had a full week off before she starts back up again. We had made plans to spend a couple of days in the Wind Rivers later in the week, but since she hasn’t been able to get out hiking much lately we thought it would be a good idea to get out on a quick overnight backpacking trip this weekend. As I looked over my maps of the San Juan Mountains for an easier overnight trip that wouldn’t be too far away from home, I thought it would be interesting to finally check out the Powderhorn Wilderness near Lake City with a hike up to the Powderhorn Lakes. The Powderhorn Wilderness is jointly managed by the BLM and the Gunnison National Forest and contains two huge plateaus over 12,000ft that make up the largest relatively flat expanse of alpine tundra in the lower 48 states, and I hoped to hike to the highpoint of the Calf Creek Plateau while we were up there. I also figured this area wouldn’t be very busy since it’s not a popular spot with the kind of high rugged peaks that seem to attract people.

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