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Category: Backpacking

Petroglyphs of the Painted Desert

Petrified Forest National Park | Alternate Plans: Back on the Four Corners Circuit
Tuesday – Wednesday, May 24-25, 2022

After our half-day Jeep tour in Canyon del Muerto on Monday, it was time to spend a pair of days hiking in the backcountry of Petrified Forest National Park, which has quickly become one of our favorite places to explore over the past couple of years. Since the park does not open until 8:00am, we were able to sleep in a little later this morning before leaving Holbrook and driving over to the entrance. Once we arrived, the first thing we did was stop in at the temporary Painted Desert Visitor Center and grabbed a backpacking wilderness permit, since it’s a great place to spend the night. Then we headed off in search of petroglyphs for the rest of the morning and early afternoon, and we found a lot!

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The Arches of Mee Canyon II

Canyons of the Black Ridge Wilderness: Bulwark Arch & Arete Arch
Saturday & Sunday, April 2-3, 2022

This weekend I needed to stay close to home since I’m going to be leaving on a trip to The Maze in a couple of days, so Diane and I decided to head out on a local overnight backpacking trip into the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness to visit a couple more arches located on the benches high above Mee Canyon. We slept in a bit late on Saturday morning, had a good breakfast, and then drove up through Glade Park to the Knowles Canyon Trailhead in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. We shouldered our packs and followed the Knowles Canyon Trail for about a mile and then followed a maze of old roads to the rim of a western fork of Mee Canyon and set up camp on top of the ridge.

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Lost in the Fold: Halls Creek Narrows

Canyons of the Waterpocket Fold: The Other Grand Gulch
Friday – Monday, March 18-21, 2022

This weekend I finally had the opportunity to hike into the Halls Creek Narrows which are located at the very southern tip of Capitol Reef National Park, as I continue to work my way through the many interesting Canyons of the Waterpocket Fold. This hike has been long overdue for me as I’ve tentatively planned to go here almost every year for at least the last five years, but it seems that something has always come up that made me cancel those plans- usually the weather forecast. Since Diane had a couple days off from school for a short spring break after this weekend she would also be able to join me on this three day backpacking trip. I left early from work on Friday afternoon and we made our way into Utah after Diane was finished taking her latest exam. I stopped to grab an early dinner from Stan’s in Hanksville and topped off my gas tank at $4.89 per gallon before we continued on past Trachyte Creek and Ticaboo to the Burr Trail Road where we found a great campsite overlooking Bullfrog Creek to the Henry Mountains. We set up our tent at the rim of the canyon and relaxed around camp for the remainder of the evening before going to bed early after photographing a pretty lackluster sunset.

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Mestaa’ėhehe Mountain Fire Lookout

Formerly the Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout | Saturday & Sunday, January 29-30, 2022

Over the past couple of years I have been trying to visit at least one new Fire Lookout each year, so I thought I would get an early start this year when I booked a night in the Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout near Idaho Springs this past October. This unique structure was constructed of native granite by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1940’s and is situated on top of Squaw Mountain at about 11,500 feet. The cab measures 14 X 14 feet, is completely lined by windows on each side and is surrounded by a catwalk, which all sits on top of the one story stone base. Back in December Squaw Mountain was officially renamed to Mestaa’ėhehe Mountain (pronounced mess-taw-HAY) by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, so now the name of the lookout has also changed to match. I had actually wanted to book a night at this fire lookout for the past two years but it has been closed through the end of 2021 due to COVID, so when I noticed they had finally started accepting reservations again for 2022 I quickly booked a night over the last weekend in January!

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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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