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Category: Highpointing

Beyond the Clay Hills: The Annular Solar Eclipse

Watching the Great Western Ring of Fire Eclipse from Nokai Dome
Friday – Sunday, October 13-15, 2023

After spending an amazing Thursday on Chapin Mesa in Mesa Verde National Park and then briefly stopping to visit Yucca House National Monument early on Friday morning, it was time to drive across the Great Sage Plain into Utah and then head even further west until we crossed Beyond the Clay Hills where we found a great camping spot atop Nokai Dome, which would be a perfect place to sit and watch the Great Western Ring of Fire Eclipse on Saturday morning. I had specifically chosen this remote corner of the Red Rock Plateau to view the Annular Solar Eclipse because it’s kind of out-of-the way and I hoped that we would be able to find plenty of solitude. It’s also a part of the Colorado Plateau that I really haven’t spent much time at and I’m hoping to change that and get a little more familiar with this corner of San Juan County. I really don’t think I could have picked a much better spot to watch the eclipse from since we were very close to the centerline of its path and I’m pretty sure there wasn’t anyone else around for miles. I should also mention that the views in all directions from Nokai Dome were pretty spectacular!

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The Rico Mountains & Lizard Head Trail

Friday – Sunday, September 22-24, 2023

Earlier this summer I had planned on spending another weekend hiking and exploring around the Rico Mountains and Lizard Head Wilderness, which are located at the western end of the San Juan Mountains. I’ve enjoyed heading down to this area over the past couple of years and was looking forward to returning again, but unfortunately on that trip I had started feeling ill and ended up coming home early on the first night. This weekend I wanted to give that trip another shot before the summer season comes to an end and I start heading back into the desert for the rest of the year, so on Friday afternoon I left from work and headed back down to the Rico Mountains.

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The Book Cliffs: Coal Gulch to Ross Ridge

After Work Adventures | Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Today after work I hopped into my Jeep so I could spend a couple hours in the Book Cliffs on a little After Work Adventure before heading home for the rest of the evening. After leaving work I drove over to Fruita and then followed 16 Road north to the foot of the Book Cliffs where I headed up the road through Coal Gulch and onto Garfield Mesa and Ross Ridge. While I was up there I hiked over to the highpoints of each of them. It’s been over 15 years since the last time I was in this area and I was looking forward to returning for this short visit since I don’t really remember all too much about it. These are just a couple photos from my afternoon in this part of the Book Cliffs.

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Red Table Mountain: Crooked Creek to Mount Thomas

Around the Red Table: Crooked Creek Pass & Cottonwood Pass
Friday – Sunday, September 15-17, 2023

This weekend I headed out to the very northern end of the Sawatch Range so I could drive around and explore Red Table Mountain, which is located just west of the Holy Cross Wilderness between Gypsum, Eagle and Thomasville. I left from work on Friday afternoon, stopped in Rifle for gas and a bite to eat, and then continued on through the Roaring Fork Valley to Basalt where I turned off and followed the Fryingpan River to Lime Creek. Although I had driven through a couple heavy rain storms along the way, I found the beginning of the Crooked Creek Pass Road to be in good condition when wet, but that quickly changed as I dove higher and found some very slick conditions. After sliding off the road into the ditch twice, and thankfully not off the other side of the road, I found a small level spot to pull over and spend the night at. I had had enough of the slick and slippery road and felt it was too sketchy to continue driving up to the pass or turning around and heading down, so I was hoping that the road would dry out a bit overnight.

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The High Plateaus of Utah: Proper Edge of the Sky

The Plateau Provence: Peaks & Plateaus of the Colorado Plateau
Wednesday – Friday, August 30 – September 1, 2023

The High Plateaus of Utah are a group of elevated tablelands that form the boundary between the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin in Central Utah and are what Wallace Stegner once described as “those remarkable mountains that are not mountains at all but greatly elevated rolling plains.” Although I have driven around and between the High Plateaus many times over the years, I have not spent very much time up on top of any of them and I wanted to change that this summer so I could see what they were all about. And what better way is there to get to know a new place than by driving the backroads and visiting the highpoints along the way! I figured that I would start at the northern end of the Wasatch Plateau and then work my way south, looping back around to finish up on Thousand Lake Mountain, where I could hop back on I-70 and head back home after a nice introduction to the area. That was the plan, and I thought it was a pretty good one, but as you will see, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

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