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Across the King Bench: Horse Canyon to The Gulch

Canyons of the Escalante | Friday – Saturday, February 26-27, 2021

This weekend I met up with my friends Dennis and Chris inside of the Circle Cliffs west of the Waterpocket Fold so we could explore a few more Canyons of the Escalante. Over the winter Dennis and I had spoken about getting together for a hike sometime this spring since it had been a while, and he told me about his plans to hike over into The Gulch from Horse Canyon using an old stock trail to get up onto the King Bench. This sounded like a great idea to me, especially since I had never driven the road into Horse Canyon before since it used to be an ‘Administrative Road’ in the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, so we made plans to meet up the last weekend of February for the hike.

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Lower Courthouse Wash Loop

Arches National Park | Friday & Saturday, February 19-20, 2021

This weekend I wanted to take it a little easier and to be home on Sunday since I’ve been out in the backcountry every weekend this year, and there were a few things I needed to get done around the house. Since I needed to stay closer to home I thought that this would be a good opportunity to finally hike through Lower Courthouse Wash in Arches National Park before the park really starts to get busy in a couple of weeks. Although I’ve hiked into Upper Courthouse Wash a couple of times before, the lower stretch of the canyon had eluded me on two occasions I tried to hike it in the past, which were both about ten years ago now! Both of those times I was turned back by deep water crossings when I was not prepared to get my feet wet, so this time I made sure I came prepared to get wet if I needed to.

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Weekend Wandering Along the Waterpocket Fold

Canyons of the Waterpocket Fold | Another Birthday Weekend in Capitol Reef National Park
President’s Day Weekend | Friday – Monday, February 12-15, 2021

I guess you could say I have a love for exploring the long sandstone monoclines that are found on the Colorado Plateau. I’ve already spent some quality time along Comb Ridge and the San Rafael Reef this year, so I figured it was about time I got back to the Waterpocket Fold in Capitol Reef National Park. Aside from last year, I typically spend the three-day holiday weekend after my birthday in Capitol Reef, so this seemed like the perfect time to get back again this year! I left straight from work on Friday afternoon and headed west into Utah. The sunset was looking like it was going to be good shortly after I passed through Green River, so I turned off onto the Old Highway 24 between the San Rafael River and Green River to take a few photos.

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The White Rim: Airport Tower to Monument Basin

Friday – Sunday, February 5-7, 2021

While I had an amazing time supporting Diane and Jared as they biked the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park last October, I didn’t quite have enough time on that trip to get in all the hiking that I had wanted to do because they were riding faster than I had anticipated! Since I had a backpacking trip to The Needles last spring that was cancelled because of COVID and I needed to reschedule that permit or lose in the next few months, I thought it would be nice to head back on my own to the east side of the White Rim so I could make up the hikes I had skipped out on. Last year the weather for our hike from the White Crack to The Confluence in early February was very nice, so I thought I would head back the same weekend this year, too.

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Canyons of the San Rafael Reef

Black Dragon Wash to Ernie Canyon
Friday – Sunday, January 29-31, 2021

Over the past couple of years I’ve spent a weekend in January exploring the canyons of the San Rafael Reef at the edge of the San Rafael Swell just west of Green River. I guess I’ve continued to do this each year because it’s an easy drive from home and it doesn’t really matter if there is snow on the ground or not. Plus, it’s just a great place to explore anytime! With this weekend being the last one in January and the weather looking good, I thought that it would be nice to keep up the tradition and headed back to the San Rafael Reef! As usual, I left right from work on Friday afternoon and drove west on I-70 until I reached the San Rafael Reef. Just before driving through Spotted Wolf Canyon on the interstate, I took a side road to the north and found a place to camp near the mouth of Black Dragon Canyon. For a brief time there was a little light snow that fell, but it didn’t stick and stopped just as quickly as it had started. As soon as the clouds dissipated the light from the Wolf Moon filled the canyon.

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