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Cedar Mesa Chronicles: Chapter 12

Friday – Sunday, May 10-12 & 17-19, 2024

After leaving the UGIC Conference on Friday afternoon I was originally planning to spend the rest of the weekend exploring the nearby Book Cliffs and Tavaputs Plateau, but with all the rain and snow the area had received this week, and with even more predicted over the next couple of days, I figured that was probably not a great place to be right now. Although I did have backup plans for the San Rafael Swell in case of bad weather, after saying goodbye to Moab on Thursday I was feeling the need to get out into a landscape that I have a more personal connection with and feel at home in so I could grieve alone, so I decided to head down to Cedar Mesa, even if it meant a longer drive out of the way. Since I was leaving from Price, this meant I could avoid the traffic in Moab and drive to Cedar Mesa through Hanksville, which is a route I don’t drive very often since it usually doesn’t make much sense for me to go that way. After stopping for an early dinner in Hanksville, I followed North Wash and White Canyon to Cedar Mesa and went straight to the Todie Canyon Trailhead so I could walk the rim at sunset.

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Borderlands of the Bears Ears Country

Saturday & Sunday, April 27-28, 2024

This weekend Diane and I headed down to the edges of Bears Ears National Monument so we could hike and search for rock art and ruins in some of the canyons along the borderlands of the monument. We were originally planning to leave after work on Friday, but rain was predicted for the area overnight and into the early morning, so instead we decided to leave early on Saturday morning and timed it so we would arrive after the weather was supposed to be over leaving cooler temperatures and partly cloudy skies behind. Our timing worked out perfectly! Although we would see a lot of interesting and unusual rock art this weekend, much of it was hard to see and photograph, so I’ll just share some of the better photos below.

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Below the Bears Ears: Thanksgiving Weekend 2023

Cedar Mesa Chronicles: Chapter 10 | Thursday – Sunday, November 23-26, 2023

This year for the extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend I returned Below the Bears Ears to the canyons of Cedar Mesa like I typically do at this time of the year, so I could explore some new places and maybe revisit some old ones along the way. When I left home early on Thursday morning the weather forecast was not looking that great for Friday into Saturday with our first real winter storm on the way, but I wasn’t too concerned about it since I had plenty of backup hikes in mind that I could go on regardless of what the weather had in store. That turned out to be a good thing since the higher elevations of Cedar Mesas did end up getting some snow and I had to alter my original plans a bit so I could hike into canyons at lower elevations. While Diane would usually join me on this annual trip, this year she was scheduled to work part of the weekend and was unfortunately unable to come with, so I would be flying solo this time.

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Hovenweep’s Centennial and the Great Sage Plain

Hovenweep National Monument & Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Saturday – Monday, October 21-23, 2023

It feels like it’s been quite a while since the last time I visited and spent some quality time in Hovenweep National Monument and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and I’ve been really meaning to get back down to that area for the past couple of years, but it just hadn’t seemed to happen yet as I keep putting it off for other trips. However, this year I made it a priority to get back with Diane so we could celebrate Hovenweep’s Centennial year since it was proclaimed a unit of the National Park System on March 2, 1923 by President Warren G. Harding. I also figured that this would be a great opportunity for Diane to visit the units of the park she had not been to before and I would be able to hike the few remaining trails in Hovenweep that I had not been on before and could finally cross this park off my ‘completed trails’ list. So early on Saturday morning Diane and I loaded up the Jeep and headed south along the Colorado – Utah state line to spend an extended three-day weekend exploring Hovenweep and other canyons of the Great Sage Plain!

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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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