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Tag: buck mesa

Getting Lost in the West End

Silveys Pocket to the Dolores River, Petroglyphs in Paradox & La Sal Creek
Friday – Sunday, April 3-5, 2020

With all of southern Utah essentially shut down to non-locals right now, this weekend I tried to pick one of the more remote areas in western Colorado that wasn’t too far from home to go explore. Ever since I floated through Slick Rock Canyon on the Dolores River last year I have wanted to get back to hike some of the side canyons that we were unable to visit on that trip, so I thought the Dolores River Canyon Wilderness Study Area would be the perfect place to go. I left right from work on Friday and was completely self-contained in my Jeep with food and fuel for the entire weekend so I wouldn’t have to make any stops along the way. I followed the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Byway to Naturita and then headed over to Big Gypsum Valley where I crossed the bridge over the Dolores River beyond the boat ramp and found a place to camp along the rim of Silveys Pocket.

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Island in the Sky: Taylor Canyon & Upheaval Canyon

End of Trails at the Island in the Sky
Friday – Sunday, December 13-15, 2019

After I finished hiking all of the official trails in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park last year, I decided in November that I was going to do the same with the official trails in the Island in the Sky. At the time I had hiked most of the trails on top of the Island, but had not hiked any that went down to the White Rim. Well, after four more trips to the Island in the Sky over the past two months (Over the Edge, From West to East, Syncline Loop Trail) I have now finished that goal this weekend with the Alcove Spring Trail on Sunday morning. But don’t worry, just because I have now hiked all the official trails in the Island in the Sky doesn’t mean that I won’t be returning to this district of Canyonlands since there is plenty of backcountry to keep exploring! As a matter of fact, I already have permits for a trip planned in early February that I am looking forward to.

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Island in the Sky: Syncline Loop Trail

Friday & Saturday, December 6-7, 2019

After spending two weekends hiking at the Island in the Sky last month it was time to return again so I could continue working my way through the rest of the official trails there. I had originally planned on heading back for a day trip on Sunday this weekend, but the weather wasn’t looking good that day so I changed my plans on Thursday. I left right after work on Friday, spent the night outside of Canyonlands National Park and then got an early start hiking the Syncline Loop Trail on Saturday morning. I’ve wanted to hike this trail which circumnavigates Upheaval Dome for a long time and was really looking forward to this one!

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River of Sorrows: The Dolores River

Slick Rock Canyon | Big Gypsum Valley to Bedrock
Friday – Saturday, June 14-15, 2019

Early Spanish explorers called it El Rio de Nuestra Señora de Dolores, or the River of Our Lady of Sorrows translated into English. Today it’s known as the Dolores River, which begins as snowmelt high up in the San Juan Mountains near Bolam Pass and empties into the Colorado River in Utah after traveling through the canyon country of western Colorado. For a long time I have wanted to float the Dolores River through Slick Rock Canyon, which begins at Big Gypsum Valley and ends at Paradox Valley, but since the water of the river is usually siphoned off at the McPhee Reservoir upstream there is typically only a very short window of time to actually do it, if there is any opportunity at all! So far I had never been able to make the timing work for a trip, however, with the high snowpack in the San Juan Mountains this year it looked like I was finally going to be able to get my chance!

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The White Rim

Canyonlands National Park’s 50th Birthday
Friday – Sunday, September 12-14, 2014

So far I’ve had a great year exploring many new areas of Canyonlands National Park. I was finally able to backpack through Salt Creek Canyon in The Needles, which had been a longtime goal of mine and one of the main reasons I started backpacking in the first place. Then I spent a nice weekend in The Maze with Diane and made it to the Maze Overlook and also discovered what a wonderful place Millard Canyon is. We even made it to The Great Gallery in Horseshoe Canyon on that trip so that Diane was able to view some of the magnificent rock art there for the first time. With all these great trips this year I thought I would try my luck again at completing the White Rim Road in the Island in the Sky, too.

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