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Tag: snow

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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Elk Mountains: Capitol Creek Trail to Capitol Lake

Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness | Saturday & Sunday, July 22-23, 2023

Almost nine years ago now, Diane was with me while I was photographing Fall Colors in the Elk Mountains near the Capitol Creek Trailhead, and while we were there she mentioned to me that she would like to backpack to Capitol Lake sometime, and I never forgot about it. However, we had never got around to doing that hike yet because it’s such a popular location and I’ve always been worried about hiking in and not finding a campsite near the lake on a weekend. But earlier this year when the White River National Forest finally implemented a permit system for the designated campsites around Capitol Lake, I hopped onto Recreation.gov the day they became available and booked a site for us on this weekend in late July. On Saturday morning we woke up extra early and made our way over to the Capitol Creek Trailhead to start our hike up to Capitol Lake.

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Rainbow Bridge: Circumnavigation of Navajo Mountain

The Canyons of Navajo Mountain & Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Wednesday – Monday, March 15-20, 2023

This year for our annual spring backpacking trip, Jared, Dave and I were planning to spend an easy four days and three nights hiking down Paria Canyon from the White House Trailhead to Lees Ferry. It’s a trip we have all wanted to do for a long time and were looking forward to, but back in December when I reserved the permit we had no idea what the atmospheric river would have in store for us this winter! A couple of days before our trip was set to begin there was a large flash flood in Buckskin Gulch and the Paria River that unfortunately killed two hikers and resulted in the rescue of about a dozen more. With reports of deep cold water crossings and continued precipitation and cold air temperatures in the forecast, we decided that this was probably not the right time for this hike and started considering different options. Since I try to be prepared, I already had a backup plan to hike around Navajo Mountain to Rainbow Bridge ready to go in case the weather did not cooperate with us on this Paria Canyon hike, so we decided to try that one instead.

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Back on the Sandstone Spine: Comb Ridge

Friday – Sunday, February 24-26, 2023

After unsuccessfully trying to get on the Comb Ridge twice this year already, I almost gave up a third time this weekend as yet another winter storm system moved through the area during the week. However, later in the week I decided to take my chances and head down that way anyway. I had some alternate plans, just in case. I’m glad I ended up going since conditions on Saturday were very nice with dry roads and the high temperature reaching sixty degrees. It was lovely spring-like weather and I was glad to be out exploring the Bears Ears region once again! Of course, then conditions quickly changed again on Sunday morning- but more on that later…

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The Sky Islands of the Chihuahuan Desert

Chiricahua National Monument to the Pedregosa Mountains and Dragoon Mountains
Arizona Winter Loop | Monday – Wednesday, January 30 – February 1, 2023

After a brief stopover in Petrified Forest National Park we continued south through Arizona on our way to the Sky Islands of the Chihuahuan Desert in the southeast corner of the state. A Sky Island is a mountain range that is separated from other mountain ranges by distance and by surrounding lowlands of a dramatically different environment. The result is a habitat island- such as a forest surrounded by desert. After leaving Holbrook we would cross the canyon of the Salt River and then follow the Gila Valley until we reached Safford and eventually Willcox later in the evening. Since I knew we would be arriving late I had booked a hotel room in town to stay at before we continued on to Chiricahua National Monument first thing in the morning.

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