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Thanksgiving in the Land of Enchantment

Defensive Sites of Dinétah, Black Friday in Chaco Canyon II & Images of Dinétah
Thanksgiving Weekend | Thursday – Sunday, November 25-28, 2021

It feels like I’ve already spent a lot of time in the Land of Enchantment this year with visits to El Malpais National Monument, Mount Taylor and Wheeler Peak– so this seemed like the perfect year to skip our annual Thanksgiving visit to Cedar Mesa and head back to northwestern New Mexico instead. We actually did the same thing five years ago, so this wouldn’t be our first time spending Thanksgiving in La Tierra Del Encanto. We had originally planned to head to New Mexico last year for Thanksgiving, but the COVID restrictions at the time made us change our plans, so we were really looking forward to finally getting back this year! We left home early on Thursday morning and drove over Red Mountain Pass through the San Juan Mountains to Bloomfield, where we would be spending a couple of nights while we explored Dinétah and Chaco Culture National Historical Park for the next couple of days.

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Blue Mountain Shadows: Beef Basin to Cedar Mesa

Southern Utah Wanderings | Friday – Friday, October 1-8, 2021

This year for our annual week-long trek into Southern Utah, Jared and I started out in the Beef Basin area and then we explored our way over to Cedar Mesa. It has been a while since either of us had spent much time around Beef Basin and I was also really hoping that we would be able to spend some quality time around the Dark Canyon Plateau and Elk Ridge areas along the way. The trip started out great and we found plenty of new rock art and ruin sites, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate with us on the second half of this trip and we had to change our plans multiple times because of storms and slick muddy roads. At one point we even stopped to help winch a truck back onto the road that was sliding off. One of the unexpected benefits of the poor weather was that it chased us closer to the Abajo Mountains than we were originally planning to go, and they were in peak falls colors at the time! At the end of the week we found out that President Biden was restoring the original boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument, which was fitting since we were sitting in camp within the newly restored boundary. I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty details of this trip, so please enjoy plenty of photos from our journey below.

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Hidden in the Shadows of the Bears Ears

Thanksgiving Weekend | Cedar Mesa Chronicles: Chapter 2
Thursday – Sunday, November 26-29, 2020

This year for Thanksgiving we were originally thinking about changing up our typical plans and spending the long holiday weekend in northern New Mexico instead. However, with the pandemic essentially shutting down travel into New Mexico right now we decided it would be best for us to stay in southern Utah and return to Cedar Mesa like we usually do. While we would normally get a hotel room in Blanding for this annual trip, we were not really comfortable staying at a hotel this time around, so we decided to pack up our warmest gear and camp the entire weekend.

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Dark Canyon Wilderness: Woodenshoe Canyon

Friday – Monday, May 15-18, 2020

This weekend I was supposed to be backpacking with Diane in Canyonlands National Park, but since the park is still closed due to COVID-19 they cancelled my second permit there this spring. At this point I guess that I will just have to try again next year. While looking into alternate plans for the weekend the weather forecast was predicting much warmer temperatures across the Southwest, so I tried to find someplace that was a little higher in elevation where it might be cooler, and after weighing my options I decided it was finally time to check out Woodenshoe Canyon in the Dark Canyon Wilderness. Although I’ve driven around the edges of this wilderness area before, this is one part of the Colorado Plateau that I have ignored for far too long! With the change in plans, Diane decided that she was going to stay home this weekend so I invited my friend Jerry to join me on this four day trip. Unfortunately, this was one of those rare trips where things didn’t quite go as planned and we ended up cutting the trip short and headed home a day early.

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Gila Cliff Dwellings of the Mogollon Mountains

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
My 40th Birthday Foray into Arizona and New Mexico
Thursday, February 13, 2020

After our nice overnight trip into Aravaipa Canyon, Thursday was going to be a shorter and easier day for us. Today we planned to drive up into the Mogollon Mountains from Silver City to visit Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, which is a small Monument that was established in 1907 by Theodore Roosevelt at the edge of the Gila Wilderness. In case you didn’t know, the Gila Wilderness was the nation’s very first designated wilderness area. Although we didn’t have much time to visit this large wilderness area on this trip, I would certainly like to return in the future for a longer backpacking trip.

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