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Big Water in Cataract Canyon: The Colorado River

Utah’s Biggest Whitewater in Canyonlands National Park | Average CFS: 31,500
Friday – Sunday, May 31 – June 2, 2024

As many of you already know, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time exploring, hiking, backpacking, Jeeping and floating the rivers within Canyonlands National Park over the years. However, Cataract Canyon has been the one section of the Colorado River in Canyonlands that has eluded me over that time. Since there’s a pretty good chance I might never have the opportunity to navigate the large rapids of Cataract Canyon on a private river trip, I figured this would probably be a good place to try out a commercial river trip for the first time and see how it goes. So late last year I booked a 3-day motorized trip with Mild To Wild Rafting and then my friend Jackson did the same for his family so we could go on the trip together. Since we would be in a large raft with an experienced guide on this trip instead of in our little inflatable kayaks, we tried to time the trip to coincide with the highest water of the year that typically happens during spring runoff in late May and early June, and I think we ended up doing a pretty good job on the timing.

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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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The Twists and Turns of Salt Creek Canyon

Canyonlands National Park | Thursday – Monday, April 4-8, 2024

After a rugged hike around Navajo Mountain last year, Dave, Jared and I decided to return to a very familiar place in Canyonlands National Park for our annual spring backpacking trip this year as we started making plans to continue exploring the twists and turns of Salt Creek Canyon a few months ago. Although we have all hiked into Salt Creek many times over the years, I hadn’t been back to the middle section of the canyon since our first hike down the length of the canyon just about ten years ago, and I was looking forward to returning! I left from work on Thursday afternoon and made my way to Indian Creek Country for the evening where I found a campsite and watched a colorful sunset on the surrounding cliffs while waiting for Dave and Jared to arrive.

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The Grandest of Gulches: Back Into Lower Grand Gulch

Cedar Mesa Chronicles: Chapter 11 | Thursday – Sunday, March 21-24, 2024

This week Diane and I took Thursday and Friday off from work so we could meet up with our friend Jared and spend a couple of days backpacking into lower Grand Gulch within the Bears Ears National Monument. While this would be Diane’s first time hiking into this part of Grand Gulch, Jared and I had hiked here about nine years ago and I was really looking forward to the return visit. From the very start of the hike we could tell there was a lot of water in the canyon from recent storms and that it might have even flash flooded recently, but all that water also created a lot of quicksand and mud in the wash that significantly slowed down our progress and forced us to follow brushy deer trails across the benches in many places. The weather during the first three days of our hike was great and the nights even stayed pretty warm, we only encountered wet weather during our final night in the canyon and during the hike back out of Collins Canyon. Here are some photos taken during our four days in Grand Gulch.

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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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