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Fossil Ridge Wilderness: Lamphier Lake

Gunsight Pass Peaks: Broncho Mountain & Square Top Mountain
Friday – Sunday, July 16-18, 2021

Last year when Diane and I were hiking to the Highest Fire Lookout in North America, located on the summit of Fairview Peak in the Sawatch Range, I consistently found myself glancing across the Gold Creek Valley to Fossil Ridge and immediately knew that I would need to come back in 2021 to start exploring that area. After poring over maps of the Fossil Creek Wilderness it looked like the short trail to Lamphier Lake and Gunsight Pass would be a good place for me to start with, so that’s where I decided to go this weekend. As an added bonus, there are a couple of 12ers surrounding the cirque that contains Lamphier Lake, so I knew I would have plenty of options to keep me busy. With Diane being busy in school this year, it’s been a little while since I went on my last backpacking trip, so I thought this hike would be the perfect opportunity for me to go on my first solo overnight backpacking trip since I climbed Humboldt Peak in 2016, and I was really looking forward to it!

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Elkhead Mountains: Hahns Peak Fire Lookout

Friday – Saturday, June 25-26, 2021

After spending a night in the Jersey Jim Fire Lookout Tower almost two years ago, I thought it would be interesting and fun to try visiting at least one new fire lookout each summer. Last year Diane and I hiked to the Fairview Peak Fire Lookout, which is the highest fire lookout in North America, so this year I decided to check out the Hahns Peak Fire Lookout in the Elkhead Mountains north of Steamboat Springs. There is some confusion as to whether Hahns Peak belongs to the Sierra Madre or the Elkhead Mountains, but according to SummitPost and the book History of the Elkhead Mountains, Hahns Peak is the eastern-most point in the Elkhead Mountains. This is a part of Colorado I have never been to before, so I was looking forward to exploring new terrain!

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Rivers of Ancient Fires: The Malpais

Tuesday – Thursday, May 18-20, 2021

After spending two nice days in Arizona exploring Petrified Forest National Park, it was time to move on to New Mexico so we could spend a couple of days along the Continental Divide at the southeast margin of the Colorado Plateau in El Malpais National Monument and the El Malpais National Conservation Area. Last winter we spent a short day in this area but were unable to do much because the roads were snow-covered and muddy from a recent winter storm, so we had vowed to come back as soon as we could in warmer weather. We had hoped to do a little caving on our next visit, but because the caves are all currently closed due to COVID-19, we had to stay above ground this trip. Of course, there were plenty of other hiking opportunities to keep us busy and that just means we now have another excuse to come back when the caves are open again!

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Petroglyphs of the Petrified Forest

A Return to Petrified Forest National Park
Sunday & Monday, May 16-17, 2021

After an amazing Saturday checking out the ruins and rock art of the Ute Mountain Tribal Park we were now planning on spending the next two days digging deeper into the backcountry of Petrified Forest National Park. We had such a great time exploring the Petrified Forest last February that we couldn’t wait to get back for some more! Of course, we would have preferred to come back earlier in the year when it’s a bit cooler out and less crowded, but this would probably be our only opportunity this year, so we jumped at it. Since the park does not open until 8:00am we had time for breakfast in Holbrook before heading to the southern entrance of the park and arrived just a few minutes before they opened for the day.

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Below Cathedral Butte: Upper Salt Creek Canyon

Wednesday – Sunday, April 21-25, 2021

Last spring I was looking forward to spending a few days hiking into upper Salt Creek Canyon in Canyonlands National Park with Diane so I could show her around one of my very favorite places on the Colorado Plateau for the first time. I was also hoping to squeeze in some deeper explorations into the area while we were there. Unfortunately, COVID-19 struck and would have other plans for us when Canyonlands cancelled our permit for the last weekend in April. I then managed to quickly snag another permit for later in May, but that permit was subsequently cancelled, too. I guess we would be waiting until the spring of 2021 to try again…

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