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Tag: the squeeze

Canyons of the San Rafael Reef

Black Dragon Wash to Ernie Canyon
Friday – Sunday, January 29-31, 2021

Over the past couple of years I’ve spent a weekend in January exploring the canyons of the San Rafael Reef at the edge of the San Rafael Swell just west of Green River. I guess I’ve continued to do this each year because it’s an easy drive from home and it doesn’t really matter if there is snow on the ground or not. Plus, it’s just a great place to explore anytime! With this weekend being the last one in January and the weather looking good, I thought that it would be nice to keep up the tradition and headed back to the San Rafael Reef! As usual, I left right from work on Friday afternoon and drove west on I-70 until I reached the San Rafael Reef. Just before driving through Spotted Wolf Canyon on the interstate, I took a side road to the north and found a place to camp near the mouth of Black Dragon Canyon. For a brief time there was a little light snow that fell, but it didn’t stick and stopped just as quickly as it had started. As soon as the clouds dissipated the light from the Wolf Moon filled the canyon.

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Leap Day at Swasey’s Leap

Leap Day | Saturday & Sunday, February 29 – March 1, 2020

This year Leap Day (February 29th) happened to fall on a weekend, so I thought it would be fitting to finally get out to Swasey’s Leap in the San Rafael Swell to celebrate. Swasey’s Leap (sometimes spelled Swazys) is a narrow part of the canyon near the beginning of the Lower Black Box of the San Rafael River that is only about 14 feet wide and 50 feet deep. The lore associated with Swasey’s Leap is that back in the late 1800’s Sid and Charley Swasey made a wager about Sid’s horse jumping the narrow gap at the top of the canyon. Sid said his horse could make it while Charley wagered his herd of cattle that he couldn’t. In the end Sid made the leap and won the cattle from his brother. From then on, this spot has been known as Swasey’s Leap or Sid’s Leap. Later, a sheepherder named Paul Hansen built a bridge over the gap made of cottonwood logs and an old wagon box, but this old bridge collapsed and fell into the river sometime in 1997. While I have driven out to the end of the Swasey’s Leap Road once before, I never actually hiked out to Swasey’s Leap, so I was looking forward to finally checking it out this weekend!

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Spine of The Swell: San Rafael Reef Wilderness

Uneva Canyon & Three Fingers Canyon Loop
Saturday, January 11, 2020

For the past couple of years it seems like I always end up hiking on the San Rafael Reef at the beginning of the year in early to mid-January, so I guess this year is not going to be an exception! Maybe it’s because it’s an easy drive from home on I-70 and makes for a good day trip when there is snow on the ground in the desert. Anyway, this weekend Diane was supposed to go snowshoeing with a couple of her friends on the Grand Mesa so I planned to take it easy and go on a day trip to the San Rafael Reef on Saturday by myself. Although I have visited the petroglyphs at the mouth of Three Fingers Canyon a few times before, I had not really done much else in the area, so I decided to hike a loop combining Uneva Canyon and Three Fingers Canyon that would take me along the front and the back of the Reef in this area. Just like with the Muddy Creek Wilderness, this area also became an official Wilderness Area last year with the signing of the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.

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The Edge of The Needles

Southern Utah Wanderings | Wednesday, October 3, 2018

All the rain we had received the previous day made me a little bit nervous about trying to drive into Beef Basin, which was our original plan for today. I’ve driven that road in the rain before and it was a slippery mess. I didn’t want to have to do that again! So instead of heading into Beef Basin we decided to see if we could get a last-minute campsite in The Needles and drive over Elephant Hill instead. Since the Visitor’s Center didn’t open until 9:00am we slept in later than normal and took our time taking down camp. We arrived at the Visitor’s Center about ten minutes before they opened and there were already a bunch of people waiting to get in. When the doors opened we were the first ones in the Backcounty Office and found that one of the Bobby Jo campsites and the Horsehoof campsite were still open, which is the area we wanted to be in. I had never stayed at any of these sites before, so we decided to give Horsehoof a try for the next two nights. It turned out to be an excellent decision since I think Horsehoof is now one of my favorite campsites in all of Canyonlands National Park! Thankfully we got into the Backcountry Office for our permit when we did, because as we left there was a long line out the door!

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Lower Red Lake Canyon & The Confluence Overlook

Friday – Sunday, April 13-15, 2018

After hiking down to Spanish Bottom from The Doll House last weekend, I decided it was time to head back to The Needles for the third time this year so I could hike down Lower Red Lake Canyon from Devils Lane to the opposite side of the Colorado River. I had actually planned on doing this hike at the end of February, but a snowstorm the evening before made me change my mind about driving over Elephant Hill by myself in the morning and I switched up my plans at the last minute.

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