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Tag: wilderness

Grand Canyon Polychrome: Exploring The Esplanade II

Veterans Day Weekend | Wednesday – Saturday, November 10-13, 2021

I can hardly believe that it’s been over three years since I last set foot on the Esplanade in 2018! Back in 2019 Diane and I took the year off from visiting the North Rim so we could finally go see the Waterfalls of Havasu Canyon on the other side of the Grand Canyon, and then in 2020 we cancelled our planned trip due to the weather forecast and other things we needed to get done at home. I’ve been looking forward to getting back and was happy to finally return this extended Veterans Day weekend with Jerry. It felt great to be back on the Esplanade! The sky was clear and the high temperatures were in the 70’s while the lows at night were very comfortable in the 40’s. We even found some water in a couple shallow potholes. As usual, I’m not going to get into all the specific details of this trip, but I will share plenty of photos below. We found everything we were looking for and had a pretty great time, until we started climbing out of the canyon on Friday…

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The Good Gallery & Bowknot Bend Overlook

Friday – Sunday, October 22-24, 2021

This weekend I decided to stay just a little bit closer to home than I have the past couple of weekends, and headed over to the west side of the Green River so I could spend some time in the Horseshoe Canyon and Labyrinth Canyon Wilderness areas. I was hoping to check out a large Barrier Canyon Style pictograph panel that I had not been to yet and then hike to an overlook of the Bowknot Bend Saddle from Keg Point. I left right after work on Friday afternoon and headed west into Utah. I stopped for gas in Green River and then followed the Hans Flat Road until it was dark out and found a spot to spend the night. There was a pretty nice sunset during the drive, but I didn’t stop to take any photos this time. I was anticipating it to get a bit cold overnight, but surprisingly it never got down below 50 degrees and was very comfortable. On Saturday morning I was up shortly before sunrise and then made my way over to the starting point for my first hike.

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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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Sangre de Cristo Mountains: Hermit Pass Peaks

Rito Alto Peak & Hermit Peak | Saturday & Sunday, September 4-5, 2021

After spending the last couple days hiking high points in Arizona and New Mexico, it was now time to start heading back home through Colorado, but of course I planned to hike at least a couple more peaks on the way back! As I followed the Sangre de Cristo Mountains north out of New Mexico and into Colorado I thought it would be a good time to hike some peaks in that range since it’s been quite a while since I’ve spent any time there. Originally, I was considering continuing my quest of the The Four Sacred Mountains of the Navajo by hiking Blanca Peak, but didn’t think that would be a good place to find much solitude now, especially in the middle of a holiday weekend. I think I’ll save the last two Sacred Peaks for a little road trip next summer. Instead, I decided to head up the road to Hermit Pass near Westcliffe so I could not only hike some high 13ers, but also so I could drive up to a pass that I had never been to before. The road was not difficult or dangerous, but it was very bumpy, slow and annoying. I found a place to spend the night above Horseshoe Lake and then spent the rest of the evening relaxing at camp and watching the clouds move through the sky as sunset approached.

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The Highest Peak in New Mexico: Wheeler Peak

Finishing the Four Corners State High Points | Friday & Saturday, September 3-4, 2021

After climbing Humphreys Peak on Thursday, and then spending this morning on Mount Taylor near Grants, it was now finally time to finish off the Four Corner state high points with Wheeler Peak in New Mexico. Following my short visit to the La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs near Santa Fe this afternoon, I continued north to Taos and then headed up to the trailhead in the Taos Ski Valley. I was hoping to find a place to spend the night along the way, but the Taos Ski Valley was not really my kind of place to visit and camping options were very limited. Luckily, just before leaving home I had thrown my backpacking gear into the Jeep, just in case, so I thought it would probably be a better idea to just backpack up to Williams Lake in the late afternoon and then hike to the summit of Wheeler Peak first thing in the morning. The weather forecast for the rest of the evening was looking good, so that’s what I decided to do. The hike up to Williams Lake is not very long, just under 2 miles with about 1,000 feet of elevation gain, so it didn’t take me long to reach the lake, but like the other hikes I had done earlier in the day, it was still very humid out.

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