1. Wednesday. Wheeler Peak, Great Basin National Park, Nevada.
This was a roughly 8-mile RT, with close to 3000’ of climbing (and descending). This was not a smart move with my foot only half recovered from a very bad episode of plantar fasciitis, but I did it anyway. I never said I was smart :)
|Not long after we started, we could look up to see the summit, a ridiculously long way above us. It’s hard to see but there was also a light coating of fresh snow or hail from a storm the evening before.|
|After a long time, the summit looked closer.|
|By the time we got up there, most of the snow was gone. We found a bit of it hidden here and there.|
|It was breezy on the summit, but the views were great. It was also nearly lunchtime, so we had a good snack before heading back down, as our lunch was actually back at the car.|
2. Thursday. A pair of canyons in Utah. I’m not naming them, because they are getting too many visitors as it is, and I don’t need to add to the info out there. The hike was, again, 8 miles, but with limited climbing aside from the occasional scramble over pour-offs a few feet high. About a 5 hour drive from Wheeler Peak.
|Heading into the canyon, after a half-mile approach.|
|One of the climb-y bits. Nothing very challenging, but it added fun and interest.|
|The sandstone is subject to erosion into holes and cubbies as well as waves. You can also see the layering of different types of sand here.|
|A third of the way through the hike we topped out the first canyon, and had a 1.5 mile walk along a jeep trail to the head of the second canyon. We had climbed enough for the breeze to be pleasant and the juniper trees to cast some shade.|
|In another place, we had to duck under a jammed boulder, another bit of food for thought.|
|A few passages were just magical classic slot canyon.|
|Too soon the canyon began to widen and the cliffs grew lower, signalling the beginning of the end.|
3. Friday, Colorado National Monument. Only about 2.5 hours from the canyons, and still sharing some of the same red rock, Colorado National Monument rises right out of the city of Grand Junction. We’ve hiked down into the red rock before, so this time we decided to hike the Black Ridge trail, up in the piñon/juniper forest. My hike, combined with a mile of nature trail, was about 4 1/4 miles--a nice rest!
|Before starting the real trail, we walked a mile RT on a nature trail that came to a convincing dead-end.|
|Same scene looking down--into the puddle.|
|Starting up the trail, I could still look back on the eroded features of the Monument.|
|A less dramatic landscape than the canyon, but the long views of the Book Cliffs were rewarding, as was a tour of the geology--what's above the sandstone?|
|As a final reward for patience and return visits, the Monument finally showed us one of the bighorn sheep we knew lived there. Would have been nice to see it on the trail, not the road, but we enjoyed this all-too-unafraid ewe.|
|I hiked to Ridge Lakes. I thought it was 2 miles each way, but that turned out to be a RT distance. |
So I continued on to the ridge.
©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2019
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