Utah/Colorado Trip, May/June 2015

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Kauri
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Utah/Colorado Trip, May/June 2015

Post by Kauri » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:23 pm

Our annual trip to the slot canyon etc. areas of Utah also included some (mountainous) areas in Colorado this year. Since I'm taking classes this summer, I won't be making a second trip later, in July (as I have done in the past few years). Below is a list of most of the places we went; I'll try to post trip reports in the next few weeks, depending on how busy I am with classes.

Day 1: Northern San Rafael Swell, including White Rocks, Red Knoll, The Wedge Overlook, Buckhorn Wash Pictographs, and San Rafael River Swingbridge.
Day 2: Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, including the Chesler Park loop hike and the Joint Trail, and Roadside Ruin.
Day 3: Some Goblin Valley area slot canyons in the San Rafael Swell, including Little Wild Horse and Ding Canyons.
Day 4: Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park, including Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, Green River Overlook, Aztec Butte, Upheaval Dome First Viewpoint, and Shafer Trail Overlook.
Day 5: Arches National Park, including Balanced Rock, North and South Windows, Turret Arch, Double Arch, Lower Delicate Arch viewpoint, and Fiery Furnace Viewpoint; and La Sal Mountain Loop Road, including Castle Rock, Warner Lake, and Oowah Lake.
Day 6: Telluride Area, including Black Bear Pass Road to the base of Bridal Veil Falls; and Ouray area, including Yankee Boy Basin Road to the Governor/Yankee Boy fork.
Day 7: Ouray/Silverton area, including Lower Ice Lakes hike (not completed due to lots of snow), and the first mile of the Ophir Pass Road (not completed due to lack of time).
Day 8: Black Canyon of the Gunnison Area, including Gunnison, Cross Fissures, Chasm, Painted Wall, and Warner Points.
Day 9: Bierstadt ("Beer City") Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Day 10: Alberta Falls, The Loch, Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Twin Owls Loop in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Day 11: Fern Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Day 12: Chasm Junction (failed hike due to way too much snow), most eastern Trail Ridge Road viewpoints up to Fall River Pass, and East Portal in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Day 13: Ouzel Lake area in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Day 14: Dinosaur National Monument, including the Quarry Exhibit Hall, Split Mountain Viewpoint, and Swelter Shelter Petroglyphs and Pictographs.

A few things to note:
* We were very lucky in Utah to not have hot weather, so we got to see lots more places than we had expected to see--especially in Canyonlands.
* Most of the hikes in Colorado, however, had quite a bit of snow (partly due to storms dropping additional snow the week before we arrived, though we had been expecting to encounter a lot of snow anyway), so we didn't get to see as much as we would have liked, though all this snow did make for excellent photography on the Trail Ridge Road.
* Some of the Goblin Valley area slot canyons had more water than we wanted to cross (since we couldn't see how deep it was or what might be in it--and we didn't bring any wading boots), so we didn't end up completing Bell and Dang Canyons.
* There is a lot more to see in the La Sal Mountains, and in Dinosaur National Monument, than I had thought, so we will probably be making a return trip there someday (in addition to further exploration in most of the other places we visited, the San Rafael Swell, Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, the Ouray area, and Rocky Mountain NP).

I'll post updates below with links to completed PDF trip reports.

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TacoLand
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Post by TacoLand » Thu Jun 11, 2015 5:18 pm

Wow, I feel like I just won the lotto!

About two years ago I traveled through southwest Utah for the first time ever and immediately fell in love. Lately I've been thinking of taking 2-3 weeks in September to return to Utah and explore as much as possible.

I can't wait to read your new trip reports, plus check out your old ones on the area as I didn't realize they were there.

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Post by Candace_66 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:20 pm

Wow, that list of places brings back a lot of memories, I've been fortunate enough to visit many of them myself. :cool:

How far up into Yankee Boy Basin were you able to go? Were you stopped by snow or other factors? And was the Ophir Pass Road open and clear of snow? I would think snow would still be a factor in both those places.

I plan to get back out to Colorado for some peak-bagging this summer. I figured a lot of the really high roads and trails are still inaccessible. But maybe not? Guess I better do some research!

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Post by Kauri » Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:36 pm

Taco: I'm glad you're looking forward to reading my reports! Utah is an amazing place, and it seems September would be a good time to visit. Maybe when I get to grad school I'll be going to Utah at a perhaps better time of year.

Candace: We got to the spot where the Yankee Boy Basin and Governor Basin roads split; there was a surprisingly deep bit of water crossing the Governor fork, and the Yankee Boy fork looked rougher than we wanted to take at that time (we headed up there after having driven in from Moab, and we'd also spent some time in Telluride, so we didn't want to be heading back to Ouray in the dark). The Ophir road was open to the pass on the Ouray side, but I think the Ouray visitor center staff said that on the other side of the pass there still was (unplowed?) snow. The Imogene Pass turnoff from Yankee Boy had a raging river crossing it and was totally closed. Black Bear Pass Road was completely snowed in from the Ouray side, so the only bit that was open was to the top of the falls (we got tired of the number of times needed to back up to make the turns on the switchbacks, hence bailed at the bottom of the falls). The Ouray area surprised me, as it has the similarity to the Death Valley/Panamint Valley area in that it has a lot of mining history (and incredible scenery) that can be accessed from 4WD roads.

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Candace_66
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Post by Candace_66 » Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:55 am

Thx for the info!

It definitely takes a while for some of those high country passes to open up. I recall finding Mosquito Pass closed the last weekend of July. Of course, that's above 13,000'. ;-)

Here's some incentive to come back again a little later in the summer: A couple pics of the west side of Ophir Pass, taken Aug. 10, 2014. And a link to a video taken well up in Yankee Boy Basin. This is the spot where I camped the night before tackling Mt. Sneffels:


Image

Image


https://youtu.be/uQ-MY_chyOU

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Kauri
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Post by Kauri » Fri Jun 12, 2015 2:14 pm

Thanks for sharing the photos and video! It looks like the other side of the Ophir Road is "uneventful," and still has great scenery, so that'll be a nice one to drive. We were also concerned about spots to turn around if necessary or pass approaching vehicles on the Ouray area roads, and it looks like both may be difficult in upper Yankee Boy Basin--I'll certainly need to do more research on the roads before we go back there. Maybe one of these next few years I'll be able to get back to the Ouray area later in the summer when more of the snow has melted, though I'll need to see how my schedule works out.

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Post by Kauri » Fri Jun 19, 2015 4:21 pm

Five reports from this trip are now on my website:

Little Wild Horse and Ding Canyons (Part 1)
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... sPart1.pdf

Little Wild Horse and Ding Canyons (Part 2)
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... sPart2.pdf

Black Canyon of the Gunnison South Rim
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... Canyon.pdf

Bierstadt Lake
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... dtLake.pdf

Alberta Falls, The Loch, Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and the Twin Owls (Part 1)
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... aPart1.pdf

Alberta Falls, The Loch, Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and the Twin Owls (Part 2)
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... aPart2.pdf

Ouzel Lake and and the Wild Basin Area
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... dBasin.pdf

To keep the files under 5 MB each, I had to split two of these reports, hence the "Part 1" and "Part 2".

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Post by Kauri » Mon Jun 22, 2015 6:41 pm

The remaining nine trip reports have been completed and uploaded to my website:

Northern San Rafael Swell area
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... lSwell.pdf

Chesler Park and the Joint Trail (Part 1)
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... tPart1.pdf

Chesler Park and the Joint Trail (Part 2)
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... tPart2.pdf

Chesler Park and the Joint Trail (Part 3)
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... tPart3.pdf

Island in the Sky area
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... points.pdf

Arches National Park and La Sal Mountain loop road
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... dLaSal.pdf

Telluride/Ouray area
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... ayArea.pdf

Ice Lakes area
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... esArea.pdf

Fern Lake
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... keArea.pdf

Longs Peak Trailhead area and Trail Ridge Road
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... lRidge.pdf

Dinosaur National Monument
http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... nument.pdf

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Post by MojaveGeek » Tue Jun 23, 2015 4:51 pm

Great trip, Kauri! A nice long one too!

BTW Bierstadt Lake (and Moraine) are named after Albert Bierstadt, one of the Hudson River School painters who traveled the west and made huge paintings of hyper-real western scenes. This was before anything approaching decent photography, and the traveling exhibits were the introduction to the west for most Easterners. If you ever get a chance to see his paintings, they are well worth the time (Church is another of my favorites).

We just got back last night from out own trip to SW Utah. Hot was the operative word. Weather/climate has been an issue in my travels this year, starting with an obscenely hot mid-March (with almost no snow in the mountains) DV trip. In SW Utah, there is usually a "monsoon" season starting around now, wherein moist air flows up on a SW flow from the Gulf of California. This year, May was an amazingly wet month in SW Utah (after almost no winter snowpack) and so the slot and narrow canyons we wanted to hike in (cool, shady) were somewhat over full when we showed up. The rain shut off immediately without a trace, not even clouds, but it got pretty hot. A number of roads in the Grand Staircase were washed out, and some of the canyons were still unsafe. So had to make quick adjustments.

The key to being out there in June is to get out before the sun - we'd see predawn temps of 45 rise to the low to mid 90s by afternoon. Guess when you want to hike?

Our hikes (in lieu of a real TR which I probably won't have time for, too many other trips this summer):
Middle Fork Taylor Creek in the Kolob Canyons area - we went about 1.3 miles past the Double Arch Alcove where most stop, to a very nice narrow bit.
Virgin River (North Fork) narrows. I do so love this deep deep canyon but the crowds... they get to me. Took 20 minutes to enter the park at 8 AM on a weekday and that just about set the tone for the day.

Hepworth Peak. Super slickrock route - no trail, no people, stunning east Zion peak. My kind of day!

Deer Spring Point, GSENM. A totally obscure place I picked off the topos at the last minute. We drove past heading to another hike but decided it looked too good to pass up. 6 miles, first 4.8 on a pretty much abandoned two-track, to an amazing point with the only sign of humans being the remains of the USGS survey 100 years ago.

Parunuweap from Checkerboard Mesa. Epic hike across miles of slickrock into the East Fork narrows which had quite a bit of water - as beautiful as the North Fork but no one there. A 13 hour day for a 12 mile hike. Amazing that Ben did this when he was 7 (that trip took us 12 hours but we spent less time in the narrows).

Loosee Canyon in Red Canyon area. 70% of the beauty of Bryce with 3% of the crowds. Get the theme here? A not-so-hard recovery day

Lick Wash down to an old cabin. 10 miles, fairly easy, fun to be at the base of the point we'd walked out on earlier (that's in the White Cliffs).

Bunting Trail out of Kanab. Maintained trail to a saddle, then use trail wends its way through red and white sandstone strata to attain the Mesa, where you can roam wherever you want and find 100 mile views on all sides.

One rattlesnake. One fair sized Chuckwalla. Sheep and plenty of deer. A handful of "horned toads". Infinite lizards.

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Kauri
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Post by Kauri » Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:56 pm

It certainly was a spectacular trip! I only wish I had time for a second vacation this summer...

The "Beer City" note after "Bierstadt" was a joke; thanks for the info on where the name came from!

Sounds like you had a great trip too! Interesting to hear you found lots of water in the slots as well. I've been to Double Arch Alcove but not beyond (that's on the list for someday, if I can ever get there in ideal weather). Those destinations in GSENM sound interesting too, though probably are hotter hikes than I'd want to do during my vacation time.

By the way, you might get more comments on your trip if you post it on your own thread :)

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Post by TacoLand » Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:22 am

Hey Kauri,

many ... many thanks for sharing all these trip reports. It's my busy season right now so I won't have a chance to really dive into these for a bit, but I'm looking forward to reading through them and trying to piece together a trip to Utah. I might have some questions and want to pick your brain down the road if it's not too much of a bother.

As for Albert Bierstadt, fantastic painter who made his first trip to the west in 1859. At that time though, Carleton Watkins was already established in California and would begin photographing Yosemite in ernest in 1861. Other well known photographers of the west from that period include Timothy O'Sullivan (1867) and William Bell (1867). In fact, it was Watkins photographs that helped inspire the Easterners and were influential in Yosemite being preserved as a National Park.

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Post by MojaveGeek » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:50 am

Ha ha about "beer city" :)

I don't feel my report justifies it's own thread until I'm able to put up some pix but... I have a couple more vacation trips plus a work trip to Japan coming up so may not be able to get to it!

As for water in narrows or slot canyons.. best to be well on the safe side, if you don't know how deep something is or what the weather up the drainage is. When I first stepped into the current at Parunuweap I was almost immediately knocked off my feet. No harm as everything had been packed in dry bags but did teach me to be a bit more respectful of the current, which was significantly greater than the previous time I'd done it.

So all in all, I'd rather have the very hot weather with blue skies than the cooler cloudy skies with chances of distant (or not so distant) thunder. Just have to roll with the punches and adjust the hikes to the weather.

no end of wondeful places to hike around out there though!!

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Post by Kauri » Wed Jun 24, 2015 6:21 pm

Thanks, TacoLand! I'm always happy to answer questions about the places I've written about in my reports, so if you have questions later or when you're planning your trip, feel free to ask.

Mojave: I tend to avoid wading through swiftly flowing or stagnant water, and am probably a bit too cautious (and therefore miss out on some good things to see). I remember Kanarra Creek at the time I hiked it was fine in the lower narrows (though cold) but way too fast in the upper narrows for me to attempt, as the rock bottom was slick and the current fast. It's funny how I've been to Zion only when it's been very hot or very cold--I'd actually like to go back during a warmer winter break, as the snow and ice on the monuments looks amazing. But it's not so amazing when the snow and ice are also on the road and the trails, and it's below freezing most of the day.

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Post by MojaveGeek » Thu Jun 25, 2015 7:03 am

Weather of course is a factor - you encountered water in canyons and snow in Colorado. If you have to plan in advance, it's hard to know when to go. We were in Colorado last year and there had been a very large snow pack, so we took some extra snow gear - but didn't need it (that was 4th July time frame).

Last year I was in Zion in April. It was really lovely, very very nice hiking weather, though some cold winds on peaks on the water definitely not something you'd wade in. Still, on our last day we got some fairly heavy snow for a few hours, so nothing is perfect!

Zion Narrows is usually fast flowing due to spring runoff. This year, there was almost no runoff from melting snow as there wasn't snow to speak of up in the higher reaches of the drainages. Water flow was way below normal in April. Then in May, it picked up again like crazy from some heavy rain. A very unusual pattern.

Sounds just like... the annual DV trip :) You never know what conditions you'll encounter until a week before you go.

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Post by teotwaki » Fri Aug 28, 2015 9:31 am

I love the San Juans! Did you see wildflowers? I went there in July, 2014


Image

more trip photos
http://suntothenorth.blogspot.com/2015/ ... -high.html

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