Aug 21 2012

Clear Lake & Ice Lake Basin

Friday – Sunday, August 10-12, 2012

I had really wanted to go backpacking in the San Juan Mountains this weekend, but was unable to find anyone that was able to go with me. Since this would only be my third backpacking trip (first time in the mountains), I was a little hesitant to go by myself, but a few days before the weekend had finally arrived I decided that I would take a solo trip up to Ice Lake Basin. I figured that it was a popular area and that I probably wouldn’t be the only one camping up there anyway.

After work on Friday I headed south to the San Juan Mountains and drove up to Clear Lake to spend the night before starting my first solo backpack trip on Saturday morning.

Evening clouds reflected on a small lake below Clear Lake.

Reflected Clouds by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

My campsite up near Clear Lake with some sunlight breaking through the clouds and lighting up the peak in the background.

Morning Camp by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After setting up my camp near Clear Lake I hiked around the basin to take some photos as the sun was setting.

A mountain peak across the valley lit up and reflected.

Peak Reflection by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Jun 16 2012

Salt Creek Exploring & The Drive Home

Memorial Weekend in The Needles | Day 3
Memorial Day | Monday, May 28, 2012

After another night of great camping weather we had some breakfast and set out hiking so that we could visit the Flying Carpet Panel. We also explored a few small side canyons before hiking back out to our vehicles near Cave Spring.

This is one of my favorite Barrier Canyon Style pictograph panels, but unfortunately I haven’t made it here in good light yet. Maybe next time…

Flying Carpet Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here’s Jared taking a photo for some scale of the figures painted here.

Jared and the Carpet by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Another panel of pictographs nearby.

One Arm Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Jun 14 2012

Devil’s Kitchen to Peekaboo

Memorial Weekend in The Needles | Day 2
Sunday, May 27, 2012

After a good night of sleep at Devil’s Kitchen we spent the rest of the day making our way over to Peekaboo for the night. Of course, we made some other stops along the way.

I woke up just early enough to catch the sunset on some of the surrounding needles from the Devil’s Pocket.

Devil’s Pocket Sunrise by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

As I was hiking back towards camp, I caught Jared up on top of some rocks at the Devil’s Kitchen.

On Top by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Once the sun was up I returned to camp for some breakfast and then did some exploring of the outskirts of Devil’s Pocket with Jared and his brother.

Exploring by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


May 16 2012

Backpacking Big Dominguez Canyon

Saturday & Sunday, April 28-29, 2012

I’m proud to say that I have finally gone on my very first backpacking trip. I’ve been collecting gear for the past few months and finally scheduled a trip with my friend Jackson and his dad. Since this was my first time, I wanted to keep the trip shorter and closer to home…kind of like a trial run to see how it all went. I’m happy to report that everything went well, and I’m looking forward to my next backpacking trip in the future.

Overall, I think I made some good choices when I was selecting gear over the past few months, but I’m sure I’ll be making some changes here and there to try and get the weight down further. With my pack loaded up with camping gear, food, water and camera gear, I was carrying just under 40lbs (with my camera around my neck, the weight on my back dropped to 35lbs). I’d like to get that number closer to 30lbs in the future, but it’s probably going to take some trial and error.

Since I was looking for a destination close to home and with not too long of a hike, we settled on Big Dominguez Canyon. It’s only about 20 miles from my house and was supposed to be about 7 miles in length. I have day-hiked the canyon from Bridgeport a few times before, but never gone more than a few miles in. This time we would be starting from the Cactus Park trailhead and descending down the canyon to Bridgeport.

After dropping off a truck at Bridgeport on Saturday morning, we loaded up my Jeep and drove up to Cactus Park. We were expecting to be able to drive to the rim of Dominguez Canyon and then hike down into the canyon, but that’s not quite how it worked out. What we found was a pretty new gate across the road about two miles from the canyon. Apparently, when this area became an official wilderness back in 2009, they must have extended the boundaries or removed the cherry-stem for this road and closed it. So, right from the start our planned hike was going to be two miles longer. We got our packs on our backs and started hiking down the closed road.

An old sign indicating the way to Dominguez Canyon found along the old closed road. The Wilderness Study Area sign is a bit outdated since this area is officially a Wilderness now.

Dominguez Canyon Trail by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Jackson and his dad are birders, so they frequently stopped to find and identify birds they heard along the way.

Bird Watching by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When we finally reached the rim, we had a difficult time locating the trail down into the canyon. We ended up walking the rim looking for a way down the wrong way at first and then had to retrace our path and hike the other way. We did finally manage to find the steep route into the canyon, but it ended up adding a few more miles to our hike.

A great view from the rim of the canyon with Triangle Mesa and the Grand Mesa in the distance.

Big Dominguez Canyon & Triangle Mesa by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Jackson’s dad on the rim of the canyon as we tried to figure out the way down.

On the Edge by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr