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Aaron

Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness

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Aaron

It rained, and then it rained some more, and then it snowed. And then it began raining again. It was the first week in May in Boulder, a time when hikers start looking to the hills, and begin hanging up snowshoes and getting out the trail runners. It would be a month or more before the high country was open, of course, but some lower-elevation hikes – Lost Creek Wilderness, the first sections of the Colorado Trail – would be feasible with 3-season gear. Usually…

Drew Smith with a backpacking trip through the canyons of McInnis Canyon National Conservation Area, read the full article in Issue 24:

Canyon Crux

Backpacking in McInnis Canyon

Issue 24 Page 1

 

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Dogwood

Have to give a shout out to Drew Smith for his willingness to share the Black Ridge Canyon Wilderness trip report. Nicely done. Gave this reader some new ideas for exploring canyons in CO.

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HappyHour

Thanks Dogwood, I'm glad you found it interesting.  I have to say that I am not recommending this route to anyone, unless they are a good deal more experienced than I am at canyon scrambles.  It definitely has some potential for injury/death, and I am glad that my wife does not read TG or I would probably be in big trouble at home.  Here is a picture of the easiest part of the bluff traverse, the part that had an actual ledge.  The rest of the face was just as steep, but with only seams for footholds.  But Mees and Knowles Canyons are very much worth a visit.

DrewPicture_-_10.thumb.JPG.b223348f12ed7021b

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PaulMags

Love this area. A bit of Utah "hidden" in Colorado. 

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HappyHour

That is a pretty apt description.  I recently listened to the podcast where D-Lo ragged on you for complaining about crowding on the Pawnee-Buchanan Loop after enabling it on your blog.  Pretty funny, but I don't think that will happen here - it's remote and rugged and requires decent navigation skills.  Not so much for the canyons as for the plateaus, which are crisscrossed by jeep trails that may or may not be on the map.  And jeep trails that are on the map but not on the ground anymore.

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PaulMags

Ah...the P-B loop.

 

I wrote that oh..10 yrs ago. Before I realized anyone ever read my little site.  Of course, Colorado has grown a lot since 2004. :)

Because of that incident, I no longer give "bread crumbs".  If you don't give the exact way of doing something. people are less apt to do it.  Lesson learned,,and one I've try to adhere to in the past 2-3 yrs!

Edited by PaulMags

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Dogwood

Thta's what I like about the route Drew. It's too damn inconvenient for most to attempt.  Heck, rather be out there facing injury/death than being hit by a car while crossing the street on my bike from a driver frazzled with multi-tasking 40 things at once and attempting to  text at the same time as driving while late for work after spilling hot Joe in their lap.

I learned that too Mags. I don't give out Hawaii hiking beta as readily as I once possibly did since seeing those places run over, disrespected, and access being taken away.

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PaulMags

Case in point (and I apologize for the thread jack).  I talked to some CDT hikers this year. The amount of people they met doing Dixon's "Wind River High Route" was somewhat high.  The route has existed in one form or another for a while now...but put up a website, maps and datapoints and BOOM, it is something to do.

 

Again, I learned my lesson. I kvetched about the amount of people doing a route...and I was part of the cause. :)

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Aaron

Agreed on the article, really enjoyed reading this one...thanks @HappyHour

I go back and forth on the destination issue, and personally I'm not sure there's a best answer and I think some level of balance is good. On one hand and since @PaulMags brought it up / as a local example, I noticed with the publicity it's received areas along the "high route" were indeed a lot more crowded than usual while exploring here in the Winds over the summer. One of the reasons I enjoy wilderness is solitude, and there are some places that I'll always hold close to my chest, but on the other hand it's good to see others enjoying the mountains...and more people, and perhaps new people, getting into hiking and loving wilderness isn't a bad thing - good for them! 

Another favorite part of wilderness for me is exploring, and following a line that someone drew on a map is pretty contrary to the goal here...especially here in the Winds where the terrain is almost made for a "choose your own adventure" type trip. You could thru-hike the Winds year after year and go a completely different way each time...There is no one route to rule all routes. And the same holds true for many places. My advice is always to perhaps use one person's route as just one reference among many other references - get the maps covering the entire area you'll be in and then create your own way...tailored just for what you're after. The result in my case, a WRMYR (My Route!) that changes every trip...And I know if I ever head out to the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness - I'll probably try to devise something with a little less scrambling after reading this article!

But of course that's just what works for me. And still on the Winds as an example...I've been exploring them for a while now, and can vividly recall the challenge of driving across the country for my first backpacking trip here..though I could read the map then, now I can read the map and compare a new pass to one I've already done, I know exactly what 20 miles in the Winds feels like, know my offtrail MPH, know the weather, etc. all for this exact area. Without knowing those things planning a route, especially off-trail, becomes more complicated with more unknowns - a factor that has different levels of appeal for different people.

There also seems to be a big difference between saying "Here's the route I took, here are some photos, and check out my trip on this map" and something like "Here is THE route, this is the map, here are the coordinates and campsites", and then critically, giving it a name...  :)

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PaulMags

There also seems to be a big difference between saying "Here's the route I took, here are some photos, and check out my trip on this map" and something like "Here is THE route, this is the map, here are the coordinates and campsites", and then critically, giving it a name...  :)

Exactly! Drew's excellent article highlighted a beautiful area without the "bread crumbs".  I learned the very good distinction you made the hard way. ;)

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