Miscellaneous Mesa Adventures

I haven’t been on any crazy big hikes lately but I have been exploring (and finding myself at the “peak” of) various mesas and knobs around De Beque.

This means driving up some muddy roads and seeing where I can get. (And it means washing my Jeep about twice a weekend.)

It means studying county assessor GIS maps to figure out where there’s public land.

It’s the time of year where the things you climb don’t bring glory and aren’t impressive to anyone but you and your canine companion.

It’s the time of year where you find yourself swearing at scrub oak but spotting cow elk sunning themselves on south facing slopes.

It’s the time of year where you wear shorts or capris and know you shouldn’t. (See above points about scrub oak.) It’s the time of year for postholing because taking snowshoes on and off gets old.

It’s the time of year where you try crazy maneuvers to avoid trespassing because all you want is a high mountain peak but they’re not very accessible with your knowledge or smart to approach solo.

It’s a really frustrating time of year.

The hints of spring are in the air though, and it’s hopeful:

Canyon Hike Near Slickrock, Colorado

Two weeks ago, F, Sprocket, and I set out for some adventuring with our new friend Karen. We met Karen in Ridgway when she was passing through on her DRZ (just like F’s). The next thing we knew, the jeep was loaded up and Sprocket and I were playing sag wagon for three days as F and Karen made their way to Moab the long way.

Our first meetup was planned for Slickrock, Colorado. We all pulled out of Ridgway mid-morning and Sprocket and I headed directly for Slickrock. The skies over the mountains were looking questionable and we were hoping to stay west of the storms. Since I’m not really familiar with the area and realized that Slickrock is the “dead zone” between many of the Trails Illustrated and Latitude 40 maps, I stopped at the ranger station in Norwood to see if they had any additional information. The very helpful volunteer helped me pick out a couple of BLM maps for the area. ($4 each! With topo lines!)

When Sprocket and I arrived in Slickrock, we picked a narrow canyon and headed out for a hike. To get a better view of the area, we passed the entrance to the canyon and hiked along the road to a viewpoint above the river:

Dolores River

Dolores River

When we backtracked into the canyon, Sprocket was very pleased to discover that the recent rain had left all the potholes full of muddy water. I was really pleased to discover that this little canyon without a name was pleasantly narrow and really pretty.

Pothole swimming.

Sprocket pothole swimming

Sprocket just jumped from puddle to puddle and ripped around the slickrock.

Sprocket hiking

Sprocket with pothole


Trickle of water in canyon

Pothole swimming

Sprocket rolling in mud

Muddy Sprocket

Canyon views


Eventually, we reached a waterfall and I was afraid that our hike would be over. As we walked back downstream, I looked for a way that I could get myself and Sprocket around the obstacle. It took a little bit of searching but we managed to find a way. Unfortunately, rain clouds were starting to appear to the southeast and the last place I wanted to be was a tight little canyon so we headed uphill. As I climbed through the piƱon and junipers, passing deer sign, I couldn’t help but think that this is where the Big Kitties live. Fortunately, we did not encounter any.

Terminal waterfall in canyon

Rather than backtrack through the canyon since rain and our appointed meeting time with Karen and F was approaching, Sprocket and I walked back along the ridge separating our canyon from Highway 141. I could hear thunder rumbling in the distance but no more than a couple drops of rain ever fell on us.

Views to the north

Back at the car, we headed for our meeting place. It was about 3:30 and F had told me to expect them between 3 and 5pm. So Sprocket and I waited. And we waited some more. I’d been told not to worry until about 8 or so, so we sat tight. At about 7, I drove up Slickrock hill to try and find some cell reception. At 8, I headed a couple miles up a gravel road, knocked on a door, and asked if I could use the phone. No answer and no messages on my phone. At 9:30, admittedly getting a little worried, I returned to the house and asked if I could use the phone one more time… and F answered!


Turns out, they’d been within 10 miles of me for hours. Driven further south than they’d planned by the storm I’d been watching, they tried to find their way back north off-road from Dove Creek. My timing on calling the last time had been perfect, they were in Dove Creek again and were just trying to decide whether they should “slab” it up (dirt biker talk for riding pavement) to me or sit tight until I called them.

The decision was quickly made that I should drive down to meet them. They were soaked through and a hotel room to shower in and get things dry sounded like just the ticket. The day was a lot longer than any of us had planned but it turned out just fine.