This weekend’s training hike wasn’t as long as I’d originally planned, but it involved more uphill than last time and I was carrying more weight, so I think it all worked out.  We opted to head for the mostly-empty Pollock Bench/Canyon area in the Black Ridge Wilderness in Fruita, Colorado.

Out here, the options include the very popular Devil’s Canyon trailhead and Fruita Paleo area, as well as the Pollock and Flume canyon trailhead.  For whatever reason, maybe because there are shorter options with less uphill, Devil’s Canyon is always quite a bit busier than Pollock.  Seeking solitude, we headed to Pollock, finding even that parking area to be mostly full on a partly cloudy, cool May afternoon.

My pack weight today was 20lbs.  Last week’s hike found it at 13, so this was a nice increase in weight.  I’d put in 3 liters of water, some hiking clothes, and a sleeping bag to add bulk and weight this week.  The pack felt great right from the start.  My shoulders weren’t sore, my hip belt was snug and secure, and I didn’t feel the need to readjust any straps the whole time we were hiking.  Consequently, I’ve decided to stick with my trusty REI Ridgeline pack for at least one more season.

Spring is a beautiful time to hike in the desert.  Not only are the wildflowers out in full force, but this beautiful green grass pops up everywhere!

norbertpurplegrassEven after choosing the Pollock Bench trail, there are many options for one’s hike here.  It’s possible to connect with the Flume Canyon trail, to do a loop around the bench, or to use this as a jumping off point for Rattlesnake Arches.  That hike is 15 miles round-trip, and is on my to-do list for this fall.

We hiked in the direction of Pollock Canyon and Rattlesnake arches, stopping just as the trail drops off the bench and down into the canyon itself.

trailtorattlesnakeFind the trail in the canyon.  Then look directly up at the shelf above it.  You can see a line of rocks and bushes.  The trail drops off the ridge, right (looking at the pic) across the rocky shelf, and then down into the canyon.  The patch of rock you have to traverse across can be a little unnerving, but having one hand on any outcropping of rock available and one hand firmly on a trekking pole can make it seem less treacherous.

This time around, I remembered to stop for a snack after an hour or so of hiking. There is a good bit of climbing in the first mile and a half of the trail, so even though it had flattened out into a mellow route by the time we stopped for a snack, I knew we probably needed one.

From our vantage point looking out, we could see a few houses built into the canyon walls to the west.  So far on this hike we’d seen, well… maybe two people?

The path back was pretty much just our original route in reverse.  Still, I’m hiking more with my pack, and I’ve gotten in two good 5-mile hikes plus one weekday hike of about 2.5 miles, so I”m feeling pretty confident at this point.  My legs were much less sore the day after this weekend’s hike than last weekend.  I must be making progress!

On the way back, we did catch this awesome view down into Flume Canyon.  Another 5-mile loop, Flume is part meadow, part wash, and might make the list of upcoming hikes itself.


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