Adventure 2019: Flume Canyon (October 19)

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On the third day of our Grand Junction weekend, we considered several hikes closer to Fruita. After the mileage mistake of the previous day, we wanted a shorter hike, so I picked out Flume Canyon, clearly marked as only 5 miles. After buying lunch in town, we drove through Redlands (Colorado, not California!) to the trailhead.

Almost immediately we came to the first confusing sign. As always in this area, the marked trails on the ground didn’t match up with the maps- the level of mapmaking incompetence is breathtaking. We followed the trail marked F1 and headed for Flume Canyon, but it didn’t feel right. I got out a (shudder) GPS and confirmed we were on a completely different trail, heading for the area around Devil’s Canyon. We retraced our step to the completely incorrect trail sign and headed up canyon.

Here we had a choice to stay in the canyon bottom, and I’m glad we did. Hidden pools, twists and turns, rock narrows, tall walls- this had it all. I think the bulk of the day was slowly making our way along this scenic route.

At one point there was a trail heading out of the canyon to our right, but we stayed in the bottom. The trail got rougher, and dodging the patches of poison ivy became more difficult. And then we got to the end, a cavernous room, with a concave pour-off high above. There was no way forward from here.

After consulting the map again, we realized that we had been on a herd path for over half a mile, not an actual trail. It was worth it anyway, and we retracted our steps to where the trail left the canyon. At this point, not yet at our turnaround point, Strava said we had already gone 4 miles. Oops.

We kept going further up and we went deeper into the Black Canyons region. The trails were now where they were supposed to be at least. As we looped around a rock outcropping, the trail started to follow an old road. The walking was downhill and easy, and we ate up the miles quickly.

I was super impressed at how Nate hiked quickly and without complaint. There was grumbling about the mileage, but once again the trail signs were to blame, and we ended up with another 8.4 miles (with 1000’ of climbing!) under our belts. Longer than expected, but a beautiful hike.

We met some of Dorinna’s friends for drinks, then got take-out pizza and played games in the hotel lounge. The next day nobody was really interested in another hike. We chilled out in town and Nate and I played games in a coffeehouse. The drive home was long. While we had been hiking in t-shirts and shorts the day before, we now drove through a blizzard over Vail Pass (chain laws in effect). A true weekend in Colorado!

Strava Link

As 2020 ends, this concludes the Adventure 2019 series. There were not as many trips in 2020, so hopefully it won’t take another full year to get caught up!

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