Big Dominguez Canyon Overnight

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Hello everybody! It's been a minute (figuratively; more like a year or more!) since I've posted, but I've been lurking faithfully. My first trip report was about an overnighter in the Little Bookcliffs Wilderness Study Area near Grand Junction, CO. Today, I'll share a recent overnighter through Big Dominguez Canyon, just south of Grand Junction.

My friend Jess and I have been dreaming about doing this hike for at least three years, ever since we overheard two guys in the local Nepalese restaurant talking about their hiking experience. We decided that we would do it, "someday", but someday took its sweet time. Jess started grad school, I moved; life went as it would. Finally, though, we reconnected about this idea in January or February, and committed. This time we would make it happen, and nothing would stand in our way.

Finally, over spring break, we tackled the canyon. We dropped her car off at Bridgeport, caught a ride with two then-strangers who are now friends, and set out from the top of the Uncompahgre Plateau. We gave ourselves three days and two nights for the 16.4ish miles, in case we needed it.

Here's the two of us getting ready to start, posing like champions!

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

The Dominguez Canyon Wilderness beckoned.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

Before long, we were heading out through a pinyon-juniper forest, the sounds of Big Dominguez Creek in the distance.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

It was a truly beautiful day for a hike.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

Jess soaked in the view.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

There are signs of habitation all throughout, both European and pre-European. Here we found a survey marker from 1937.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

After about 7 or 8 miles of hiking we came across this oven at a camp site, and decided it would be a good place for us to stop.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

We filtered an absolute ton of water, it felt like, but you can't really beat this view...

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

Across the creek you could see this insect sac, which I jokingly called a tree snail. Not 100% sure what it really is, but it's neat looking.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

Jess set up her tent near the base of this structure, while I set mine up under a tree.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

My little Nemo Veda 1p trekking pole tent was super snug and perfect for this trip. I recommend it if you're looking for something both light and roomy.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

Caught some pleasant morning light after a good night's sleep!

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

Before long I got my backpack, Rhoda, all loaded up. She's a Deuter ACT-Lite 65+10, and we're best buddies.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

The color of the dirt had even changed.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

But the little plants were blooming!

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

Day 2 and we're still friends.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

I'm not sure what this feature would be called; it's basically an arch, but it's also cave and tunnel-like.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

A bit closer up.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

At long, sweet last we made it to the Cactus Park intersection, which meant we had already hiked in further than we needed to go still. At this point, we decided we could push ourselves and make it all the way through in one less day than we'd planned.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

It's me at the junction!

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

Soon we found the remains of an old copper mine.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

And the signs of the folk who'd lived and worked there. This is courtesy of Mr. Archie Smith, January 27, 1907. It really felt like almost stepping back in time.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

Miners left their relics.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

We saw a gorgeous natural amphitheater.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

And filtered even more water!

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

Finally, we reached the largest panel of rock art I've seen myself. We pondered at length over what it all meant. We didn't reach any conclusions, but we did feel a connection to the ancient people who walked these same canyons.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

Finally, after a 9-mile second day, we made it!

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

One last picture, before heading back to town for pizza and beer.

Big Dominguez Trip
by Andy Hamilton, on Flickr

Like I said, we had been planning that trip forever, but I do want to thank whoever runs the amazing site gjhikes.com. I used their material on Big Dominguez to plan our trip, and I consult that site almost every week when I plan the outings for our hiking club.

Well, that's about all for now. Thanks for looking!
 

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