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Mica Mine Trail

October 7, 2013

Now that I’ve finally finished recapping my fabulous trip to Boston and Cape Cod, it’s time to get back to regularly scheduled programming and catch up on some wonderful late summer and early fall hikes.  While I was in Grand Junction, CO for work a little while ago, I took the most sparkly hike ever.  If you know me, you know have an affinity for all things that glitter, so this was pretty exciting for me.

One of my favorite things about traveling for business over the summer is that usually when I’m done with my meetings for the day, there are still a few hours of sunlight left to play and explore my surroundings.  That was the case recently when I was in Grand Junction.  It was a beautiful, albeit hot evening, so I turned to Google to find a nearby trail to get some exercise and fresh air.  I stumbled across the Mica Mine Trail just outside the city near the Colorado National Monument.

Mica Mine Trailhead Grand Junction

It only took me about 20 minutes to drive from my last meeting of the day (near the Mesa Mall, for a point of reference) to the trailhead, but the canyon trailhead where I parked seemed thousands of miles away from the city.  The trail originates at the Bangs Canyon Trailhead.

Mica Mine Trailhead Grand Junction

This is a pretty flat trail, with the trickiest aspect being the footing as you traverse areas of the canyon.

Mica Mine Trailhead Grand Junction

In fact, it was so flat that I decided to turn my hike into a trail run in order to get in my workout for the day.  Jogging at a careful (read: slow) pace, it took me between 1-1.5 hours round trip to and from the mine.

Mica Mine Trail Grand Junction

The canyon and limited vegetation doesn’t provide much relief from the desert sun, so be sure to wear a hat and bring water if you decide to check out this trail.

Mica Mine Trail Grand Junction

If you haven’t spent much time in the desert, you might imagine the scenery to be baren and boring.  This is far from the case along this trail.  I loved running among the rock formations that are so different from my environment at home.

Mica Mine Trail Grand Junction

Mica Mine Trail Grand Junction

Mica Mine Trail Grand Junction

After a little while, I noticed quartz pebbles underfoot and other rocks that shimmered in the sunlight.  I figured I must be getting close to the mica mine itself!

Mica Mine Trail Grand Junction

A little while later, I came upon an alcove on my right with some interesting, sparkly rock.  Figuring that this might be the “mine,” I was honestly a little disappointed.

I decided to hike beyond it to see if there was anything else back there, but the trail quickly got narrow and turned into a scramble over rocks.  From the description I’d read, I knew I had passed the mine.

Thankfully, once I turned around and got back toward the site of the first “mine,” I looked to my right.  The actual mine had been on my left side pretty much across from the smaller hollow, and I’d somehow totally missed it.

Mica Mine Grand Junction

I scrambled up a few rocks to get an up-close view and it was pretty darn cool.

Mica Mine Trail Grand Junction

So sparkly!

Mica Mine Trail Grand Junction

There was even a little cave that I bravely crawled inside.  Don’t worry Mom, it only went back about 6 feet.

Mica Mine Trail Grand Junction

There was mica in the walls of the canyon and even under my feet, the rare stone so prevalent here that it became glittery gravel.

Mica Mine Trail Grand Junction

After taking a few photos, I made my way carefully down from the mine and trotted back toward my car.

Mica Mine Trail Grand Junction

Mica Mine Trail Grand Junction

The trail run took me a little more than an hour, including the hike beyond the mine and hanging out at the mine for a little while.  At a walking pace I’d put it closer to 2 hours.  It was HOT on the day of my hike, but now that the temperatures are cooling off a bit, I bet this trail would be perfection.

It was a gorgeous way to end a long day of meetings.  By the time I returned to my car I’d all but forgotten that I was on a business trip in the first place – there’s nothing like the transporting powers of nature, sunshine and shiny things!

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