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McCullough Gulch Trail, White River National Forest

Posted by on Aug 4, 2017 @ 12:08 pm in Colorado, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Moderate Hikes, Vista Hikes, White River National Forest | 0 comments

McCullough Gulch Trail, White River National Forest

This trail follows the McCullough Creek drainage up the gulch beneath the massive summit of 14,225′ Quandary Peak. It starts on an old mining road south of Breckenridge, CO, then changes to single track trail as it climbs the gulch. You’ll pass through pine and fir forest, get splashed by White Falls, marvel at the colorful granite, and count the variety of summer wildflowers along the way. Watch too for mountain goats among the talus, a common sighting. Picturesque Upper Blue Reservoir sits at the top of the drainage offering a...

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West Ridge Trail from Loveland Pass, Arapaho National Forest

Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 @ 11:15 am in Arapaho National Forest, Colorado, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Moderate Hikes, Vista Hikes | 1 comment

West Ridge Trail from Loveland Pass, Arapaho National Forest

The easier of the trails at Loveland Pass, West Ridge surrounds two sides of the bowl that makes up the Loveland area and the I-70 corridor over the Continental Divide. Still, at 11,990 feet, this is no piece of cake for folks like me who are used to mountains no more than half the elevation. Several ski slopes are visible from the ridge. Look too for cute rodents to peek out of their ground holes, like pica, chipmunks and marmots. My brother Dave and I hiked the short West Ridge Trail on Saturday, July 15, 2017 beginning at 7:30AM and ending...

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Vail Pass to Uneva Ridge, Eagles Nest Wilderness

Posted by on Jul 23, 2017 @ 10:51 am in Colorado, Eagles Nest Wilderness, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Difficult Hikes, Vista Hikes, White River National Forest | 1 comment

Vail Pass to Uneva Ridge, Eagles Nest Wilderness

This marvelous example of Rocky Mountain vistas starts, oddly enough, directly beside Interstate-70 at Colorado’s 10,585′ Vail Pass. The trail winds through forest and meadow, then climbs steeply above treeline to Uneva Ridge, 1,500 feet above. Along the way you will enjoy breathtaking views of four distinct mountain ranges as you pass into Eagles Nest Wilderness, and experience the high mountain air. If you still have some energy left, you can continue to either Uneva Pass, or Uneva Peak, another solid 500 feet higher. Regardless...

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Rocky Mountain Summer at Hagerman Pass – A Photo Essay

Posted by on Jul 21, 2017 @ 1:23 pm in Colorado, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Photo Essays, San Isabel National Forest | 0 comments

Rocky Mountain Summer at Hagerman Pass – A Photo Essay

Highway 4, west out of Leadville, CO offers a driving adventure that takes you past lakes, among a various assortment of summer wildflowers, and over a high mountain pass that tops out just short of 12,000 feet. I needed the drive rather than hiking the first day after recovering from a newly discovered adult-onset allergy to cashew nuts. The annual visit with my brother Dave started with an overnight emergency room experience. The good folks at Vail Valley Medical got me back on my feet though, and by the next day I was ready to go...

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The Land Between Two Wildernesses – A Photo Essay

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 @ 2:55 pm in Blue Ridge Parkway, Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Mountains to Sea Trail, North Carolina, Photo Essays, Pisgah National Forest | 5 comments

The Land Between Two Wildernesses – A Photo Essay

I like to do most of my summertime hiking in the high country to avoid the heat, and the bugs. It’s like getting extra, added months of spring. So when the first week of summer rolled around, I thought of that section of Pisgah National Forest that lies between Shining Rock and Middle Prong Wildernesses, surrounded by the Blue Ridge Parkway, Hwy 215, and Black Balsam Road. You can make a very nice 9-mile loop out of the Flat Laurel Creek Trail and the Mountains to Sea Trail, staying between 5,000-6,000 feet elevation the whole way....

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Hikes To Explore Colorado’s Western Slope This Summer

Posted by on Jun 23, 2017 @ 11:40 am in Colorado, Hiking News | 0 comments

Hikes To Explore Colorado’s Western Slope This Summer

Colorado’s Western Slope is rich in backcountry hikes. Knowing where to find them — and what to expect on a trail — just got easier with a new guidebook by Grand Junction outdoor writer Bill Haggerty. The Falcon Guides “Hiking Colorado’s Western Slope” has details on more than 45 trails in Western Colorado. It doesn’t have just the standard route descriptions. Haggerty includes historical tidbits, geological information, suitability for canines, and observations gleaned from a lifetime of hiking in...

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Just Another Day at Stunning Roan Highlands – A Photo Essay

Posted by on Jun 20, 2017 @ 6:59 am in Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Photo Essays, Pisgah National Forest, Roan Highlands, Tennessee | 5 comments

Just Another Day at Stunning Roan Highlands – A Photo Essay

Ho. Hum. Just another day at Roan Highlands. Now, obviously I’m being facetious. Roan Highlands is probably my favorite place to go in all of Western North Carolina, especially in mid-June when it is catawba rhododendron and flame azalea time. It’s exciting to hike on the iconic Appalachian Trail, the views of Tennessee and North Carolina on either side of the ridge are among the best you will find anywhere, and the flowers are, to put it mildly, simply gorgeous. This visit was on June 15, 2017. I arrived at 6:45AM with bad...

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Sugar Creek Gap, Nantahala National Forest

Posted by on Jun 16, 2017 @ 10:24 am in Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina, Rated Easy Hikes | 0 comments

Sugar Creek Gap, Nantahala National Forest

Remote. This little slice of Nantahala National Forest is truly far from anything. Once you are a mile into the woods from the trailhead, there is next to no evidence of human activity. It’s hard to know how many folks come here to hike, but there aren’t many boot prints in the mud. There are, however, plenty of deer tracks… and wildflowers. Wow, are there wildflowers. From Sugar Creek Gap there are great views of the Blue Ridge to both the north and the south, then the hiking is through a dense forest comprised of mostly...

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Baxter Creek Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Jun 10, 2017 @ 2:21 pm in Forest Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Difficult Hikes | 0 comments

Baxter Creek Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Baxter Creek Trail has a well-earned reputation as one of the hardest hikes in all of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Starting at the Big Creek picnic area near Waterville, NC it climbs more than 4,000 feet over 6.2 miles, roughly 700 feet/mile. That will get your attention. Look for stunning forest scenes, waterways that keep the forest green, seasonal wildflowers, and sweeping vistas from the summit of 5,842′ Mt. Sterling. Take plenty of food and water, and energy, because you will definitely need it. But also take your time and...

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Scanning the Horizon from the Black Balsam High Country – A Photo Essay

Posted by on Jun 2, 2017 @ 10:03 am in Blue Ridge Parkway, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Photo Essays, Pisgah National Forest, Shining Rock Wilderness, Vista Hikes | 1 comment

Scanning the Horizon from the Black Balsam High Country – A Photo Essay

When looking for some WNC high country scenery and perhaps refreshing cool air on a warm day, one of the first destinations I think of is the Black Balsam area at milepost 420 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are half a dozen mountains here that stand above 6,000 feet, with encompassing 360° views from their treeless summits. This land that lies between the Shining Rock and Middle Prong Wildernesses is pierced by the Art Loeb Trail, a favorite of anyone who visits the Pisgah Ranger District. My hiking pal Ken and I have walked this region...

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Middle Prong Trail at Tremont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on May 15, 2017 @ 10:51 am in Forest Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Easy Hikes, Tennessee, Water Hikes | 1 comment

Middle Prong Trail at Tremont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Perhaps the finest creek side trail in all of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Middle Prong Trail actually follows Lynn Camp Prong. Lynn Camp and Thunderhead Prong join to form Middle Prong just below the trailhead. You will walk alongside Lynn Camp Prong for the entire length of this hike, passing dozens of swift cascades and two exciting waterfalls. Look for a wide variety of wildflowers in spring and a splendid leaf peeping show in autumn. I visited Tremont on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 beginning at 7:30AM and ending about 10:00AM. My...

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Abrams Falls Trail at Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on May 12, 2017 @ 12:00 pm in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Moderate Hikes, Tennessee, Water Hikes | 2 comments

Abrams Falls Trail at Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of the most popular hiking trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Abrams Falls at the west end of Cades Cove has the full Smokies package all in one. Here you can find rich, bountiful forest with a floor of colorful spring wildflowers, a rushing creek that provides refreshing nourishment for all the plants and wildlife, good exercise as you climb up and over Arbutus Ridge to enjoy majestic mountain views, the stunning reward of a picturesque plunge waterfall, and a touch of Smokies history from the Cherokee and settlers who called...

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The Green, Green, Greening of Spring – A Photo Essay

Posted by on May 4, 2017 @ 10:13 am in Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Photo Essays, Pisgah National Forest | 4 comments

The Green, Green, Greening of Spring – A Photo Essay

Pisgah National Forest comes alive in early May. It seems as though the greening happens almost overnight. Daniel Ridge Loop Trail is an amazing place to experience the changing of the forest from its sleepy, drab brown hues to the vibrant verdant that fills the senses. The creek along the pathway is the most picturesque in Pisgah Ranger District in my opinion, and the varieties of hardwood trees, wildflowers, and understory vegetation will keep you enthralled for hours. My brother Dave and I hiked the loop trail on May 2, 2017 with little in...

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Tennessee Smokies on My Mind – A Photo Essay

Posted by on Apr 17, 2017 @ 10:32 am in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Photo Essays, Tennessee | 5 comments

Tennessee Smokies on My Mind – A Photo Essay

Every April I like to make a two-day trip to the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I usually stay overnight at the Cades Cove Campground. It is a glorious time in the Smokies. The spring ephemeral wildflowers are busting out all over. The weather is warming and the days are getting longer. The rivers, creeks and streams are usually full of cool, refreshing water that comes from the snow melt high above. And so it was that I loaded up my Subaru to head to the Tennessee Smokies on April 13th. I just forgot to consider one...

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Yellowstone Prong, Blue Ridge Parkway

Posted by on Apr 14, 2017 @ 2:01 pm in Blue Ridge Parkway, Canyon Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Pisgah National Forest, Rated Difficult Hikes, Water Hikes | 1 comment

Yellowstone Prong, Blue Ridge Parkway

Yellowstone Prong has some of the most rugged terrain in all of the Pisgah Ranger District. Paralleling the Blue Ridge Parkway from Looking Glass Rock Overlook at milepost 417, and climbing the drainage from Skinny Dip Falls to Yellowstone Falls, this hike in, along, and above Yellowstone Prong may be the most challenging mile I have undertaken. You will scramble over car-size boulders in the prong. You will whack your way through rhododendron thickets and climb over massive hemlock and oak deadfall. Best of all, you will enjoy incredible...

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Earliest Spring Wildflowers at Little Bradley Falls – A Photo Essay

Posted by on Mar 25, 2017 @ 11:01 am in Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Photo Essays, Water Hikes | 0 comments

Earliest Spring Wildflowers at Little Bradley Falls – A Photo Essay

Some of the earliest wildflowers of the new season can be found on the Green River Game Lands near the North and South Carolina border. The elevation isn’t quite as high here as it is in most of the mountains of WNC, so the flowers get a little bit of a head start. Look for chickweed, rue anenome, wake robin trillium, blue and Canadian violets, robins plantain and lots of bloodroot. Several more varieties will follow in succeeding weeks, but these are the first to pop out and display their finery. I hiked the Little Bradley Trail the...

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Indian Creek and Juney Whank Loops at Deep Creek, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Mar 3, 2017 @ 9:51 am in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Moderate Hikes, Water Hikes | 3 comments

Indian Creek and Juney Whank Loops at Deep Creek, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Deep Creek is one of many popular recreation areas found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Camping and picnicking are in abundance, as well as plenty of waterways for fishing and tubing. The assorted hiking trails also make it a fun destination for you and me. This hike, a combination of two different small loop trails affords the opportunity to visit the three famous Deep Creek waterfalls, to explore the nearby forest, and to follow the refreshing streams that flow through the area. Ken and I visited Deep Creek on Tuesday, February 28,...

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Shut-in Ridge Trail to Ferrin Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway

Posted by on Feb 17, 2017 @ 11:13 am in Blue Ridge Parkway, Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Pisgah National Forest, Rated Difficult Hikes | 0 comments

Shut-in Ridge Trail to Ferrin Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway

The Shut-in Ridge Trail and the Mountains to Sea Trail are one as they traverse the Blue Ridge from the North Carolina Arboretum to Mt. Pisgah. Along the way, there are several jumping on and off points where you can access this trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway, enabling short day hikes. One of these short sub-sections is along Bent Creek Gap Road at BRP milepost 400. From there it’s a steep climb of 1.4 miles to an old fire tower location on Ferrin Knob. Ken and I visited this little corner of the Blue Ridge Parkway on Tuesday,...

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Little River, Cucumber Gap, Jakes Creek Loop at Elkmont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Jan 28, 2017 @ 7:13 am in Forest Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Moderate Hikes, Tennessee, Water Hikes | 0 comments

Little River, Cucumber Gap, Jakes Creek Loop at Elkmont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Elkmont is a nice area of the Smokies to visit in winter. It’s quiet, historic, alive with waterways, and offers views of the surrounding mountains through the leafless trees. Little River is beautiful as always, the climb up and over Cucumber Gap is invigorating, and the timeless cottages of Daisy Town along Jakes Creek harken back to a simpler time in the mountains. Combine them all on this delightful loop hike. I visited Elkmont on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 beginning at 9:30AM and ending about 12:45PM. My plan was to take Little...

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New Year’s Eve at Cataloochee – A Photo Essay

Posted by on Jan 2, 2017 @ 4:50 am in Forest Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Photo Essays | 4 comments

New Year’s Eve at Cataloochee – A Photo Essay

Cataloochee Valley in the Smokies is of course most popular during the green seasons. People come from far and wide to experience the wildflowers in Spring, the myriad of hiking trails in Summer, and the exciting elk rut and colorful foliage in Fall. But Winter too has its appeal. Perhaps the best reason to go to Cataloochee in winter is the solitude. The crowds are considerably smaller. The wildlife is still there. The trails are just as inviting. The views are every bit as scenic. The creeks are refreshing as always. Sure, it isn’t...

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Hiking 500 Miles in the Smokies

Posted by on Nov 15, 2016 @ 11:29 am in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking News, Inspiration, North Carolina, Tennessee | 0 comments

Hiking 500 Miles in the Smokies

The first time I went to Great Smoky Mountains National Park more than 15 years ago I knew it was someplace special. But it took me nearly 10 more years before I ever set foot on one of her trails. Work kept me busy and I had different recreational interests, but when I got serious about hiking around 2008, you couldn’t hold me back. Most of my early hikes were closer to home in Pisgah National Forest, but when I made my first Smokies hike, climbing the iconic Mt. LeConte on the Alum Cave Trail, I was hooked. I’ve been at it ever...

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Autumn Drive from New Mexico to Colorado – A Photo Essay

Posted by on Nov 4, 2016 @ 10:51 am in Colorado, Hiking, Hiking Blog, New Mexico, Photo Essays | 0 comments

Autumn Drive from New Mexico to Colorado – A Photo Essay

The final day of our recent trip to New Mexico, my brother Dave and I returned to his home in Colorado. Along the way we stopped for some sight seeing in Los Alamos, NM, Pagosa Springs, CO and near Leadville, CO. When we originally left Colorado a few days before, the weather had been summer-like, and we had enjoyed the turning of the aspen trees to their brilliant autumn gold. Once we crossed back into Colorado from the south it became evident some different weather had arrived while we were gone. There was an October snowfall in the...

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Buck Spring to Pilot Rock, Pisgah National Forest

Posted by on Oct 30, 2016 @ 11:53 am in Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Pisgah National Forest, Rated Moderate Hikes | 1 comment

Buck Spring to Pilot Rock, Pisgah National Forest

Starting at the former site of George Vanderbilt’s Buck Spring hunting lodge near Mt. Pisgah, this hike crosses the summit of Little Bald Mountain before dropping down the watershed to Pilot Rock, one of the many plutons found within the Pisgah Ranger District. The high country is home to thickets of mountain laurel and rhododendron, while various maples, oaks and pines line the trail as you near Pilot Rock. Ken and I took this picturesque trek on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 beginning at 9:30AM and ending about 1:45PM. Our plan was to...

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Trail 12 at Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico

Posted by on Oct 27, 2016 @ 6:59 am in Hiking, Hiking Blog, New Mexico, Rated Difficult Hikes, Vista Hikes | 0 comments

Trail 12 at Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico

Valles Caldera is a 13.7-mile wide volcanic bowl in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico near Los Alamos. About 1.25 million years ago, a spectacular volcanic eruption created this circular depression now known as the Valles Caldera. The Valles Caldera Preservation Act of 2000, signed by President Clinton, created the National Preserve. The preserve is known for its huge mountain meadows, abundant wildlife, and meandering streams. The area also preserves the homeland of ancestral native peoples and embraces a rich ranching history. The...

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Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico – A Photo Essay

Posted by on Oct 23, 2016 @ 11:31 am in Canyon Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, New Mexico, Photo Essays | 0 comments

Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico – A Photo Essay

The Río Grande del Norte National Monument is comprised of rugged, wide open plains at an average elevation of 7,000 feet, dotted by volcanic cones, and cut by steep canyons with rivers tucked away in their depths. The Río Grande River carves an 800 foot deep gorge through layers of volcanic basalt flows and ash. Among the volcanic cones in the Monument, Ute Mountain is the highest, reaching to 10,093 feet. This area has attracted human activity since prehistoric times. Evidence of ancient use is found throughout the area in the form of...

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Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Posted by on Oct 21, 2016 @ 6:38 pm in Colorado, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Photo Essays, Rated Easy Hikes, Vista Hikes | 0 comments

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve protects the tallest sand dunes in North America, and a whole lot more. From the San Luis Valley floor to the crest of the 13,000 foot peaks in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains — the park and preserve contains ecosystems ranging from sand sheet to dunes to tundra — each supporting specially adapted plant, animal and insect life. Days are typically sunny, even in winter, and nights offer skies so dark you can see the Milky Way. Recreational opportunities include backpacking and hiking, car...

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Fall Foliage Time on the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

Posted by on Oct 18, 2016 @ 10:44 am in Blue Ridge Parkway, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Photo Essays, Pisgah National Forest | 2 comments

Fall Foliage Time on the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

There aren’t many places in Western North Carolina better for Autumn leaf peeping than the Blue Ridge Parkway. On Monday, October 17, 2016 I set out to demonstrate that by taking a little tour between mileposts 410 and 420. But first I had to get there. I went up the Pisgah Ridge on Scenic Hwy 276, passing the Cradle of Forestry along the way. I arrived at the Cold Mountain Overlook once on the Parkway, then headed to Pounding Mill Overlook to take care of one of my volunteer jobs. I pick up trash at this overlook on a regular basis....

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County Road 2 from Hoosier Pass, Pike National Forest

Posted by on Oct 16, 2016 @ 12:25 pm in Colorado, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Pike National Forest, Rated Moderate Hikes, Vista Hikes | 0 comments

County Road 2 from Hoosier Pass, Pike National Forest

There’s a reason they call it Summit County. An old mining road climbs from Hoosier Pass above 12,000 feet and is surrounded by several of Colorado’s famous fourteeners. The first half of the road meanders through a spruce and fir forest with occasional views of the massive mountains that envelop the region. The rest of the way is above treeline, offering unobstructed viewing of giants Mt. Bross, Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Silverheels and Quandary Peak. The north side of the ridge also has long distance vistas of more fourteeners, several...

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