Longer posts will follow but I just wanted to share my newfound love affair with BLM lands. I toyed with the idea of Moab again but all I
could hear was the obnoxious errr errr of dirt bikes and 4 x 4s. For spring break I needed something a little more serene and pristine. So I did my homework, located some killer mountain biking trails on the verge of Moab but still in Colorado. I spent a couple days luxuriating in the solitude, hitting wiffle golf balls with my 7 iron, and riding the Y-11 Fiasco trail in Gateway.

More pix to follow, but here’s a late afternoon easterly look into John Brown canyon, a staple of the hut-to-hut trips of the summer.

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I’ve got a pile of excuses as to why I didn’t get out camping sooner than this past weekend. Maybe they sound familiar: too busy, bad weather, no one to go with, too crowded, not physically up for it, yada, yada, yada.

Well, the spectre of not camping and not getting outdoors has been haunting me since the spring equinox. Memories of my very successful solo trip to Moab last Thanksgiving had me wistful for sleeping, eating, and breathing the great outdoors.

Last weekend was the last weekend of free admission to select National Parks in this great nation of ours. Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a mere four hours from my house, beckoned me with its thousand-foot high canyon walls and unspoiled views of some of the oldest exposed rock on Earth – 2 billion years old!

The Black Canyon is a climbers’ paradise, a sport I am not currently interested in taking up. My next sport will be scuba diving.

I digress. Colorado boasts two other major National Parks – Rocky Mountain National Park and the Great Sand Dunes. I have spent considerable time down at the Sand Dunes, both hiking and sandboarding, and have flitted in and out of RMNP a few times. But with the Black Canyon I was looking for an escape – a place without crowds and with beauty.

I found it. Check back this week for photos and commentary on a magical, overlooked place.


Readers-

I’m posting this in a fit of Vicodin and pique. In lieu of writing, I thought I’d share photos from my Christmas 2007 road trip–one of my best ever (I know, I always say that).  If you find yourself making the trip to Carlsbad Caverns to see the bats coming and going, may I suggest a side trip to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, a mere 30 miles away in west Texas?  It’s much less crowded and much more scenic.

The photos below are from McKittrick Canyon, which starts off as desert flora and turns into alpine by hike’s end at the Blue Grottos.  What a Christmas that was.  Sigh…

 

Cacti Welcome Center

Cacti Welcome Center

 

Yuk Yuk Yucca

Yuk Yuk Yucca

Yucca-lined Trail

Yucca-lined Trail

 

Weather-worn Wood and Texas Blue Sky

Weather-worn Wood and Texas Blue Sky

 

Me Loves Me Some Weather-Beaten Trees

Me Loves Me Some Weather-Beaten Trees

 

Zee Trail, Twas Wet

Zee Trail, Twas Wet

SheSpoke at Trail's End--The Blue Grotto

SheSpoke at Trail's End--The Blue Grotto

The brochures tell me that the fall colors at McKittrick rival those of New England. I’ll have to return in the fall to be convinced.


After a semi-successful day of mountain biking the Monitor and Merrimac trail, I headed back for my last night of camping in Island in the Sky.  I wanted to catch the sunset from a different vantage point–the Grand View Point Overlook.  The view is grand indeed and the overlook provides a nice, slightly challenging one-mile hike along the Sky Island’s edge.  Pictures never do these things justice but I’ll try anyway.

Here’s the road in:

 

The road to a glorious sunset

The road to a glorious sunset

And when you get there you see this:

Looking east at the Manti La Sals from Grand View Point Overlook

Looking east at the Manti La Sals from Grand View Point Overlook

Let’s take another look:

It's sick, isn't it?

It's sick, isn't it?

And this:

Canyons Ad Infinitum

Canyons Ad Infinitum

Looking south onto the White Rim:

Yeah, my breath got taken away here too

Yeah, my breath got taken away here too

I kept meandering along the mile-long trail and stopped here:

 

The Turning Point

The Turning Point

And raced back to camp and the Green River Overlook for one last look:

Sniff..Goodbye, White Rim

Sniff..Goodbye, White Rim