Dates: Dec 28th, 2012 – Jan 5th, 2013 (4 days more then originally planned)
Who: Caitlin and Andy
Trip Overview: (CHECK OUT the interactive Google Map)
- 6 Days in and around Tokyo visiting Tsujiki Fish Market, gardens, temples, etc
- 3 Days traveling around Mt Fuji visiting Lake Yamanakako and the Hakone Region
- New Years Eve at Meiji Shrine
- Lots of delicious food, crazy sights, and incredible encounters in a very interesting and beautiful city
This will not be a normal blog posting where everything follows a sequence of events as we had a non-linear agenda and enjoyed some places multiple times.
TSUKIJI FISH MARKET
Forklifts whizzing by with hundreds of little carts weaving between semis, bikes, and tourists. Everything moving past us at the fastest and most efficient pace possible. Unusual smells, many unknown sea-creatures, and plenty of excitement. Visiting the Tsukiji Fish market is quite the experience. Octopus at one of the many interesting and sometimes weird stalls in the Inner-Market:
I am convinced that if this market was in any other country that was not full of people as courteous as they are in Japan, it would literally kill a handful of tourists a day. Especially considering our first visit was just days before the Japanese New Year which is Japan’s largest holiday resulting in an influx of Japanese tourists and flooding the already cramped market. One of the Many Fish Market cart drivers weaving between cars, people, large trucks, and other carts all while sucking on a cigarette and balancing a huge load on the back:
Being the world’s largest Fish and Produce market with daily sales of ~$20 million, you can imagine how many people are required to keep this large market running. Around the Outer Market is a collection of sushi restaurants which serve some of the freshest fish you can get from all over the globe. Tiny, each one seats around 15 people with lines forming very early at every door. The wait is worth it and the bowls of rice covered with huge pieces of sashimi were incredible. The Inner-Market is where all the magic happens and is only open after 9am to Tourists (the early morning Tuna-auction was closed to the public when we were in Tokyo). Walking through the massive halls of thousands of little shops was the coolest market experience I have had yet. Below is a photo at one of the many stalls with a worker delicately preparing a Tuna steak:
Hundreds of individual stands squeezed together and stretched over a quarter mile specialize in nearly every form of seafood available inside the Inner-Market in Tsukiji:
The Outer Market restaurants were so good we ate there three times for breakfast. Get here early and enjoy the experience. Waiting in line to eat some of the best sushi I have ever had, the old lady on the left directed the line of people (as many as 30-40) while the young man took everyone’s order before they entered the tiny restaurant (picture menu on the right wall):
Temples: Meiji Shrine, Yasukuni Shrine, and Asakusa
The temples in Tokyo are interesting as they all have a lot of history, but the actual physical structures are generally very new. Considering Tokyo was founded in the 1600′s and subsequently burned down every couple of years, in retrospect it is not that surprising; this required a mind-shift from my time in China when paintings/structures/art can be in their form from 1,000-3,000 years ago.
One of the downsides to being in Tokyo during the New Year was that virtually any public place (park/museum) that required a ticket or entrance fee was closed for a number of days before and after the 1st. Luckily we could work around that fairly easy and there was still plenty to do.
Asakusa is a major destination with lots of shops and a great temple to visit. Luckily this was the only day it rained and moving through the massive crowds of umbrellas was an interesting challenge:
While at the Meiji Shrine some sort of Shinto Ceremony was going on. We watched for a while as they did their blessings and prepared for the new year:
New Years in Japan is their largest holiday. Therefore we thought it would make sense to visit the largest shrine in Tokyo, the Meiji Shrine, on New Year’s eve. After an enjoyable afternoon stroll through the park we returned just before midnight to a massive crowd of Japanese and a handful of foreign tourists. A countdown happened with some drumming, but little fanfare. This photo is from right at midnight and at this point a quarter mile and thousands of people stood between us and the inner-temple; we quickly called it a night after that:
Imperial Gardens and Other Parks in Tokyo
Being the middle of winter most of the foliage was hibernating. Regardless, every park we visited was pristine and the meticulous landscaping was still an incredible sight to see.
The Imperial Garden was finally visited on the last day of our trip (day #9) as it was closed the entire time prior to that. Amazing park to walk through and I can’t imagine seeing this place with the Cherry blossoms in full bloom:
Our last day in Roppongi (day #5) we were greeted with clear skies which allowed for us to spend some time 60 floors up in the Mori Tower. Amazing to see this massive city from this height. Caitlin peering through the glass from the Mori Tower in Roppongi with Mt Fuji sticking up in the upper-left hand corner and Shinjuku city center in the Upper-right:
Mt. Fuji and Lake Yamanakako
Awaking to a beautiful day with Mt. Fuji towering over the surrounding countryside was well worth the effort of the unplanned travel. The previous 36 hours were full of uncertainty as we tried to figure out what to do in Tokyo for an additional 4 unplanned days once we realized that we could not fly standby to Bangkok . We were both pleased with our decision to visit the Mt. Fuji region and get some fresh countryside air. Mt Fuji our first morning in the area near our hotel:
We ended up walking around Lake Yamanakako which was one of the highlights of the trip. It took longer then expected as the side of lake we walked along ended up being 5 miles long and took 3 hrs to get to the next small town section. After a late lunch we stumbled upon a small shrine that was in the area. By this time we had visited a number of shrines and knew that you needed to follow a specific set of steps to cleanse ourselves. Under the helpful guidance of one of the local priests we preformed our new years ceremony which was a treat to do it in such a local spot. Afterwards I had to take a photo of the fountain that you cleanse yourself in as this one was the most unique. Dragon fountain at Yamanakako Suwa Shrine:
The hotel was a little dated but had quite a bit of character. It was a “traditional” hotel (ryoken) and had it’s own Onsen (essential a public hot-tub). Pretty cool experience and I wish we had more time to explore other Onsens. The winter is generally off-season so sleeping at night was more like camping than a hotel. However, it had paper walls which we had fun with:
Hakone Region of Mt. Fuji and Owakudani
A series of perfectly timed transportation connections was a fresh change compared to any travel I have ever done anywhere else. A local bus to a highway bus over a mountain pass to another highway bus to arrive at Lake Ashinako in the Hakone Region was the first leg of the journey. A 2.5 mile gondola ride over thermal valleys, followed by a cable-car, then back to a train that descends 2,000 ft along switchbacks, finally getting to the bullet train (aka “romance car”) back to Tokyo, where we had to take one last subway to our hotel for the night was the last leg. A miraculous day of travel that went somehow flawlessly (have to love Japan!) and along the way was full of some worthwhile sites. Crossing over one of the mountain passes in the morning had the best views of Mt. Fuji and gave us interesting views:
Along the way we saw pirate ships, feral cats preying on ducks, ate magical black eggs that extend your life by 18 years, saw thermal features and hot-springs, were 2,000 ft high above the ground, stashed our luggage in a snowy forest, had great views of Mt. Fuji, found a indoor tropical garden, and saw the ocean. A portion of the geyser field called Owakudani with plenty of Japanese tourists:
For a trip of this size we were able to make it come together with just a little bit of planning. Thanks to Japan’s efficient systems and ability to actually make tourist destinations easy to navigate we had a great time. This is an easy country to travel in and one that everyone should travel to as there are few barriers to having an amazing time. Every meal was high-quality food, 7-11′s are actually really nice, you can buy beer in vending machines on the street, and everyone we met was incredibly helpful and great to be around. Can’t wait to continue to explore this great country! Myself and Caitlin in front of Mt Fuji:
Please Expand to see the Trip Map and a Detailed Itinerary:Read More»
Highlights of 2012 (The Year of the Dragon):
- 30 Nights of Camping over 13 trips (18 nights in Utah!)
- Camped at least one night in each month from February to December
- ~8,500 miles driven on the above camping trips
- 110 days of photo taking
- 10,500 photos made it onto my computer
- 3 Major Parties (Wild West Whiskey B-Day, Backyard Bouldering Competition, Halloween Apocalypse)
- Lots of climbing, disc-golfing, ball-sweating (it was the hottest year on record)
- Finished it off in Japan (with just a few days in 2012, I am calling that one a 2013 trip)
It is always good to reflect on what you have accomplished in order to figure out the future. This last year seems as if it was a whirlwind of adventure as we made sure that there was at least one camping trip a month plus all the other craziness of life. We truly lived the Weekend Warrior lifestyle this year and it was well worth the effort.
Here is a recap of the previous year: 2011 Trip Highlights
2012 Trip Reports:
- 30 Nights of Camping:
- Top Adventures of the Year (these are my favorites and feature the best trip reports):
- Skiing Trips
- Hahaha…sniffle…crying: It was one of the worst snow years on record, so no trips worth writing about
- Climbing/Camping/Rafting/Hiking Adventures:
- Parties and Random:
Looking forward to another year of fun and adventure!
Thanks for checking out my site. Here I am enjoying Chaco Canyon a little too much:
Camped or slept under the stars at least once a month for 11 month’s straight (Feb-Dec). Drove ~8,500 miles during this time over 13 different trips. Spent 30 nights in places as far as Zion National Park in Utah and Chaco Canyon in New Mexico to as near as Devil’s Head, one hour from Denver. To say the least, 2012 was a great year.
Initially, this wasn’t a planned goal; it just happened that after a few consecutive months it was decided to maintain this good momentum and continue to explore a small chunk of this world. 30 nights just ended up being a lucky number that was hit during this adventure.
The below are pictures of almost every campground or a picture signifying something major near that campground. These are not meant to represent my best photography skills, but to just document a small achievement in 2012.
#1 and #2: Moab, Utah. Feb 25th and 26th. Goal: Climb at the Big Bend Boulders. Trip Report Link.
#3 and #4: Zion National Park, Utah. March 28th-29th. Goal: Angel’s Landing and The Narrows. Trip Report
#5: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. March 30th. (part of Zion trip above). (Tent just behind camera)Read More»
Dates: October 5th thru 8th, 2012 (Friday thru Monday)
Who: Caitlin and I
Roadtrip (Link to Map of Route):
- Stop 1: Penitente Canyon, San Luis Valley, Colorado = Climbing and Camping
- Stop 2: CHACO CANYON, New Mexico = exploring ancient cultures, hiking, camping, mind-exploding
- Stop 3: San Juan Mountains, Durango, Colorado = camping, Aspen leaf watching, ass-freezing
Friday October 5th, Denver saw it’s first snowstorm of the 2012-2013 year as we woke-up to a solid 2 inches of fresh on our lawns and cars. While refreshing to see some of the white-stuff it was a clear sign of a quickly changing season and forced Caitlin and I to head-up to the mountains to experience the last of the Fall season.
Based on some really quick planning and weather watching we ended-up heading south towards the border (and into New Mexico) with several different stops with some unique experiences:
Stop #1: Penitente Canyon in the San Luis Valley, Colorado
Friday afternoon we rolled into a nearly deserted campground at Penitente allowing us to be able to camp in one of the best spots. The drive in was pretty weird with Denver being ~35 degrees when we left, thick fog on HWY 285, and then clear-blue beautiful skies (plus~20 degrees warmer) once we hit Bailey; classic Colorado. Four hours later we find ourselves preparing to do some sport climbing in one of the most beautiful canyon’s in Colorado:
The weather was perfect (~70 degrees cooling down quickly), but we were able to get a couple routes in before the sun completely left the sky.
The next morning we had an incredible hike through the canyon along a trail I have never hiked. Starting off very cold, it warmed up nicely and the aspen’s back-dropped against the canyon was incredible.
We also stumbled upon an old wagon-rut in the rock from when the early Mexican settlers would use an ox and a small wagon to haul wood out of the area to their homesteads and the size of the erosion was impressive (click for pic here).
On-wards to the next stop we happened to cross over Wolf Creek Pass which had perfect Aspen colors and is a pass that everyone must see at least once during the fall leaf-viewing season:
Stop #2: Chaco Culture National Historic Park, New Mexico
The ever-present shaking of the car, mixed with the dust and grit from driving down 21 miles of wash-boarded road was not helping lift our solemn spirits. At the turn-off to the canyon was an apparent “CAMPGROUND FULL” sign and we found ourselves in the middle of no-man’s-land, bumping down a dirt-road, trying to figure out what to do. After driving 4 hours already that day we decided that we were just going to push-on and confirm if the campground was actually full. Pulling-up to the campground host at 4:45pm on a Saturday (yes our timing wasn’t the best), our suspicions were confirmed that yes, those signs were correct, however, there was a group campsite that was open and as long as no-one reserved it in the next 15 mins we could share it with the other late-comers. The Chacoan gods presented some luck to us and we had a place to camp!!!
After claiming our tent-pad we rushed over to Pueblo Bonito to experience the sunset that was about to happen. Most people had already left the area leaving Caitlin and I to run-around and experience a powerful place under a powerful sunset. Caitlin summoning the gods over the massive 5 story building with 700+ rooms and 35 kivas, built over 1,000 years ago:
The Great Kiva at Pueblo Bonito:
Caitlin and I:
Timing was again on our side and that night we went to a incredible outdoor presentation provided by park ranger G.B. Cornucopia on the Chaco culture’s obsession with the sun, tracking time, and many of the numerous questions around the park. The complexity of this culture was beginning to be revealed to us and our jaw’s were on the floor the entire time.
6:45am and the sunrise was just starting to push color into the clear skies and the entire campground was starting to rumble to life. We rushed-up to the nearest butte to experience the morning much like the Chacoan’s would have done everyday in their lives. Caitlin got really excited! Fajada Butte (a major ceremonial spot) under the morning glow:
Our major adventure of the day was hiking to the overlook’s of Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Ketl. Viewing the sites from above provides a much needed perspective on the layout and the differences between the different sites and was by far the best views of the sites. Caitlin over Pueblo Bonito:
While on top we also visited the Pueblo Alto and New Alto sites:
Nothing is more hip then wearing Chaco’s while hiking in Chaco Canyon.
It was nearing 2pm and we rushed back over to Pueblo Bonito to have a walking tour lead by Park Ranger G.B. Cornucopia, who after 2 hours taught us more about the site and the different opinions on what it all meant then we could have ever hoped!!! Exploring the famous dark hallways of Pueblo Bonito:
We showed-up to this park with minimal knowledge of this culture and left being inspired to understand more about this unique place.
Stop #3: Lime Creek Road, Durango Colorado
It was now 5 PM on Sunday as we pulled ourselves away from Chaco canyon. With barely more then an hour of sunlight left we headed north as fast as we could to Durango. Having minimal notes on where to car-camp, we bumped up a rocky-forest service road in the pitch-black until we came to an incredible site that had 360-degree’s of star viewing right next to a pond. We quickly built a campfire, cooked dinner, and enjoyed our last night of the trip.
It got extremely cold overnight, enough to start freezing water in certain spots, but the morning sun was a nice relief as we awoke to incredible views:
Driving home over Molas Pass to Silverton, over Red Mountain Pass to Ouray (with a quick stop at Mouse’s chocolates), back through Gunnison and over Monarch and Kenosha passes, we landed back in Denver satisfied with our last-minute, but incredible trip!
Over the course of the year we did a lot of trips that were awesome but not big enough (or unique enough) to warrant a normal in-depth Trip Report. Instead here are those trips where cool photos were taken with a brief write-up. (Most of the links below go to more photos, so click around!)
Annie with Caitlin Spotting:
The next morning was beautiful. Caitlin playing in the Aspen forest:
Nov 21st: Turkey Rocks trad Climbing the Day before Thanksgiving with Rambo (link):
Just a sampling of many fine smaller trips!
Where: Glen Canyon Recreation Area, AKA Lake Powell
When: August 3rd thru August 11th, 2012
Camping Spot: Davis Gulch in the Escalante River section of Lake Powell
Summary: Each morning we were greeted with perfect glass conditions which we water-skied and wakeboarded until we could not hang-on anymore. The weather was quite good but hot during mid-day. Almost no one was around. Lots of cliff-jumping. Crazy photo-shoot that attracted way too much attention. Good food, good friends, good times.
2007 was the last time I was in Lake Powell for a waterski-type trip and it was nice to be back.
The late crew arrived Friday night at 1am allowing for an early start to the trip on Saturday. Getting out early meant a jump-start on the other houseboats and lead to us finding a great spot to park the boat up in Davis Gulch with no one in the immediate vicinity.
Each morning we awoke to a view that was this. Perfect glass and beautiful sunrises:
Waterskiing and Wakeboarding:
Flat, glassy water greeted us each morning. It was incredible. Generally 2+ hours on the upper section of the Escalante all to ourselves. We would almost always run out of energy before we ran out of flat water. Our homages and prayers to the ski-gods paid-off for the trip.
My Old Man Cutting up some of the water that was in the upper Escalante:
After watching Tweak swallow more water then a beached whale that was just released back to sea, Caitlin decided it was time to try the Slalom ski. Miraculously she popped-up on her first try, showed-up the boys, and had the biggest shit-eating grin you had ever seen on her face (later she started to lean real good):
Jake got comfortable on double skis and next time will rock the Slalom skis:
I finally figured out how to wakeboard:
The Parental’s Crushed it as usual:
There were perfect cliffs at our campsite that were perfectly overhanging and into 65+ft of water. The highest was just over 30 ft which meant some pretty good hang-time and a great way to wake-up each morning:
Exploring Davis Gulch on Kayak’s and Above Davis Gulch under Huge Overhangs:
Sunset up one of the Side-Canyons:
In preparation for our Halloween party, Caitlin and I planned ahead and knew that we wanted to shoot the Invite Poster at Lake Powell with a “End of the World”/”Mayan” type theme. We brought some body-paint and costumes and found a sweet little island in the middle of the bay to shoot on. The sunset was perfect and as we set-up our costumes, lights, and fire drew a lot of attention.
Next thing we noticed there was 4 boats circling the island, one was a boat full of drunk fisherman and the others were just families who happened to be driving by and saw the action and abruptly stopped. Caitlin was distracting them so much one of them actually ran aground and destroyed their prop. Brings a new term to the word “GAPER”. Anyways here is one of the photos we used for the party poster:
On the last night after cleaning the houseboat, Caitlin and I were sitting there on Hobie Cat beach when a huge meteor light up the sky. Related to the Persides shower that was just starting, it was one of the biggest that I have seen, and a nice bit of extra icing on the cake of one of the better Lake Powell trips I have done. This was my 8th or 9th week-long trip there which makes it easily the most time I have ever spent in a single destination. I was surprised with the fact that there was still a lot of new experiences to be had. It is comforting to know that you can keep appreciating such a familiar but special place…
Regardless all I know is I could have easily stayed an additional eight days!!!
Enjoying one last sunset dinner over Hobie Cat Beach in Bullfrog Marina before leaving beautiful Lake Powell:
Caitlin and I just want to THANK everyone for making the 2012 Backyard Bouldering Competition the biggest and best one yet!!! Lot’s of great climbing, good beer, awesome friends, and crazy costumes made this quite the night. Can’t wait until the next one! We started back in 2010 with ~15-20 ppl climbing and this year had ~35 ppl climbing!!!
The awesome crew that was left at the end of the night:
The Competition Poster:
The Awesome Stuff:
- Best Costume: Bobby the Penguin. A tough pick this year as nearly everyone was in costume and in character all night. The penguin prevailed with his dance moves, squawks on the climbing wall, and never-ending desire for fish…
- Drunken Monkey: This was a fierce battle after competition climbing closed. Each competitor had to chug a beer then flash the pre-determined problem. ~10 ppl started the first problem and on the 5th problem (which meant 5 beers chugged per competitor) there was three people left with MIKE finally winning it all!!!
- Best Determination: Charles
- Midget’s Unite: Anna
- Best Beer: Terra
- Best Grunts: Andrew G.
- Most Bonus Holds (and most beautiful hair): Andrew G.
- TAG Winner: RAMBO
PHOTO GALLERY AFTER THE JUMP:Read More»
Dates: June 9th – 11th, 2012
Where: Outside of Grand Junction on the Ruby/Horsethief section of the Colorado River ending in West-Water, Utah
Who: Justin, Aaron, Adrienne, Caitlin, Whitney, Hawk, Justin’s parents, Hawk’s Parents, some friends of theirs, a canine, and Myself. So a good sized rafting crew.
Caitlin’s “best friend from high school” Justin, was about to leave the country for a year and he organized a final raft trip with friends before leaving the soil of the USA. Caitlin and I were excited to join this adventure as rafting is one of the activities that we don’t get to very often. The put in for the river is just outside of Fruita (at Loma) and after a pretty quick car swap we were off in the early afternoon!
The whole crew at the Black Rocks Campground:
The river is really calm in this section, which is a problem when the wind picks-up and pushes your Shredder Raft up-river. Let’s just say me and Caitlin had some “bonding” time trying to fight the wind the first day and luckily we prevailed. Photo of Justin and Aaron showing us how to use a shredder properly:
Caitlin and Pat hanging-out on Al’s boat:
The water was a little low is spots:
We camped the first night at the Cottonwood campgrounds on the river, amply named due to the massive Cottonwood tree’s that are in this nice campground. Turkey’s were flying through the area and we played with the many toad’s that were jumping all over the place.
Floating the river the next day (we also did some hiking):
Sunday night we arrived at the Black Rocks camping area which is quite unique and full of some spectacular geologic features. The rock is Precambrian schist which would be the oldest exposed rock in that entire area and this area is the only spot along the River outside of Grand Canyon where this old of rock is exposed. Worn smooth from time, it almost looks like a giant water-slide created by maniacs:
Justin hiking around the rocks:
Sunset over the Black Rocks Campground (also picture link to what 3:30AM looks like when the Milky Way makes an appearance):
An incredibly rare sight happened on Caitlin’s and I last day on the river. A Cinnamon Black Bear was on the river’s edge and ran up the steep embankment when we floated past. I was able to snag a couple pictures of it before dropping a paddle into the river and causing chaos for our little shredder boat. We were literally on the boarder of Colorado and Utah and that bear disappeared incredibly fast for such a large animal.
More floating (now we are in Utah):
Caitlin and I got out at the Westwater BLM Ranger station while the rest of the crew continued on to do some rapids the next day. Since we had a few hours before needing to head home (and a convenient NPS parks pass) we checked out the Colorado National Monument which is a beautiful piece of nature tucked right off of I-70.
On the way home we were treated to a PINK SUNSET!
Great trip with old friends and new ones!
When: May 18th – May 21st, 2012 (4th trip to Southern Utah in 2012…)
Who: Myself and the my Old Man
- Friday May 18th: Denver to Moab, Camped at Ken’s Lake, Watched amazing sunset at Canyonlands
- Sat: Sand Flats Recreation Area on a Polaris RZR, Drive to Lake Powell, Kayak in 6 Miles to campsite
- Sun: Explore canyon on kayak, watch the Annular Eclipse, drink whiskey, smoke cigars
- Mon: Kayak back to Hall’s Crossing, take the Ferry, drive back to Denver
The Annular Eclipse over Lake Powell on Sunday May 20th, 2012:
lanning a last minute adventure with my Dad worked out quite well. As usual we had a idea but not a bunch of details and worked on combining a day with my Cousin in Moab with watching the Annular Eclipse in Lake Powell. Moab was the first stop after a windy drive thru Utah. Working our way up to Canyonland’s National Park we ended up at the Island in the Sky and timed a perfect 1 mile hike out on the Grand View Point Overlook right as the sun lit-up all of the dust in the air:
The Old Man enjoying the view from the Grand View Point trail:
Saturday morning we headed out with my crazy Cousin Al on his Polaris RZR in the Sand Flats Recreation Area. We did all of Fin’s and Things and Hell’s Revenge. The RZR is an awesome machine and while I am not too big on 4×4/off-roading, this thing was a beast. Cruising down Hell’s Gate:
Once we had our fill of off-roading my Dad and I took off on the road to Hall’s Crossing Lake Powell. We got our kayaks together and put-in right at 6pm with less then 2 hours of sunlight left. With some info from a local fisherman we headed down to Lake Canyon hoping that we would be able to find a spot to camp that night:
Crossing the large waters of Lake Powell in a kayak is a little unnerving especially since I have 1st hand experience on how quickly the waves can build and considering the water was still very chilly (~65 degrees). Luckily the boat traffic was minimal and instead we found ourselves racing against the sunset:
Nature provided a perfect camping spot with kayak parking, a sandy tent site, and 360 degree views of the area:
Sunday was spent exploring the large Lake Canyon:
Eventually we hit the inlet and hiked-up the river (and eventually ran into some cows who were pooping everywhere):
Annular Eclipse: The Main Event
We set-up just above our campsite for some great viewage of the Eclipse which happened over a much longer period of time then I was expecting. We came prepared with our solar glasses, whiskey, and cigars:
And the Eclipse was awesome:
Monday we packed up and paddled out enjoying the smooth water and making good time. It is always great when such a loose plan turns into a spectacular trip and it was awesome spending some time with my Dad.
More Utah trips in 2012 to come!
What: S.O.B. Gully of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Why: It was the rare weekend where it was rainy and cold in Denver but extremely nice in parts of the mountains.
Time: 2 hrs down the gully and 2 hrs up. The downhill is a lot harder then what you would anticipate and in some instances it was easier coming-up then going down.
Painted Wall (2,250 ft of cliff !) at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison from the North Rim, 6:15am, Pink Sunrise:
It’s called the Son of a Bitch Gully for a reason: steep loose rock, man-eating poison ivy, constant ledge climbs, and 1,800 ft of vertical in just over 1.5 miles. Awesome hike down into the heart of one of the most wild canyon’s out there. Rambo navigating the poison ivy and loose rock of the SOB Draw (still a long way to go!):
Having visited the Black Canyon before (trip report here) and watching numerous rock climbing videos of the canyon, I was really excited to do something more then just peek over the rim. Caitlin and I decided to meet up with a group that was down there to climb and we were just going to do the hike. Rambo joined us for the descent and Vinny, Andrew M., and another one of their friends was climbing the Casual route that day as Rambo did Comic Relief the day before.
Hiking into the gut of the S.O.B. gully was hard and slow as the trail consists of loose rock and man-eating poison Ivy bushes. Caitlin more interested in route-finding and not slipping then taking photos (Painted wall in the background):
We arrived to the river just before the sun did and it was beautiful down there. Some really nice campsites sit along the river and that may have to be a future trip:
The three of us stoked about making it to the bottom of the SOB Gully, now just for the hike out:
Hiking out took as long as hiking down but was much easier as you were able to use your hands for balance:
Vinny, Andrew, and their friend several pitches up on the climb they were doing(upper left-hand corner) (close-up pic here):
As we hiked up further it kept getting hotter and we were glad that we started so early and experience the sunrise in such a massive and incredible canyon!