What: Our good friend Andrew was getting hitched in 3 weeks…so we threw him a good-ole bachelor party
Where: Lake Granby, Colorado ; 8,300 ft elevation
When: September 13th-14th, 2014
An early morning we left Denver after it literally snowed 24 hours earlier. As we drove-up and over Berthoud Pass the weather was incredible and we were stoked to be on our way. A quick 2.5 hour drive from denver and we were at the lake! Due to the size of the crew we had to take two trips to everyone to the campsite. The 2nd trip was a bit rough as the wind was strong and we were crammed into the boat:
1st order of business at the campsite: Beer-Drinking group shot:
The wind calmed down and we spent the whole afternoon waterskiing some excellent water. The water temp was the same as the air temp so the transition was freezing cold (in or out) but once you were in there with a wet-suit it was worth it:
We cooked ribeyes on the campfire like men, watched a beautiful evening happen around us, and had some campfire fun:
When: June 15th, 2014
In July 2014 our group of four was one of the last groups to ever get to play the Magic Meadows Disc Golf course located near Pine, Colorado. It may have been one of the most beautiful days of disc golf you could have asked for with perfect weather, flowers blooming in the fairways, thick green aspens, and plenty of throwing.
Tweak throwing through the Aspens on Hole #3. You have two options with tough alleys on either side:
Magic Meadows was built to be a private course that had open tee times and was to feature several courses on one of the most beautiful chunks of property along HWY 285. Unfortunately after opening there was some problems with the family that owns the land and the course was put into flux. Not wanting to deal with the on going issues and uncertainty the course founders decided it was time to close up-shop.
The course had many unique elements that are solely unique to the land it was located upon. This tee box was one of the highlights of the day (and there was a lot of highlights that day!):
Tight Tunnel shots were common:Read More»
Camping under the stars
Bouldering on Independence Pass
Hiking to the Base of the Maroon Bells
Disc Golfing at Colorado Mountain College in Carbondale
Caitlin and I packed a lot of activities into just a weekend. Below are the highlights.
We left Denver late and hit Kenosha Pass right during a beautiful sunset:
On the way up we had a delicious late night dinner at Eddyline Brewery.
We were planning on camping in the truck so we drove up FS 390 which has a ton of car-camping options and plenty of others were already out there. It was late on a friday but eventually we found a perfect level spot for the truck.The stars were amazing that night and I spent quite some time photographing them and the Milky Way:
Beaver ponds by our campsite the next morning:
Next morning we got up and drove up and over independence pass stopping at a bouldering area which was perfect for a short session on some easier blocks. After climbing we headed into Snowmass where we met up with the rest of Caitlin’s family.
The next day we had a beautiful hike up in the Maroon Bells area. It was my first time in this specific spot as we normally tend to stay away from the tourist parts of Colorado. Glad we went up there as it was totally worth it.
We hiked all the way to Crater Lake (tons of snow for June 22nd!). Jon and Laura:
Some some moose on the drive in:
Afterwards we went back to the condo and watched the devastating ending to the USA vs. Germany match. Everyone started heading home, however Caitlin and I stopped in Carbondale to sample the Colorado Mountain College Disc Golf course. We are quite glad we did as the views were amazing (courtesy deer in the background):
Lots of fun stuff in a short period of time.
On a beautiful day in the middle of winter we found ourselves doing an Wedding Engagement Shoot at Roxborough State Park just outside of Denver. Caitlin was my assistant as we spent the morning under perfect blue skies with a nice snow backdrop.
Below are some of the highlights from Andrew and Whitney’s Engagement Shoot:
Of course this photo shoot was of our good friends Andrew and Whitney! So we had plenty of fun taking photos, goofing around, and trying not to fall off of cliffs.
Here are some of the other adventures we have been on with Andrew and Whitney:
- Mountain Biking and Wine-Touring in Fruita Colorado
- Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Adventure
- Additional photos from Cabo San Lucas
- Ice-Climbing In Ouray, Colorado
- Moab Adventure
- Various Parties:
When: October 12th-14th, 2014
Where: Palisade, Colorado and Fruita, Colorado
Who: Giant Crew: Paige, Bobby, Andrew, Whitney, Ben, Beth, Dan, Cassie, Stephen, Sarah, Caitlin, and Myself
- Free Camping thanks to Government Shut-down — CHECK
- Free Wine thanks to numerous awesome wineries — CHECK
- Free workout courtesy of ~25 miles of biking on roads for free wine — CHECK
- Free hang-over cure by Mountain Biking the beautiful trails of Fruita — CHECK
Whitney organized a weekend where we spent Saturday cruising through the wineries of Palisade and Sunday mountain-biking. Both were fantastic and we had perfect weather all weekend. A giant crew of us assembled in the desert just outside of Fruita which apparently was a popular thing to do that weekend (campground was over-flowing).
Palisade Wine Tour:
- Canyon Wind Cellars
- Colterris Winery
- Calson’s Winery
- Colorado Cellars Winery
- Peach Street Distillers
The Whole Crew (less me the photographer) right after visiting Canyon Wind Cellars (and while still sober):
Enjoying the Front Yard of Canyon Wind Cellars:
Our crew taking up the whole road (it was mostly empty with no problems with the local vehicle traffic):
Fruit Boxes along the road:
The Beautiful Grounds of the Colterris Winery:
Bikes in front of the Outhouse at the very laid-back vineyard of Hermosa Vineyards:
After visiting Hermosa vineyards we were pretty deep into our tastings and all a bit tipsy. The finally slog back down the valley to the cars (and Peach Pit Distillery) took us quite some time (at least an hour). Here is the river when we crossed it going back down to the cars.
Mountain Biking Fruita:
We all hit the sack early that night after our full-day touring the vineyards and the next morning woke-up to cool-temps and perfect weather for MTB. A crew that knew what they were doing took off and Caitlin and I decided to do Kesler’s run and circle back to camp. Well we deviated off of that plan and ended up doing Western Zippity (an additional 5-6 miles) before looping back to camp.
Caitlin bombing down the awesome Kessel Run (named after a Star War’s reference):
Way-out in the middle of nowhere on the cross-country trail “Western Zippity”:
Cassie on the upper-part of Kessel Run:
Beautiful weekend on the western slope!
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!
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!
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!
Dates: Wednesday March 28th thru Sunday April 1st, 2012
Details of Travel: 1,500 driving miles!
- March 28th-March 30th: Zion National Park (highlights = Angel’s Landing at sunrise, Narrows hike in 44degree water, Hidden Canyon hike, our campsite outside of Zion)
- Night of March 30th: Camping outside Bryce Canyon at the mouth of Casto Canyon in Red Canyon BLM
- March 31st: Sunrise at Bryce Canyon National Park, drive thru highcountry of Southwest Utah
- April 1st: Rock climbing in Ouray with Rambo
Interactive Map of our Quick Journey:
View Zion Trip in a larger map
Mid-afternoon we finally pulled off of I-15 which was bustling and crazy compared to the almost relaxing I-70 section of the trip. Our first stop was to stretch our legs at the North Entrance of Zion National Park known as the Kolob Terrace. It was chilly, dark and dreary due to the storm that was still holding on overhead. The quick hike did not reveal much in the way of photos, however it was great to finally be at our destination.
Insider information always helps and we were pointed to a BLM camping area by my buddy before we left. Timing was on our side and we pulled into one of the best spots in the canyon. Darkness was settling in quickly and right before the sun disappeared it fell below the thick clouds and lit the area up in beautiful light. Here Caitlin takes in the views from our campsite at Smithsonian Butte BLM outside of Zion NP:
Luckily we ran into another couple around our age that had been in the park for the last few days and told us to get up early to get on Angel’s Landing before the normal tourist shit-show happens. An early next-day was planned.
Angel’s Landing: 1,500 vertical ft, ~5 miles RT, ~1:40 to the top
Our first foray into the main canyon was well before the first sunlight and before the park rangers had taken their posts. Quick glimpses of turkey’s and deer were had as we pulled into the trailhead. We were the first to the trailhead that day as we pulled in just before 7:00am, however two other small groups pulled up right behind us and started off before we could get our packs ready. Luckily we did not see them or anyone else for quite some time.
We quickly gained Scout’s Landing where we were greeted with our first sunlight of the day. At this point we passed one of the groups and started-up one of the best hikes I have ever done. The exposure was great and made the relativity simple hiking that much more exciting. Caitlin with the sun just starting to illuminate Angel’s Landing in front of us, 8:30am almost to the top:
We reached the top where we ran into the only person that was in front of us. She was already on her way down and we were left in complete solitary to enjoy a true wonder. Looking back on the hike from the top of Angel’s Landing (the trail runs along the illuminated ridge on the left w/ huge exposure on both sides):
45 mins of complete solitude on top of the world! One can understand where the name Angel’s Landing comes from as we sat watching the sun creep further down the enormous sandstone walls while listening to the sounds of the river and the occasional sound from the wild-turkeys below nearly 1,500 feet below. Once other people showed-up the vibe changed quickly and we headed down. Hiking down was just as exciting as going up:
Back at Scout’s landing we took our time and explored around. We spotted one of the massive California Condor’s that was hanging out watching the crowds on the route (when hiking Angel’s landing in the morning he scared us when he buzzed us once coming around a cliff feature):
Back down to the trailhead we cooked some lunch in the park and planned our next excursion.
Hidden Canyon and Weeping Canyon
We were in the hiking mood and an additional 700 vertical foot climb to the mouth of Hidden Canyon took us into another magical place. Hiking the nice sandy trail we scrambled around this incredible canyon for a couple hours until we finally reached a logical turning point. The hike back down was much quicker since we had already figured out the route around the tough sections.
At the entrance to the canyon were some awesome overhangs. Here Caitlin is getting a feel for ~650 ft of sheer cliff (trail below is the switchbacks for the East Rim/Hidden Canyon and Weeping Rock is in the upper LH side):
Narrow’s Canyon Hike: 110 CFS, 44 degree water, 75 degree air temp highs, random old-friend encounters
The water was cold and we rented drysuits from the http://www.zionadventures.com/ which had a nice set-up and totally worth every penny that we spent with them. Started the hike late (somewhat intentional due to the cool morning temps). Caitlin hiking through the golden glow of the afternoon light:
We fought our way up the river as the flow was high and strong. This turned out to be the hardest hike of the trip and the rewards were well worth it. Myself and Caitlin enjoying the river:
The world is truly a small place! After hiking for a short-bit another couple was gaining on us and eventually they caught-up and it turned out being my friend Drew and his wife Carrie, whom I originally met in the DU Alpine Club and had not seen in a number of years. Awesome to hike with them for a while and catch-up. Drew, Carrie, Caitlin and Andy photo deep in the canyon:
The river was flowing very heavy at 110 CFS that day and they closed down the canyon the next day as the flows got above 120 CFS. Timing was on our side and we got to experience quite the hike.
Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon BLM and Southwest Utah:
We ate Dinner with Drew and Carrie and did not hit the road to Bryce canyon until dusk. With some very loose ideas of places to camp just outside of Red Canyon we drove up some BLM road and found a place to lay our heads for the night. Night-time photos over Castro Canyon (and a ghost self-portrait):
Another early morning and we arrived to Bryce Canyon where our jaws promptly dropped:
Again there was very few people around which was surprising considering it was a Saturday morning in a park famous for sunrises. Caitlin dancing with the trees of Bryce Canyon:
We did a short hike in chacos and wool socks which was nice to stretch out after the previous two grueling days.
You don’t need to spend much time here as it is relatively small so it was perfect for a nice morning excursion before grabbing lunch at the lodge and then taking the long journey all the way to Ouray, Colorado.
The route through the desert between Bryce Canyon and Hanksville, UT was really quite cool. Some amazing vistas in a place that I had no prior knowledge on (not to mention you drive thru MTN passes at ~10,000 ft, Escalante, Capitol Reef NP, Lake Powell, Cone Mtn, Henry Mountains, etc).
A late arrival in Ouray and we crashed at RAMBO‘s house. The next day we hit up some climbing just outside of town at a place called Colby’s Corner which had some nice routes and expansive views of Sneffel’s and Cimarron peaks. A nice dip in the hot springs plus a Mouse’s Chocolate shake and we were recovered from the hikes and ready to head home!
Looking back in the rear-view mirror of the awesomeness of this part of the world:
Perma-Link here: http://andylibrande.com/news/2012/07/zion-bryce-ouray-spring-break/