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!
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:
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!
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/
Just like that we went from blazing hot to the cool temps of fall. I experienced this during a little landscape project that started in late August and went up to mid-Sept (essentially going from dripping sweat to just normal sweat). That little landscape project turned into a much bigger project somehow miraculously finishing moments before the start of the Backyard Bouldering Competition.
The cool temps lead to an active fall of many short-outings experiencing the intense fall colors. Below is just a photographic taste from the short adventures that took place during the extended fall season
Kenosha Pass (and all surrounding areas) were absolutely breath-taking on Oct 1st-2nd, 2011:
Once finished with the climbing comp I was able to get out again (had no real adventures since Independence Pass in early August). Here we are at Mt Sanitas in Boulder doing some bouldering, September 17th, 2011:
Andrew relaxing on the top-out:
Aspen’s just starting to get really colorful on Squaw Pass Road near Evergreen on September 25th, 2011:
A trip to Crested Butte with RAMBO happened on Oct 1st-2nd. Potentially the most colorful weekend in my life. More will be posted on this adventure, however here is a teaser:
My sister flew in from Austin, TX and we checked out Rocky Mountain National Park on a snowy day in the park. October 9th, 2011:
There were also a lot of elk out that day and we had fun watching them in their rut:
Friday afterwork session in Castlewood Canyon with Caitlin at the 9 Lives Boulder, October 14th, 2011:
Fall more or less wrapped-up in Colorado for me on a beautiful, brisk day in Castlewood Canyon doing some bouldering with Jake and Ben. November 11th, 2012:
Full Post here: http://andylibrande.com/news/2012/02/quick-moments-of-fall/
When: June 11-13, 2010
Who: Myself, Caitlin, meeting up with Trent, Bethany, Duncan, Cara, Dan, plus the dogs.
So this recap is a little late considering it is now September and this happened back in June. But I couldn’t leave out this trip from the records because it was ridiculous. Let’s start at the beginning and all the photos will be in chronological order just for sake of ease.
We all convened in the Pinyon Flats Campground Friday night on a relatively quick drive from Denver. It is Bethany’s B-day weekend but we were able to reserve only one campground that can’t have more then two tents and two cars; we were not about to let “the man” hold us down so we set-up camp under a beautiful clear night sky with 4 tents and 4 cars (as we were traveling from all over the state). Spirits were high that night we were excited for a awesome weekend on the dunes filled with glorious adventures and abundant amounts of fun. Let’s just say everything changed quickly…
About 2-3am was when we encountered our first challenge: insane winds!!!! We are in the sand dunes so that means where there is wind there is also flying sand; this is not just a little sand, but epic amounts of fine grain sand getting into every little crevice that it could find. Sleep quickly became a luxury as the wind and sand combo was blowing up tiny particles of sand underneath the rain fly and dropping down on us in the tent; it was literally raining sand.
Morning dawns…kinda. It’s cloudy, it’s windy, it’s kinda raining, we are sleep-deprived and it is really early so we do what any logical human being would do in that situation: drink. Out comes the Jack Daniels which we enjoyed alongside numerous fresh cherries and other breakfast goodies; let’s just say each one of us was focused on this activity with Olympic-like intensity.
Several hours later we decide it is time to go do something (not before we had a run-in with vigilante park ranger about the tent situation even though our tents combined took up less space then the tent cities some of the other campers had). We head over the the incredibly busy visitors center (cold, wind and tourons do not mix), which was fun because well, we were intoxicated. Then it was off to suffer on the dunes:
Hiking in wasn’t too bad, a little chilly and a lot windy:
Trent Catching some Air:
The others turned around because they have the dogs and the sand was really messing with their eyes, however Duncan, Caitlin and I keep venturing further. Bad idea as the wind was to out backs but hiking out the wind was in our faces . Right before we decide to turn around:
Luckily the group found an awesome out of wind bank along the river. Some of us caught up on the sleep we were missing:
The low-hanging cloud on the right is part of a small fire that was happening just miles from the campground:
After catching up on sleep (and starting our afternoon hang-over from all the morning drinking) we thought we would get out of the wind and sand and headed to Zapata Falls. Nice little short walk to some freezing cold water (in the deep canyon part ice was still lining the walls). Duncan trying not to fall:
The evening gave us some nice light and you can see how crazy the wind was:
Next morning we awoke to beautiful skies, no wind, and perfect temps. It was such a radical change it was hard to realize that it was the same place. Trent, Bethany, Caitlin and I all found a quite area away from other people and played in the creek, tried some sand-boarding, and just enjoyed the sun:
On the way out Caitlin and I took the scenic route up the San Luis valley eventually hitting up 285 for the ride home. While we were dealing with wind and a little rain in the sand dunes, the I-70 corridor was hit with a very late season snow-storm (most of the snow had already melted off of the peaks and we were sure glad we weren’t camping in that):
Now I can finally say I have been to the sand-dunes (even if I am still scraping sand out of my eyes 3 mos later)!
Where: Yellowstone National Park
When: Friday May 28th – Monday May 31st, 2010; aka Memorial Day Weekend
Who: Caitlin, Andy, thousands of Buffalo, some elk, grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, moose, antelope, and the most dangerous animal of them all: tourists.
Have you every heard of this place called Yellowstone? Because I never have and rightfully so as there is not much to do there. We happened to stumble upon it when we decided that we should drive North through that mostly empty piece of land above Colorado that some historic maps have listed as “Wyoming”.
While driving through this land we eventually landed in this weird place called Yellowstone, which apparently is somewhat famous as it is designated as a National Park (what-ever that means). So we decided to hang-out for a few days (mainly because we were sick of driving through that barren land north of Colorado).
So there is not much to see there which should be expected as it is in the middle of nowhere. Not sure if anyone should ever go to this place…
Not really that many bison roaming all over the park, hanging out on the road or on the trails where you would least expect them.
Or are is there any other wildlife like the herds of elk or Pronghorn Antelope.
Or are there any Grizzly bears taking down elk calves in plain site and proceeding to eat them.
And there are most certainly no Wolves hunting elk herds for their newly born calves.
Lastly the landscape is extremely boring as things such as geysers, springs, bubbling mud-pits, sulphur pits, or stunning mountains and valleys exist anywhere in this park.
Anyways if you want to see some horrible photos of probably the most boring place on earth, please read-on and don’t come crying to me when you are bored to death as I warned you fairly.
The Trip: Yellowstone over Memorial Day Weekend:
Our first Wildlife encounter was on the first evening where we went on our first short hike in Yellowstone (2/3rds mile). We went out around a small geyser basin (Mud Volcano basin) through some insanely wet rain/slush:
Out on this short hike in the wet rain/slush we rounded a corner on the trail right before our eyes was the first (and certainly not last) buffalo; Caitlin exclaimed “Is that a real one!?!”…why yes I believe that is a real one:
One advantage of really wet/slushy rain of the first evening was that the pesky Tourist animal was no-where to be seen. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Lower Falls which we enjoyed in complete solidarity for at least 20 mins:
Caitlin demonstrating the proper way to deploy Bear Pepper Spray when a bear, bison, chipmunk, moose, bighorn sheep, or RV decide that they will charge you and attempt to maul/gore/eat/cuddle/love/stomp you:
Saturday morning looked pretty much the Beach Vacation we were expecting (2 inches of Fresh!) the next morning near the Hayden Valley:
Damn tourists can’t walk down the road right:
Porcelain Basin near Norris Junction was insanely awesome:
Some really colorful Extremophiles found in the Porcelain Basin:
The Northern Lamar Valley after a fast moving rain storm (which is about 1,500 ft lower than were we camped and was significantly warmer), also known as the Serengeti of Yellowstone:
Momma and Baby Black Bear were hanging out giving the crowds a show (Near Tower):
Sunday Morning we were treated to some excellent GORE!!! Yogi the Grizzly Bear had chased down an delicious Elk Calf for breakfast and I was jealous as I hadn’t yet had my morning baby animal breakfast. Anyways we finally got a decent photo once he got-up and re-hydrated (but people with high-powered scopes helped us see closeups of the grizzly enjoying the various parts of an elk calf):
Then out of no-where some Wolves attacked a small herd of elk on the same hillside!!! Unfortunately they were hidden by a small hill and they would only pop-out occasionally and were running so quick it that I could not get a photo that was worth anything at all
Once our killing appetite was taken care of we went and checked out some more Geyser basins near Old-Faithful (Old-faithful was probably the least exciting part of the trip):
So we randomly went to this one small side road and got out of the car to wander around. There was a small group near this one geyser and out of no-where the thing started to erupt and was really sweet to watch it shoot about 25 ft into the air. The White Dome Geyser:
Sunday evening the skies cleared and we were treated to some excellent visual pleasure over the Hayden valley and Pelican Creek (just before sunset the temperature peaked at a whopping 54 degrees):
Monday morning we packed-up and headed out. There was some excellent viewage at Yellowstone Lake (which like most things we saw in the park was still frozen):
Then back in the car again and across that vast land of Wyoming…
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Dates: Saturday June 14th – Monday June 16th
Miles Traveled: ~775 Miles (over just three days!)
Route: Sat: Denver to Durango (stay in Durango at our crazy cousin’s bed and breakfast), Sun: Parents start bike race, we head to Mesa Verde NP, then back through Durango over Molas pass to Silverton, over Red Mtn Pass to Ouray, then to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison for camping, Mon: Black canyon back to D-Town.
What the Hell Happened: This trip began as my parents had the crazy idea of riding their road-bikes from Durango to Breckenridge with Ride the Rockies and convinced me to drop them off for the race. So, my sister and I decided we make the best of it and explore parts of Southern Colorado, an idea which morphed into an excellent adventure.
Lizard checking out Molas Pass on the way to Silverton:
Sunset over the Black Canyon:
Of course in true Andy style planning we pretty much started the trip with some ideas but no concrete agenda which allowed for us to just check out some cool spots without really worrying about time. After getting to Durango we stayed the night at our Cousin Al’s and his wife Emma Lou’s Bed and Breakfast http://www.lousbandb.com/. The next day the real journey began as the parentals set off on the bike ride and my sister and I headed out to Mesa Verde NP.
Mesa Verde is really cool to check out how this civilization lived and how they abandoned the cliffs; pretty interesting stuff and really crazy to see how fortified some of the dwellings are and how desperate their culture must have been at one time.
While there I had the pleasure of scaring the shit out of my sister when we did one of the tours and she had to first climb a 32 ft ladder to get into the Balcony House Dwelling and two 15 ft ladders (on a steep cliff face) to get out. She did not enjoy it too much, but I had a great time watching her…hehe.
At Mesa Verde:
After that we headed up and over the passes to Silverton where we hung out in the town. A little different then in winter when I visit that place. Taking the road up and over Red Mountain Pass was probably the most beautiful drive I have done in my life. The mountains were so lush it did not feel like we were in Colorado, instead it felt like a mix between amazon jungle and Siberian pine forest. The rivers were flowing at maximum and my picture taking skills just did not represent how gorgeous this place was at that time.
Our last major destination was the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a huge chasm that cuts 2000ft deep into some of the hardest rock on earth. Here we camped out and spent a good chunk of the next day hiking and exploring this insane geological feature.
Check out the photos for more goodies: