Monday, June 30, 2008

Blue Lakes and the Boys

Blue Lakes Trail
Mt. Sneffels Wilderness

Andrew and Tyler arrived in Grand Junction on Saturday. On Sunday we decided to attempt the Blue Lakes Trail to get them used to hiking at elevation. The trail goes up 2,000 feet in 2.3 miles, with an ending elevation of almost 11,000 feet. Before you get to the trailhead this is the view of Mt. Sneffels, a 14,000 feet tall big ol' boy.
The boys on the trail. I am standing on the switchback below.

Going up....

Yes, we hiked over snow. I was surprised there was as much covering the trail as there was. It didn't make the air too cold though, thank goodness.

We had to hike through a creek running full force down the mountain from snowmelt. You can see Tyler took off his shoes for this little trek. I was lucky enough to have a husband who carried me across.

A better view of the creek.

This is the first lake on the trail. There are two more lakes higher up, but we were exhausted and I have a feeling the snow would've blocked the trail. A beautiful view though.

Mike getting started on the fire. Actually, after this endeavor, Tyler (an Eagle Scout) finished the fire. :)

Andrew was excited to catch some Cutthroat trout in the creek that was flowing out of the lake.

He caught four in all. That's not blood - that's the color they actually are - thus the name Cutthroat.

We threw them on the coals of the fire. Then when they were done, just peel the skin off and there you go! They were actually pretty good. And yes, Dad, I did eat some!

The creek coming down created a beautiful waterfall.

Andrew in front of a breathtaking view.

Going down...
It was probably the hardest hike I've done so far out here and I can't say I'd do it again, but maybe... :)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mom and Dad Knape Visit - Day 2

On the second day that Phil and Judy were with us we drove down to Durango and slightly west to Mesa Verde National Park. I was so excited about it because the fifth graders in my school go every year on a field trip and I thought their pictures were so cool.
The first place we stopped was Park Point, the highest point in the park. It had a 360 degree view. I've never been anywhere with a view all around like that.

This is at the south look-out point. You can see the valley and far off mountains behind us.

The wide open valley below the look-out point. I'm sure you could see the entire park (and maybe beyond) from this spot.

In 2000 there was a fire on the Mesa, burning much of the park. The gamble oaks are starting to come back, but the skeletons of the old ones still remain.

I thought it was pretty sleepy-hollow like.

The first cliff dwelling that we came to was Spruce Tree House. It was one of two dwellings that we didn't need a tour pass for.

You can see the dwelling behind me. The story behind the ruins is quite interesting. Nobody knows what happened to the Indians that lived there. The ruins weren't discovered until the 1880's, though archeologists believe the ruins were abandoned in 1300. You can see how the cliffs created a natural roof for the ruins.

We could walk right down and in the Spruce Tree House, though there were park rangers there making sure that no one was disrespectful of this great find.

Phil got right in to take a picture. Can you believe how well the Indians built these communities so that they lasted this long?

The next ruin we stopped at was Cliff Palace. This one, however, we needed a tour pass for. It did have an overlook that we could stand at and see the ruins without a tour pass.

It's quite unbelievable when you see it.

You can see a group of people on a tour of the Cliff Palace in this picture. The Cliff Palace is quite large. The circle structures throughout the ruins are called 'kivas.' They are ceremonial rooms where they had healing rites or prayer. They also were a gathering place. They have a small hole in the floor called a 'sipapu,' which is a symbolic entrance to the underworld. Fascinating...

Mom and Dad Knape Visit - Day 1

Phil and Judy came out to visit us for two days while they were driving all over the American west. They spent 5 days driving through South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Utah before they came to Colorado. On their first day with us we showed them Canyonlands National Park in Moab, UT. The beauty of the area really surprised them.
Before we got to Moab we stopped at this tourist store called "Hole in the Rock." It was literally in the mountain. The walls and ceiling were sandstone. Pretty cool.

At one of our favorite places in Canyonlands - Mesa Arch.

A beautiful cactus in bloom.
Mesa Arch
The boys being a little reckless over a large crack in the sandstone cliff.

Posing at Grand View Point.

Father and son sitting in front of the beautiful landscape of Grand View Point - by far our favorite view.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bicycle Tour of Colorado

Well when I woke up this morning I noticed more bikes than usual going by our window. After an half hour or so there appeared to be thousands; just a steady stream. After a short investigation I found out the the BTC was going through town.

Apparently this Bicycle tour of Colorado is an annual event that starts in Durango then goes to Ouray the first day, Montrose/Black Canyon the second, Telluride the third day (fourth day is a rest in Telluride), Naturita the Fifth, then Cortez and back to Durango. They say on their website the hardest climb in the state is the east portal road in the Black Canyon. I don't even know how it would be possible without burning up brakes. You can't just fly down with all the hair pin turns and it is a 16% grade (steepest I know of anywhere) so you can't go slow too easily.

Anyway, today they stay in Montrose. There are bicyclers everywhere. The numbers on their bikes went well into the 4000's, so there were a bunch. Cali and I decided to take a walk over to the high school to check it out. The good majority of them are staying at the high school in tents. Some others were at hotels. It was a pretty cool sight! Here are some pics.

Lots of tents!

More tents.
They'll use any field :)

Just a small portion of the bikes!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Black Canyon Hike

Well just the other day I did the hike into the Black Canyon. Philip and I took the Gunnison trail which was a challenge; testament by my sore quads for two days after. This trail is not really a trail at all. Most of it is just rock slide. This trail, by my GPS, was .71 miles (one way) with about 1740 feet elevation change. Going back up was brutal! Here are some pics.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Anniversary #3

Bear Creek Trail
Ouray, Co
For our third anniversay we decided to try a hike we hadn't done yet. It was suppose to be very pretty, but other than that and the location, we didn't know much about it. It was just south of Ouray. It's called Bear Creek and it has three different mines on it and you can also hike right up to Engineer Pass (a 7.1 mile hike). We decided to go to the first mine - Grizzly Bear Mine - a 2.4 mile hike. Little did we know that the middle mile of the trail was on the edge of the mountain. Can you see the trail in this picture? Look close - it's right on the edge of the two rock faces; right through the very center of the photo.
Here I am on the trail on the edge. Talk about nerve-wracking.

I spy the trail over there...right on the edge. Can you?

We did see some beautiful views.

This view was rather spectacular. The only problem was that you couldn't walk and look at the same time because of the cliff, so you had to stop if you wanted to see anything.

Mike was so happy to see some bighorn sheep. I think we startled them from their resting place because they were laying right above the trail.

Another scary yet beautiful picture of the scenery and the cliff's edge.

Yes, that's the edge behind me. I kept telling myself not to think about it, otherwise you just psych yourself out.
The first 3/4 of a mile were all switchbacks up the mountain so we could get to that lovely edge. It was pretty spectacular, however, because the trail was over piles of shale and it sounded like you were walking on metal. Clink, clink, clink.

We did come to some spring water run-offs. The trickles were making their way down to the creek below, which was roaring with snowmelt.

If you look close you can see Ouray in the valley far back.

I love this picture. But I kept thinking, "Where are the handrails?"

An awesome view. I found comfort in holding on to the rocks on the "safe side."

Another spring flow coming down the mountain. It was the clearest water I've ever seen. You could see the color of every rock under the water.
I couldn't keep my hands out of it, it was so tempting...but brrr!

At last, the mine! This was the only building left standing. We're not sure what it was used for.

I was so disappointed to see that the rest had fallen. Mike was certain that an avalance or rock slide had taken it out through the years. Many of the heavy metal pieces were buried quite deep. The biggest mystery is however did they get all that heavy metal equipment up there? Did you see that trail?

Here's Mike checking out what was left and wondering, "What did they use this huge metal wheel for?"

It's a good thing to pose by, however!
So happy anniversary! (We did do something conventional and had dinner later that night.) :)