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2012 – Fall Vacation – Part 7

We will head back to Black Canyon of the Gunnison for one more morning hike and given the route we took I spotted a Railroad Bridge at 38.7767N 107.9620W along Hwy 92 ner Austin, CO that was a bit of a different configuration.  Time to pull over and get a photograph.

38.7767N 107.9620W Hwy 92 Austin, CO

Once back at the North Rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison we will take the North Vista Trail to Exclamation Point.  We skipped this trail Day #4 as it was late and hot for such a long hike for us  We took allot of photos but at Exclamation Point I wish we had taken the hike in the afternoon as I think the light would have been better.  Still, it was a wonderful view and hike.

Black Canyon of the GunnisonBlack Canyon of the Gunnison

As we head for our next destination for the day, we pull off to view Adobe Hills at 38 37.062N 107 59.740W near Olathe, CO.  Nothing like seeing a green farm field right next to an arid landscape and even with the haze of wildfires the light was great to capture the colors and contrasts.

Olathe, CO

As we head down highway 65 towards Grand Mesa National Forest near Cedaredge, CO we pulled over to get a photos of the Aspen along this hill that were spectacular.

Cedaredge, CO

Once inside the Grand Mesa National Forest the number of Aspen that were in full color was amazing and we took advantage of nearly all the pull-offs to take photos.

Grand Mesa National Forest

We will stop for lunch at Grand Mesa Visitor Center and looking South from the picnic table was a nice view towards one of the many lakes up here on the mesa.

Looking South

While on the Grand Mesa, we take a side trip onto Forest Access Road 100 to “A” Road to Lands End Observatory.  The cliff side views are worth the stop and at one stop you can also see  “S” Road coming up from below also heading to the Lands End Observatory that sits out on a pointed of the mesa you can see on the first photo below.

Heading to Lands End ObservatoryHeading to Lands End Observatory

We reach Lands End Observatory that is at 39.0252N 108.2242W in hopes of taking some great shots of the valley but the haze of the wildfires was too heavy for any good photographs.  We still look some but they are not worth showing.  We also took some photos of the Lands End Observatory itself along with the sign talking about this location which at times doubles as a Visitor Center.

Grand Mesa at 39.0252N 108.2242WGrand Mesa 39.0252N 108.2242W

While here, we found a friend eating a pile of Sunflower seeds someone left behind.  He didn’t seem to concerned about getting his photo taken as long as we didn’t get to close or move to fast.  He was bound and determined to eat all the Sunflower seeds that were sitting there.

Grand Mesa Lands End Observatory

We then turned around to head back to Highway 65 and then head towards Mesa, CO.  The Aspen colors on this side of the mesa were as wonderful as the other side so we also took advantage of nearly all the pull offs.

Grand Mesa National ForestGrand Mesa National Forest

While on this drive, I spotted a Denver & Rio Grande Western Passenger Car – Scenic Line of the West on private property so I could only get a distant shot from the road but maybe I can get back here and talk to the owner to find out more about this car.

39 11.382N 108 08.971W - Mesa, CO

Another full day in and time to head for the hotel…

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2012 – Fall Vacation – Part 5

This day will be all about the Black Canyon of the Gunnison – South Rim. The South Rim is more visited so it takes longer to just do to more people and cars at each stop.  We decided to skip “Dragon Point” for various reasons but would make all the other stops.

South Rim

Our first stop is a bit of a detour and a steep drive down below the Diversion Dam in hopes to get a photo of the dam itself; no luck.  Security of today’s climate has the dam fenced off so far up canyon you can only see a small section of it from the fence.  Still, the canyon itself made the trip down well worth the drive down.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkDiversion Dam

Next stop is Tomichi Point.  As you can see the morning haze and smoke from distant fires makes for an interesting photo.  We will stop by here again before the day is out and you will see how the image changes in several hours later in this blog.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Lisa will now start hiking down the Rim Rock Trail towards the visitor center.  I will drive down to the visitor center and start hiking the Rim Rock Trail the other way and meet her back at the visitor center.

Black Canton of the Gunnison

With Lisa and I both now at the Visitor Center we will head out the back door to the overlook…

Black Canyon of the GunnisonBlack Canyon of the Gunnison

Time to drive down to the Pulpit Rock Overlook.  Have I mentioned that these stops and trails take you out to rim of the canyon from there is straight down so watch were you step or the next step could be your last.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

We will break for lunch and find a picnic table pull out the food we packed in the 4×4.  We have now been in the park for three (3) hours and still have allot of stops still to go.

From there we head to Cross Fissures.  Lisa and a little me can not help notice the geologic details that add to the beauty of the canyon and the forces that took to carve this canyon.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Our next photo op location is Rock Point where the canyon walls are nearly vertical sheer drops to the floor below.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Off to Devils Overlook next.  Again to note, there is little to no railing so yes you can walk right up to the edge and fall quite easy so it best to stay back at least a few feet / yards from the edge when taking photos.

Chasm View is out next stop that is a strongly built platform with walls.  So, if you are a bit squeamish with height this is a good place to stop and look outward to enjoy the canyon.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

A short drive / walk you reach Painted Wall and yes you will be waking right out to the edge here for the best photos.  I did meet a couple that his wife was a bit squeamish with the lack of railings but we were able to get her close enough to see and enjoy the view.  The trick was to keep her looking forward and not down and let her set the pace.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Cedar Point is the next stop and a great place to get photos of the Gunnison River below as it continues to carve the canyon deeper and wider.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Farther down the road we reach Sunset View where you can see way up the canyon.  You can also see the Cedar Point overlook on the right with it’s well built railings.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

We will also spot some of the wildlife that calls this place home.  It was amazing how many people didn’t see it or even know what they were looking at.  The Turkey Vulture calls this place home and can be seen flying overhead if you look up.  Folks were sure grateful we pointed the one out resting on the rocks along the trail to the overlook.

Black Canyon of the GunnisonBlack Canyon of the Gunnison

High Point is the end of the road for the South Rim.  This photo is looking back up the canyon put right behind me are farm fields.  There is also a trail-head here but we won’t take it as the day is nearly gone

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

I mentioned at the beginning of this blog entry we would stop again at Tomichi Point before leaving the South Rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.  Note the difference in haze / light from the either photo taken at nearly the same point / angle hours apart.  This is why you can come to a place like this over and over and not see the same thing just because of difference in light.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

It’s nearly 3PM and we have now been in the park for seven (7) hours and for us it is time to head back to Grand Junction and have dinner and call it a day.  As Lisa says, I always seem to find something railroad related and what do I find in the parking lot at dinner but Union Pacific #43784 High-Railer maintenance truck.

High-Railer MOW Truck

 

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2012 – Fall Vacation – Part 4

It’s a new day and we make an early start to catch the Dillon Pinnacles in the Curecanti National Recreation Area from an overlook on US50 over the Blue Mesa Reservoir.  Here the is another sign called the Anatomy of a Mesa talking about this geologic formation.

The Blue Mesa Reservoir is very large and covered over made historical places including Sapinero, CO.  This town was once known as “Soap Creek” when it was formed by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad in 1881.  Today only the fish travel its streets below the water.

Our first hike of the day will be the Pine Creek Trail which is a Rail Trail of the D&RGW with the trail head being at 38 27.013N 107 20.715W.  The trail starts off with a lot of stairs to get you down from the parking lot on the canyon rim to where the railroad Right-of-Way is above water just below the Blue Mesa Dam spillway

Once down on the Right of Way, it is an easy level walk along the railroad grade.  This is also the way to get to the Boat Tour dock (Morrow Point Boat Tours) to tour Morrow Point Reservoir that Lisa and I did several years ago.  With the water levels here also down, the grade for the Denver & Rio Grande Western is above water well beyond the dock so we will take advantage of this and hike until the water levels finally get above the roadbed; I would say we got about 1.5 miles into the canyon before the water cut us off.

Denver and Rio Grande RailroadDenver and Rio Grande Railroad

Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad

While down of the D&RGW roadbed, I spotted a Weasel coming up from the water.  Only got a few shots before it was gone with this being the clearest shot

Pine Creek Trial

Also while on the grade, I would spot a few old Telegraph Polls.

Pine Creek Trial

After hiking back up the stairs, we drive over to the Blue Mesa Dam Overlook where you can also see the D&RGW roadbed that we were just hiking below.
Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad

A bit farther down the road, we reach a pull-off where we can get a nice view of the Curecanti Needle; which is also part of the D&RGW Railway logo.  Good thing we spotted this pull-off as the Overlook area was closed for maintenance.   Don’t look down from where we were if you are afraid of heights as you can tell from the photo Lisa took of me it’s straight down!

Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad

We will stop next at Hermit’s Rest Trail but only hike a small portion of the trail.  The trail will take you all the way down to the shoreline but we just wanted to take a few photographs from higher up.

As we turn get close to Crawfrod, CO, Needle Rock would come into view and though there is a bit of a haze from wildfires it was still worth taking a few shots.


At this point we turned off the highway to head for the less seen Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park North Rim.  Most folks tour this area from the South Rim which we will do on Day #5.  On this day (being already late in the day) we will make stops at Chasm View, The Narrows, Balanced Rock, Big Island, Island Peaks, and Kneeling Camel.  We will come back to do Explanation Point Day #7

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkBlack Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkBlack Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkBlack Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkBlack Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkBlack Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkBlack Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkBlack Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkBlack Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkBlack Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkBlack Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkBlack Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkBlack Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

As we head back out of the North Rim, I will stop for a few shots of the Aspen Colors in this area as well.

Time to drive to Grand Junction that we will us as our hotel base-camp for the next few days…

 
 

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