Part 1: Colorado Has Ruined My Life

At some point, I’ve realized that Colorado has possibly destroyed my ability to live contentedly in Ohio.  I don’t know why I love it here so much more than when I was here before.  But the beauty, the openness, the mountains, the views, the way you can go miles without seeing another person–I love it.

This morning, we woke up super early yet again (0500 local time), and, wide awake, decided we may as well be up and about.  We puttered a bit until daylight, and then walked back behind our motel.  The reason that it’s called Island Acres is because it’s on a river island.  Behind our place is about a quarter mile walk with other houses, and then you get to where the river splits and goes around our bit of land.  It’s quite lovely, actually.

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After we got back, Tom headed off to Hartman Rocks, which happens to be across the street and down a piece from where we’re staying.  It’s a very famous location for mountain biking, and has hiking/biking/dirt bike/jeep trails all over the place.

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While he was gone, I finished settling in our stuff, finished my book, and updated this blog.  By the way, something I forgot on this morning’s post was a picture of the amazing rainbow we saw yesterday evening!

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I don’t know if it’s the thinner air or what, but it was truly the most vibrant rainbow I have ever seen.  It was a full double, too.

Anyway, this morning, while I was updating the blog, I kept hearing this weird noise.  You know how when you turn on a gas burner it  makes a clicky noise and then sort of VOOSH.  Well I kept hearing something similar to that VOOSH but couldn’t figure out what it was.  Although there are couple more people here now, as of this morning, there were only two other cars here, and both were in another building entirely.  Finally, I looked out the window, and this is what I saw:

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This would be a pretty awesome area for a hot air balloon ride!

After Tom got back and showered and breakfasted, we headed further west.  Today, by the way, we traveled the furthest that I have ever been west.  So that was exciting.  Gunnison is just east of Blue Mesa Reservoir, which is about twenty miles long.  It was beautiful.

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A stop at the visitors’ center landed us some maps and trail descriptions.  We decided to try one further up the gorge–Black Canyon of the Gunnison.  It’s an incredibly deep valley, with a river that empties into the reservoir.  The trail wound down the canyon wall, along a feeder river, and ended where the feeder river fed into the main river (sorry, don’t know their names, lol).  We knew that it would be a vigorous hike (although only a 4-mile round trip), and it was totally intense.  It was also one of the most beautiful–if not the most beautiful–hikes I have ever taken.  The pictures don’t do it justice.  It was exhausting but exhilarating.

We started at the overlook at the top of the trail.  The view was where the two rivers met.

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As you can see, it is very far below!

The descent was lovely, full of beautiful views, both of the mountains above us and valley below.

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After a little over a mile of downhill, we reached the canyon floor.  The trail leveled out and followed the creek–a real mountain creek, crashing over boulders.

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Finally, we reached trail’s end!  It’s a beautiful spot where the water comes together.  The trail doesn’t go far enough (there is literally no place to put a trail) to see around the bend, but water is deep and beautiful.

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We paused for a snack and to refill our water bottles, using our awesome water pump for the first time!!!

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Then came the fun part–climbing back out of the canyon!  Slow but steady wins the race, right?

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It was so beautiful that it was like a whole different trail on the way up!  (Or maybe that was the lack of oxygen changing my vision…???)

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It’s amazing how much flora there is to see when one is gasping for air whilst struggling up the side of a mountain.

 

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However, we did not die, and we eventually made it back to the car, a bit more than tired, but quite pleased with ourselves.

We continued the drive up the canyon for several miles, before realizing that we were ravenous and heading back towards Gunnison.  The views were amazing, but most of my pictures were taking out the window again.

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This is actually the very same creek that we followed, at a much earlier point in its life.

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Part 2: Off-Roading is Awesome

We finally made it back to Gunnison and found some food.  We popped into a local bike shop to see if we could find a map of Hartman’s Rock.  While Tom enjoyed his ride, the place is riddled with trails and no clear directions.  The bike shop man was incredibly helpful (almost too helpful…  he gave a LOT of directions!).  We were so inspired that we drove back to Hartman’s Rock so Tom could show it to me and we could check out a couple of the trails.

Many of the trails are dirt roads that wind through the park, so we put the Patriot through its paces.

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This Jeep has definitely been where no rental was ever intended to go.  And tomorrow we’re going to drive sections of the Alpine Loop near Lake City!

Hartman Rock is pretty nifty.  Completely different from where we were earlier–much more open and arid, with jagged rocks poking up through the landscape.

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Tom is pretty excited about riding there again tomorrow.

Well, that about wraps up the day.  I started this entry sitting out on our little porch enjoying the cooling evening air.  Now I’m back inside at our retro table.  Tom is looking for painting jobs in Colorado Springs so we can move out here forever, and I think we’re going to watch an episode of Doctor Who before going to bed.  Tomorrow–Lake City and the Alpine Loop!