Not enough time to blog about last trip. Only home for 24 hours. I’ll catch up soon.
Fall is regarded as the best time to visit the Southwestern desert and we hit it just right. Squeezing in a five day trip to Utah’s Canyons National Park was the perfect way to finish a summer hiking season. Our route was different if you watched out Spot Locator track since we base camped 10 miles into a series of dead-end canyons and tried, unsuccessfully, to connect between them each day.
Fortunately, Will Rietveld did a lot of Google Earth research before the trip and set out a goal of trying to connect up a number of the box canyon fingers to make a loop route for future hikes. Zero for four was our success in the multi-day assault on the various fingered canyons. At the terminus of each valley we bush-whacked our way up to the sandstone and scaled the clean knobs and various cracks, only to find we need contour or traverse a bowl and go further up.
The rewards of discovering windows thru the rock, caves and tunnels, arches and grottos far out weighed the chagrin of not managing a pass between to fingers. Not to mention the colorful sandstone layers contrasted by the clear blue desert skies.
Making tracks in the pristine sandy washes didn’t hurt the feeling of treading on forgotten territory. Forgotten because in several of the canyons there is still panels of artwork from 1000-3,000 years ago, as well as remnants of grouted walls and small watch towers that proved people roamed this region long before us.
We’re having a bit of Indian Summer and I was eager to get out in the high country once more before cold, snow and hunters preclude the possibilities. Stanna was off in Utah hiking with her Wednesday “ladies hiking” group for a couple days, so it was a prefect time to do a solo hike and knock off a couple more Audible books. With Durango daytime temps slated to be in the mid 70’s and clear skies, I figured it would be wonderful in the San Juans as well, which it was.
In fact, I wanted to title this blog post a “Durango Calendar Day”, but realized that many may not know of the archaic expression “Swiss Calendar Day”. Like Switzerland when we have clear days it’s worth featuring on a calendar, like the vintage Swiss Air calendars of the 50’s. We’ve quite a bit of snow and wet weather, as noted in the news, so the trail was snow covered in the shady spots and muddy in the low parts, but outside that trail the views with early snow covered peaks was fantastic.
Crater Lake, where I camped was snow covered in just about everything excluding the sunny side of the lake (photo above). At about 11,800′ I had to find a clear spot in the trees to stay off the snow and out of the boggy grass. The best part was that no one was at this popular destination at the foot of Snowden mountain and I had the entire area to myself. I arrived in late afternoon and had plenty of time to finish my book, lounging on my Neolite pad against a tree as the sun slid down the western ridge line of Snowden.
As it was only 6 miles back to the trail head, I spent several hours in the morning reading the latest New Yorker on my iPad before I ventured back along the trail to Andrews Lake where I started. In case you’re wondering what I’m reading, I read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (excellent), finished Freedom by Daniel Suarez (my fiction for the month), and started The Tipping Point by Gladwell as well.
Once again we had the pleasure of hosting a WarmShowers.org cross-country cyclist, this time a young man from Romania. We especially enjoy cyclists from outside the US because it gives us a chance to look into that country’s details on Google Earth and also on Wikipedia. It’s always nice to prep ourselves with geographical and demographic data before a visitors arrival.
For example we learned that Romania is just smaller than Colorado but has a population just in between Texas and New York at 20 million. I looked up cycling in Romania, specifically in Transylvania where he’s from, and read that “it’s so wonderful you need to come visit before it changes”. He was amused that I found that quote.
Simon came over on a J-2 visa (another interesting thing I learned, was how all the National Parks and resorts get their foreign staff for the high seasons), and that visa allows him to work 90 days and then travel for another 30 days. What was most interesting was that he’d been working in a bike shop in Delaware and that’s how he decided to cycle across the states. His original plan was to rent a car with friends, but between cost and quality of companions available, he chose to ride. If you look carefully at his baggage you’ll be able to notice that he’s carrying “more than I weigh”. His bike shop loaned him the bike and he’s carrying full camping and cold weather gear.
His route is from Los Angles to Delaware via Kentucky where he hopes to visit the famous Mammoth Cave. He’s a caver. Super 24-year-old young man just graduated with a masters in Hydrology, “but there aren’t any jobs because only the Government hires hydrologists and the government is broke”.