Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wild Rivers

Well, I am back in Colorado, but let me tell you where I have been. 

In northern New Mexico is a little town called Questa.  A few miles to the west is an area called Wild Rivers at the junction of the Red River and the Rio Grande.  This is what Google Earth says it looks like.
(The red arrow shows the start of one of the trails you will see later.)

This is what it looks like from the ground.

(Yep, that's my toes at the edge)
In general, the top area is high desert plateau.  The two rivers form steep-sided canyons.  Trails have been built leading down those canyon sides.  Looking down from above, the trails form a series of switchbacks.  I marked them with red to make them easier to see.
The hiking is, in general, challenging.  The trails drop steeply, with little or no shade.  Sometimes the edge is protected.
More often, the only protection is your balance.
The steepest points have steps to help a bit.
But the operative instruction is "Watch your step!"

And what goes down, must come up...  800' from the bottom to the top.  More than once, I gave water away to hikers who had not planned well.

The campsites were nice.  Most were set right at the edge of the canyon, affording beautiful vistas, and New Mexico skies are often rewarding.  The obvious view was toward the setting sun,
but looking the other way could also be impressive.
On three nights during my stay, thunderstorms rolled through, within 20 miles or less.  The second night, lightning was concentrated about 8 miles to the south, where I had a good view of the sky from my site.
What a great way to end the day.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Waaay away in Colorado

It has been a while since I have had enough of a signal to be able to post.  I have been boondocking in the San Juan mountains in Colorado.  It has been a 3 week tour rather than a 3 hour tour, but I have had "no phone, no lights, no motorcars, not a single luxury, like Robinson Crusoe, as primitive as can be".  ... and I loved it.

That's the up side.  The down side is that I have had rain almost every day.  That meant marginal photography, not a lot of hiking, and a very muddy TOAD.

Anyway, here is a sampling of some of the areas I have been exploring.

My last post was from the Cimarron area.  From there, I headed south to Owl Creek Pass.  If you are a John Wayne/True Grit fan, this spot should look familiar.
This spire rises from the top of one of the peaks west of Ridgway.  It dominates the big views in the area, both from the east and the west.

Near where I stayed, the rock formations were impressive, and dynamic, changing by the moment with the light.  When those aspens turn gold in September, this must be glorious.
I headed south from Ridgway, driving through Ouray, up to Silverton.  Along the way, the road south out of Ouray is a long, uphill pull, winding, two narrow lanes, with no shoulder, no guide rail, and a looong way down if you drift off to the right (my left in this shot).
I bummed around South Mineral Creek near Silverton, meeting friends there and doing my best to ignore a pulled back muscle.  For most of my stay, rain clouds drifted through the trees on the sides of the peaks.  
The colors of the rock were dramatic, when the weather cleared enough to see them.
When I left Silverton, I swung south through Durango, then east and north to the Creede area.  There were three attractants - South Clear Creek Falls,

North Clear Creek Falls,

and the headwaters of the third longest river in the lower 48 - the Rio Grande.

But here's the thing - these places are HIGH.  That means the weather can change fast.  The above shot of the Rio Grande headwaters was shot late morning, with air temps in the high 60's.  Later that afternoon, I was hit with the first snow of the season.
Cool, huh?  This is as much snow as I saw all last winter in southern New Mexico.

So now I am in Chama, NM, with a few spots near here that I want to explore.  I will return to southern Colorado briefly in September, then back to New Mexico for the winter.  I want to thank my friend very publicly for pointing me to some great places in Colorado.  It has been a treat.