Grand Mesa – Squeezing Out the Last of the Color

We kept driving along, but it was clear the best color was right at the start of our drive. We won’t be staying longer in this area, and in fact, this probably marks the end of our fall color excursions. Our trip is not over however. We’ve decided to spend a few days at The Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Only this trip we will be on the north rim. We’ve never visited the north side, and while I don’t think there will be huge differences, it will be a new look.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison
October 9

We arrived yesterday, Monday the 9th. This side of the canyon is by far the less traveled side. There is a nice little 12 site campground perched near the edge of the canyon and most well suited for the LD, though large juniper and pine trees throughout present a bit of a challenge for solar exposure. But the place is nearly empty. There were only 4 sites occupied by rock climbers when we arrived on Monday, and by morning all but one were available. Late in the afternoon, we took a short walk to the Chasm overlook that leave right from the campground. It is really an amazing view from this point. You can see the visitor center over on the other side of the canyon – it is really only about 1000′ away as the crow flies, but several hours of driving to go by car. At it’s deepest, the canyon is 2,400′ deep – and it is like straight down. The shear drop always gives me a screwy feeling in my stomach, but I am compelled to step to the edge and look over.

Dawn at the Chasm

Tuesday morning, we woke before dawn and again took the short walk to Chasm overlook to watch the sunrise. Again I had to sort of sidestep my way close to the edge. Even with the guardrail there I have to do it slowly, then grip the guardrail to feel secure. I’m gripping my camera and lenses in a effort not to drop them and trying to make a photograph. It is a breathtaking view, but photographing sunrise here is difficult because of the harsh difference in light between the top and bottom of the canyon. Still, it’s great to experience this place with no one around.

Later in the day we took a hike out to Exclamation Point. It’s a 3.5 mile roundtrip hike to the point on the North Vista Trail, and we could have added another 3 miles onto this hike by continuing on the trail up 840′ to Green Mountain. A bit too strenuous for us and we planned another hike tomorrow. But the hike out to the point was quite pleasant with a number of nice overlooks. Being out of hiking shape, this was plenty for us. We we got back, it was Cuba Libre’s and chips and the Giants in the playoffs.
Wednesday morning we were off on our other hike. This one to Deadhorse Point. All of these hikes are along the rim and so not all that difficult. This one wasn’t all the great. Most of the way is in high chaparral and we had to take a 1 mile side trail to actually get to a couple of overlooks – but it was worth it for different looks at the canyon walls. The endpoint was a big disappointment. The trail just ends at a certain point at the edge of the canyon. There is a view, but not as compelling as those of the other closer overlooks. But it was a good hike for hiking purposes.

We again got back to camp in time to watch the Giants pull out an unlikely victory over Cincy in their typical heart attach fasion. It is sometimes really nice to have the satellite receiver with us for situations like this. Watching Giants baseball in the middle of nowhere is quite nice. Our neighbors must wonder what the screams coming out of our RV are all about.

Kneeling Camel Rock

Thursday morning it was up and out of Black Canyon. We got to Grand Junction in time to watch the Giants finish off Cincy to clinch the Western Division. Sunday starts the series for the National League Championship. Then, hopefully, the World Series after that. While in town, we have a few maintenance items to take care of and want to spend some time in the Colorado National Monument. Rain is supposed to move through the area sometime tomorrow, but I’m not sure how much or how long yet. We will probably be back in Utah by mid-week next week for the last of our trip.

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