High Mountain Doings

From 8200 feet along one side of the Upper Arkansas River Valley in central Colorado, my blog is about many things: travel including river and bicycle trips, and other experiences as well. The focus is on photography, not lots of text.

Monday, May 29, 2006

A Long Drive Up Monarch Pass

On Monday, May 29, I got up early so I could drive up Monarch Pass to photograph in the morning light. Arriving at the top, I photographed there between seven and eight o'clock. I figured I'd be home by mid-morning, since it's around a forty five minute drive.

But I didn't get home by mid-morning. I decided to go down the west side of the pass and photograph along the creek that parallels Highway 50 there. I could see that the grasses were probably green, and it turned out that they were.

Realizing I was hungry, I ended up in Gunnison! Since I was there, I also went to the bookstore and sold some Arkansas River guidebooks. After that, I drove home. It wasn't morning anymore by that time. But it was a good day.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Forgot Some Photos...Here They Are

This is, of course, just a piece of wood in the cheat grass. It is not an alligator or a serpent.

Two cottonwood logs in the grass at Faultline Camp.

Two students run after the group past a cottonwood tree at Faultline Camp. The others were heading off on a hike. This camp is located right by a big fold (apparently a monocline) which, it seems to me, must be an extension of the fold that creates Colorado National Monument. There must be some faulting here, too.

Thomas reads from John Wesley Powell's journal. Powell didn't come this way, but where he did go (down the Green River) was very similar. Behind Thomas is a tamarisk (salt cedar) plant. Imported from the middle east, I believe, to make windbreaks, it has taken over the banks of nearly every western river. These horrible things were not here in Powell's day.

Ruby-Horsethief, Camps and Eating

Final Ruby-Horsethief images--these of camps and eating. From the top, a watermelon feast; kitchen area at our Black Rocks camp; lunch prepared at the Faultline camp while most were out on a hike; and meal followup at Black Rocks.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

On the Water

Above, the raft captained by Thomas is underway. We didn't launch until 5:35 pm, which is the latest time I'd ever started a river trip! But the river was swift at this medium level (about 11,000 cubic feet per second that day) and we made the approximately ten miles to camp by around 7:30. Darkness followed after a short while, but we had a fine meal and time to set up the camp.

Later, the raft captained by Charlie negotiates a narrow place near the end of an island where one of the channels is moving over to meet the other. I had gone through a parallel channel and had eddied out. This was near the Faultline Camp, where the group had stopped for a hike and for lunch. More photos later about this place....

At the Launch Site

Here, the kids from Crestone have arrived at the river! And later (top) a safety talk is being given. This particular part of it was about proper use of the paddle to propel the boats--and not accidentally using it to create mayhem all around.

Who Needs a Tent?

For the Ruby-Horsethief river trip described here, I drove over to Fruita on Sunday the 14th, and camped at the Colorado River State Park--Fruita unit. This was very successful. I laid my bed out where a tent would normally go (on a square of wood chips provided for the purpose). In the morning, I went (without the boat and trailer) to eat, and then over to the launch area to get ready. Meanwhile, the rest of the group was coming from Crestone. I was all rigged when they arrived.

It's worth noting that the state park has a raft launch at the river. We didn't launch here, but I certainly would on future Ruby-Horsethief private trips.

Photo Tour Finalized--Saturday, June 3

Pat Nolan of Colorado Springs and I are going to lead a photo tour into the hills southeast of Buena Vista on Saturday, June 3rd.

We'll visit the little community of Badger Creek (at the headwaters of the creek which enters the Arkansas River); some wonderful places in Castle Rock Gulch including an intimate little alcove, aspen stands, and some fine beaver-engineering; then finally a grand vista into and across the Upper Arkansas Valley which is pictured here. We'll be looking for the big vistas as well as the small details--finding plenty of each.

We'll start early so that light will be at its best, and go into the hills from the eastern side. To register ($40), please contact Patricia Nolan at 719-540-2878 in Colorado Springs (RIVERPHOTO at aol dot com). Or Tom Rampton at 719-395-2706 (rampton at blacktail-enterprises dot com). Tom may possibly be gone for several days between now and then.

(Make the appropriate substitutions in the above e-mail address. You can do this more easily than those programs that collect addresses for the spammers.)

I hope that some of you can join us on this photographic adventure!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Ruby-Horsethief Canyons, Crestone Charter School

Boats, teachers or parents, and middle school students of the Crestone Charter School floating Horsethief and Ruby Canyons on the Colorado River, May 15-17, 2006. (The trip is generally referred to as "Ruby-Horsethief" even though this names the canyons in the wrong order.)

I helped this trip by rowing my own raft as a supply boat. Four other boats were paddled by the students, each with an adult as captain. Two had extensive experience as river guides.

The weather was like summer! I've done cold May river trips in wind and rain. In fact, I'd sworn off doing river trips in May. But this one couldn't have been any better.

The river was rising slowly, getting ready to carry some serious snowmelt down! We started on 11,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) and ended at 14,400 cfs. That's around still-low to medium water on this part of the Colorodo.

Our trip went from Fruita, west of Grand Junction, to the Westwater BLM site which is just across the Utah border. There is only a little whitewater on this trip. Closest would be where the river pours through a narrow defile in the "Black Rocks."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Photos From a Previous Ruby-Horsethief Trip

The Black Rocks area last summer with afternoon light on the river. Then, camp at Black Rocks #4 where the landing is in a fine little alcove. This was approximately 7,000 cubic feet per second. Right now, the river is flowing somewhat higher but it's still not high water.

The Black Rocks are where the underlying Precambrian rock reaches the surface by just a few feet, for a mile or possibly two. There, the Colorado River cuts through it and the result is dark, hard, sculptured rock--very unlike the sandstones that comprise the rest of the two canyons.

We'll be down there Monday and Tuesday nights. Then home. This trip is short enough to be done in a day, but we'll have time to enjoy

Saturday, May 13, 2006

River Trip on Monday!

It's a Ruby-Horsethief trip on the Colorado River downstream from Grand Junction. We'll leave from the Fruita area and float to the Westwater launch. This will be about 30 miles. The water is calm almost all the way, save a possible class II in the Black Rocks area.

Wow, it's almost as much work to get a Ruby-Horsethief trip together as a Grand Canyon trip! I'm not doing the food, but I'm carrying all the stoves and cooking gear. It's a trip for Anrahyah's middle school students, and we have so many that we'll need to occupy two fairly adjacent camps. We can do this in the Cottonwood area, and again at Black Rocks. Part of the work was rearranging my large metal box to accomodate a different set of equipment. We'll only set up one kitchen, but other things must be duplicated.

I really hope it's a good trip and that these kids grow up understanding something about rivers and river trips, and why rivers are worth defending from the destroyers.

Ironically, it turns out that Anrahyah herself cannot go. Other teachers on the trip will be Charlie and Thomas, so we'll be fine as far as adult supervision. But Anrahyah will be missed. I will miss not having her with me on my raft, which will be the supply boat for the group. By my going, I'm making it possible for Anrahyah to do the things she needs to do. That's important, though less fun.

At least I hope I can fill this function! I have a 14' raft and I'm kinda wishing I'd bought the 18' boat that was advertised online this winter. THAT would have been a supply boat! But we may find a way to squeak by using mine.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Photos of and Around Anrahyah's House

These are a few photos I made of Anrahyah's house, of Anrahyah, and of her co-teacher Charlie who dropped by for a bit while we were there sweeping up sawdust.

Anrahyah's House With Solar Panels

Here's Anrahyah's house just a few days ago. The solar panels are in place now. The guy who does solar is working on the piping and the hot water storage tanks. Soon, the adobe "warm walls" will be in place inside. Tubing criss-crosses within the concrete under the basement floor, and there'll be a warm wall in the loft. Though it's amazing what detail work is left to do after a house is craned onto the foundation, this one is coming together!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Informative Evening

I'm in Crestone tonight. Just had dinner and attended two great programs with Anrahyah. First, a dinner by the charter high school with a slide show about India, where their school is going next year.

I had no idea how beautiful and fascinating that country is. Anrahyah commented that India is a very diverse country, more so than our own. The part we saw was in extremely rugged and beautiful terrain at the edge of the Himalayas.

Then, over to the Colorado College extension for a program by Apache Indians about their former lands in this area, and about Apache everyday life. This was presented by three Indians who did a fine job talking about the daily lives and dress of their people.

There was a degree of bitterness about the white man. At one point it was compared to the US sacking of whole villages in Vietnam, where one of the men had served. Shooting the dogs, shooting the farm animals, and burning. That's what happened to us, he said. For the most part, bitterness was kept in check--but it was rightly there.

There's more about the Jicarilla Apache at www.jicarillaonline.com