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.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Grandson Loren, this last weekend

Two of Loren, age one. Inside a favorite restaurant at bottom.

Several Photos, Brown's Canyon on June 17

Kayak plummeting off Jump Rock!

Debbie and Jason help prepare my raft for travel.

Here is Hecla, one of the Brown's Canyon takeouts.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Daughter and Family

These folks are my daughter Debbie, her husband Jason, and my grandson Loren--who is just over one year old. They all flew here from Portland this weekend for a visit, and flew home today, Sunday.

This photo was taken outside Casa del Sol in Buena Vista, which just happens to be one of the best Mexican restaurants anywhere. It was very good this night!

During the weekend we drove up to St. Elmo, and also went down the Arkansas River through Brown's Canyon, which is an extremely popular stretch of whitewater. Other photos will appear from that trip. A trip a week ago is already pictured on here.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Rocky Road Difficulties

Yesterday my daughter, her husband, and their small son drove with me from here up to St. Elmo in my Prius. St. Elmo is a semi-ghost town in the central Colorado mountains, about 20 minutes up the canyon from here. The road is fine--partly paved and the rest well-packed dirt. The Prius drove very nicely as it climbed the grade.

Leaving St. Elmo, I turned onto the Iron City road, which goes down the canyon for several miles and then rejoins the main county road. I hadn't driven that road for a while but I didn't recall any problems with it. I expected to find a driveable road and I sought some variety in our route.

We soon came to a rocky place where I had maneuver a bit to get through the rocks in the road. But no big deal. Then another such place appeared and we manuevered through that. Then another, longer one, after about a mile. This one involved quite a downhill slope, too.

We soon came to another, and it no longer seemed wise to continue down this road. So we found a place to turn around, but the Prius wouldn't go back up the last place we'd come through!

In a conventionally powered vehicle, you can usually put it in the lowest gear, put the front wheel right up against the rock to be climbed over, and force your way up and over. But the Prius didn't work like that. It's a rather peppy car, but the hybrid system does not seem to have much torque until the car is moving. Trying to start out against a rock, the Prius will NOT hop over! Hybrids apparently don't work that way. It's a matter of what torque the system produces, at what speeds. The strength of the hybrid system lies elsewhere.

Much of the problem arose because the Prius is very low to the ground. I was having to go certain ways that I wouldn't ordinarily have chosen because clearance had suddenly become the determining factor. Fortunately, the Prius can turn on a very small radius. This was invaluable when manuevering around on carefully chosen paths among the rocks.

We'd gotten here because I'd driven too far on a road that the Prius was having difficulty handling. Now, we were between a place that had made us turn around, and a place behind that the Prius couldn't climb. Were we stuck?

A possible long walk home and an expensive tow truck rescue pushed us downward. By moving some rocks, we got through the place that had made us turn around earlier. But what lay ahead? Damage to the Prius because of the low clearance was a major concern.

We went on down the canyon through additonal difficult places. But there was no turning back. Before long, we rejoined the main road and drove home.

The Prius simply isn't an offroad vehicle, more because of the low clearance than the hybrid powerplant.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Leadville, Colorado

Today I had to drive up to Leadville and back. While there, I parked (that's my red Prius) and took several photographs. Here are two of them that show Leadville's main street....

Moving Day #1 (There'll be Another)

These photos attempt to illustrate the aggravation of moving day, but of course they fail. There is nothing worse than moving day, particularly when you're just moving to a temporary location and you're gonna have to do it again in about a month! This was Anrahyah's situation.

I went down with my trailer to help as best I could. At least the loaded trailer is now parked in my garage so that instead of loading it twice, I can take it directly to Anrahyah's new house when that time comes.

The loft of her new house is pictured above, as is Damien who is taking a break and having a drink. In the loft, the white object at the right is part of the solar system. It's a tank into which water from the solar panels will drain when more hot water isn't needed. The workings of the solar system continue to fascinate me.

Cabin on the Road to Crestone

An old cabin, the history of which I do not know, stands in a grove of trees in Colorado's San Luis Valley, on the road between Moffat and Crestone.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Brown's Canyon, Fine Water, June 10

After the balloon launch in the morning, we returned to my place where I got the boat (ready on its trailer) out of the garage. Anrahyah made scrambled eggs. Fortified again, we headed off to the Fisherman's Bridge launch on the river.

Car shuttle done, we four wrestled the boat down one of the slides to the river, loaded, and off we went. Water level was around 2500 cfs, which is a very busy level! Good waves were everywhere. Quite a contrast from Ruby-Horsethief, on which trip the two boys had been just a couple weeks ago.

After a stop for a snack just above the railroad bridge, we moved out during a lull in commercial trips. Gosh--I'd forgotten how to run Pinball! But it was obvious enough, and fun.

We scouted Zoom Flume, and the hole behind that center rock was really working. We watched for a while. Some boats would go directly down the tounge and be fine--which was to be slightly right at the hole. Other boats would get taken straight into the gut, and thrashed. A few boats entered the rapid on the far right, but they would get washed centerward and into the hole. What to do?

There were lateral waves on either side just beyond the tongue. These would surf you toward the opposite side of the river, which is why the boats that entered on the far right still got surfed back to the middle. But if you played it just right, you could get surfed slightly right and be fine!

That's what we did, and it worked to perfection. Huge waves! But they were pushing us where I wanted us to be pushed. Everything was good.

Big Drop Rapid was huge too. The Seventh Staircase was the largest wave in the canyon, looking like the side of a van! It got us wet--again.

Brown's was a blast, particularly after so many years of drought. Well, we didn't quite get a normal peak this year, but it still was good.

We finished eating our snack food at a picnic bench at Hecla, and that was a very pleasant thing that I'd never done before. Anrahyah went shopping in Buena Vista, and then we topped of the day with steaks before my guests headed home.

Shape and Color--Balloon Images


Hot air balloons! Each June near Buena Vista, Colorado, is "BalloonaVista." This is a weekend when balloonists gather, and fly.

Balloons can only fly when the air is nearly calm, so it's an early morning sport beginning not very long after daybreak and usually ending by, say, nine a.m.

When we arrived at six, no balloons were inflated yet. But it didn't take long! Soon there were eleven balloons preparing to fly, or flying.

And the movement of the air was fortunate! By ascending or descending just a little, the balloons were able to move one way and then back again. So most of them were able to lift off, drift to the southeast a little, and then fly higher and move back overhead to the northwest! This meant that the pilots were able fly back over the launch area, descend, and time a landing approach into the same field they'd just departed. What a rare thing for balloons to be able to do!

Anrahyah's son Damien and his friend Julien had to take a ride, of course, when a tethered balloon was set up for that purpose. Their photo is first among the above, with Damien on the right.

The early hour was fine, because after a breakfast, we were going to take my river raft over to the nearby Arkansas River and go down Brown's Canyon--which is what we did.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Aspen Ridge

These two images resulted from a trip up to aptly named Aspen Ridge just a couple of days ago. I slept in my truck up there, and in the morning made these photos. Aspen Ridge is around 15 miles southeast of Buena Vista, CO.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

These two photos show downtown Buena Vista, Colorado. Several of you know this town, but others of you don't. Well, here it is. I live about ten miles south of here, also in the Upper Arkansas River Valley--which is a graben, an area that sank between two faults. I live deep within this graben.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Buena Vista, Colorado

This is the nearest town to me. It's ten miles away. I made some photographs of downtown today, but Blogger doesn't wanna do photographs right now. So I'll wait until the site is ready, and then post them.

Right now, I'm going to drive up into the hills and sleep in my truck at a beautiful place I know about. In the morning I'll make some more photographs. Then I'll have lots to post.

Friday, June 02, 2006

No Photo Tour Tomorrow

One of our stops near Castle Rock Gulch

We didn't come up with enough people to offer a trip on June 3rd, but stay in touch. We're thinking of doing a photo tour in July, on Independence Pass. If the early hour was a problem, we'll probably find a way around that this next time.

The workaround may be called afternoon light rather than morning light! That's good too, though possibly interrupted by thunderstorms if the "monsoon" flow of moist air has started by then.

On June 3, I may possibly go photograph in the places we would have visited. Or I may not! We'll see.