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.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Just Above Slickrock Canyon

Trees near camp, over toward the agricultural land.

Our camp at Mile 59, and scenes of the river from Mile 52. Haven't quite gotten to Slickrock Canyon yet. The country is partly open, and some roads reach into it. There was pasture land just beyond our camp here.


A Magnificent House

A very interesting house under construction between Little Glen and Slickrock Canyons. The owners were on the first floor of the tower, and some of us exchanged greetings and compliments on the house. What an observation deck this house will have! (Photoshop perspective controls were used on these photos.)

Little Glen Canyon

Little Glen Canyon, beyond the Slickrock launch site.

Slickrock Launch Ramp

The Slickrock boat launch. This is not a peaceful place to be on a busy Friday morning when the Dolores is runnable. A couple of guys joined us here, brought us steaks, and after a night, went out ahead of us.

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We were stopped in the mouth of a small stream. People from another trip wanted to get across that stream to hike on the other side, so they just waded among our rafts to the other shore. Most of our people had also gone hiking.

Between Canyons

For a time, the river flows through land which isn't quite flat, but isn't a deep canyon. It's crossing one of the valleys before plunging into Little Glen and then Slickrock Canyon.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More Wingate

The Wingate Sandstone sometimes is at river level, and is here eroded into various shapes.

Wingate Sandstone

The Wingate Sandstone appears. I really don't remember when we first saw the Glen Canyon Group, but it'll be with us for the rest of the trip both here, and in Slickrock Canyon. The Glen Canyon Group is the Wingate, the ledgy Kayenta Formation, and then the white Navajo Sandstone on top.

Luigi's Problem

We came upon a wrapped boat, and several of us helped pull it off the rock. This was a very slow job, moving the wrapped raft a few inches at a time. Luigi had let air out of his boat, which probably made it take even longer. This was not a hard rock to miss. It just takes a moment of inattention, and there you are. It could happen to any of us.

Snaggletooth Rapid

A run down Snaggletooth Rapid by several boats is shown in order here, from the tongue down. Snag is long with a narrowing entrance. A steep place, and then you hit the two big waves. After that, the water will want to pull you too far right. Once down this, at the level we saw, you'll need to pull left around a rock that stands in right-center, going between it and the Snaggletooth, but avoiding the pourover there. There are many tricky rapids on the Dolores. None are so concentrated as Snaggletooth.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Boats at Camp

A small cataraft in the foreground, more conventional rafts just upstream.


Lunch along the river. Due to great planning mostly by two people, we ate very well on this trip. It's still cool, but note that heavy clothing has started to come off.

The Ancient Ones

Here is a view of the river from high above, and some small Anasazi structures (granaries?) on the same level.


This magnificent tree trunk stood near our first camp.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The River

The river from our first camp, as evening shadows come across.

A particularly beautiful bend on the river, midday.

Map on a Sign at Bradfield Bridge

This map is on a large sign at the Bradfield Bridge put-in. It shows most of our journey to Bedrock, but not quite all of it. Bradfield Bridge is reached by turning toward the river at the north edge of Cahone, and then following the signs.

We passed the road down from Dove Creek on the second day, and there are some nice car campsites down there. The road continues downriver past Snaggletooth Rapid, but the bushes will scratch your car badly, I'm told.

Dolores River Trip, May 13-19, 2008. Bradfield Bridge.

May 13 at the Bradfield Bridge put-in on the Dolores River, southwest Colorado. It was a chilly day. Apparently, a late-season cold front was passing. Note the coats and warm hats. We would have occasional light rain for the first two days of the trip, but the next five would be beautiful and warm as high pressure came to dominate the region. Life is full of trade-offs.

Most of us had arrived the evening before, but a car coming from the northwest encountered heavy snow near Monticello, UT. They went back to that town, and arrived at Bradfield Bridge on the morning of our launch. This was not a problem.

In blogs, the posts run backwards (most recent first) unless I were to post last photos first. And I haven't prepared the last photos yet. So look at this trip from the bottom up (starting here) and you'll be fine.

Arthur sets his oars into his oarlocks.

We had a total of six rafts, and all but one carried only one person. The exception was Arthur and Mari's boat. Another raft and an inflatable kayak would join us later, for part of the second half of the trip.


Post-graduation Photos

Here are My Hanh and her mother after the graduation, on the Duquesne University campus. Note the diploma in My Hanh's arm!

Another photo of My Hanh's mom, who lives in Bao Loc, Vietnam, just a little north of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). This lady has nine children, and all of them are now college graduates.

Afterward--A Long Time Coming

After the graduation, many of the new graduates stayed nearby greeting friends and family. I couldn't find My Hanh for a while, but finally I did. She directed me to a place where dinner would be eaten. It was rather far away, but near where she lived. There was to be more, but I needed to head west. So I drove south out of Pittsburgh at about three o'clock. It had been a remarkable journey.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Via Chicago to a Pittsburgh Graduation

Graduation in the large gym at Duquesne University near downtown Pittsburgh

I got to Chicago late that evening, to stay with a friend there who lives just a bit south of downtown. You drive past the Chicago White Sox stadium on 35th Street to get there. My friend's apartment is quite homey, but the neighborhood required that I take everything from my car up the long flight of stairs, including my Cruzbike. This was inconvenient, but I did it.

After walking around the corner for breakfast and back, I reloaded and drove off toward Pittsburgh on I-90. After paying a number of highway tolls, I arrived at a Super 8 motel up the Susquehanna River from Pittsburgh. I'd phoned ahead for reservations, just to make sure. I've been patronizing the Super 8 chain because they always have a strong Internet connection and I can go online with my laptop. Later in the trip, I had to use a Knight's Inn and the connection was there, but weak.

I got to Pittsburgh on a Friday night. There would be a graduation ceremony at five on Saturday, and then another at nine Saturday morning. I drove into the city Saturday afternoon to find my way around, did so, and headed the 13 miles back to my motel to change clothes.

I finally realized how little time I had, so I changed clothes quickly and headed out again. I got all the traffic lights and it went very smoothly! I made it to the graduation on time and from the balcony railing, made the photograph at the top of this section.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Pipistrel Sinus

David Dixen preflights his Pipistrel Sinus motorglider demonstrator

It was the afternoon of April 27th, 2008. I drove away toward the northeast. I would go to St. Paul to personally check out the Pipistrel Sinus motorglider with dealer David Dixen, and then continue through Chicago to Pittsburgh, where there my friend My Hanh would graduate from college on May 3rd.

I changed plans and would stay overnight in Denver with a good friend, and drive on in the morning. Originally I was going to drive out Highway 50 and leave Sunday morning, but the same friend had just been here and we'd both gotten food poisoning from something! Patty was sick quite soon but didn't feel herself for some days. I felt fine early, but got sick 24 hours later, on Saturday night, so I wasn't ready to leave the next morning. Even the next day I almost turned around. But since I had two missions, I kept on driving.

The Pipistrel Sinus is a two-place, side-by-side, high-wing, motorglider with a 90 hp Rotax four stroke engine that drives a featherable propeller. As a glider, it has a 30:1 glide ratio. As an airplane, a guy flew one around the world several years ago.

I got to St. Paul where I stayed with David and his wife. He's a retired airline pilot and Carol is a physician. In the morning we drove separately to New Richmond, Wisconsin, where David keeps his Sinus (SIN-us). We preflighted it, and pushed it outside.

The flight was a memorable experience. We were off the ground about as soon as the tailwheel came up, and were hundreds of feet high just a few seconds later. I didn't land or take off (plenty of time later for that) but I did make a series of turns and did some stalls. The Sinus flew very nicely through all of this. I got much better at holding altitude, and at keeping the ball in the center (the ball that indicates slipping or skidding in a turn). The stall in a Sinus is a non-event. Reducing the angle of attack just a little brings about recovery with no complications.

I ordered a Virus, which is identical to the Sinus only with shorter wings. It's glide ratio is only 24:1 but it flies faster and is much more easily hangared. I really wanted the Sinus but practicality had to win. So it'll be a Virus (VEER-us). You give a little and you get a little.

Mine will be the "200-hour" kit, as opposed to the "400-hour" one. My kit will be primarily assembly, whereas the other kit has lots of finishing work to do on the molded parts (wings, fuselage, tail).

Starting at two in the afternoon, I drove on toward Chicago, getting there around ten that evening.