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 30, 2009

Geology Field Trip Gone Wrong, and Compensation

This afternoon there was to have been a geology field trip here in the Upper Arkansas Valley. Maybe there was one. Three of us showed up at the junction of Highways 50 and 285, but no trip leader was in sight. We supposed that others had gone to the OTHER junction of 50 and 285, about a third of a mile south. The two highways coincide for about that far before Highway 50 splits off and heads east toward Salida and Ocean City, Maryland.

We waited, and then gave up. One of us had driven down to the other junction, and had seen two cars parked there. We surmised what must have happened. The geology trip had gone, though the junction we were at is the one commonly used for such meetings.

I went down to the other junction, got my bike out, and rode up the pass for about a mile. While doing this, I noticed a road on the other side of the canyon. All the times I've driven Poncha Pass, I hadn't noticed this. After biking (and I wasn't as energetic today as I've been before) I drove up there on County Road 115. It leaves Highway 285 near Poncha Springs, passes through a nice little group of houses, climbs, and returns to the highway about a mile up Poncha Pass.

Along the way is a large green water tank, which may be part of the system that sends water to the Salida hot springs pool. Farther, there is a very dilapidated set of buildings with a much less dilapidated swimming pool. Maybe this was a hot springs pool at one time.

This triplet of pine trees is right beside the parking place by the bridge, about 100 yards off Highway 285, about a mile south of Poncha Springs, Colorado.

This is the bridge across the creek, just off Highway 285, as above.

Rudder Pedals

Here are the rudder/brake pedals installed in the Sinus. The brake pedals are the smaller horizontal pieces above the rudder pedals, which are the longer horizontal pieces. Aircraft brake usually work by tipping your foot forward. They're toe brakes.

Just this afternoon I removed each of the bolts, applied blue Loctite (actually the Permatex brand) and tightened them up again. So I'm committed to my installation!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An Error Fixed

This is one of the knobs to pull on in order to move the set of rudder pedals closer or farther forward. A small length of braided cable will pass through the hole seen here, to pull on the release mechanism. This knob will be just above the aft end of the rudder pedal and brake assembly.

But I drilled the holes about a mm too large, and the rim of the silver-colored blind rivet would pass through, where it was supposed to rest on the rim of the hole. What to do? I drove to both ends of my county in search of a solution. I knew I needed to put something around that rivet, and make a way for the it to engage the rim of the hole.

It looked like 5/16" hard copper tubing might work, but the store in Salida was out of that size. I drove to Buena Vista, where there's another True Value hardware store, and found the tubing I thought would work. Dropping the silvery rivet in, I found that it just barely needed to be pushed into place! The ID gripped the rivet perfectly and the OD fit into the hole snugly. Excellent!

I had also bought a flaring tool, with which I flared one of the ends on each piece. Being hard copper (or more likely, an alloy thereof), not flexible, with thin walls, I was hoping the tubing would flare rather than crack. It worked fine. My error was reversed. The next morning I fixed the assemblies in place with a small amount of superglue, and I'm back in business.

I'd drilled the two bottom holes on each side correctly, having discovered my error before I got there.

Now to figure out the rest of the hardware for the rudder/toebrake assembly. I've mounted the pedal assemblies on both the pilot and copilot sides, and I've threaded the rudder cables through them from where they attach on the firewall.

Clay Hills

Clay Hills was zoo-like, but maybe that's the price. Oh well. This takeout is actually in a beautiful area, but the aesthetic benefits tend to be lost under these circumstances.

It was almost worse. The shuttle company hadn't brought our vehicle from Mexican Hat! The paper had evidently been put in the wrong pile. One of their drivers was there for somebody else, had a cell phone, and placed a call to headquarters. A driver soon left there with our vehicle, so we didn't have to spend the night in this place and the day ended well.

Slickhorn Canyon

Ah, cool water! This deep pool is truly a gem of the desert. Unlike the much smaller pools below, this one is too deep to touch bottom on one side. The temperature is perfect. Later in the season, this pool may have a layer of green algea, but not on this day!

The trickle of water down the canyon had dried up, and I was worried that the pool might not be good. But it was good. It's fed by a spring. There are other pools above, about which I know little.

More smooth limestone up the bed of the canyon.

Slickhorn Canyon, at mile 66.7 or so, is one of those wonderful experiences that you want to enjoy as often as you can! At first, you need to climb up along a very old road and then back down into the bed of the canyon. This bypasses a difficult drop. Once in the bed, it's like walking up a gray staircase of limestone. Ledge after ledge, each one lying above others, deposited at the bottom of an ancient sea, make your walkway. You can step up each new ledge, or you can at least climb up easily.

There was once a plan to drill for oil near the mouth of Slickhorn, so a rough road was built along the edge of the canyon, finally leading down to the mouth of Slickhorn, where a final job would bring an engine to the site. But with a few hundred yards to go (having come from the railroad at Gallup, NM) the machine tumbled over the edge and was destroyed! You can still see some of the wreckage below.


Government Rapid

Ray and Teddy ride the tailwaves in Government, which is at Mile 63.

Looking out across the tongue at Government. Follow that tongue and you'll just have fun being swept safely past the several rocks on the right.

At low water, Government Rapid is mostly a rock-dodge. But it turned out that we had around 5K cfs! That makes Government into a real rapid with a tongue and a fun series of tailwaves. There is a slight left-turn to the rapid, so as always, you don't want to get stuck on the outside of a curve. But given that, you follow the tongue and ride the waves!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Johns Canyon

This is the base of the sometimes-waterfall at the mouth of Johns Canyon. Dry for this photo, I've also seen a broad torrent of water cascading over the brink here. I didn't see a small dribble of water. I saw a full-on flash flood. It lands about where Teddy is standing, meaning that you can walk behind the waterfall where Ray is.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Honaker Trail

Rock near camp at the bottom. I'd love to have seen this one come down!

Passing The Horn. The trail goes right along one side of it.

Patty on the trail

Ray starts down the steep trail again, going past the cairn.

The top! Patty examines the cairn. If you know how, you can drive to this place fairly easily from near Mexican Hat.

This place is called The Horn--a flat place in unflat terrain.

Up we go... Teddy, Ray, and Patty

This tall cairn marks the bottom of the Honaker Trail.

Down the River

Underway down the river. Ray and Teddy float along.

A rock in the river near our Honaker camp

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mendenhall Cabin, Two Views

An overall view of the Mendenhall Cabin, looking north toward the rim of the canyon. The trail comes up from the right of the photo, and another trail goes steeply down to the river to the left, on the downstream side of the Mendenhall Loop.

Collapsed wood in the Mendenhall Cabin

Monday, May 18, 2009

San Juan River

Evening, the San Juan River near Johns Canyon.

This inlet at the mouth of Johns Canyon was made during the times Johns has been an active waterfall. I've seen it flowing at such a time. The water crashes down with a mighty roar and it could easily move large rocks then.

An area of rocks near the edge of the river, near the mouth of Johns Canyon.

The edge of the river, our first evening. It had been higher a few days earlier, as shown by the lines marking high water. The water would rise considerably during our trip though it wasn't obvious, even by the water sticks I often put at the edge of the water at night. The blue and white is our bowline--out of focus in this photo.

The Mendenhall Cabin, atop the neck of Mendenhall Loop, now somewhat broken down. Why was this cabin built? How did Mendenhall get here? Was this his only home? What happened here? What sort of life did Mendenhall lead? What do we know about Mendenhall?

Well, we do know a little about W. E. Mendenhall. You can know a little about him, too, by going here:


The landing to walk to the neck of Mendenhall Loop, seen here nearly over the top of Ray's head. The route goes up the ledge against which the boat is beached, but a small landslide has covered some of the ledge. A rough trail (not bad for a Canyon Country trail) goes up a little, to get over the rocks of the landslide.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Off the San Juan River

We got off the San Juan River on Wednesday the 13th of May, and this is the only photo I've had time to prepare. It's a tree near Johns Canyon, just below the mouth, between there and our camp. The background is the far side of the river canyon.

More photos and a bit about our trip will be forthcoming in a few days. I'm leaving for the weekend in a couple of hours and it always takes a couple of days after a trip to get everything reorganized.

Johns Canyon was named for a rancher named John. I've never seen it spelled with an apostrophe, though that would seem more correct.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sinus Work

Firewall penetrations. Some of the wires from the electrical panel (just behind the firewall pictured here) will need to go through this fitting, or through a larger one. The finger is that of David Dixen, the dealer through whom I bought my Sinus kit. He and his wife were in Colorado for a few days.

Not of lot of work has gotten done on the Sinus these last two weeks. Patty and I went to see daughter Tammy and her family near Phoenix, and Patty had training to go to in San Diego. But in between, I did find time to put down the Velcro that holds the seat and the front floor mat in place. There is a special liquid (in the factory-supplied bottle here) that makes the Velcro really adhere to the plastic! As Paul Kuntz commented, you'd just about have to destroy the Velcro to get it back off. That means the Velcro here won't be coming loose!

I'm about to the point where I'll need to figure out the control system, and also figure out how the spanwise tube that the control sticks attach to can be gotten into position. Nothing I've tried so far seems to work.