Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Black Canyon

This weekend I'm taking a little time to visit my aunt and uncle in Colorado. They always graciously open their home to me and the scenery is ridiculously beautiful. Today we went to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The canyon is basically a huge, narrow crack in continental upshift. You can learn more about it here.

On the way over we were talking about hunting and the current deer season as well as the problem of deer being hit by cars all over this part of Colorado. As we drove we saw two deer carcasses on the side of the road and the topic turned to how a person is able to keep the meat from a deer they hit if they perfrom the proper steps. Shortly after that we saw a few men field dressing a deer on the side of the road. Talk about coincidence, I also hadn't seen a person making any sort of effort to eat road kill since I lived in Kentucky.

We drove the scenic road around the south rim of the canyon and stopped at a few viewpoints along the way to look down into the chasm. At points the scar in the earth is up to 2700 feet deep and as narrow as 40 ft. I'm not sure if there is a section where it is both 2700 feet deep and only 40 feet wide.

My cousin likes to rock climb in the canyon and there are hundreds of routes for people to explore. We stopped at an overlook site to look at one of the walls my cousin favors.

I'm not sure if this is the wall he likes the best, but my uncle said it was. As you can see it is large and takes about a day and a half to complete. If I remember correctly my cousin tells a story about making a climb on this wall and finding a dead skunk at the bottom of the wall before starting off and then another dead skunk on a belay ledge about half way up the wall. He guessed there was most likely some sort of fatal skunk battle at the top of the cliff and the result was mutually-assured destruction in the form of a smelly plummet to the earth.

Not only did we take in the breath-taking views from the top of the canyon, but we drove to the bottom as well to take a look at the Gunnison River as it starts to enter the narrow southern section. The road to the bottom was a 16% grade for much of the way. If you've driven much on U.S. highways you've probably seen a 6% or 7% grade on more than one occaision. That is pretty steep, this was much steeper.

This doesn't really give you too much perspective of how deep the canyon really is. Trust me it's deep. This is a view at the bottom.

It was a great trip and I'd never visited the bottom before. I really enjoyed it and there was hardly anyone there because of the time of year.


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