AS I make my way across the land, searing hot streaks. . .  temperatures breaking heat records, early wildfires, flash floods, rapid lightening, dying trees, major drought, failing crops, insufficient snow pack, evidence of sea level rise cannot be denied no matter the political mood of censorship, blocking of timely news and climate studies.

I need to note about the climate issues since it’s everywhere evident.  I have not had time to study as hoped, nor time to dig out my art supplies, to journal, to take leisure for a sense of place and time. My rule of spending at least 2 nights, better 3, in a location has been tossed on the highway. My change in plans, flash flooding, high winds, extreme heat, heath emergencies, high costs, crowds overfilling capacity in some areas while many are closed, along with caring for my 4 dogs and all that is restricted to them has kept me in a moving mode. Often when I travel I am not lonely, I feel happy and free, but this time I badly lack a companion; these lands are filled with families, groups, celebrants, weddings, reunions, field trips, couples and friends. I remain grateful for my Mother’s daily call, she seems to think I’m doing a great job handling everything, seeing so much. She’s helped more than a few times, running to get maps, checking the weather, the fires, she encourages me; this blog after all is for her.  Am building memories, adventures, a broader outlook, unknown and remembered places, first hand knowledge of spectacular landscapes. As I set off for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison I had no idea what I was getting into.

I simply picked the nearest entrance…  ha-ha! Yep, need a new laptop so I can read ahead the night before. Daily I bless my mechanic Bruce for doing such a great job on my RV. Have not faltered even once climbing mountains, descending and climbing.. No overheating, stalling or over laboring.

North Fork Gunnison River. I start in the Grand Mesa National Forest. After stopping I realize how frigid it is. On go all the warm clothes including getting out Mason’s comfy bed and jacket as I warm him up. It feels good to be cold but it’s too cold my finger tips go numb. Even my Lagotti are shaking from the chill. The river is so blue and vital. The sky, yes, it’s blue in-between the clouds but not the like the blue skies in California, this blue is so intense it becomes timeless.

There are lakes, reservoirs, babbling brooks and rivers all over. Hairpin turns reveling views too perfect to be real. The Ragged Mountains and narrow canyons, wildflowers and in winter skiing.  Not many places to stop but there are campgrounds…  someday maybe.  I pass a wetland area that looks to be filled with reeds that could easily wrap around and drown any that tried to approach. My cell phone cannot possibly capture these views but I tried just a little while my Sony remains buried.

Passing through some small towns, Someret, Paonia; I find Crawford State Park but only because I missed the turn and backtrack to town of Crawford again to a series of small roads which seem to lead nowhere. There is not a sign or a marker to be seen for the National Park.

The First sign I’ve seen that this is the right way comes after the paved road has ended.

The pavement ends, the road turns to dirt and then to deep washboard. Speed limit 30; in my van I can do at best from between 15 mph to a slow crawl at about 2 or 3 mph.  I have not seen any traffic but have passed some farms and then open land.

Wow! There are 5 other vehicles here! I’m the only camper. The ranger station was empty and closed, it’s all self-register. There is no cell service and has been none for some time. The way ahead is heavily wash-boarded. It’s very very hot and dry. Rattlesnake weather. My dogs are frightened and panting, the road in so far has been very difficult, every bump causes extreme rattling and shaking, things loosen and fall. I’ve been gritting my teeth. I have to convince Jackson he’s not dying. I’m sure it’s safe but I’m not sure my van is going to survive or my nerves. There are primitive campgrounds up here but dogs may not be taken on walks even on leash nor carried due to potentially aggressive deer protecting their fawns. Even more I long for a companion to help protect the dogs and to just see another pair of human eyes. I would have to leave the dogs locked in the hot van to hike to the overlooks to see the view, they are not permitted on any trails at any time.  I sit here a awhile trying to regain my strength, imagining if I were young again or strong to do it how fun it would be to hike down to the river. Finally the only logical decision turn around and head for the South rim.  The hikes btw are very steep, not too long to get down but extremely steep, rocky, strenuous with what the park map calls no maintenance or marked trails. Routes are difficult to follow hikers should not expect any rescue, poison ivy and ticks unavoidable, and bears. No campfires permitted, many hikers have been swept to their deaths by high, swift frigid water if they make it to the river, river water is undrinkable, terrain is unstable covered in loose talus, must wear sturdy hiking boots; daily thunderstorms.  Hummmm….  the easiest route (over on the south rim) is 2 hrs down 1.75 miles with a vertical drop of 1800 feet and 3 hours up plus another 2 miles along the river with 6 campsites, the other routes more strenuous. Oh and you will need hands and knees to get up and down; scrambling.  Ok, yep, I want to go, but not this time!

I wasn’t’ sure how far it would be to drive to the to the other side but it appeared the road on that side was paved allowing viewing of the canyon.

Very slowly I drive back through the washboard and then the easier dirt. I gave all the dogs a calming pill.

Passing the ranches again.

On the way to other side it’s dry and barren. This section becomes completely flat, a burning gray salt. Definitely the land of sci-fi and UFOs.

I eventually was shunted back into some gentle hills, vegetation reappears and onto a main highway and passed through a few good-sized cities such as Delta and Montrose. At long last I found another sign outside    . the turnoff road into the Park. The road was almost straight up but it is paved! Then suddenly the Park Kiosk appears. My senior pass gets me right in. A paved road with viewing areas. And did I mention it was hot!

Information, museum displays and gift store. Rushed in and out as all parking was in the direct sun.

 

The Park Campground on this side also does not permit any dogs to walk anywhere; the electric spaces are filled in any case. I wonder what sunrise would look like but decide to move on.

 

Advertisements