Sunday, December 26, 2010

Colorado National Monument

After another waffle breakfast we left Gunnison and headed west. The road travels along a river that is dammed in two places, forming the huge Blue Mesa Reservoir and the Morrow Point Reservoir.

We stopped at the second dam near the town of Cimarron to check out the part of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison -- a different part than when we were there in 2007. It was still cold in the morning (not yet the predicted 45 degrees), so our hike turned into a bit of a trail run.

We continued through Montrose towards Grand Junction, and turned off towards Colorado National Monument for some more hiking. Just inside the south entrance to the park we took a trail to the Devil's Kitchen and played on the rocks for a while.

Our next stop was the Ute Canyon trail. This is considered a "backcountry" trail within the park, but it was no problem to follow. The entire trail is 7 miles one way, so our intent was not to round-trip it (since it was already 1:30pm). Instead our goal was to just get into the valley, check out what the bottom of Colorado National Monument looks like, and check out the Fallen Rock that we had seen on our previous trip.

We ended up going about 3 miles and got just about to the mouth of the canyon. Unfortunately we didn't have a topo map with us, so we didn't know how close we were. It would have been neat to get to that point and look down another 500 vertical feet to the next level.

The weather was not sunny and 40s as forecast. Instead it was snowy, humid, and cold. Tomorrow should be better.

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