That porpoise flashing you a Blue Moon is "Marathon Man" Leonard, diving into freezing water that only a few weeks ago was a block of ice. Leon prefers skinny dipping, but there were ladies present and he is, after all, an Austin, Texan gentleman.
This weeks excursion into the mountains took Leon, Bobbie and her bosses, Tamara and Bruce, and yours truly to Columbine Lake, a 7 mile round trip hike that ascends to over 12,000 feet above sea level. We were pleasantly surprised by the quantity and quality of flowers persisting into mid august. A snowier than normal winter translated into a late spring, which set wildflower season back a couple of weeks and so, too, their demise.
Nights grow cooler here in La Crevice. There is a sense urgency to squeeze in as many alpine hikes as possible. Ms Autumn's arrival does not come with notice; one day she just shows up on your doorstep, and out comes the snow-shovel. That first snow can come as early as Labor Day or (rarely) as late as Thanksgiving.
I'm trying to not leave the glorious mountain present, as well as the rest of what summer holds in store. But our fall escape looms—there are decisions to be made about a departure date and destinations. Bobbie mentioned the Capital Reef area, not just the National Park (Boonie) but the area around it too. Notem Road has boondocking and slot canyons galore. Wiseones Maikel and Susan told us the name of the best guidebook for hiking those slots, but I can't seem to recall it. That was the great thing about traveling with Wiseones, Susan did all the research; all we had to do was show up. A regular "Michener" that gal. She also seems to have "friends" in the right places, which never hurts.
Some of our stuck-at-sea-level RV friends are going to meet us at Capital Reef, if we can get them out of the Pacific Northwest. They will pay the "elevational" price for a summer spent lounging on the beach, touring brewery after brewery after brewery—indulging social hours that stretch into the wee hours. They seem to have become beach bums with drinking problems... enamored with easy breathing, fog, mists, driftwood, sea shells, rain forests, tide pools, sea urchins, lighthouses, dense forest camping, and angry Pacific seas. We might have to do an intervention, but I fear it's too late. Maybe an early Northwest winter blast will set them straight :).
Then, as usual, November in Virgin, Utah, at the Zion River RV Resort. Ahhhh. We'll once again take advantage of their $430 dollar per month winter special, along with their pool, hot tub, endless hot water showers, and convenient location. We enjoy the lingering fall weather there in November; leaves are just beginning to turn color in Zion Canyon, mornings are cool for bike rides and hikes (if we can get Jim out of bed), and basking in the warm afternoon glow of Red, Red, Red-rocks puts one to sleep. By month's end there is the occasional dusting of snow on the Zion Canyon's magnificent rims.
Additionally, there's extensive BLM land conveniently surrounding the RV park. It has plenty of backroads and single track trails, and is perfect for 3G Verison-boondocking, not to mention dog walks, hikes, and mountain bike rides. There is so much to do that last year I think we only made it into Zion National Park a couple of times.
After that our "itinerary" is wide open. Of course we will stay south, mostly in Arizona, both for its relative warmth and lush Sonoran Desert. We love Gilbert Ray Campground, conveniently located west of Gates Pass and Tucson, next to the Sonoran Desert Museum with miles and miles of surrounding hiking trails. We'll hit Mount Wrightson's Madera Canyon too, a birding sanctuary south of Green Valley. Madera has a wonderful network of trails, and you can either boondock right outside the gate or stay in the canyon at a forest service campground for the low geezer price of 5 bucks; water and non-smelly toilets included, but no electric or dump.
I'd also like to hit some spots in California, the Colorado River Corridor, lake Mead, Valley of Fire, and maybe Alamo Lake, if it is a good spring for wildflowers.
Enough of what's to come. Now, back to our Columbine Lake hike.
|Aspen Dog, loves to hike…and swim|
|Tamara, Aspen and Bruce|
|Leon wades in...|
|Aspen says, "I'll go with you, Leon"|
|Ha! Fooled you Leon…that's too freaking cold for me|
|Aspen, you are nothing but a big chicken|
|Ok, then already…Happy Now?|
|After a good hike there's nothing like a social hour with pizza, beer, and Guacamole|
|…and some white wine|