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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Days Of Waning Light and Warmth, Looking for Postcards Outside the Turnstiled Confines Of Our National Treasures

Gee, you would think I burned the flag or something. I thought that most readers would understand and forgive my overstated nature by now—that when I "pee" on something it is to be taken with a shaker of salt. Be it satire, sarcasm, and/or my tongue-in-cheek attempts at comedic drivel, it all relies on some elemental basis in fact in order for it to work. To exaggerate is human, if you don't believe take a look at your resume. We laugh at cartoons because they are an exaggeration of ourselves, and sometimes, it's not a giant leap.

Looky here, our Parks are natural and scenic wonders. I'm glad they are there and would sign any petition to lock up more such land so fast it'd make Dick "Drill Baby Drill" Cheney shoot his hunting partner…again. The problem is the "truth," that our National Treasures are overcrowded, especially during "prime time." Please note Exhibits "A" through "D:" Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier, and did I say Yosemite? It has to be among the worst of the "main corridor" offenders. We are loving our Parks to death in greater and greater quantities, and, for some of us, it is at the expense of quality.   

Perhaps my take on the state of the NPS in the previous post was a tad too acerbic, but I've stood in the lines, hiked and camped alongside overbearing loudmouths—listened to their rap music till the wee hours—as well as paid extortionate prices for gas and grub, and came away disenchanted, if not disenfranchised. Maybe it's because I'm old enough to remember the fairytale days when one could show up without a reservation in Yellowstone in July (we did) and have their choice of campsites, and the days when people were a little more considerate of "others." It's down to this, I'm afraid: We either need more space or more Parks or both, if the true, solitary wilderness experience shown on the brochures is to be re-realized. In younger days we went farther than everybody else in order to experience separation and quiet. But that's getting harder to do now that I'm on the cusp of Medicare. 

The point of my last post was simply to point out that it's still possible to have a less crowded experience by avoiding the turnstiles to midway attractions during peak season, and even then only go on tuesday through thursday. The other point I tried to reinforce is that most National Park perimeters can usually be accessed from Forest Service back-roads, and is a great way to boondock in a dispersed setting, as well as have a more solitary experience—the way T. R., and other tree-hugging naturalists envisioned. Last year we camped near Zion (again) for the entire month of November and barely made into the park's Main Drag; maybe only once or twice, tops. Instead we probed and explored the less popular perimeter zones, and most of the time our "gang" had it all to themselves. Will I hike in Zion this year? Probably, but it will be off-season come November, and it will likely be on a tuesday, wednesday, or thursday. 

I believe everyone should see the Bucket List Icons in our National Parks at least once. If it happens that your vacation falls in July or August it will likely be an "in masse" experience, unless it's raining and/or blowing. It's still a good value, you get to "check it off," so to speak, and you are outdoors, after all, getting some exercise.  

Now that I've defended my honor and immoderate, if not acerbic, tendencies, I'll show you a few non-National Park postcards from yesterday's outing when Bobbie and I went looking for Ms Autumn in our own backyard. We are fortunate to live in the west in a place that has National Park amenities and postcards without the turnstiles and hoards. I can see the future, though, as the noose tightens around aloneness. It is a finite commodity, which soon renders it as popular and scarce as "gold."   

As it turned out, yesterday, we should have gone up higher as most of the aspen snuggled up to the base of Mount Sneffels were greener than golf course grass. We did manage to stumble across a few Autumnal "teasers" to whet appetites.

In other news, Goldie is out of mothballs and sits in our driveway!!! We will go to work on getting her road worthy, maybe even do a test camp nearby, and then begin counting down the days till we head west. :)) I received a Facebook P. M. last night that we will be joined by some dear Wise friends for a week or so!!!   

Crossing Miller Mesa above Ridgway

On the West Dallas Trail, also a mountain bike route, a cross county ski route, as well as a hiking trail. There art Hut to Hut adventures to be had, cozy but rustic, minimalistic structures with cookstoves and bunk beds about seven to ten miles apart. The San Juan Hut system goes all the way from Durango to Moab, Utah…through Telluride and near Lovely Ouray. The huts become further apart (more like twenty-some miles) on the Mountain Bike portion that goes to Moab. It takes about a week to get there, and goes through some of the most isolated and beautiful backcountry left in the USA.    

Bobbie, dwarfed in a grove of aspen competing for sunlight

The "Overlook." Mount Sneffels, among her court of lesser surfs and jesters.

If you look ever so close, you can see the 1l,000 foot La Salle Mountains, right of center and waaaay off in the distance. Moab is on the far side, so that's the territory and distance one must bike to do the Hut to Hut system.

Looking into Blaine Basin, left and down from Mount Sneffels peak, a dry glacier of talus creeping ever downward. Climbing Sneffels from the north face is a technical climb…class 3 and 4.

There are climbers on Mount Sneffels "nipple" of a summit. Can you see them??? ;)

A "Full House"

And the storm moves in as we move away

One of the Huts in the San Juan System...

Chinese for dinner...

From our deck and Imax windows...


  1. Clarification can be good thing. Another point, What else should one do when all the major sights have been visited. My experience has also shown me that the minor ( tongue and cheek) sights are often just as rewarding. It is good to stir the pot once in a while.......stir away!

    1. Hurray for your point of view. Being aware of wat is around me in real time leads to some awesome moments of experiencing nature's wonders.

  2. Oh you are making me lust for aspens. Those yellow hues get me every time. And by the way I'm totally with you on the NPs. I'm all for preservation of nature, but the NPs are extremely crowded. They are gorgeous places with beautiful nature and thousands of people...for the most part. We rarely visit or stay in them except for day trips. It does give me mixed feelings. And sarcasm...you? Would never have guessed.

  3. There you go again with those pictures that look like paintings. Love the aspen leaves, the trio and the full house. But the rainbow is just too much! Couldn't agree more that we are loving our parks to death and that week-days and shoulder seasons are the only times to go. But we have to be somewhere for June/July/August so we've learned that if you are out EARLY, you'll be among the few and that if you just sit out the week-ends, it's not tooo bad. Reservations for those 3 months to just enter the parks may be necessary. Sad but true. There aren't enough parks. Too much concrete. I know I'm preaching to the choir here. Try the national monuments....great places not so "discovered". Keep Ken Burns out. :-)

  4. ahhhh. Sunday morning post cards. Love it, Boonie be danged. I guess I must have read your previous post before all the hoopla because I didn't hear a thing. Can't help agreeing with you on all counts...aka...tie up as much land as possible...and don't go if you can help it during high season. That being said, I do have to selfishly say that the possibility of less and less wilderness without turnstiles and hoards of people makes me quite glad I am approaching the end of my 7th decade. I am old enough to remember solitude and will not have to live long enough to see it go away completely.

  5. on another note, occasionally there is a survey in a national park questioning my willingness to wait 2 to 4 years for a more solitary turnstile experience. I would wait, I would reserve for my one time view of our most treasured places, and like Sherry says, go camp in the monuments in the mean time. Except for Capitol Reef of course. Not hard to find a solitary experience there if you take the back roads.

  6. Yes. Wise #2 (Susan) is looking very much forward to spending time with you and Bobbie. AND BOONIE who is one of the kindest humblest people in person. Sorry to blow your cover my dear friend :) -Susan

    1. Don't mess with the facade, Susan. :))
      We need to work out details on getting together!!!

    2. Laverne here:

      First, let me thank you again for the postcards...I really appreciate them....I don't know how many times I have said how I wish everyone could see Yellowstone as I saw it some 40 plus years ago. We drove the narrow paved roads, pulled in behind a couple of cars pulled off road...no one got out of their car, and we saw all the wildlife we wanted....it is very sad what has happened to our National Parks.

  7. No, it's Sad what has happen to our World. Myself like all the above it's obvious we are all "Boomers" and are partially responsible for the World we find ourselves in today. To me there is no greater pleasure than being out in Nature and behind that traveling the world and experiencing other peoples customs different than our own. We are without doubt the Luckiest Generation to have lived on this Planet!
    Lets just hope the governmental planners of the future are listening to Mark & everyone else. We humans are just one tiny part of Nature, no different than the Birds of the Sky, the Fish in the Sea and the Trees on our hillsides. In the End we are All One.
    Let's pray the generations following us will take the lead and make this planet something generations in the future will be just as excited about discovering as we experienced in our youth.
    Shouldn't have to apologize for speaking the Truth. You can shout a little louder if you want Mark, can only help.

    Sonoma Co guy

  8. I too complain about the crowds in the Parks, but wouldn't give them up for anything. After all, they protect some of the very best parts of our country and our nations good intentions.

    Those mountain rainbow shots are marvelous!

  9. Everyone seems to miss the nasty big Ol' gorilla in the corner... the problem is NOT too many people in the parks. THAT is only just the "Canary in the Coal Mine".

    THE basic issue is too many two legged locusts on the planet...

    You can open more "parks"... you can build more roads to get to 'em... and you can build bigger pants for the guy who weighs 437 pounds. Yeah. He's not fat... he's a BBB; A big beautiful boy... but all of that is just pretending it can go on forever without dealing with the rot in the foundation.

    The point is the "Issues" of rudeness, callousness, increased psychotic behaviour and all the other maladies that could be listed come, when distilled down to the bare bones... from too many people competing for the same. Finite. Resources.

    I did my part. 1+1= one child... a negative birth rate. and now... I'm saddling up and riding out what's left.

    1. Well now, that is the root of the problem…not only for our national treasures, but for Mankind and the social ills that plague our planet. A good read is "Apocalyptic Planet" by Craig Childs (a local best selling author). It's not as doom and gloom as the title suggests…there is hope, but it is dependent upon action. I did my part…one child. I grew up during the Population Bomb era…a scary book that didn't quite unfold like the author thought it would…but eventually it will happen. In Apocalyptic Planet, Childs points out that the earth will resolve the global warming problem on it's own, that all it will take is an eruption of one of the five super volcanos…three of which are in the western u. s. a., Yellowstone being the most likely scenario, since it is long overdue and the whole park is bulging upwards at an ever increasing rate the last few years. The result will be a sudden onset of another Ice Age…not over thousands of years, but immediate…within two years massive crop failure, and starvation and freezing ass cold. Glaciers will reform and the planet will "reset" so to speak...

  10. I didn't know about these Hut to Hut adventures. I would love to do a couple of those one day! (Well, the 7 to 10 mile bits, not the 20 mile ones!) Your gold, golden, and Goldie theme is glorious!

  11. Would you mind elaborating on the location of your "Overlook" ??
    Is that along the Blaine Basin Trail ?? Or the Wilson Creek Trail ??

    And the pictured Hut - Blue Lakes or Ridgeway ??

  12. Wow, sounds like you know the area pretty well. It is the Wilson Creek segment that takes off the basin trail. More specifically it was the Wilson Creek summit

  13. The aspens are amazing. This was our first opportunity with the aspens in the fall. The trees have all turned all the way down to Glacier. We were in awe.

    Those last few photos on the rainbow are gorgeous!!


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