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Saturday, April 25, 2015

My Bigoted, Myopic View From The Center Of A Recreational Universe

"I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center."  Kurt Vonnegut

Great parallels abound between the struggles of Life and Nature. Foul weather is perhaps the most challenging for me, back here in Lovely Ouray. One day it's cold, cruel, and unforgiving, the next bright, warm, compassionate.  My mood plunges and soars accordingly (sigh). 

On those brooding days of mood and insolent weather, I seek shelter from the storm—turn thoughts inward, cocoon up, so to speak. Everyone needs a lonely place… a hideaway, a quiet center. Go there, get acquainted with your shadow—the person you would long to be if no one was looking.

I was no match for the mood of this recent day. Lovely Ouray was cloaked in clouds, and obscene snow dared spit upon her sidewalks and struggling spring bulbs. 

Having spent most of the winter in shorts and t-shirts doesn't exactly cushion the blow and snow. I have only to shoulder another month of Jekyll and Hyde, then all will be well… till July, when vicious monsoonal thunderstorms spray random lightning volts and bolts about our playgrounds above timberline. 

We decided it would be a good day to do the obligatory Walmart Crawl in Montrose. That's called making lemonade out of some pretty bad weather lemons; hold your nose and swallow.  

I racked my brain, trying to salvage the day. Maybe the weather up Motown way will hold off a while. How about we go do a little hike up at Black Canyon National Park before doing the Wally Crawl? It's only 15 miles from Motown, and Bobbie hadn't been up there for 5 years, me, 7 or 8. 

Not the best day for photos, but at least it wasn't snowing… yet. It's over 8,000 feet along the Black Canyon's rim, then 2,000 feet down to the Gold Medal, Wild and Scenic, Gunnison River. There are three dams upstream of these Gold Medal waters, so it is about as pure and aqua green as mountain snowmelt can be. There is a trail that goes down to the river from the Visitor's Center, if one can call a near vertical landslide with a log chain a trail. You literally fall your way down, then limp out inch by inch… 2,000 vertical feet. Needless to say, we opted for the rim trail.

It's too easy for a promiscuous wanderer like myself to take our southwestern Colorado Location, Location, Location for granted. Why I'd bitch and moan if you hung me with a new rope. I question the the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, and the Pope, on a daily basis… rail against unfairness, inequality, blood clots, and the general immobilizing political rancor that abounds in Washington D C, all to no avail. Sometimes I even threaten to move to Arizona's Mogollon rim country, and/or live out my days in Goldie as a Desert Rat Squatter. 

But truly, if one sticks a pin in Lovely Ouray… stretches out a string to a good one day's drive from there and draws a circle, they will see that it encompasses an explorer's lifetime worth of natural wonder, not to mention, every climate zone, alpine tundra to barren desert.  Next time it snows maybe I'll just pack my shorts and 29er mountain bike and head down to Village of Oak Creek, or Moab, or Cedar Mesa, or Lake Powell, or Canyonlands, or… . 

Stay tuned for the rest of our Black Canyon of the Gunnison hike…
Peace Out
mark and bobbie


  1. Great reflections in words and photos, especially the panoramic ones. Thanks!

  2. Oh...the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is so on our list when we visit Montrose in July. We were only there a week last summer and plan on 3 weeks this year.

    Beautiful photos Mark!

  3. So much better than a trip to Wallyworld.

  4. It was nice to see a more leisurely hike:) Gorgeous photos of the rocks and canyon.

  5. some deep thoughts that go well with that deep canyon...

  6. I know nothing about this canyon, other than it is one of the 58 NPS destinations with official "Park" status (as opposed to a monument, seashore, etc.) making it a prominent destination on my (at the risk of setting off a rant) "bucket list." ;-) But I had no idea it was as gorgeous as that, or so close to Ouray. Not your average trip to Wally World...

  7. We love Black Canyon of the Gunnison! Great photos. We like to stop there for a hike and picnic en route to other places in the area. Yesterday I hiked in shorts on a mesa here in Los Alamos and this morning we have slushy snow and thunder. I so want to hit the road full time and chase the sun.

  8. Right with you on the affects of the weather on my moods fair and foul. But visiting Black Canyon would brighten any day in my life. A gorgeous place and your photographs make me swoon to be back there. Beats Mallwort any day all over the place.

  9. We used to own property (7 acres) in Durango. We felt the same way about stretching the string and scribing a circle. We sold out because we were about 1.95 million dollars short of what it takes to live there. Probably should have kept it. Probably should have done and kept a lot of things we didn't.


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