29 September 2017

Stardate 2017.745

Here Today
Gone Tomorrow
Another Secret Stash

Snowcatcher and I made a mad dash to the west slope for some aspen color in some of the state's better autumn color palettes. Old man winter just edged us out in places. Despite lots of wet and white, we still took in some color. The day was very long; yet it was worth every minute.

We'll start the post at about the 10,000-foot level of elevation. This is the transition elevation between the Montane (aspen/spruce) and Subalpine (spruce) forests at this latitude. The weather was cold, windy, slippery, and taking a toll on leaves. Onward and upward into the clouds...

Needle Rock: To the left, and out of view, is the English mansion and estate of the late Joe Cocker (think 60s music and Woodstock). He operated a restaurant in nearby Crawford for years. Peaks of the West Elk Wilderness rise in the background.

This pic is from high on the North Rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River.

Below is a short reach of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

North Rim of the Black Canyon


Dusk caught us at the base of 13,822-foot Mount Silverheels. This is the 96th tallest peak in Colorado.

The End!

Hopefully more leaf adventures to come.


16 September 2017


12,987-foot Peak 8

Seasons Be A Changing

High country leaves are beginning to change, and fall is in the air! I wanted a late season ride at altitude. Off I ventured to the Tenmile Range to prospect some colored, two-wheeled fun. I was a bit early; leaves in this area still have 1 to 2 weeks until peak color.

Initially I rode the Breckenridge Ski Area Peak 9 access road to hasten the climb to more than 12,000 feet in elevation. My plan was to ride the access road to the Wheeler Trail, hook up with the Colorado Trail on top, drop to Copper Mountain Ski Resort, then swing around the northern terminus of the Tenmile Range on a bike path, ultimately catching the Peaks/Gold Hill trails to my vehicle.

If that sounds like a haul, it is; I didn't quite make it. I needed another 2 to 3 hours of time. As you'll see below, I was close. Nonetheless, I had a 2 p.m. turnaround because I needed to be back in the Denver metro area by 5:30. The following pic portrays a diminishing 4x4 route reaching treeline on 13,195-foot Peak 9.

Breckenridge Ski Resort is huge. Adjacent to my north was the Ski Area's Peak 8.

Below is a juvenile stand of bristlecone pine. This species occupies the krummholz and can live thousands of years.

The following zoomed pic shows what I needed another hour or two to accomplish. After leaving the 4x4 track, the switchbacks of the Wheeler Trail top out at 12,400 feet, at which point I could light the afterburners and quickly drop into Copper Mountain. Nonetheless, the bewitching-hour had arrived, and I disappointingly aimed the Black Pearl down.

Breckenridge lies at the base of the lower slopes of Peak 9.

Hopefully there will be more leaves to come.


21 July 2017

Stardate 2017.553

Enchanted Wedding Bells of the Chihuahuan Desert

Ahoy mates! Snowcatcher and I traveled southwest to Las Cruces, New Mexico, for the marriage of her neice. The southwest, especially New Mexico, is quite enchanted. New Mexico's slogan—Land of Enchantment—is also quite apropos.

We caught a flight out of Denver International Airport to Albuquerque and drove the rest of the way to Las Cruces. Snowcatcher spent her youth in Alamogordo, an hour and a half east of Las Cruces. Thus, she made a great tour guide for me. She knew the good eateries along the way as well. If you're ever in Socorro (home to New Mexico Tech), try the Blake's Lotaburger (I understand it's been there since God was a boy) and make sure to get it smothered in Hatch green chili. Mmmm...............

Anyway, enjoy the pics, starting with a cleared for take-off from DIA shot.

Good morning sunshine!

At a cruising altitude, we were high and dry above a fog bank.

The wedding aisle awaits its chairs, guests and wedding party.

This is a real century plant (yucca family). Every 100 years or so, it blooms.

The Chihuahuan desert is stark, beautiful and deadly, all wrapped up in one package.

This is a rain squall delivering the goods to a parched landscape.

There are a lot of different cacti here, including this large stand of prickly pear. Snowcatcher expressed interest in canning these. Another time.

Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (Socorro vicinity)

That’s it for this round. Thanks for reading!
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