14 January 2016

Stardate 2016.036

The Grand Mesa Is Quite Grand

My secret cache from the previous post is Grand Mesa. It towers above my home town of Grand Junction, Colorado. It often collects massive amounts of snow, and this may be one of those years. Snow depth during our visit was well over 4 feet.

For Day Two, we journeyed back to the top of Grand Mesa for another round of cross-country skiing. We parked at the Nordic Center at Skyway, which is on the western lip of Grand Mesa. The top is a relatively flat area full of subalpine parks, meadows and lakes dispersed throughout a forest of Engelmann spruce. The Skyway elevation ranges between 10,600 and 10,750 feet.

A person could do some backcountry skiing here, but not too much in the Skyway area, considering it's flat, with no downhill reward for hard skinning up to a summit or ridgeline. Being a Nordic center, most of the trails have been groomed for basic cross-country skiing, skate skiing or classic cross-country skiing in machine-groomed snow tracks. Moreover, you can still ski off-trail if desired.

Grand Mesa is billed as the largest flat-topped mountain in the world. That's a pretty big statement, and I don't know if it's true or not; there are a lot of big mesas around the globe. Moreover, I'm not sure if there's an "official" dividing line between mesa and much larger plateau.

Moons ago Grand Mesa was born from basaltic flow of a shield volcano. Basaltic flows capping Grand Mesa are up to 400 feet thick. The summit area is 800 square miles of rarified air at an average elevation 10,000 feet. Leon Peak is the highest point on Grand Mesa, touching the sky at 11,234 feet. Did I mention lots of fluffy snow? We enjoyed intermittent flurries and sun. Enjoy the pics.

Notice the animal tracks that are afloat over the rolling sub-alpine terrain.

We played hide and seek with the sun all day.

The small clearing might be home to a pond in hiding.

The northern rim of Grand Mesa is in the clouds (pic taken from the 9,600-foot contour).

To the northwest, late afternoon light is washing the flanks of the Roan Plateau.

That's it for this set of Grand Mesa pics.
I'm sure I'll find something else to post; stay tuned...


1 comment:

  1. Grand indeed! Such sapphire blue skies, such gorgeous snowflakes! Can we go back???


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