28 September 2014

Stardate 2014.742

Georgia Pass area, South Park, Colorado

Whisperings of Color

After our Crested Butte ride, Snowcatcher and I camped at one of our favorite places along Mill Creek. This area also is access to one of my favorite wilderness areas – the West Elk Wilderness. We've spent a lot of time here backcountry skiing, hiking, harvesting wild raspberries and dodging lightning.

Mill Creek area at the boundary of the West Elk Wilderness, Gunnison, Colorado.

We had planned to ride again on day two of our adventure. However, a small wet system put the kibosh on that. Riding wet trails isn't too cool from a rutting standpoint. Plus, Zeus was active; I'm convinced he has a thunderbolt with my name on it.

Mill Creek, Gunnison, Colorado

After enjoying the drizzle softly ping against our vehicle off and on throughout the night, we enjoyed taking pictures in the early morning mist. We also decided to slowly work our way back home, hitting leaf areas along the way.

Camp site, Mill Creek, Gunnison, Colorado

Our home away from home is ready for another day in the sticks.

Mill Creek, Gunnison, Colorado

Mill Creek still had a fair amount of green. However, where the leaves had changed, the colors were spectacular.

Mill Creek, Gunnison, Colorado

We bid Mill Creek a farewell, for now.

Georgia Pass area, South Park, Colorado

Eastbound, we decided to check out South Park's Michigan Creek and Georgia Pass area because it usually has a good display of color. Better yet, there are moose in the wetlands. Sometimes you get lucky enough to see one.

Georgia Pass area, South Park, Colorado

The aspen were close to peaking here.

Georgia Pass area, South Park, Colorado

Many places were almost surreal.

Georgia Pass area, South Park, Colorado

Snowcatcher went to work catching images.

Georgia Pass area, South Park, Colorado

But I kept waiting for fairies to appear.

Georgia Pass area, South Park, Colorado

Thanks for the color Georgia Pass; we'll see you next year!


23 September 2014

Stardate 2014.729

Strand Bonus Trail, Crested Butte, Colorado


Happy autumnal equinox, everyone. The first day of fall has arrived. It's only one of two times per year that the duration of night and day is theoretically equal at all points of the earth. More specifically, winter is right around the corner.

Brush Creek flows under the east slopes of Crested Butte.

A good place to enjoy fall is Crested Butte, Colorado.

East slopes of Crested Butte with 12,625 foot Gothic Mountain rising in the background.

There are lots of yellow leaves, along with some red and orange. Rising in the background is 12,625 foot Gothic Mountain.

Brush Creek just east of Crested Butte, Colorado.

Autumn color abounds along the Brush Creek drainage east of Crested Butte.

Lower Teocalli Ridge rises east of Crested Butte, Colorado.

Teocalli Ridge sports a good variety of leaf color. The remaining green indicates more yellow to come.

Lower Teocalli Ridge rises east of Crested Butte, Colorado.

Populus Tremuloides is the formal name for an aspen tree. In Colorado, an aspen is commonly known as a quaking aspen, or quakie.

The Black Pearl takes a breather in a golden heaven.

The Black Pearl was my mode of transportation for the day.

Flame-tipped aspen quake along Teocalli Ridge, Crested Butte, Colorado.

Teocalli Ridge flame-tips contrast with the blue sky. What's that George Strait song – "Baby Blue?"

Looking down Brush Creek from lower Teocalli Ridge, Crested Butte, Colorado.

The view down Brush Creek from Teocalli Ridge foretells more yellow on the way. 12,516 foot Mount Whetstone rises in the background.

Strand Hill, Crested Butte, Colorado

Strand Hill rises across the valley from Teocalli Ridge.

Flame-tipped aspen along Teocalli Ridge, Crested Butte, Colorado.

Quakie stand of flame-tips quake in the breeze at the terminus of Teocalli Ridge with Brush Creek.

Yellow leafed trail, Crested Butte, Colorado

Riding singletrack through yellow quakies on a warm fall day is nothing short of magical.

Sweet singletrack comprises the Strand Bonus Trail, Crested Butte, Colorado.

Every time you stop to open and close a gate you have a chance to catch your breath and take it all in! The gates are for the ubiquitous bovine. After all, you're in the middle of ranching country.

Teocalli Ridge rises above the Strand Bonus Trail, Crested Butte, Colorado.

Looking north at Teocalli Ridge from the Strand Bonus Trail.

Yellow leaf trail

Elton John's "Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road" kept popping into my mind for some reason.

13,208 foot Teocalli Mountain rises east of Crested Butte, Colorado.  14,265 foot Castle Peak peeks over Teocalli's east ridge.

13,208 foot Teocalli Mountain towers above Brush Creek and is the 478th highest peak in Colorado. Castle Peak is seen peeping over the east shoulder of Teocalli. Castle Peak touches the sky at 14,265 feet and is the 13th highest peak in Colorado.

There is more to come of this colorful season, so stay tuned.


17 September 2014

Stardate 2014.712

The Wave Proper

The Wave of Arizona in January

Snowcatcher put in for The Wave lottery last year, and we were drawn. This would be our second visit to this unique formation. We spent the night in Kanab, Utah, and traveled to White Pocket the next morning. Our permit for the Wave was for the following day.

Petrified Dunes

After four-wheeling into and out of White Pocket, Snowcatcher and I found a nice little spot to camp right on the Utah/Arizona border and within a mile of the Wave's Wire Pass trailhead. Better yet, our camp was within several miles of where the 1776 Dominguez-Escalante Expedition was known to have camped days before venturing into, and being stymied by, the deep, intricate canyons of what is now known as the Lake Powell region. The idea was to start hiking predawn to capture morning sun hit. But, you know what? It's awful hard to crawl out of a warm bag on a cold January morning, even in the desert. Hence, we were late. But, that's okay; there also was a thin cloud cover to severely mute first light.

Pour a little sugar on me!

The Wave is another geologic gem of Jurassic Period Navajo Sandstone. It also calls home the stunning high desert area of the Paria Plateau between Kanab, Utah, and Page, Arizona. The hike begins in the Coyote Buttes area of southern Utah.

Long long ago, in a place far far away...

By education, I'm a hydrologist; yet, my head is still linking synapses after reading about iron oxide mineralogies. Nonetheless, here is a simple summary of what I've gleaned after a little research.

A troubled conglomerate.

One could view The Wave as dissected ancient sand dunes.

Ancient Stone Steps

The stunning crossbedding we see today is the result of seasonal changes in ancient dune migration.

Stone lighthouse

Beautiful red, orange, buff, yellow, purple, white and pink coloration is controlled by iron oxide mineralogies.

Venturi Effect

The smooth bowl of waves is predominantly a wind-scoured channel whose dimensions behave like a venturi. The increased speed of wind helps to further sculpt out the visually smooth waves.

Mystic dancers

Ancient rainbow

Ancient spirits

Fantastic, swirling, mystical sand phantoms float amongst granules of stone.

There's one in every crowd.

A handful of anomalies hide here and there.

The Wave II

The Wave II can be found almost adjacent to the Wave.

Older than old dunes

The whole area is fun to explore, and should be if you visit. I'm sure we'll be back soon. Thanks for reading.


14 September 2014

Stardate 2014.704

Fire & Rock Flameout

White Pocket's a Hot Pocket

Snowcatcher and I visited White Pocket northern Arizona in mid-January 2014. It had been on the bucket list, and having been drawn for The Wave, we gave it a go. White Pocket is a remote, seldom-visited, geologic gem found on the Paria Plateau of Northern Arizona. It calls home the beautiful high desert between Kanab, Utah, and Page, Arizona.

White Pocket Arizona

It appears the verdict on the Pocket's geology is still out. One school of thought is soft sediment deformation during the Jurassic Period. The twisting and turning and stretching of layers occurred while the sand was saturated but not yet completely turned into rock.

White Pocket, Arizona

Geologist Marc Deshowitz, whom has studied White Pocket extensively, provides this scenario. An earthquake triggers a large sand-slide down the slope of a large dune. While sliding, the cascade rips chunks of underlying strata that intermix with basal sand. The mass fills a pond or oasis, instantly loading underlying layers of saturated sand. Pressure from the overburden then deforms the saturated layers of sand.

Cross Bedding

White Pocket is infamous for being hard to reach because of loose sand – about 15-miles of it. A relatively high clearance 4x4-vehicle is required, along with provisions and accoutrements should one get stuck or "sidetracked."

Saturn's rings

Another potential matter is that some BLM route marker numbers don't match other/older route numbers on existing non-BLM maps. We scratched our heads once or twice before sliding into the "groove" once we found the correct jeep path. In a nutshell, we were correctly correlated with the access road on the map, but the map route numbers didn't jive with route numbers at intersections.

The shifting sands of time.

A chariot path sporting more than 12-inches of loose, dry, white sand was our 10-mph path into an isolated area of magically swirled peppermint sandstone. As we got a feel for our needed momentum for varying depths of sand, driving became more and more fun than apprehensive. Nonetheless, I was concerned about pulling some of the hills on the way out. Thankfully, they presented no problems.

Cross Bedding

Up next, the Wave!


11 September 2014

Stardate 2014.696


Greetings, readers. With bicycle and motorcycle experience spanning 40 years, I thought I was prepared for anything. Today I had a big surprise. Chain suck doubled back on itself when I inadvertently back-pedalled before realizing where my chain had decided to hide. In plain English, I was performing a sloppy shift, and I paid the price.

I created an extremely beautiful frame, chain and front derailleur wedgy all in one. Thankfully, I don't ride carbon fiber mountain bike frames. Yet, the same scenario could play out on any of my carbon road bikes. I wasn't happy. The chain was so tight, I couldn't get any chain play to work with.

Out came the tools.

I took off the derailleur without losing any fingers to the unleashed tension. The chain loosened a bit, but not enough.

So I took the chain off.

Modern chains use master links similar to those found on motorcycles. They're quite handy. Except for Shimano chains, you still need to press a new chain pin through the links.

However, you still need enough chain with which to work. Luckily, removal of the derailleur allowed enough slack to undo the master link. On the other hand, the whole situation wasn't really a big deal. Had I not been able to position the master link correctly for removal, I would have broken the chain at any link and installed another master link, of which I carry a spare with me.

I don't have a lot of mechanicals; but I do carry just enough tools and zip ties to fix, or rig, something together if need be, including Shimano chain pins should I come across a cyclist dead in the water (figuratively speaking). I also carry a tube and several CO2 cartridges.

Tools are wrapped in a bandana and cinched down with a rubber band cut from an old tube to help mitigate any rattle that may drive me insane.

An off day I suppose because half-way down the canyon I punctured big enough to blow sealant all over me. On the bright side, remaining sealant sealed right up, and I didn't have to fix a flat on the way out.

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