Cold and Alone.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I checked and rechecked the weather … upper 60s and clear … not 25 and snow. But as the hotel worker said, Colorado weather is schizophrenic and you never know what to expect.
I brought no cold gear, no beanie, and no base layer. So I layered, five layers on top, three on bottom. At least I had my best Salomon boots designed for snow and mud … and that’s what I would have today.
Black Canyon. One of the least visited National Parks. They only give 15 permits a day to hike the Gunnison Trail, so I had to get there early. It was beautiful. A soft snow cover on the mountains like a powdered sugar frosting. The early morning light showed an unexpected splendor.
I and one other arrived before the ranger. And the other hiker had a dog. And then something new happened to me … the dog bit me. I shared this on June 10th … read about it here. A shock to say the least, and set a mood for the hike. The trail was muddy, icy, and cold. I was alone. The ranger said they would only come look for me if I didn’t turn my slip back in by the next morning, so I had to get out on my own. Deep wilderness, hazardous conditions, cold-wet weather. What more could I ask for?
So off I went; or more correctly, down I went. A one mile trail down – alternating between 20 and 60 degrees in angle. It’s called Black Canyon for the steep canyons cliffs keep the sun out most of the day. I did pretty good, lasting about 1/2 mile or more before I slipped. And then I slipped again. I got within eyeshot of the river and I was very wet and very cold. I decided I had nothing else to prove. So up I went. Best to attempt again when not alone under threat of a long night if a mishap.
By the time I got back to,the top, scores of visitors where around doing the open easier trails. They were riding the rim road and having photo shoots over the top of the canyon. But I felt I had made an accomplishment that day.
So I headed to town, had the brakes looked at, got breakfast, and headed south to my next National Park – Mesa Verde.
But one last note from the mountain … roses. In the white, cold, icy conditions … I spotted the beautiful color from a rose. I know the ice didn’t help it, but even in the blight is beauty.
Lessons I learned …
- Sometimes it’s okay, even wise to not be alone. We need others.
- Best plans of men are never completely fool proof. Things go wrong (like weather).
- There is always beauty if you look for it.
- A good breakfast with friends (Peg Leg) is always a delight.
Tomorrow – mountain pass and mountain village