Friday, June 29, 2012

Bucket List Item Checked Off!

For several years now, I have wanted to hike up to Hanging Lake, just east of Glenwood Springs, Co. You start by hiking a quarter mile east of the Hanging Lake rest area, right along the Colorado River. So far, so good...

Then the trail turns away from the river, and goes straight up hill! It's short, only 1.2 miles, but the rise is 1020 feet. That's pretty steep. The first part is really rocky.

Up the hill a ways is the remains of where resort horses where tied decades ago while guests would hike up to the lake.

This is what most of the trail looks like. You have to pay attention to where you are walking - it's still very rocky.

Looking back down the valley that we climbed up.

Near the top, it gets REALLY steep, but there are handrails that you can use to pull yourself up.

But then, WOW! You go around the corner and there it is! Hanging Lake was formed by a geologic fault which caused the lake bed to drop away from the valley floor above.

Whoa! Wait - butterflies and flowers!

Phil went over and crawled underneath the waterfall on the right side.

The classic view!

There's a long dead tree trunk that goes across the lake. Everyone goes out on it to get their picture taken. I was a little nervous, but managed to get out there a little ways.

A short side trail goes up to Spouting Rock. A small underground stream has found a hole in the rock to flow from.

The view from the back side...

You can also get good views of Hanging Lake from the top.

And you can see more people walking out on the old dead tree.

From here, it's all downhill, but for me, going down is just as difficult as going up. But it was a great hike!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

And the Winner Is ---

I'm still working on my entry in the flower category of the WIN photo contest, but first, let me tell you what else we've been doing. We had a birthday party for someone just about every day! This is Brad's 50th B-day - he's the baby of the group.

The next day we went to the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens - a great chance to get some good flower pictures. The Gardens combines art and plants in many of the exhibits.

AND they have lots and lots of rusty stuff!

I have been around Cottonwood trees for a while, but I never realized the cotton puffs were so huge!

Near the entrance was this gorgeous Smoke Bush.

And outside, they also had a lily pond.

They had a rainforest indoors.

This plant reminded me of the plant I saw in the South Pacific last year.

But I decided to enter this photo from our hike the other day. And it won! I now have a Russell Stove box of chocolates!

We've now moved up the hill to El Jebel, off I-70 on the road to Aspen. Hopefully, it will be cooler....

Monday, June 25, 2012

Escaping the Heat on the Largest Mesa in the World

The WINs moved up to Grand Junction, but the temperatures were still pushing 100 most days. So we decided to go for a hike up on Grand Mesa, 5000 feet higher than the valley and the largest mesa in the world, at 500 square miles.

When I hike, I am easily distracted by potential photos. This is a Columbine, the Colorado state flower.

I quickly snap a shot, and look up to see everyone way ahead of me. I decided to go at my own pace.

We're having a photo contest at this gathering, and one of the categories is flowers. Not sure if this qualifies, but it's one of my favorite things to photograph.

There were several lakes that we saw along the trail.

And butterflies/moths going after the flowers.

By this point, I was about a mile behind the group...

After the hike, we went out to Lands End, where the earth just drops off a cliff.

There were some very hungry, fat-cheeked ground squirrels there. At least that's what I think they were.

Then we found out that you can take a switchback road back down to the valley, saving lots of miles and providing a fun ending to a great day!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Green River in Canyonlands

I have visited the Moab area numerous times over the past 20 years, but never taken the Mineral Road, north of Canyonlands, down to the Green River. Since it was very hot out, a trip in the air-conditioned car seemed like a good idea.

The road goes down some steep switchbacks that were washed out a few years ago, but are now back in business.

The road then goes along the Green River, and enters Canyonlands National Park, where it becomes the west side of the White Rim Road.

We stopped for sunflower pictures -

And photos of Prince's Plume, this yellow flower along the riverbanks. Can you see how the Green River got its name?

Then we stopped for lunch at this old corral. So far the road has not been too bad.

It got a little scarier as it got closer to the river, but still not too bad.

This is a campsite along the river - has to be the prettiest one I've ever seen.

After passing the second campsite, the road got very sandy and started going uphill. Since we were by ourselves, we started looking for a place to turn around, and finally found this wide spot in the road.

The view from our turn-around spot, looking back towards the river.

The WINs were staying for a week at the Gold Bar group site on the Colorado River outside of Moab. We only stayed 2 nights in the area, then got out of town. The temperatures were over 100.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Looking for Butch Cassidy

Butch Cassidy's hideout, Robbers Roost, is located in a very hidden spot here in Utah. We were determined to find it.

As you can see, it's located in the middle of nowhere. We headed east from Highway 24 just north of Hanksville.

The roads weren't too bad, except for this huge pile of sand blown across the road. Because of this, you really do need 4-wheel drive.

We had some GPS coordinates, and managed to find the parking area. (N 38d21'36" W 110d22'20")

From here you walk east about 1/2 mile. Our new friends promised to keep an eye on the car, while we searched for all that remains of the old cabin, a stone chimney.

Whoa! That's it!!!

I just couldn't believe we found it! Butch used this spot in the late 1880s to hide his stolen horses. He and the Wild Bunch also used it as a hideout after their bank robberies. Now, let me get a better picture of it...

I need a good foreground - well, how about a gift from one of our new friends?

Me posing with my buddy, Susie the Garmin. (N 38d21'40" W 110d21'57")

We didn't find Butch, but all around the chimney were poems tied to the bushes - some seem to have been written by children. It was a great adventure!