Day 11 - Rimming the Black CanyonMay 3 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 3 °C
Woke up freezing in the RV. Eventually I forced myself out of bed & put the heating. For the next 15 minutes I was Jackie’s skivvy with her barking her orders at me. I made her a cup of tea, got the breakfast stuff out & took the rubbish out (in socks & adventure sandals). I didn’t moan, because I was feeling guilty that Jackie had cleaned up the wine debacle from the previous evening. After having a shower, I even sorted out the poop pipe on my own.
At 9:45 am, still wearing my adventure sandals without the socks, we set off, back on US-50 through The Rockies. This scenic route followed the Arkansas River on the south side & a railroad on the other. We went through gorgeous high sided canyons, & meadows for approximately 50 miles until we arrived at Salida, a one-time railroad town. We turned off US-50 here & headed about 8 miles north to locate Browns Canyon National Monument. We failed & instead ended up down a private dirt track. Turning round was tricky to say the least.
We returned to US-50 & soon started climbing higher & higher. Soon we were surrounded by snowy mountains & it actually started snowing. We got into a skiing region & chugged over the 11,312 ft Monarch Pass, where the snow was thick. Monarch Pass is the highest point on US-50 & straddles the Continental Divide. In theory, rain falling to the east of the Pass end up in the Atlantic & rain to west in the Pacific.
On the other side we stopped to brew a coffee in a tiny scruffy town called Parlin, then continued on to the crossroads cattle town of Gunnison. The town was much nicer than I had imagined, old fashioned buildings & wide boulevards. We stopped at the local Walmart for a few provisions, Jackie was yearning for a steak for her tea.
At the entrance, we were confronted by the clothes section. I had a quick browse & bought a pair of brown moccasin slippers that took my fancy. Don’t laugh, the slippers are made by Levi Strauss & cost less that $10. Not to be outdone, Jackie insisted on buying a hoodie for $15. We bought some other odds & sods, then realised that the shop didn’t sell any meat or dairy products . They were in the shop next door.
So we unloaded our 1st trolley full in to the RV, then went to City Market & what a supermarket it was. It had everything we spent ages filling up another trolley full, including 2 juicy ribeye steaks (the upsetting cattle ranches haven’t turned as veggie just yet!). At check out, the till lady asked us if we had a store loyalty card to get our discount. We obviously didn’t, but she borrowed one of another customer & saved us $12.
I would add at this point that every American we have come into contact with so far has been so lovely & helpful. They also can’t get enough of our accents & feel compelled to ask us where we are from.
Next we filled up with petrol, where I went to pay up front, Jackie was too premature with the pump & broke the attendants machine. It took several minutes to fix, whilst a queue started forming behind me. It was getting embarrassing, so I pointed out to everyone that it was Jackie who had broken it. We then drove to the Blue Mesa Reservoir where we stopped beside Middle Bridge for a roll & coffee.
We then continued on westwards to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, where we decided we may stay for the evening. Jackie was worried about the bears & we had a stupid conversation about which of us a bear 🐻 would eat 1st (more of me, but would they want an arthritic foot?). Could we stand in front of one calmly & back away or just run? Jackie apparently is faster than a bear & would run round & round a tree until it gave up!
We arrived at Black Canyon of the Gunnison N. P. around 3:30pm. We drove up to the entrance gates to the South Rim & I proudly produced my $80 US National Parks Annual Visitors Pass, which allows us free entry to all US National Parks. Otherwise it would have cost us $20 for this visit. The Ranger gave us a map, informed us that there maybe some campsite spaces available & to be careful of the snow, 6” had fallen a couple of days previously.
Our first stop was the Tomichi Point, where we got our 1st view of the Black Canyon & wow wow what a view. It was breathtakingly beautiful & more than slightly frightening as it was a sheer drop.. After several photos we drove on to the the visitors centre at Gunnison Point where we watched a 20 minute video, explaining how the canyon was formed & how virtually every attempt to explore the bottom of the canyon had ended in disaster.
The view from the Gunnison Point was just impressive, a couple of photos, then we embarked on the South Rim Road drive, which was in places quite hair raising to say the least. I was just glad I was driving & Jackie was near the edge. Along the route there were stop off points for different lookout points. Some were at the end of 300 - 400 metre tracks.
We stopped at & hiked to Pulpit Rock Overlook, Cross Fissures View, Rock Point, Chasm View & lastly, but definitely not leastly, Sunset View where the Gunnison River disappeared out to the west. The view seemed to get more & more spectacular. Sunset View was incredible, I would be tempted to use the ‘A’ word, but I can’t bring myself to. Neither my photos & definitely not my descriptions will do justice to the sheer majestic beauty of the Black Canyon. The other massive bonus was that there were so few people around that we had each of the lookout points to ourself. In the silence you could hear the Gunnison River thundering along some 1800 ft below us & numerous hawks soaring on the thermals.
We called it a day at Sunset View, then drove back along South Rim Road to the South Rim Campground. There were more RVs & caravans than we were expecting (about 10), but we found ourselves a nice private spot with electric hook up still in the sunshine.
We supped a couple of Colorado Native beers in the setting sun with stupid grins on our faces, but jumped every time there was a rustle in the hedgerow. This was not helped by a sign on our table warning us of bears. Bizarrely we had 2 minutes of snow as the sun went down.
When the sun went down the temperature dropped dramatically causing us to take shelter & get the heating. We didn’t bother with cooking, just rolls, nuts & popcorn.
For me it was the best day of our trip so far, particularly as we think we don’t have to pay to stay in the park. Tomorrow, however, could be even better.
FITBIT = 9,995 steps / 4.64 miles
Song of the Day - Canyon by Joseph.Read more