Monday, February 28, 2011

Hiking the Colorado National Monument

Moving to Grand Junction in the middle of winter had made hiking a bit of a challenge so far, but as the weather warms up, I hope to provide a more detailed geologic look at the array of formations surrounding the Grand Valley area.  But for now, I will provide a few pretty pictures from the short hikes that weather and school have permitted.

This first picture is from the base of the Book Cliffs after a snowstorm had passed through the area.  It is looking south towards the Colorado National Monument. 
Oooooh, Aaaaah!

PBF and I ventured out to the No Thoroughfare Canyon trail, just inside the Colorado National Monument. This will definitely be a topic for several hikes to come.  The variety of Precambrian metamorphic rocks and the layered sandstones above create many topics for the geologist in me.  Here are a few pictures from the initial hike.
Looking up the canyon.

First Waterfall
Some sort of intrusion with contact metamorphism around the edges. Definitely returning to this one
For the next nice patch of weather, we headed to the opposite side of the C.N.M. and trekked up the Lower Monument Trail to Independence Monument.
Side of Independence Monument
Thin view of Independence Monument.

Rock Monster ready to chomp on unsuspecting hikers.

The last attempted hike was to Ute Canyon.  The weather had climbed to 45 degrees and was amazingly clear, thus providing for great hiking weather!
Overlook from the start of the trail looking across Ute Canyon.

The attempted part comes in because of a massive snowstorm that had hit the monument earlier in the week, leaving at least a foot of snow on the steep canyon trail.

PBF attempting to blaze a trail through the snow.
So after about ten minutes of trudging a bit, we decided to turn back.  Instead, we headed back down the road to Devil's Canyon, which shares the trailhead with No Thoroughfare.  On a short hike (as we had time constraints in meeting folks for dinner) we took the trail to where it forks with Echo Canyon Trail.  Along the way we got to see some petroglyphs, and a short half hour or so later, we got this view looking back across the Grand Valley towards the Book Cliffs.

The tiny hills in the far distance are the Book Cliffs.
One of the few intact petroglyphs.
While I haven't been able to hike as much as I would like, being cooped up inside has provided PBF and me with plenty of good food however!  Here is our inaugural batch of tamales!
Hopefully with the weather warming up and spring break approaching, I will reload my blog material with more hiking!

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