Mesa-Top Trail, N. Rim Black Canyawn, & other regional delights

Betty doesn’t so much peer, as sneer, into the abrupt sheer walls of the Black Canyon (of the Gunnison).  We hadn’t been to the North Rim of the Park before, until early October (2015).  Yeah, like her — I was overcome by a wave of vertigo when I strode to the edge for my first glimpse into the gorge.

betty_edge

As deep, and in places perhaps deeper, than the more-famous Grand Canyon (of the river the Gunnison loses its identity into and with a mere 60 miles downstream of where we were), the Black Canyon is narrow.  Less than a mile rim-to-rim.  As hinted earlier, the canyon does not transition in steps or phases from top to bottom.  No, it is ABRUPT.  When we recovered somewhat from the initial disruption of our sense of balance and stability (we never recovered totally from THAT), we could peer down 1500-some feet almost directly to the river.  (The Canyon is 2000-feet high in places).

bleak

We were there to participate in the Montrose (Colo.) running club (San Juan Mountain Runners) annual 20k and 8k runs along the rim road.  I was an actual entrant, whereas Betty would ride her bike in and amongst the runners.  And (fortunately, as at some races she is put off by elitist runner snobbery) she enjoyed socializing with everyone afterwards.  Very little, nay, practically none, of the plague of elitist runner snobbery ~

bleakoverlook

The previous weekend we drove up to the Grand Mesa (you know, that big flat-topped mountain a couple dozen miles east of our house, and only 5500′ higher).  Betty couldn’t resist photographing the various wildlife residing up there…
cows

Not to worry, someone rounds up all they can of these wild critters before the white stuff gets too deep.  THAT is probably going on any week now ~

flowpark

Looks a little like a profusion of dandelions amok in our yard, but above is an intermingling of aspen groves with the lodgepole (and other evergreen species:  fir, spruce, etc.) on the Flowing Park arm of the Mesa.

mantilasalsdistance

We are near the “Land’s End” promontory on the west side of the Mesa.  I’ve zoomed-in on the (Manti) LaSal Mountains, about 100 miles away in Utah.  Moab is on the other side.  Unaweep Canyon (dramatic in its own way, in a more subdued and less National-Park-y aspect than the Black) is visible just to the right.  Betty and I consider Unaweep to be “our” canyon, as it’s OUR PLAYGROUND.  We do (sometimes reluctantly) share it with others.  Look it up:  it’s unique!  (“only canyon (in the world?) with two mouths”) or entrances.  I can tell you why and how.  Maybe later, unless the internet has told you already).

mesa_south

More, Mesa seasonal-foilage transitional phasing.  We look from below Land’s End south, to Flowing Park.

midrangepanorama

Some of the aspens are not gold, but … copper?  with a veritable interlayered broth of the shorter stuff in between.

prettygirls

Fast happy healthy radiant ladies.  Helps keep this senior citizen young.  The lady-in-green was the fastest runner of the day (regardless of M/F, veteran/youth) — she was the outright winner of the 20k event.  To her left is her sister, 2nd woman (3rd over-all) in the 8k event.

race finish

Rosco, left, short-sleeved turquoise shirt, appears haggard as he staggers after his 8k finish.  This was a race-day where women were dominant — hence the 20k over-all winner, above.  In my race, medals were awarded to the fastest 3 men and fastest 3 women.  If I was female, I would have been 6th!

rocksea

Rock-Sea, who wouldn’t have been allowed to run free at the Nat’l Park, enjoys the drive and fall foilage the week before on the Mesa.  We did go for a 5-mile jaunt on the Mesa-Top Trail — my last “fine-tuning” preparation for the following weekend’s 8k.

somered

Again, not all the aspen turn gold — there’s a bit o’ red here ‘n there ~

strangle

Rosco must have been more annoying than usual (and ate more than his share of post-race treats) — as the Race Director (Jan Peart) tries to strangle him with his 3rd-place-men’s 8k medal …

Below, I look forward to the progress and status of Venus (top) and Jupiter, lower and left, before the sun rises.  My camera couldn’t adequately capture the fainter Mars, in between ~

venusjupiter

24 thoughts on “Mesa-Top Trail, N. Rim Black Canyawn, & other regional delights

  1. A piece with (mostly) proper spelling. So much easier for this less-creative-than-yours brain to read. First time to the North Rim? Hard to believe. You would enjoy continuing on that way to Gunnison. Many more stunning views. Nice to see you there and thanks for the company on my last 0.8!

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    • i was gonna comment on when you looked at your wrist-monitor and jokingly? but seriously announced that (maybe 0.5 from the finish) it was already reading 20k! did i remember correctly? — and we’d been on Hwy 92 to/from Bleu Maysaw a few times, but never to the N Rim ~

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    • thank you H B: yeah, it’s somewhat surprizing how many people take for granted their surroundings — I was just in Montrose (& Ridgway) and the views of “the 14-ers” from there is stunning!

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  2. Wow! Beautiful photos. The Grand Canyon is on my bucket list.The best photo shows you and three other runners. What a great venue for a run! My daughter and her boyfriend are training for a half marathon. Maybe I should send them to the Black Canyon (of the Gunnison) for their final push. I get vertigo at the top of a ladder. Grand post! :)

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  3. Yet more stunning pictures! I can believe it when you say it’s even more awesome in real life though, that’s an issue I have constantly – how to capture the full glory of what my eye can see with a camera.

    Well done on the run! It seems the season for it – last Sunday was spent cheering on my husband as he ran.

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    • good thing Betty drove home as i sipped/gulped cider! as you can easily guess, that’s why “they” (whoever they are) call recent weekends “color Sunday”. your husband ran a race? betcha he went further than i !

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      • He did – he ran the Bournemouth Marathon, although everyone was complaining their performance trackers were pegging it a smidgen over the statutory 26.2 miles. Maybe they just had dodgy GPS in Bournemouth, who knows? It was fantastic weather for it, but I had the sea to look at rather then spectacular Autumn foliage.

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  4. The Grand Mesa is stunning and I love all the photographs… Plus, the idea of the running competitions surrounded by those landscapes… Very neat, indeed—
    Sending all my best wishes. Aquileana ✌||★||⭐

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