Monday, May 30, 2011


we spent the holiday weekend camping and hiking in the black canyon of the gunnison.

we drove to the black canyon of the gunnison national park on friday. we stopped in the town of gunnison to pick up firewood (berfields stage stop) and marshmallows (safeway) and made a quick swing through gene taylors outdoor store, where i scored a new daypack on clearance for $20. woot!

we chose the north rim of the park, hoping it would be less crowded. we found a nice campsite in the small campground, then took a short hike from the north rim ranger station to exclamation point. it was an easy walk with great views of the the evening, we drove the north rim road, checking out all the overlooks.
friday night was rough in the campground. people driving through (repeatedly) almost all night trying to find a spot, and some guy trying to set up camp on our picnic table around midnight. not much sleep.

saturday morning we got started bright and early.

this was by far the most difficult hike we've ever tackled. the park won't even call it a trail, they're all unmaintained "routes" into the inner canyon. the entrance to the route is just before the beginning of the campground loop, to the right of the road. seemed like this one is used a lot by climbers, who go down the trail and then climb the canyon wall ending up back in the campground.

we hiked the 1800 feet down to the river in about 2 hours, explored the canyon for a bit, and made the long, hard scramble back out in just under 3 hours. by the end, i felt the route was aptly named.

we had a much more peaceful night saturday, thankfully, and packed up and headed north through crawford and hotchkiss and back down to the blm gunnison conservation area. even though we could barely walk from the hike the day before, we were determined to tackle the duncan trail, which had kicked our butts the year before.

as we expected, it wasn't nearly as difficult as it seemed only a year ago. the first mile is easy, but the last half mile has almost all the elevation change (600 ft). even with the scree and loose rocks and occasionally confusing trail, we hobbled our way down in about 45 minutes.
brutal winds made for terrible fishing, but the canyon was still beautiful and peaceful. the trip out only took a little over an hour.

lots and lots more pictures HERE.

maps of the trails made with our new gps are HERE.

View Black Canyon of the Gunnision - 5/27/2011 in a larger map