Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Paonia and
the Black Canyon
of the Gunnison


Crystal River in Redstone


After hiking up to Hanging Lake we drove into Glenwood Springs and after a quick stop at the grocery for some fruit we headed South towards Carbondale racing the sunset and the rainstorm that accompanied it. We drove through carbondale and headed West towards Redstone, driving along the western flank of Mt. Sopris. We found a campground and set up camp, cooked dinner, saw the moon. Ambiana helps Mom with dinner while I set up the tent. It was a cold damp night but we were snuggly warm in our tent. I don't miss the 4 walls we left behind. In the morning after breakfast we drove down the road which becomes Redstone's main street with cute old houses on either sides and mountains and golden aspen all about. We like this town but find it has no library though it does have a good park with swings on the river and a bridge to cross. Tablets proclaim that Redstone was a planned community of coal workers and their families bult on the premise that if you housed our workers well they would be better workers. Didn't last long as the humanitarian baron was bought out by the scoundrels who still own us today. Now the baron's house is a tour, the town full of shops selling richey-rich decor stuff.


We walk the street to and fro and then drive on and find Yaya a waterfall on the South end of town and get out of the car, breathe deep, ahhhh, and soak in the sun next to it...pretty place, nice mountains with the previous nights rain rising up and away on the morning sun in big puffy clouds.

PAONIA


Up up over a mountain pass and into the next valley, not as lush as the one we just left, we descend next to a stream through grassy brown country, trees by the water and an occasional house. The stream becomes a a canyoned creek and the coal extraction sites and equipment appear, little towns and trailers clustered next to them, the creek becomes a resevoir, very low water and we enter the valley plain, big rocky ridge mountain to the SouthEast. We pull into Paonia, find a park with trees and a slide, Yaya and mama go off and make friends and I dry the tent and join them for picnic, we next find the library and then walk the streets. Checking it out, would we like to live here? It doesn't look like a tourist town, doesn't feel like one, Tree lined streets, old houses, farmfields we see as we drive South out of town, no big box stores or strip malls or ski resorts, just mountains, a valley, some crops and people.

We drive South through a couple more small towns that have the same rural feel and then tack west on a gravel road to the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. We camp on the edge in a small but very full campground. After set up and yum meal we hike sunset to the edge of the Canyon which was so steep and deep that it gave me vertigo. Yaya loved it, almost tossed Coco over the edge, had no fear but made daddy queasy when she would approach the edge and pear over through the fence.

We made our first fire that night and Colleen made popcorn and we sat around the flames Colleen telling stories to Yaya and me and taking us on our very first BEARHUNT!!! The next morning we hiked through the high deset scrub smelling so junipery and sagey and dry to several viewpoints across and down into the abyss. Truely awe-inspiring. We taught Ambiana what a dry wash was when we passed through one and she began pointing them out and counting them. 1, 2, 3, 8!!! She also sings her ABC's when hiking or the 'woah gaga' refrain from 'Trot Ol' Joe'






Yaya and Coco