ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
[personal profile] ilanarama
Well, as you do in southwest Colorado when you're having an unusually warm, dry winter. We usually go skiing every Friday, but we punted the last two weeks because our ski day on January 30 was the last time it snowed up at Purgatory, our local resort. But Valentine's Day fell on a Saturday this year, a great day to take off and do something special with my sweetheart...so why not go mountain biking?

Here in Durango the trails are still muddy, with snow lingering in the shady spots, but I had learned from the website of the local trails advocacy group about trail conditions elsewhere, and so I decided we ought to go to Sand Canyon, in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, which is about a 1:15 drive from here. The canyons here are south-facing and on a broad mesa about 1200 feet lower than Durango, so it's even warmer and drier. If you scroll down on that link you'll see a map; we rode to the first dotted-line connector trail, then rode around East Rock Creek Trail in a counter-clockwise loop and back to the connector, and back to the trailhead. It was mostly easy riding, but we had to frequently stop to walk through steep, rocky sections, particularly at the head of the canyon.

Britt and alcove ruins Ilana by pillar

The thing about Canyons of the Ancients NM is that this was a very big center for pre-Puebloan settlement back in the 13th century. There are ruins in the alcove behind Britt, in the photo above; we saw lots of ruins, though mostly they were inaccessibly high (and closed to visitors).

We had lunch on a ledge by the edge of an inner canyon:

Lunch Canyon

The red and white sandstone walls soared high above us, beautiful against the blue sky.

Britt and wall Balanced rock

At one point the sandy trail dropped down a rocky ramp that neither of us felt comfortable riding. Britt, ahead of me, walked his bike down, then turned at the bottom to wait for me...and his jaw dropped. When I reached him, he pointed behind me. There was a huge arch, which neither of us had noticed; traveling in the direction we were going, it wasn't apparent. But, wow! It was just amazingly huge and beautiful!

Ilana and arch Arch!

The trail got a lot easier as we headed down toward the lower part of the canyon. We were also facing back south, toward the north-facing mountain slopes which still had snow on them. The west side of Sleeping Ute looked particularly pretty against the blue sky, rising above the mesa scrub:

Sleeping Ute

We hit the southernmost end of the loop and decided to go back up to the trail we'd come in on, finishing the whole loop of the trail. This meant facing north again, which made for great photos, with the sun behind us lighting up the formations and making the sky seem a deep blue.

Britt on bottom loop

Pillars and slickrock

All in all, it was a wonderful day. We'd only ever been to the north end of the Canyons of the Ancients NM (there are some stabilized ruins there you can visit, and an interpretive center) but it was very cool to see this part of it. Despite the heavy usage - vehicles overflowed the small parking lot - people spread out enough that it never felt crowded to us. (Though we did run into two separate groups of people with friends of ours from Durango! Clearly this is the place to go!)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-02-15 03:07 am (UTC)
traveller42: (Default)
From: [personal profile] traveller42
That just doesn't look like winter.

Enjoyed the great pics and the story, as usual.

We have snow, blowing snow, drifting snow, below zero temperature and dangerous wind chills.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-02-15 04:06 am (UTC)
aerye: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aerye
My god, you live in a beautiful place!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-02-15 07:27 am (UTC)
blnchflr: Captain America Civil War (Runner-in-spe)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
I love the colour of the red sand.

Gorgeous pics as per usual - really, you just live ine the BEST state :)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-02-15 07:33 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Amazing pics and the sky is a really deep blue. Are you saying farmers are boring ;)

jimair1

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ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Ilana

June 2017

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My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31

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