Day 30 – Heading North to the South Rim
To hike from Lake City to Silverton, you head south on the trail, to drive there you actually have to travel north. You have to go up and around the mountains that the trail snakes through.
Side Trip to the Black Canyon
Since we had to travel north and west to then go south, we figured we might as well stop at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. It was a great surprise on our last trip to Colorado, but we had limited time (and hiking ability). This time we would be able to explore the North Rim as well. It is just across the canyon, but a two hour drive around.
The way this park works is that there is one long road on the South Rim (and one shorter on the North Rim) that you drive along. At various points along the way there are pull offs/lookouts/views. You park and walk down the short trail out to see a new view of the canyon. Honestly it was a relief to be in the car most of the time with the AC blasting. The temperature says 80 degrees, but in the blazing sun it feels more like 95 degrees. There are even great views right from the the visitor center. The large overhangs on the roof provided some much needed shade for lunch.
The Painted Wall was created by molten igneous rock forcing it’s way up cracks of metamorphic rock. The stripes left behind as it cooled, then revealed by the water, are unbelievable.
At sunset we headed back out to Cedar Point. The internet claims that this is the best place to photograph the sunset. There is a place literally called Sunset View, but maybe better for watching not photographing? I guess the pictures will tell.
We also did two hikes on the South Rim just to keep this a hiking trip – the Oak Flat Trail and Warner Point.
The 2 mile Oak Flat Trail leaves right from the visitor center. It is not however, flat like it’s name suggests. I’m assuming that it goes down to a flattish section of the canyon wall. Which also means it goes back up. The views were no better than at the visitor center. The highlight for me was meeting two women who work hammering in steps along the trail. I always get so emotional when I meet people who are doing trail work. Their sacrifice (though these two women were NPS employees and deservedly getting paid) and hard labor makes my recreation possible. Hiking this trail at close to noon wasn’t our best idea- the heat made me nauseous and longing for the cool shade of the visitor center.
Warner Point Trail is at the very end of the loop and about a mile and half out and back. You get to see the town of Montrose on the other side and walk right out to a edge overlooking the canyon. Mostly we used the trail to book our next reservations. As the closest spot to town, it had the only real phone service in the park. Not the most kosher thing to do, but the last minute logistics of this trip are hard! Having a car actually makes logistics more complicated.
We were able to score one night at the South Rim Campground. I’m happy to report it had a mostly flat spot back in the bushes for our tent (more privacy then a lot of sites) and a large bush for shade. Shade is key here. As much as we like the challenge and wilderness of backpacking, car camping is pretty sweet. It’s a relief to be able to cook on a table and sit in a chair. No worrying about what is living in the log you are sitting on. Having a small cooler allows for fresh fruit and cold salsa. I will say, we are doing an excellent job of still eating our dehydrated food for lunch and dinner. There was plenty of noise from the surrounding families who were not on hike time, but they settled down by 9pm.
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