Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Colorful Distraction

by Greg

Had to slide through the mountains for business on the other side. I have trouble making a beeline anywhere and am apt to become distracted by bright things. "Happened" to have the bike along, so gave in to distraction and took a ride up a steep valley through the colorful leaves.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bony River

Words by Greg
Photos by Trina and Greg

We wanted to get an early start to our packrafting float, so we woke up with the sun on our last day in the mountains. But since we were camped down in a canyon, that wasn't exactly early or anything. The river burbled nearby as we went through our morning rituals of coffee (for Trina) and breakfast (Leftover Chanterelles-'N-Spinach-'N-Pasta™ from the night before). Then packed up the bags and tent and dogs and set out to scout the river.

It was almost noon when we started scouting, and by the time we were done driving the dirt road that paralleled the river, stopping, looking, pointing, and shaking our heads, it was past lunch time. We did manage to determine that out of four possible miles of river, there was only about one mile that was suitable for the late-season water level and our skills.

We left a bike, drove to the top, ate a snack, then puffed up our rafts, grabbed the dogs (who had been waiting and waiting) and hit the water. Bright and early at almost 2:00.

The river was amazing. Black rock canyon. Beautiful deep green pools connected by a series of tight chutes or shallow riffles. Lots of rocks sticking up like bones to either dodge around or bounce over. We're still new enough to packrafting that we're still learning what we and these little rafts are capable of. And most of what we thought we'd have trouble with wasn't as tough as we thought. The scary chutes were fun! And we only waded a couple places where the water was too shallow to float.

We splashed through fun sections more than once, took photos, shuffled the dogs from boats to shore and back as necessary to keep them out of the scarier sections, and had a picnic lunch before we "finally" made it to the stretch of river we'd decided we weren't going to float. And somehow we'd managed to squander the rest of the afternoon. There was just enough sunshine left in the bottom of the canyon to let us read and nap and warm up after playing in the chilly water. Then the shadows covered the water and we headed home.

We're not going to brag about how it took us all day to packraft one mile. Because we know that it's not the miles, it's the smiles.

Corner Season

Text by Greg
Photos by Greg and Trina

Crisp air. Frosty mornings. Bright blue skies. Crystal waters. Turning leaves. Snowy peaks. Warm sunshine. Empty spaces.

There were lots of good reasons to explore a slice of the high country as the tide of summer slid away and the first rustlings of autumn slid into the valleys. No longer summer. Not quite autumn. We rode through ripe meadows. We paddled our little rafts along bony rivers. Dodged rain that fell as snow on the high peaks. Wandered dark forests absorbing warm smells. Explored mountain towns. Spent our evenings by firelight and our nights snug in our tent, listening to the wild bugling of elk.

Green leaves we had passed as we drove into the mountains were turning gold as we drove homeward. The season had turned the corner.

Stick around and there will be more photos and stories from Mongolia. For now, though, we'll continue to digress into more sights and experiences from the present. Enjoy!

If you know what this donkey-ear shaped mushroom is, please tell us!

Our first float took us down the late-season riffles of the upper Rio Grande. Not much water, but enough to float a packraft – with only the occasional bump.

Trails were dry and days were sunny and just warm enough.

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Chanterelles, again?!"

Text by Trina
Photos by Trina and Greg

We were grinding uphill at 10,000 feet of elevation on a rutted dirt road scattered with loose rubbly rock. We had just passed a sign warning,


I had just posed -- perhaps even squawked -- what might seem like a Zen koan, but wasn't: "Why are we riding up this steep, loose hill to turn around at a private gate?" when a roadside scattering of not rocks, but pale orange lumps caught my eye.

My squawk changed quickly from one of complaint to glee when I confirmed that I was indeed seeing what I thought I was seeing: chanterelles!

Greg seized on the opportunity. "That is why we ride to the end of roads that go nowhere: You never know what you'll find." Touché! And a significant delay of ride as I peeled off my bike every time another orange spot peeked out from the pine needles and lichen. The death climb redeemed, we gathered enough to enjoy fresh, wild chanterelles for dinner and again the next morning for breakfast.

Next evening we found ourselves settling once again in a meadow edged by fir trees with the promising lichen and moss. When a foray for the night's firewood turned up another handful of chanterelles, I knew I had no choice but to forego the long, steep, hard, all-day ride Greg had planned for the next day -- imagine my disappointment! -- and hunt instead.

After sending Greg off on his own the next morning, I gathered up my highly trained truffle hounds and ambled into the deep, dark forest in search of more gold. At day's end, chanterelles were on the menu for two more meals, and when we reached the point where we just couldn't tolerate another fresh, delicate, apricot-y, slightly nutty mushroom, we laid the remainder of them out on the dashboard to dry while we headed off for the next adventure du jour.