Dinosaur NM, Colorodo NM, 2011
With a local holiday and a long weekend I decided it had been a bit too long since I had been out camping, so I took out an atlas and decided to go to one of the few places in Utah I had yet to visit, Dinosaur National Monument. It was always a bit out of the way so I never quite made it there, but after hearing the history of the place in a documentary I figured it was time to make a trip. After a long drive through some beautiful roads in Utah I finally made it to the park. I spent one day just going around doing the various drives and all the stopoffs in the canyon country in Colorado. There really are some gorgeous canyons there...from one of the short hikes out to a viewpoint there were just three different canyons joining together, some gorgeous winding thousand foot deep sandstone canyons with large rivers at the bottom. Completely impressive from above! In the afternoon I went for a rather swealtering hike in the desert area around the tilted rocks which had a very wide variety of colors from the colorado basin reds to purples and yellows with the white sandstone in the background. I also stopped by some petroglyph displays and an old homestead but slept after the passing of a lightning storm, hoping for good weather in the morning.
The next day I went on a short overnight backpacking trip through Jones Hole. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to get out alone, but the moment that the road started dropping down into the canyon I was instantly glad I decided to go. The canyon walls were gorgeous faulted vertical sandstone, mixing in layers from reds to whites like the Kolob Canyons. Starting from the fish hatchery, the trail meandered along a pretty little creek with the canyon slowly changing. About halfway down the canyon there were series of petroglyphs in alcoves in the canyon walls still colored deep vibrant reds. All the way at the end of the trail the creek fed into the Green River, and there was a whole bunch of rafting campgrounds there! There must have been about two to three large groups staying there for the night; as I hiked back up to the backcountry campground there were a number of groups of people that were hiking up to the petroglyphs and the waterfalls. But as the sun started to go down I was alone again, listening to the lovely background song of the Ely and Jones Creeks, looking up at the stars and watching the clouds form and pass overhead.
After a great sleep I woke up early the next morning. Thankfully the rains had held off. The clouds made all kinds of interesting shapes and the morning sun made the canyon walls almost glow orange. Going out seemed quicker, but for such a short trail it really was quite relaxing and one of the most beautiful canyons I'd seen in a while. The actual dinosaur quarry was closed, but on the way out I did a very brief ranger guided fossil trail. It was different seeing the fossils in their natural setting as before I'd only ever seen bones in museums. The main exhibits weren't opening up until October, so maybe someday it'll be an excuse to drag some friends out to this pretty place to go rafting down the Yampa.
Driving home I took a different road through Western Colorado and got to unexpectedly drive through one of the gorgeous mountain passes I loved from the year before, spending some more time among the pines and aspens. I stopped off at Colorado National Monument, a place where I had been to with my father on our cross country trip. Being alone, however, I walked along some of the different trails along the rim of the canyon looking out at the beautiful fins and spires. Someday I'll need to get back and explore the canyons...who knows maybe if I can convince my father I found a route up from the bottom he might rejoin me again!
I replaced the battery cover in my Minolta that I lost in Switzerland, so again it was time seeing if I could finally expose some of the new film the way I wanted. I used a mixture of Kodak Ektachrome E200 and E100VS. I still am warming up to E200 and am glad I have a bunch to use over the next few years.
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