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Published: August 28th 2008
On the drive out to the canyon Rich wanted to introduce me to a friend of his who lives on a bus in the middle of nowhere. This guy lives soley off solar power in a renovated school bus. He cooks in a solar oven and has none of the trappings of conventional life except a little table and chair set for visitors out the front. Unfortunately, he was out when we passed by so I didn't get to meet him, but what a way to live eh?
Black canyon is so named because of the black volcanic rock and the depth of the gorges, which are so deep (apparently 2,000 feet) and so narrow that sunlight doesn't reach its depths, making it look black.
We did the 8mile rim walk. For the first couple of miles, the cliffs are very steep and the canyon is at its narrowest - only 1,150 feet across. I love it because there are no fences or ropes. There are no warning signs telling you not to go too near the edge. It is up to you how close you get to the drops. That surprised me, as I thought the US were
as "protected" as the British people.
There are several overlooks, which have amazingly jagged, precipitous rocks and pinnacles. We used these look-out points to get some shade and chuck rocks to see how long it took for them to strike the ground below. It got quite competitive! We didn't know at the time that these rocks are the oldest exposed rocks on the planet. Over 2 billion years old.
Ouray Hot Springs
We arrived late in the day and before we collected our packs from the car we were given the tour of the facilities. We were led straight out to the back area, where the various pools are. Straight away, I saw that everyone was naked. And my god, there was all shapes and sizes. I've never seen saggy balls like that!
Rich, as a surprise, had booked us a room. After nights of camping on hard ground with no showers it was lovely to know I would sleep on a bed with sheets and be able to have a shower, but I just wasn't prepared for this weird naturist sex camp.
I felt really British as I was one of the few to keep
my bikini on. Maybe it was me being paranoid and prudish, but I felt there was a sexual undercurrent. Whilst in the boiling hot pool I felt it only right to voice what I was feeling, so I asked rather naively if this was a place to pick up? To which Marco answered, "Why are you looking for that?" I later learned that Marco was a bi-sexual sex addict so left Richard in the pool whilst I went and sampled some quiet time in the sauna.
The next day, after breakfast in this very cute little town called Ouray, we drove out to another lake in the Rockies for a hike. We weren't expecting to do much of a walk. Little did we know that it would take us until dusk and that finding a place to camp that night would be quite an experience?
The hike was beautiful, starting off at the water’s edge and then slowly climbing through the banks and over rocks. I really enjoy a good scramble over rocks, jumping from rock to rock, trying to work out the quickest route and whether it's stable enough to take a foothold. We took a breather
You can climb down these cliffs to the bottom but apparently it's quite a technical climb and takes about 4hrs to get down and a lot more to come back up.
on some big rocks and Rich had a swim. We continued on, about half way around the lake and it started dawning on us that it was a much more complex climb than we first thought. There was no real path so we had to fight our way through sections. I climbed to the rim which offered amazing views of the clearing, whist Rich persevered at the water’s edge until we met up near the end.
By the time we got into the car we needed to think about where we were going to camp for the night. Matt had suggested a Canyon so we headed for that. It was an eerie drive. The road just descended down and down, the steep rocks either side created weird shapes in the fading light and the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere began to play on my mind. I started thinking of the film "Deliverance". Not good. I thought what if we had an accident? I would have to run miles and miles to get help (I never thought for one moment I would be hurt!) Or, what if some weird man pops up with a gun, what would
This shot took about 10 takes and it's still not right. I was trying not to get any ground at the bottom of the pic, so it looked like Rich was just floating in mid air. I didn't have the heart for it not to make the edit after all his jumping.
I do? Perhaps it's because I'm used to living in a highly populated country, but the concept of being absolutely isolated, with no law enforcement, in such a barren and desolate place, all became a little creepy.
And then we skidded off the road.
It was a close thing, but Rich managed to grab the steering wheel and keep us from plunging into the rocks below. That was enough for me to insist we turn round and head back up to the road to find a place to camp. On the way back up, we passed a girl on a quad bike with about 16 dogs following her to ask if there was anywhere around to camp. She directed us to the road.
Eventually, we got back to the upper areas of the canyon, where we took a path that looked like it could lead to a fairly flat piece of ground. This is where we set up camp in the dark and lit our fire.
For a while, as I was cooking and Rich was watching the fire, all was going well, but then a gust of wind took a piece of the fire and we
saw it igniting everything. OMG! We screamed at each other for water and cloths. But everything was so dry that a tiny ember would set alight anything on the ground. We stamped on everything, I got the lid of the pan and whacked all the new flames. I had visions of running away from a huge forest fire and the whole area becoming engulfed. I just cannot describe how scary that moment was until we had it under control and flung liters of water at the whole area. Neither of us could relax for hours afterwards and we both kept checking the sodden area well into the night.
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