Southwest Conservation Corps - Second Hitch September 18-27, 2010

We started hitch at Great Sand Dunes NP, working with Park Ranger Bill Stalker. We spent time cleaning the Nature Trail that leads to Mosca Pass Trail. That day we witnessed a dust storm, high winds, and spectacular dune hills spitting sand, swirling up above the ridges and disappearing into the air.

The following day Cory and went with Geologist Andrew Valdez to install hydrological telemetry equipment in the mountains. Before leaving he explained the parks air quality testing equipment, then collected the air filters to be sent off to UCLA for analysis. The equipment reads water flow in a creek, then sends the information at precisely the right time using GPS. Thus it eliminates the need for people like Andrew to drive deep into the mountains over several hours and risk getting stuck in sand or with a flat tire on rugged terrain.

Our last day at Sand Dunes, we worked through several hours of rain. It continued to rain, and by morning the Dunes had received more than 1/8 of their annual rain fall. We were offered shelter in the GSD Resource Management building and were grateful for the warmth and a kitchen and bathroom.

The following morning broke clear with sun and clouds climbing up into the high peaks from the low valleys and plains. We cleared fence posts from a historic settlement out near Crestone. By afternoon, we were leaving for Salida for further instructions. We were sent out behind Salida Mountain to maintain and renovate an "expert" level bike trail.

While moving a rockfor the construction of a rock wall to create a banked curve around a drop-off, I crushed the tip of my pointer finger. I was in the hospital with a doctor within 45 minutes.

The Great Sand Dunes
I believe this is the Lophocampa Maculata caterpillar
A great dust storm approaches
Office of Andrew Valdez, Great Sand Dunes NP Geologist
Air quality testing instruments
Installing Hydrological Telemetry Equipment
Walking back wet after a working a long rainy day
On the road to Crestone
Cabin designated as a historic building
Starting on an embankment in the Salida Mountain Trails network
Morning after my accident, smashing a finger under a rock
I required some assistance the first few days
Partial protection!

Mount Yale Summit September 16, 2010

On a Thursday, I drove from Salida to Beuna Vista, and from there to the San Isabel National Forest, to Denny Creek Trailhead. Entering the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area, I hiked about 2 miles in, 2,000 feet up, and making camp by a river in the valley. Not realizing in which direction the summit lie, I began a day hike with just a bottle of water and half loaf of bread. bushwhacking off the trail, climbing on all fours, grasping embedded rocks and dead trees, I made it up the first steep hill of two. Rising over its ridge revealed the next one, so close I had to climb to it. Only then did I come upon a trail and realize that I was making a B-line for the summit. Since I had made it so close already, I could bring myself to turn around for proper food and more than a 27 oz water bottle (about 1/3 full). What looked like a half hour walk turned into a full hour or more, hobbling over boulders to make the last 30 yards or so. Rather tired and cold and thirsty, having ascended 4,300 feet over several miles, I made the mistake of taking the shortest route back to the ridge I had come up, and had to slide/climb my way down the talus rock hill / cliff depicted in the 6th picture from the top. Back at the bottom I came across several of the hikers I had met along the trail, who turned out to be with the "14ers Initiative." One had formerly worked for SCC in Durango. Their camp is the second picture from the bottom.