Project: August 4-10, 2013
Host: Western State College of Colorado
Contact: Dr. Heather Thiessen-Reily
Peregrines soar amid the plunging cliffs as the sunlight plays on the pegmatite ribbons and folding layers of gneiss and shist that color the canyon walls. The steepness and depth of this canyon (2,722 ft) acted as a barrier to humans for thousands of years; its shadows so dark and its river so powerful, few dared to penetrate it. Come and walk along the rim and gaze deep into the canyon’s heart; travel down to the riverbed and trace the pathways of the narrow gauge rail line that was once called “the Scenic Line of the World.”
Recollect the words of Rudyard Kipling as he made his 1889 rail trek through the canyon, “We entered a gorge, remote from the sun, where the rocks were two thousand feet sheer, and where a rock splintered river roared and howled ten feet below a track which seemed to have been built on the simple principle of dropping miscellaneous dirt into the river and pinning a few rails a-top. There was a glory and a wonder and a mystery about the mad ride, which I felt keenly...until I had to offer prayers for the safety of the train."
Or imagine what it was like for explorers Torrence and Fellows as they navigated the river blind on air mattresses in 1901; "When about noon, we reached the mighty jaws past which there was to be no escape, a feeling of nervousness and dread came over me for the first time. Right then I made the only discouraging speech that was made during the entire trip, and I said to Torrence. 'Will, your last chance to go out is to the right. You can make it there if you wish, but if we cross the river at this point there can be no return; we must go on." Learn why “whiskey’s for drinkin’ and water’s for killin’” and the lessons of water in the west as we experience a once mighty river that has been tamed and regulated by dams and demands for irrigation. Come and experience one of America’s newest national parks.
Travel to Park: 87
Accommodations: CAMPING, TENTS
Food Prep: UNASSISTED, GROUPS
Phys. Demands: MODERATE
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park - NPS