A grand Meeander
The area southwest of Grand Junction offers immense opportunity for exploring interesting sandstone features. Taking a break from the endless snow in Summit County, some friends and I spent a week in the area starting April 27, 2011, the main goal being to hike to some remote arches. But we could not leave the snow behind entirely and spent one day skiing the famed east face of Mt. Tukuhnikivatz east of Moab.
Jonathan Kriegel and I needed perseverance and tools (ice ax, crampons, and a whippet) to climb the east ridge. While the descent was in skiable, but not great, snow conditions, it was overall a fanatastic day and very satisfying to reach this summit towering over eight thousand feet above Moab. Read about skiing the La Sals at Wagon’s website.
Back to sandstone, we first returned to West Rim Arch on the west side of Rattlesnake Canyon. We had visited the top of it last year, but this time we entered the canyon quite directly and contoured around to the bottom of the arch, which has a completely different feel than the top. One can climb right inside the arch for an intriguing view.
And to finish we headed to Mee Canyon with its famous giant alcove, known to cavers as Grand Meeander Cave. The trail down into the canyon is remarkable for an official BLM trail, as it has several sections of steep scrambling and exposed ledges. At the bottom is the gigantic alcove: At 300 feet deep, 200 feet wide, and about 80 feet high; it’s the largest known alcove on the Colorado Plateau.
Exploring the depths of the cave was rewarding. This would have been a perfect place to try HDR (high dynamic range) photography, though I did not do that. But I did use a tripod, allowing some longer exposures in the dark regions.
Check out this page on Stan Wagon’s website for more detailed info, including GPS locations on the arches near Grand Junction.
Another useful web site for this area is Bob Fagley’s catalog at http://users.sisna.com/archman/Rattlesnake.html. And if you visit the area, check out Gelato Junction in downtown GJ; they make the best gelato I have ever tasted, made from local fruit such as peaches, pears, and plums.
Filed under: hiking, Morning photo, photography, recreation, Travel, West Tagged: | Colorado, Colorado arches, Colorado Plateau, Grand Junction, Mee Canyon, Rattlesnake Canyon, Southwest, Stan Wagon, Summit County Colorado, Travel