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Flowing Through Colorado's Best Land

Gunnison, CO. Why try to restrain myself? I am in my favorite land in Colorado. Good luck to those who enjoy static shapes and colors in the landscape. But I'll never understand them, for better or for worse.  For me, the outdoor experience is primarily about motion, be it transportation, cyclical processes and strife in the environment, or my own motion as an observer.  Even an activity as pokey as hiking can provide enjoyment if I vicariously experience the frantic running of a doggie hunter companion. 

I don't care how the motion is achieved; be it horse, bicycle, a raven playing with ridge-lift, human hang gliders, or kayakers. (As long as it doesn't require a yukkie engine.) Perhaps I should add a You Tube gadget to this blog and let you click on the opening-credits scene of William Wyler's "The Big Country" (1957).

And indeed it is a big country in the upper valley of the Gunnison River. It's a land that has a healthy balance of horizontal and vertical characteristics in the topography. 

The Vertical makes the land visually interesting. The Horizontal invites motion. They each provide something that the other can't provide. They are like the alternating series of sine and cosine waves that monsieurs Laplace and Fourier added up to approximate any wiggle in the world.

There is a  unique opportunity to enjoy motion here, especially for a mountain biker who does not care for technical single tracks. You see, the land is a menagerie of granite hobgoblins.

Better yet, it is decomposing granite. It devolves into a coarse sand. When other places are monsoonal mud-holes, this land is merely wet, with good traction for wheeled machines, presumably because of the shear dilatancy of the granitic sand. The single tracks take on the concave trough-like shape of a toboggan run. In fact one of the trails is called the "Luge."

As a result you can enjoy the childlike pleasure of screaming down these troughs on your mountain bike, while still being relatively safe. How many times have you screamed "yee-hah" without feeling like you are begging for an accident?

By pure luck this was the time for the annual "Rage in the Sage," a 24 hour mountain bike race. How many places could you mountain bike all night with a headlight on and not break your neck?! From the dispersed campsite I could see mountain bikers screaming down an inclined ridgeline, silhouetted against the sunset. Glorious and unique!


  1. Yes, motion is everywhere as you pointed out by mentioning decomposing granite.
    A study of the geology of the area would be interesting.
    Looking at the rock formations you was that formed? Did they topple down from higher places or were they formed from wind and rain erosion?
    Change is everywhere. That's all we can ever be sure of and change is motion. Sometimes it's interesting to stop and look at the motion that isn't so evident, the motion that occurs so slowly that we don't easily see it.
    I can imagine though how lovely it would be to watch bikers flying down a hillside in the dark, silhouetted as you described. Bit like an erupting volcano spewing its contents at great force......only the bikers have control...i.e., can scream "yee-hah" without fear while the volcano brings doom.
    I guess control is the bottom line in determining pleasure rather than fear. Well, let's enjoy it while it lasts.

    1. George, I guess most of the shapes are erosive.


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