River's got me hypnotized & it slows my busy mind.
I know what's waiting for me up around the next bend,
I 'm up the canyon headed home again.
The String Cheese Incident
Elk Creek Campground has been our home for several days now. It is in the Curecanti National Recreation area & it is fabulously spread out. We are on a little ridge by ourselves looking down into the campground. It reminds me of an Indian village; I can almost see the campfires burning. We like our small camping communities. We are by the largest body of water in CO & ironically do not have water hook ups in the campground or showers for that matter. Water rights in the west are a complicated but very interesting subject. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is probably our favorite national park so far. It is wild & remote & visitors are spread pretty thin out here. The geology is amazing. The rapidly descending Gunnison River has carved an incredible chasm 2900 ft deep through the ancient crystalline rock of the Gunnison Uplift at the rate of an inch per century. The rapidly descending water has exposed rock that is 1.7-billion-year-old. Parts of the gorge receive only 33 minutes of sunlight per day – hence, the Black Canyon. The beautiful canyon is so remote even the ancient Utes camped only on the rim. The first European access to this area was not until 1873 when a railroad tycoon was looking for a route to the gold & silver mines in the San Juan mountains. He was not deterred by the “impossible” reports surveyors brought back to him. Four hundred Irish & Italian immigrants labored a year to carve the fifteen-mile narrow gauge roadbed at the cost of $165,000 a mile in 1881 into the canyon. They were never able to complete the railroad through the canyon. All that effort & it was mainly used for recreational purposes! In the early 1900’s, settlers in the nearby arid Uncompahgre Valley lusted after the roaring waters of the Gunnsion. Once again, surveyors headed into the canyon. This time searching for a place to build a tunnel to channel the water. Their first attempt failed but undaunted, one of the original men, William Torrence, returned with Abraham Lincoln Fellows on a “rubber mattress” determined to succeed this time. The men journeyed on foot as far as they could, eventually reaching a place where the water roared through leaving no foot hold. After contemplating their situation for some time, Fellows jumped into the rapids, disappearing from site. Poor Torrence! He had no idea what had happened, but he bravely jumped in as well. Both men survived & after 10 days found a suitable spot for the tunnel. Our country was certainly founded by people with great will & determined spirits. One of the turnout signs was about lichens creating the foothold for other plant species on seeming inhospitable rock. ‘Subtle changes provide suitable habitat for a greater diversity of species. Greater diversity equals greater stability. Could this be true of human communities as well?” We were treated to staggering views, beautiful & steep drives (16% grade) & the chance sighting of a bear & two cubs as they crossed the road in front of us! Made our day!