Tuesday, August 9

Feeling 44

As I am up at 4:30AM for some horrible reason , I rouse myself from bed to sneak from the hotel to the SUV to drive to Black Canyon. The temperature a perfect 70 degrees , despite the hour , while HW 50 deserted. I turn into the National Park and curve along the mesa, passing the empty ranger station, a number of look-outs, the closed visitor center and eventually Painted Wall , pictured, where I set up my camera and await pre-dawn. The gorge, cut by the Gunnison River over millions of years, puts my balls into my stomach : one slip and it is a long ways down. I jump about the rocks with my tripod in a reckless fashion that would make Sonnet scream.

"At a sheer 2,300 feet, the Painted Wall, a prominent segment of the Black Canyon's north rim, is Colorado's highest cliff. The darker rock is Black Canyon Gneiss. The bold white and pink bands are granites and pegmatites injected during Middle Proterozoic (1.4 Ga) through Cambrian (~510 Ga) intrusions. Large books of white mica (muscovite) and crystals of pink potassium feldspar and translucent quartz give the pegmatites their lustrous pink look.

Just as Precambrian joints and faults controlled the placement of these igneous intrusions, the current regional jointing system now controls the locations of the side canyons cut by smaller streams left behind as the mighty Gunnison cut through the Gunnison Uplift.

These views look west from the Chasm View Nature Trail overlook, which is across the canyon from Chasm View on the South Rim. "
--Colorado Geology Photojournals