Sunset Rocks Trail

Today, I went on another Colorado Mountain Club hike, this time traveling solo while Dianne attended church.  For once I had to carry my own lunch.

The hike was on the Sunset Rocks Trail in the Gunnison National Conservation Area east of Olathe.  That’s about an hour’s drive south of the Grand Valley.  From our old house in Aurora, an hour’s drive would only take me to the other side of the metro area. Here, I reach trailheads.

Three out of four fellow hikers hailed from Montrose, and they met at 8:00 a.m.  That meant I had to get up long before sunup and leave Fruita at 6:30 to meet them at the turnoff in Olathe a bit after 8:00.  I’m desperately allergic to mornings, making this the most painful part of the endeavor. Driving in, we passed some colorful hills on the way to the trailhead.

The first part of the hike took us to a cave/tunnel through the rock.  I always though to be a good cave, it had to have stalagmites and stalactites or at least a hibernating bear.  This one had none of the above.

From there, the hike was largely across rocky, nondescript terrain sparsely covered with piñon and juniper.  The trail was largely up and down, which offered the feeling of getting a good workout. 

Part of the route was open to ATVs and the rest open to dirt bikes.  It’s been said that ATVs/dirt bikes are Japan’s revenge for Hiroshima, and I believe it.  We encountered tracks, but fortunately encountered none of the above.  They must have all been in church.

Besides the lack of motorized madness, the beauty of the hike were the views.  To the south stretched a wall of the San Juan’s jagged peaks rising above a layer of clouds.  Below to the west lay the farmlands around Olathe and Delta with the Uncompahgre Plateau offering a dark barrier beyond.  To the north and east rose the hills we would next have to ascend and descend.

We stopped for brunch at our arbitrary turnaround point, about three miles from the trailhead.  From there, it was turn around and hike back to the cars.  Civilization and beer lay beyond.