Rocky Mountain High

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Once again, I leave Jackson, Wyo. threading my way south through Flaming Gorge, and out onto the Colorado Plateau.  First stop is the “Wall of Bones” in Dinosaur National Monument.  We’ve done a bang-up job with our WPA-style poster design here.

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At my talk in Rocky Mountain National Park, I reserve a front row seat for an old friend, Tom Hornbein, of West Ridge Mt. Everest fame. As a teenager, Tom offered me weekend rides down to Mt. Rainier where he guided for Lute Jerstad after Everest.  I was volunteering with the Camp Schurman project on the NE side of the mountain.  It was Tom who coaxed me to apply for dental school–thanks Tom!  He’s now 85 and with two new hip replacements, we’re planning on tying on a climbing rope next month….stay tuned for this one!

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Also at my talk (Beaver Meadows, Estes Park NP), was Pat Yeager Washburn, daughter of Dorr Yeager who promulgated the WPA poster series of the National Park Service….and one of my all time heroes.  I signed her poster and she signed her father’s autobiography, “Bob Flame–Rocky Mountain Ranger.”  You never know who is in your audience…..  Thanks Pat!

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The next exciting stop was Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, formed first as a National Monument in 1933.  It is spectacular–like the Grand Canyon squished together to within a mile.  This vertical perspective looks 2000′ straight down!   Ranger Mike gave me a personal tour.  When asked if base jumpers had ever tried here (it is illegal, btw), he simply stated that there is simply no place to land–and I believe him.  I’m doing a WPA-style silk screen poster of this magnificent National Park, numbering my 150th park unit visited!

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After Black Canyon of the Gunnison, I push on first to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon where I attend the Condor talk which preceded my WPA talk.  I did not see any condors, but am told that there are about 435 birds now back in the wild in several states, after the remaining 22 were captured in 1987 for a captive breeding program.  Here on the South Rim, I ponder the Moran View perspective–also used by WPA artists for the source of their design.  If you compare this photo to the poster, it is the river and the distant cliff (upper left) that defines this perspective.  It took a Grand Teton, Jenny Lake Ranger to figure this out, I might add……

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Leaving the east entrance to Grand Canyon, one is greeted by the Vermillion Cliffs area–eye candy for a geologist. Vermillion Cliffs was designated a National Monument in 2000.

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Millions of years of Mesozoic deposits are stripped away here by ancient rivers and wind revealing all sorts of wonder.

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Navajo Bridge is part of the Glen Canyon NRA, one of 413 NPS units, built in 1927-9 to replace Lee’s Ferry and dedicated with a bottle of ginger ale as it was then during prohibition. I’m standing on this bridge looking at the new version completed in 1995. California Condors, now numbering 435, perch here looking for carrion.

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This is the new Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center–it opened in 1997–worth a visit for sure!  Stay tuned–Mt. Lassen is next!

 

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