Black Canyon of the GunnisonThe last time we were here the snow was 10 feet deep and the Park Rangers said we could go to the overlooks if we had snow shoes. We went back to Gunnison and priced snow shoes and decided to wait for some summer day in the far future.
I try to hard boil some eggs using my usual method for perfect hard boiled eggs and the centers are gooshy. I also ruin some wild rice trying to cook it for 45 minutes in my normal fashion.
The problem, of course, is that water boils at 190F at 9,000 feet as compared to 212F at sea level. So the eggs and rice cook very differently at altitude. I seem to remember the Armstrong limit which finds that blood, tears, saliva and other bodily fluids boil at about 63,000 feet, and altitude above which unpressurised humans cannot survive more than a minute or two.
The canyon is one of the steepest and deepest in the world. Parts of the canyon recieve only 33 minutes of sunlight a day.
The Gunnison river drops 34 feet per mile on average compared with seven feet a mile in the Grand Canyon. The rock is extremely hard so that the fast flowing river gouges out only about an inch every hundred years. Geologists believe that the 2,000 foot deep black canyon has taken 2 million years to develop.
We've been crisscrossing the Rocky Mountains for several days. Our highest altitude in the RV so far is 11,400 feet. This is the limit of the Complete Compensatory Stage of hypoxia, (5,000 - 11,400 ft). Visual sensitivity at night is decreased by 30 percent at 10,000 feet. Performance of new tasks may be impaired due to memory issues.When I was flying c-124s we had to go on oxygen at 10,000 feet.
A diversion tunnel was completed bringing water to the Montrose Area. 26 men were killed during the 4 year undertaking. The tunnel was finally completed in 1909, stretching a distance of 5.8 miles and costing nearly 3 million dollars. At the time, the Gunnison Tunnel held the honor of being the world's longest irrigation tunnel. On September 23, President William Howard Taft dedicated the tunnel in Montrose.
To get 2,000 feet down to the Gunnison, you follow the East Portal Road, which has slopes up to 16 degrees and a vehicles length limit of 22 feet.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, the Gunnison canyon was thought to be impenetrable. However, two men navigated the canyon in eleven days on a rubber air mattress to survey the canyon in preparation for building the diversion dam and tunnel.
Porcupines gnaw chunks out of the ancient Pinion trees. They seldom completely encircle the trees and kill them.
This Pinion tree is about 800 years old. The Pinion Jay hides the Pinion nuts far and wide and can remember about 80 percent of where these were located. The other 20 percent are well situated to become new trees.
Mr. and Mrs. Phred at the end of a long hike up and down hills at 9,000 feet...Notice my new "Mothers of Invention...Freak Out!" T-shirt....uber cool...
In case you didn't believe me about the altitude, Mrs. Phred took this picture.
The Gunnison diversion dam/tunnel is accessible via East Portal Road which is on the South Rim of the canyon. Although the tunnel itself is not visible, the diversion dam can be seen from the campground. The tunnel is ten feet high, eight feet wide and 5.8 miles long. Rafting or tubing below the campground is highly not recommended for amateurs.