It has been some years since I went down the Gunnison Gorge. In that time I feel as though I’ve matured (slightly) and am generally much more prepared to tackle logistical problems that places like the Gorge present. For instance, I’ve learned that the sun is hot on the Chukar Trail, and to leave early, so as to do your hike in the cool morning air, void of the relentless summer sun.
My partner and I arrived at the trail, and despite the fact that we planned accordingly, we failed to take into account the cumbersome anatomy of your standard rowing frame. So while the first trip down was uneventful, the second trip proved to nearly break our spirits. In hindsight, those mules look like a heck of deal.
Campsites are a premium, and while you may have your pick if you’re early enough, experience is the only way to know which ones offer the best accommodations. This issue was of further importance to us as we had elected to use our hammocks once again. The Gunnison Gorge, while gorgeous isn’t exactly a thicket of pine trees, but rather a collection of small Juniper trees that can easily be mistaken for shrubbery. That being said, we picked the best option that we determined based on some Google Earth images. I get ahead of myself however, there was much that had to happen before we slept for the evening.
In an effort to curb the weight on our backs we only brought 2 beers and enough ice for cold cocktails at camp. After that hike that beer tasted so good.
We meandered through the upper canyon, this section is mellow in comparison to the lower half and allows for a more relaxing day of cocktails sight seeing. While the entire run is only 14 miles it is easily broken into a 2 or 3 day jaunt. Just due to the fact you have to carry your equipment down the mountain means you are investing almost half a day worth of effort to get started. Point being, don’t do it as a day trip as there is so much to see and do on the relatively short stretch down there.
Camp was pitched in the early evening, and our selection turned out to be fortuitous. Mature Juniper trees offered several hanging options, and a makeshift bench served as our table to prepare our freeze dried food selection.
Remember how we didn’t bring beer in order to save weight? Instead we put some ice in a Hydroflask to make some bourbon and cokes that evening. Best idea ever. Nothing like a cold drink after a long day in the woods.