Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

More fall pics

From October 20-22, 2010, around Flagstaff, Arizona, and Los Alamos, New Mexico. The colors were at their peak. Enjoy!

I started with a drive northwest of Flagstaff, and up a very muddy Hart Prairie Road. A series of thunderstorms had swept through the area a couple hours before, and the storms were just clearing out.

Hart Prairie Road, north of Flagstaff

Aspens, north of Flagstaff

Clearing storm, San Francisco Peaks

I drove 400 miles east to Los Alamos, New Mexico. The ski area above the town, Pajarito Mountain, had been badly burned by the 2000 Cerro Grande fire. The aspens are rapidly growing up where the pine trees used to be, and it made for a colorful scene of still-blackened pines against the golden aspens.

Bit of red showing up

Pajarito Mountain, Los Alamos

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Louis Sullivan in Iowa

Three of the architect’s structures lie just a few miles off of I-80, so I paid them a visit on my drive west from Chicago to Omaha. These were all built late in his career, during one of the darkest periods of his life. Despite his difficult personal and financial circumstances at the time, Sullivan’s creativity remained undimmed, and these buildings are hallmarks of one of America’s most original architects.

I crossed the Mississippi River into Clinton, Iowa, a sleepy Midwestern town barricaded behind a levee. Sullivan’s building, the former Van Allen Department Store, the most prominent structure in the city, is located at the main crossroads of the town. It is reminiscent of the Gage Group in Chicago, with a nice balance of horizontal elements in the large Chicago windows, and these ‘vines’ that rise between the windows and blossom at the top.

 

Van Allen Building, Clinton, Iowa

 

 

Van Allen Building, detail

 

The next stop was Cedar Rapids, to visit the now closed, still heavily damaged People’s Savings Bank, located on the bank of the Cedar River opposite downtown. The great flood of 2008 partially submerged the structure, and it’s still boarded up, so it’s in desperate need of restoration. It’s a very understated building, with no multicolor decoration or organic motifs, but with subtle shades of brick red and smaller decorative elements that require a up close look.

 

People's Savings Bank, now Wells Fargo, still boarded up after the flood

 

 

Entrance detail

 

My final stop was the Merchants National Bank in Grinnell, IA. This is a building marked by a rather plain brick facade offset by a very exuberant cartouche above the main entrance. It’s the largest building on the block, sited at a corner, with a solid, but not out-of-scale presence. Sullivan was quite sensitive to the scale of the building and its surroundings, so one gets the impression that this is the dominant structure, while being harmonious with the other buildings nearby.

Merchants National Bank, Grinnell

Cartouche, detail

View in the context of the street

He has an additional building in northern Iowa, in Algona, which I did not have the chance to visit.

Colorado 14ers

Three of them in two days.

I woke up in Leadville to find frost covering my car, and stared out the window to see the peaks of the Sawatch Range covered in snow. Originally, I was intending to attempt Mt. Elbert, but instead headed further east. I figured that there would be less snow cover the further east I traveled, so I decided to hike Quandary Peak (14265′, 4349 m), Breckenridge’s local 14er, accessed by a relatively short, Class 1 hike. After some switchbacks in the woods, the trail gains the ridge and follows it to the summit.

Mountain goat

Trail following the ridgeline

Tenmile Range, view looking north

Tomorrow's 14ers, Bross, Lincoln, Cameron, Democrat, Mosquito Range

I drove the following day over Hoosier Pass to Alma, and took the very rough, steep road up to Kite Lake. The road is barely passable for 2WD vehicles, and requires plenty of care for 4WD, low clearance vehicles (like mine). After yesterday’s 3500 ft. elevation gain, I was ready for something a bit easier. Kite Lake is a gateway to a cluster of 14ers, Mts. Bross (14172′, 4321 m, closed), Democrat (14148′, 4313 m), Cameron (14239′, 4341 m), and Lincoln (14286′, 4355 m). I hiked to the saddle, and headed to Cameron and Lincoln. The first of them, Mt. Cameron, is little more than a broad, rounded pile of rocks, pretty unexceptional. Mt. Lincoln is a short walk away, down a couple hundred feet to another small saddle, and then a scramble around a false summit and finally up to the true summit.

The view from Lincoln is expansive, with the double bumps of Grays and Torreys to the northeast, the Sawatch Range to the west, and far in the distance across Park County, Pikes Peak and the Sangre de Cristos.

Mt. Lincoln from Mt. Cameron, Grays and Torreys Peaks on the left

View looking southeast, Kite Lake basin in the foreground, CO 9, Park County, and Pikes Peak in the background

Summit of Mt. Lincoln, that's a very steep drop in front.

Well, that was enough. I skipped Bross and Democrat, made my way back down, and carefully drove back to my lodging in Silverthorne.

They’re tough hikes, punishingly steep, but short.

The outstanding website 14ers.com has loads of useful information for anyone interested in hiking / climbing these peaks in Colorado.

 

Fall in Colorado

This is one of Nature’s greatest shows! I chased the fall colors in Colorado starting in Aspen, and going through McClure Pass, Kebler Pass, Crested Butte, and Ohio Pass, from September 23-27, 2010.

Maroon Bells, Aspen

McClure Pass

Kebler Pass road

Kebler Pass summit

Ohio Pass