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Desertlavender

Chasing the Totality

Day Seven: Rabbit Ears

We were very happy to retrace our steps the following morning along lovely Stuntz Ridge, where there are views all across the monument. There are many more places we'd like to explore in Dinosaur National Monument and would like to spend at least a full week here. Back on US 40, we rolled east through the baked plains of western Colorado that slowly begin to undulate into treeless gray-green hills with the deep blue silhouette of the Rocky Mountains on the horizona. Today's mission was to buy a warm wool blanket, since even in the canyons we were too cold at night, and we were heading into higher country. Our search took us to downtown Craig, which was one of our two favorite towns on the this trip. A true Western town, it still has a quirky restored downtown with a nice assortment of shops and, most importantly, a bookstore/coffee shop tended by two giddy volunteers who kept us in stitches while serving up coffee and local lore.

Past Steamboat Springs we began climbing in earnest toward Rabbit Ears Pass. There was supposed to be "plenty of dispersed camping on either side of the pass." In fact, there are very few legal spaces, and access is strictly high clearance 4WD. No problem for us of course, and we ended up nabbing the perfect camping spot on the edge of a meadow at 9600 feet with a view of Rabbit Ears.
We slept in and had a relaxed morning, but kept admiring the ridge that seemed to curve around toward Rabbit Ears. Wouldn't it be more interesting than following the road?
So off we went, scrambling up a steep slope through a riot of summer wildflowers. For a while we had easy walking along an old road, but when the road ran out we were clinging to the edge of a steep, brushy slope. Eventually we dropped back down to the road and slogged up the hill the last mile-and-a-half to the namesake rock formation.
We were rewarded with stupendous views, including our first snow-capped peaks in the distance.
In June, 2017, one of the ears fell off, and now Rabbit Ears looks more like Pussy Hat Rock.
It was about four miles in all, but most of it off trail and above 10,000 feet. Not too back for a couple of old goats. Back home for lunch and an al fresco shower.
At a nearby campground we filled our 20-gallon water tank from a hand pump, one plastic water jug at a time. It was 3:00 pm by the time we got on the road that day.
Next: Eclipse!