Tag Archives: Gold Star Canyon

climbing otto's staircase in gold star canyon

Gold Star Canyon up to Otto’s Staircase

“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.”
Ed Viesturs, No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks

“Climbing is as close as we can come to flying.”
Margaret Young

Kids were complaining pretty loudly this morning.

I blame it on the birthday party we had yesterday.

You see, following my ‘I’m a mean mom’ mantra, I only throw ‘friend parties’ for my kids every four years. Connor was only turning 9 so he just had his friend party last year. This year: family.

Mean, right?

Anyhoo- so we did lots of fun stuff yesterday: ate waffles, went to the park, had Wendy’s for lunch, got him a flute, opened presents, make/frosted/ate cake, went bowling, played Wii, went to Olive Garden for dinner…You get the idea.

So I’m going to blame bad attitudes today on the comparable bliss of yesterday.

Climbing to the rescue!

You see, if I say, ‘Let’s go for a hike!’ then there will be noisy protests. But “You kids wanna go climbing?” then it’s packs-on-get-in-the-car-let’s-go-asap!

I figured Gold Star Canyon would be just the ticket. It’s an area I’m very familiar with that I knew I could coach them up, and it would give us a chance to check out [read that as: find and explore for future exploiting] Otto’s Staircase.

I also figured it would be ice/snow-free.

I was wrong.

There were still several ice flows…from a few inches to a few feet…ice sheets coating the cliffs. I was amazed! This is notoriously one of the drier canyons. I’ve even intentionally tried to catch a flash-flood there when it’s been raining. To no avail.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The kids had a marvelous time climbing up and up and up. Each one had their own ‘skill line’.

Eventually we reached the bench trail and soon after found the fork that leads up up up up up up to the cliff face, where we found, hidden behind an old leafless juniper tree, a rudimentary staircase carved into the rock.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Trinity and Tim climbed quickly up it. I made an attempt but was concerned that I would be a little too uncomfortable on the return descent. Matt came to the same conclusion.

We decided it would be better to wait for an opportunity when we could climb all the way up to the top, then hike out on the upper Liberty Cap trail [with a pit-stop at Otto’s Bathtub, of course].

BTW- the views were immense!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We went back the way we came…slowly and carefully… and hiked out the Bench Trail and the more traditional Gold Star Canyon route.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It felt, at times, as though we were flying.

Now check out the ever impressive images Matt captured:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And this is my favorite:

otto's staircase

gold star canyon colorado national monument

Golden Stars

“When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.” 
― William Shakespeare

Feeling unrested after a busy day and several nights of sleeplessness, I wasn’t up for much today. Melinda said she needed to get out after a busy day as well, so I thought we’d go do a short hike up the Gold Star Canyon drainage. This is becoming one of my favorite short-trail experiences. It’s a little hiking and a lot of rock scrambling, and it takes you somewhere hidden and cool.

I won’t bore you with what we talked about (mostly our busy week), so I’ll just skip to the cool stuff. The sun had set before we set out up the canyon. We watched as the Bookcliffs went from bright, to shaded, to dark.

When we turned to head down, I pulled the two headlamps from my pack- hooray for me being prepared! It would have been impossible to scramble down safely in the dark.

But here’s where things got cool: in the light of the headlamps the flecks of Mica and Quartz became highly reflective, and made the ground, which is in large part very dark granite and metamorphic rock, look like a bed of stars. It was very cool.

Not sure I have a single picture. How could you capture a moment like that?

But here’s one of the sunset:


white rocks grand junction

So Alone

“It’s better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone.” 
― Marilyn Monroe

Took a little trip up Gold Star canyon again today. It’s been raining a lot and I was hoping for a little risky scramble up some waterfalls. I was dismayed to see that any water that might have come down the canyon was already dried up. It still ended up raining on me most of the time. I did wander over to the White Rocks. Must bring kids to play.

Also- I hate my Achilles!

IMG_0549 IMG_0552 IMG_0553 IMG_0554