OUT: Haggerty’s Hikes May 03, 2009
“In Tuckerland, hiking is what you do when you run out of gas. Jogging is running out of gas in the ’hood.”
There are some able-bodied Grand Valley residents who completely refrain from outdoor activity — as if they live here just for the big salaries.
My buddy Keith Tucker is one of them.
He and wife Gail have lived here for years. Gail is always out and about, soaking up that vitamin D and enjoying the sights and sounds of wild places and wild things.
Meanwhile, Keith, a La Z Boy AND BarcaLounger aficionado, has remained inside — on the recliner in front of the TV or in the garage labeling screws, nails and washers by size and function. (He also spent time exercising in his neighbor’s garage: 12-ounce curls with his neighbor spotting for him.)
Yet, out of the blue, Tucker called and said, “OK, I’m ready for my virgin hike. Take me.”
That kind of freaked me out.
I thought he was crazy, so I told him a good hike up Mount Garfield would cure him. Yet, I saw him a few days later, and he still wanted to hike.
Whoa. The earth was shifting on its axis. Global warming had fried his brain.
He was serious, though, so I said, “Meet you at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.”
That gave him time to worry.
“I told Gail I just didn’t know what to wear,” he confessed out loud. “Should I take a fanny pack or a day pack? Should I wear boots or tennis shoes? Long pants or shorts? How
many water bottles should I take?”
Whew. Calm down, Sparky!
I had decided on McDonald Creek, a gentle hike with beautiful pools of water puddled in the soft, brown sandstone; with well-preserved pictographs left as signs of past civilizations; with easy access to the city — since Keith had never been west of Fruita and I didn’t want to frighten him.
Yet, the day of our hike, a funny thing happened with the ¼-inch copper tubing on the swamp-cooler line.
And I had a mess.
Handily, Tucker does have a few redeeming qualities besides being a two-time winner on the Dos Hombres Tequila Wall of Fame: He’s real handy and he owns and operates TUXX Carpentry and Drywall.
Just the guy I needed after a 6-foot by 6-foot portion of the ceiling fell into one of the upstairs bedrooms.
We surveyed the situation and realized I wasn’t going for a lengthy hike any time soon.
Nonetheless, we adroitly made a plan for Keith to fix the ceiling the following day, and took a short hike anyway. (Glenda was not real happy with that decision, by the way!)
We trekked into No Thoroughfare Canyon, just inside the Colorado National Monument’s
east entrance where I discovered Tucker had long legs and was in good shape, the whiner!
We didn’t hike far, a little more than a mile and a half to the first waterfall. At one point Keith stopped and said, “Listen.”
“It’s so quiet.”
Yea,” I said, realizing he was used to the sounds of nail-guns and Jim Rome on ESPN radio.
The desert flowers were beginning to bloom in the lower canyon, and the cottonwoods were budding out rapidly. The creek was flowing and the reeds and cattails along the creek bed were showing signs of life.
The colorful canyon walls — up close and personal instead of from a car window — fascinated this self-proclaimed couch potato, and I think he actually enjoyed the hike.
At least until we came to that first waterfall. It was beautiful, of course, but as soon as we stopped, the gnats came out. Keith emptied his fancy new boots of sand, we swatted a few gnats, then hustled back down the trail to the tremendous mess in the bedroom.
To find No Thoroughfare Canyon, take Grand Avenue over the Colorado River as it turns into Broadway. Turn left at Monument Road, (yes the new bridge over the Redlands Canal is complete) and stay on that into the Colorado National Monument. About .2 miles past the Monument entrance, there’s a parking lot on the left (south) side of the road. The trailhead is at the south end of this parking lot.
This lower reach of trail through No Thoroughfare Canyon is easy to follow to the second waterfall, a mile upstream from the first waterfall. Beyond that, the trail is undeveloped and travels through remote country with canyon walls rising more than 400 feet above the canyon floor. Take a GPS, a compass, a good map and lots of water if you’re going to attempt the longer trip.
But, for a short hike, even a couch-potato like Keith can handle it.
NO THOROUGHFARE CANYON
Drive time and distance: 10 minutes, 5 miles
Length: 1.8 miles one way to first waterfall; 8.5 miles one way to the top of the Monument
Hiking Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes to a day or more
Difficulty: Easy on the bottom, but very remote, steep and difficult further up the trail