Geology Alumni Trip to Canyonlands

Last spring, geology alumni gathered in Canyonlands National Park, Utah to mountain bike the White Rim Trial.  The ride was fun, evenings in camp were relaxing, and the food was great!!  Faculty on the trip included John Stamm and Bruce Bartleson (Jim Coogan tried to make it by got sick at the last minute!  Bummer!!).  Keri Nelson, a geology undergrad joined us and was incredibly helpful. The alumni and friends were: June Just, Maryjean Schwarzwelder, Jill Norton, Gary Skipp, Fred Conrath, Mike Cole, Carol Quinn, Lisa Starkebaum, Lauren Wolfe, and Dave Kozlowski.  The ride was a four day trip from March 15-18.  For much of its 100 mile length, the White Rim Trail follows exposures of the White Rim Sandstone, a Permian dune deposit.


View of the Permian White Rim Sandstone in Canyonlands National Park. On the first day, we descended from the Island in the Sky, down to the Green River at Mineral Bottom.  After about 36 miles of biking, we camped at Potato Bottom and enjoyed stir-fried chicken and a rousing game of cheek darts (if you’ve never played, you’ll have to join us on the next trip).  On the next day, we climbed up Murphy’s Hogback and camped at the Murphy campground.  It was a short ride, only 21 miles, so we had time to hike.  We were treated to great views, a great discussion of the geology of Canyonlands by John, Bruce, and alums, and a great chili dinner.  On the third day, we got a little wet and enjoyed beautiful views of spectacular dry falls (it’s a lie – they all had water in them) and desert erosion features.  We covered 27 miles and were treated to Bruce’s special dinner of ham and pineapple burgers.  The fourth day was very wet, but a group of hard-core bikers were able to ascend 20 miles up the Shafer trail in the snow and rain.  The rest of us rode the vehicles out and enjoyed the scenery.

Some alumni had an adventure getting back home because we ended the trip on the day that the huge snowstorm it Denver!  Several mountain passes in the Front Range were closed for days!  Overall, it was a great trip with lots of new friendships and lots of stories to share at the geology Homecoming party.  Look for emails about a trip next spring – hope you can join us.

Alumni Bike Trip

At the start of the ride, preparing to descend into the canyon near Mineral Bottoms. Left to right: June Just, Carol Quinn, Keri Nelson, Jill Norton, Dave Kozlowski, Gary Skipp, Maryjean Schwarzwelder, Mike Cole, Lauren Wolfe, Fred Conrath, and Bruce Bartleson. John Stamm was the unofficial photographer, Lisa Starkebaum is not in the picture.

On the top of Murphy’s Hogback.  Left to right: Maryjean Schwarzwelder, June Just, Bruce Bartleson, Lisa Starkebaum, John Stamm, Lauren Wolfe, Fred Conrath, Jill Norton.

June Just

June Just making her way up the Shaffer Trail on the snowy ascent from the canyon floor.

Keri Nelson at the top of Schaffer Trail

Keri Nelson at the top of the Schaffer Trail just as a blast of snow hits just us at the end of the ride.