Rivers of Time
Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison River - so named because the canyon walls are often hidden in shadows, thus making them appear black - is one of the steepest, deepest, baddest, narrowest canyons in the world. For example, the canyon’s Painted Wall - the tallest sheer cliff in Colorado and featured prominently in this view - rises 2,250 feet (685 meters) from river to rim. At its narrowest point the canyon is only 40 ft (12 m) wide at the river. And that river drops an average of 43 feet per mile (8 m/km) through the entire 53-mile-long canyon, making it the 5th steepest mountain descent in North America.
But even with all the physical dimensions that help describe this amazing place, it’s the one worldly dimension we cannot see that has most made the Black Canyon possible today.
In his wonderful book “The Black Canyon of the Gunnison,” published by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1965, Wallace R. Hansen calls it “an incomprehensible immensity of time.” Here we see overwhelming evidence of this time, and the "inexorable forces of nature," in the river far below - the Gunnison River - which has been downcutting the canyon at a rate of approximately one foot per thousand years for the last two million years. We see it too in the distinctive "streamers" of pegmatite in the Painted Wall - it’s muscovite mica and potassium feldspar, geologists say - that are rather like rivers as well, rivers of once molten igneous rock now animating these towering cliffs, having forced their way up into the cracks millions of years ago under enormous pressure.
Rivers of water, rivers of rock: while standing enthralled above it all, on just any old day in late March, it seemed they never will stop flowing.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
The image was made using a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV digital body and a Zeiss Milvus 21mm f/2.8 ZE lens. At f/8.0 and ISO 100, seven exposures shot at shutter speeds from 1/400 second to 1/6 second were combined to expand dynamic range.
The raw image files were processed using Adobe Lightroom, Nik HDR Efex Pro 2, and Nik Color Efex Pro 4.
Copyright © Eric Glaser. All Rights Reserved.
coloradolandscapelandscapesblack canyongunnisoncimarronnpnational parknational parksmontrosenpsnational park servicepainted wallpegmatitegunnison rivergneissschistcanyonsgrand junctiongeologywestamerican westscenicscenerynatureprecambrianbasementcrosscuttingdikesgorgegorgesmetamorphicigneousrockphotographyartworkeric glaser