On The Page: The Earth Is Weeping

I continued my foray into understanding more about how the American West came to be settled by diving into Peter Cozzens’s The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West. I’d picked this up shortly after it’s publication at a bookstore in the midst of my bookbuying freeze of 2016 (that has long since ended, perhaps problematically for my bank account). After having learned about the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, returning to this book seemed like the right thing to do.

Clocking in at a hefty 450+ pages (plus notes and index) Cozzens delves into a generation of fighting between the army and the tribes of the West. Cozzens explicitly tries to show both the Native American and the white perspectives on the events of the 1860s through 1891. I found this perspective really interesting. While Cozzens is certainly sympathetic to the tribes, looking at the motivations of the army officers was absolutely fascinating.

My main quibble with this book was that some of the descriptions of skirmishes and battles between the tribes and the army were dense. The book does include some maps of the battlegrounds but I still had trouble getting the visualization right (and I find detailed descriptions of military movements kind of boring, I just want the summary).

Another thing I really appreciated about this book is how it put many of the battles and people that you may have heard of (Little Bighorn, Geronimo, Sitting Bull, etc.) into context with each other. It was interesting to see army officers move throughout the country facing different tribes.

This book is definitely not just casual reading and probably won’t appeal to most people but if you’re happy to nerd out with a pretty balanced look at some sad history, its a pretty solid read.

#shedlife Patio

When I realized that last summer was not going to turn out to be one of crazy adventure but instead going to be one that presented me with the opportunity to make a house in Ridgway a reality for me, I also decided to take on a bit of a project.

While I was mowing a neighbor’s lawn around her raised garden beds (very similar to mine) I realized that it was a giant pain. I had to maneuver the mower around a million corners and it still needed to be edged with a weed eater. I needed to think of a different plan for my beds. Then I started to think about summer monsoons and tracking mud into the shed…

A vision for my shed patio was born. (Hurray for another #damselNOTindistress project!) I went to Home Depot and started browsing their options for patio pavers. I started out envisioning this as a relatively inexpensive project but as DIY things often do, the scope expanded and I decided to do a more “complete” job and I wound up spending about $1000 on pavers, sand, gravel plus delivery, and the rental of a paver cutter. Initially I thought, I probably should have put this project off for a few years but when we had multiple thaws over the winter it was totally worth it. (Not to mention it just felt like further staking a claim to the property!)

The project started out with digging out a level paver surface. Let me tell you, this turned into a way bigger thing that I thought! I wish I would have laid the pavers and installed the garden beds at the same time to eliminate the need for cutting pavers but hindsight is always helpful.

Taking a break in the shade
Taking a break in the shade

Since I don’t have a pickup truck, I splurged on delivery of gravel ($125) for the paver area rather than asking a friend to take multiple trips to Montrose. Spreading the gravel went extra fast thanks to help from a neighbor and from little Miss LC. The help was especially awesome since I was trying to do this amid 60 hour work weeks!

LC

Fortunately, a friend volunteered to bring me some paver sand from Montrose which saved me another hefty delivery fee and signaled real progress on my project! Laying the pavers went fairly quickly and they’re pretty darn level. Once I had all of the whole pavers laid, I rented a cement/paver cutter from Home Depot and trimmed out all of the partial rows. I’m glad I didn’t stray from my pattern to force the pavers to “mostly” fit into the spaces. Everything looks so great this way.

Paver cutter

Early in the fall, my friend moved to California and gave me her patio table and then my boss found me an old umbrella he wasn’t using so the whole thing feels really quite nice. I was really conservative about over planting this year since I didn’t have water on the property until just last week but they still look good!

Jackson County Highpoint: Clark Peak

With all my focus on getting the house built, my Colorado county highpoint quest was temporarily delayed. (Over a year has past since I grabbed Pikes and Devils Playground!)

When I managed to find myself with a three day weekend, I started scanning my list deciding where I should go. I finally settled on Clark as a primary objective and getting something else (perhaps a third try at Pettengel) if my old pup was up for two consecutive days of hiking. Clark Peak is not quite a 13er, measuring in at 12,951′ but it does have the dubious distinction of being the “tallest Colorado peak this far north” aka there are no peaks in Colorado north of Clark that are taller. A much less random assertion is that Clark is also the highpoint of the Medicine Bow Range.

I’d heard rumors that the 4×4 road approaching the trailhead to Jewel Lake was in pretty rough shape so when I entered State Forest State Park in the waning daylight hours I didn’t really know what length of hike we were in for the next day. As it turned out, I was able to make it 2/3 of the way up the 4×4 road and on some more examination on the way down from the peak in the morning, I’m pretty sure the obstacle where I stopped was totally do-able by Ruth (although perhaps a spotter would have made me more apt to take it on) and was also the last piece of any consequence on the drive.

The hike up to Jewel Lake went quickly and I refrained from letting Sprocket swim as I wanted him to save his energy for the stiff climb from the lake to the summit (about 1600′ in less than a mile!).

The weather was glorious so we didn’t hustle ourselves too hard up the grassy slopes, pausing frequently to enjoy the view.

I tried to spend some time at the summit but Sprocket seemed anxious to get moving so I took some photos and we started to make our way down the mountain.

Clark Peak marks my 48th highpoint in Colorado. Of the ones I have left Blanca Peak (and its associated slope point) is the highpoint of three counties and Crestone and East Crestone can be combined leaving me with 13 more outings. I’m going to try and get a couple more in 2017 but summer 2018? It’s on.

Backyard Hikes: Blue Lakes

Working at Mouses I frequently get asked about hikes to do in the area. One of the ones that I am always asked about is Blue Lakes Trail.

To be honest, I’ve basically avoided this trail. If everyone is asking about it, it must be overrun. (I’m not wrong, my friends saw over a hundred cars there a few weeks ago!)

I didn’t get a terribly early start but it was early enough that there wasn’t a ton of traffic on the trail. I could see why it was a big deal; the views are incredible and its steep but not insane.

Sprocket was out of his mind. He had hiked and there was a lake. And then there was another lake.

The thing we learned is that there aren’t any sticks at alpine lakes and that breaks dogs hearts.

I look forward to doing this again… but probably in the fall when we can have it to ourselves again.

Colorado #13ers: South Hayden Mountain

Despite working until 11pm the night before, I agreed to a 5:15 hiking meet up with my friend Dave. We had a bit of a miscommunication about where to meet up so we didn’t quite start hiking until a little bit later.

We headed up toward Richmond Pass gaining elevation rapidly in the trees.

Being above treeline never hurts so despite being rather tired and undertrained I had zero complaints.

Mom Came To Visit!

My mom decided that she wanted to see my house at the very beginning before coming back to see the finished product! I picked her up on a Tuesday afternoon and we had a lovely day shopping in Ouray, having lunch at Timberline Deli, and then taking a little jaunt up Yankee Boy Basin.

The next day, we drove up over Red Mountain Pass to Silverton. We made a stop at Ironton ghost town, at the pass and then at Mineral Creek on the way back north.

Back in Ridgway, we hung out at the shed for a bit before going to Colorado Boy for dinner. Mom got to meet so many Ridgway people!

The next day, we had to go up to Montrose to look at window colors and make a few other house like decisions. Once we got back, we relaxed for a bit, had dinner at Provisions, and then went to Ouray for the concert. The main band was awesome and we danced a lot. It was a great way to wrap up Mom’s trip to Ouray County!

On The Page: Wilderness Wanderers

After I’d finished reading about Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco and the Pueblo Revolt, I wanted to know more about Dominguez and Escalante and their explorations that had been the basis for my favorite Miera y Pacheco map. I knew that Western Reflections Publishing had a couple of books about the expedition so I headed to my local bookstore to pick one up. Turns out the book I was picturing was the actual journals (which they didn’t have) so I ended up with Wilderness Wanderers: The 1776 Expedition of Dominguez and Escalante by Ken Rehyr.

I ate up this slim volume.

Dominguez and Escalante were both Franciscan friars charged with finding a more northerly land route to the Californian settlements (essentially avoiding the el Camino del Diablo, I think?). They also set out to convert as many of the Native Americans along the way as they could (while recognizing that this would be a first contact and that more missionaries would be needed for more long term conversion efforts later).

As it turns out, Dominguez and Escalante’s route remarkably overlaps with my home range. They traveled from Santa Fe up to Durango, then north through Dolores, Egnar, and Nucla before following a Ute guide over the Uncompahgre Plateau to Montrose. They continued over Grand Mesa from Hotchkiss to Battlement Mesa (all these places I know!) before turning west down the Colorado. They headed north through the Book Cliffs to what is now the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. They continued on to Utah Lake, near what is now Provo.

 

Leaving Utah Lake, they headed down what is today the I-15 corridor. Along the way, near Delta, the missionaries decided that they needed to head south to Santa Fe instead of trying to find their way to California. The weather was turning cold and they were not prepared.

They struggled their way across the Northern Arizona deserts finally finding a crossing of the Grand Canyon at Crossing of the Fathers (submerged under Lake Powell). Once across the Colorado, they managed their way across northeastern Arizona reaching the Oraybi pueblo on Third Mesa where they obtained enough supplies to reach the western most Spanish missions.

I found the story of Dominguez and Escalante incredibly inspiring. Lewis and Clark seemed to have much more of an idea of what to expect than these earlier missionaries. I can’t wait to dive into their journals … but I should probably put a pause on my book buying binge.

I recommend checking out this book while meandering around the greater Four Corners region, especially if you’re not overly familiar with the area. I really enjoyed my visual imagery of each of the places they passed through. I was also super inspired by how the author of the book had visited and rode his horse on much (all?) of the friars route. How cool is that?