Sunday, August 7, 2011


As many of you know, I like to wander. Unfortunately, often, I am not lost. As hard as I try, I always seem to find my way in the end. My most resent wandering was to Colorado and New Mexico. I did not have my camera cord with me and even though I took tons of photos, I was unable to share any of them with you. Now that I am home, I can share. There is a lot to get through, so be prepared for multiple posts about my trip.
We went to Frisco Colorado for a family reunion and despite the hundreds of photos on my camera, not one is a shot of the entire group. I will have to tell you all about the adventures we took while in Colorado instead.

Hiking was high on the list of activities. Before I get into the hiking I need to lay out some ground rules; We live at just under 200 feet above sea level. Frisco Colorado sits at 9097 feet above sea level. So? Well, at that elevation there is only 40% of the oxygen there is at sea level. For low landers, this factor can make any activity difficult. Just sleeping can be a challenge. Hiking up a mountain to 12,000 feet can be a super challenge on your second day up high. All my girls pressed on determined to make it to the top.

Another ground rule; you might see that damn shutter in the photo. I dropped my camera and the shutter does not always open automatically as it should. On the hike we went through an area where bristle cone pines used to be. Only a few dead trunks remain. If you do not know, the bristle cone pines are some of the oldest living things on earth. They grow very slowly in just a few locations. Unfortunately, this location is no longer one of them. They require a very specific micro climate and as our climate changes, so does the places they can exist.

We were able to press on through the thin air and make it to the top as a family. I was very proud of my girls. I was also proud of myself for making it. For 45 years I have abused my body and it was good to know I still had it in me.

See that point? That is where we were sitting in the previous photo. It does not look so far in the photo, but trust me, it was a serious hike.

I also got off on my own for some hikes. I enjoy rock hunting, prospecting, and exploring abandoned industry. Colorado is littered with these opportunities for me. It seems that just about anywhere you go, there is an abandoned mine or workings.

Virtually all of them are fully accessible if you desire. That desire has to be strong, for the danger is great if you enter. This horizontal shaft had a river flowing out of it. The water smelled of death and must contain a very high acid level. As far as I could see, nothing lived near the water which turned everything it contacted orange. This water flows right down to Lake Dillion. Lake Dillion is a reservoir for Denver. I guess all the snow melt coming from higher up dilutes it enough to be safe. I bet most people drink highly filtered water to be safe.

I also managed to stumble through some ghost town during my wanderings. No matter how far from the road I got, how deep in the woods, or high up on a mountain, there was always evidence of others having been there before.

Some of these ghost, or boom towns, had thousands of inhabitants at one point. They came chasing the gold, silver, lead, or other metals found in the rock. Most of them left when they found nothing but a thankless job surrounded by misery. How these men labored up in the thin air is beyond me. The lure of gold fever is a strong mistress I guess. I know it has me always scanning the rock formations and creek beds. I just know one of these days I will find my own claim.

Another awesome hike was to the top of Mt Evans. At 14, 258 feet, a guy like me learns all about that rocky mountain high John Denver sang about. I was so light headed the entire time I was up there. A total LEGAL HIGH!!!!

There is not too much higher than you, as far as you can see, you are the highest.

If you look really hard, you can see my house 1879 air miles away. It is right there in the center of the photo. Tan trim on a deep green body. Airstream sitting in the back yard...

Amazingly, there are things thriving up here on the mountain.

I do not know what these flowers are, but in contrast to the stark granites, they glow.

As we were about to leave the peak, a quick snow storm whipped through for about 10 seconds. Above the tree line, you can expect any weather situation.

Remember those bristle cones I was talking about earlier? Well, on the side of Mt Evans there is a huge grove of them. Though the center of the grove is healthy and thriving, the edges show that the grove is slowly moving down slope. I guess the micro climate is better there. It is a shame that it takes a thousand years for the tree to reach maturity.

There is plenty more to come. I have just begun to delve into this trip. Hope you will check in later.


Sugarfoot said...

What an awesome walk in the wilderness. You just made my Sunday morning.

Lance said...

Nice post, Frank. Colorado is my favorite state. Looks like you had a ball!

dc said...

14,000' ?!? I never would've survived that high.
Hendrix and Miles are just gonna hafta be enough for me from now on.