September 27, 2019
During mushroom season, which peaks in August hereabouts, there is a ridge in the Wet Mountains that M. (my wife) and I try to visit every week. It abuts an area that we named The Mushroom Store; unfortunately, that spot has been discovered, but we are willing to walk farther at 10,000 feet than some mushroom hunters are.
We have been visiting that area for more than ten years, so we have our landmarks: the "long meadow," the cow elk's skeleton, the "little gate," the "big gate," and so on.
The plan, as usual, was to walk downhill parallel the "long meadow," loop around to the south and back east to the crest of the gentle ridge, where we would hit a barbed-wire drift fence that we would then follow north to "the big gate," and from there it is a short walk to where M's Jeep Wrangler would be parked.
So we did that. We were going along according to plan, finding an occasional "good" mushroom, and I was feeling pretty about my deep-woods navigational skills. (Don't get cocky, kid!)
At some point, as we swung back toward the top of the ridge, I looked down to my left and instead of a glimpse of the "long meadow," there was a steep ravine there, so steep that fir trees barely clung to its sides. Where had it come from?
It was between us and the Jeep (I figured), but I did not want to go down into it and try to climb out again
I looked ahead — the top of the ridge was only maybe 200 yards away. M. looked at me and asked if I was lost. I said something noncommittal, but afterwards at home she said, "I can read you like a book. You were lost." (She will cheerfully admit to being a poor navigator herself, so she trusts me to do the job.)
That feeling you get, a punch in the stomach. Where am I? How did I get here?
On the ridge crest, I looked south. There was Little Sheep Mountain, a little closer than it should have been, and also a road that I recognized. I knew where I was — I just was not where I should have been.
"Nice job, pixies," I said aloud.
Since I was high enough up to get a signal, I pulled out the iPhone, turned on the GPS and loaded the Avenza Maps app with a county road map. Yep, there we were — the pulsing blue dot — about where I reckoned we were. Thus oriented, we walked down the other side until we hit a certain little dirt Forest Service road and followed it to the Jeep.
At home, there were mushrooms to be sliced and dried, and life otherwise got in the way. But after a couple of nights I opened Google Earth, where our mushroom sites are marked, and took a look. Everything seemed as it should have been, but I could not find that steep ravine.
OK, so Google Earth gives false ideas of slope. Next, I studied the topographic quad map for that area. I could not find the steep ravine there either.
In the old stories, you go through a portal into the fairy mound, and you eat and drink, and when you come out, a hundred years have passed. Or something like that.
We went back a couple of weeks later for one last foray. Maybe we should walk south and try to find that ravine, I suggested.
"Let's not, and say we did," M. responded.
I did not try to persuade her otherwise.
September 21, 2019
Some shots from this year's Chile & Frijoles Festival in Pueblo, still going on through Sunday. My visit was early, while the sun was still up and before the bands started playing, so it was a sort of sparse crowd.
But what you could not buy were fresh-roasted Pueblo green chiles. Evidently the vendors don't think that anyone wants to walk around with a ten-pound sack of peppers, even though they are the best.
Next year: CBD-inflused green chile beer. I will bet you money.
|It's more or less a celebration of every Southwestern street food|
to which Pueblo County's Mirasol green chiles can be added.
|And there were a lot of CBD (cannabidiol) products as well.|
I foresee a certain convergence, a synergy if you will.
|Yes, every kind of fast food and finger food.|
|Loaded-up fry bread ("Navajo tacos") is all right once a year.|
|The "Pueblo Chile Beer" is from Walter's, an old label that has been revived by craft-beer aficionados. |
"Pueblo chile beer" is not one of their pre-Prohibition recipes, however.
|These men are examining ristras of red chiles (sorry about the sun flare). |
They were for sale along with many varieties of powdered dried peppers.
Next year: CBD-inflused green chile beer. I will bet you money.
September 15, 2019
One o'clock on a week day is a bad time to assemble a crew. I and another work-at-home volunteer arrived and started out in a brush truck, soon joined by a young ranch hand driving his own one-ton flatbed truck.
A locked gate blocks the one road into Deathtrap. My partner punched in the code that she thought was correct. It did not work — they had changed it again. Would we have to drive back a mile to the station to check the new one, which I knew was written on the office chalkboard?
T., the young ranch hand, reached into his pocket and pulled out a notebook with the new code (now stored in my iPhone). But what stopped me was that he had a Moleskin notebook (or could it have been a Leuchtturm?). That will teach me to associate Moleskin only with travelers (never "tourists") writing their thoughts on remote islands and mountain trails.
Maybe you are someone who keeps a Rite in the Rain notebook in your pack because it seems better for outdoor use. (I do.)
As it happens, the Rite in the Rain placed at number 31 on New York magazine's review of 100 different pocket notebooks:
This shrunken notepad is best equipped for grocery lists, daily tasks, or highly abbreviated notes. It takes up minimal room in a bag or coat and could be stuffed into a back pocket. It’s impressively weatherproof, too. After I scribbled a page with Sharpie, dribbled water on it, and wiped it with my hand, the ink didn’t smear or bleed through. And, when dried, the paper returned to its original texture, without telltale waterlogged waviness. Ideal for intrepid reporters on drizzly days. —SKThe Leuchtturm was at number 11 — "It’s a classic right up there in the ranks with Mead and Moleskine and is beloved by both bullet journalers and regular note-takers alike."
The cowboy's Moleskine placed at 19 — "This style always seems better suited to travel [than office use]. But it’s a classic for a reason."
And the winner was . . . you will have to read the whole thing. And wonder if you should ever buy pocket notebooks in the supermarket school-supplies aisle again.
As for the fire, as you can see from the video, it was a plume of white dust from a water well being drilled for some Texan's mountain mini-mansion.
September 14, 2019
|Fisher's Peak Ranch (Nature Conservancy photo).|
For generations, the 9,633-foot-high Fisher’s Peak has been a big part of both the physical and social landscape for people in Trinidad and other parts of southern Colorado. But it has been off-limits because it was on a large private ranch. . . . .A statement from Colorado Parks and Wildlife reads,
In December 2018, The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Land signed an agreement with the ranch owner, French Trinidad Co. LLC. Great Outdoors Colorado said it would contribute $7.5 million and Colorado Parks and Wildlife pledged $7 million toward the $25.4 million purchase price.
Yesterday, Governor Jared Polis announced that a diverse partnership — including Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the City of Trinidad, The Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy, and Great Outdoors Colorado — is working to make the 30-square-mile Fisher’s Peak ranch, located outside the city of Trinidad, Colorado’s next state park.
Spanning from the New Mexico border north along the east side of I-25 to the south side of Trinidad, the property's iconic peak and diverse landscape of grasslands, forests, rugged mountain and vast meadows are the first thing you see crossing over the state line into Colorado. “It's a true gem,” said Governor Polis.
Until park plans are put in place, the property will remain closed to the public. Project partners are planning guided trips and ways to gather input during the process before the state park is opened.According to the Denver Post article linked above, the governor said he would like to see the park open in the fall of 2020. Can the bureaucratic wheels turn that fast? Read the full news release from Governor Polis' office.
September 13, 2019
|If you see something, say something: Josh Brinkley and Daniel Lucero|
say they definitely "saw something." (Photo: Taos News)
The Santa Fe County residents had just come into Taos after several days in rugged terrain near Cerro de la Olla, also called Pot Mountain, northwest of town near Ute Mountain.
They went hunting for elk.It's when you are not looking for the Other Folk that you find them. Someone should tell that to all the Bigfoot hunters out there with their night-vision goggles. Like this: you hear the sounds, you "know" where they are coming from, you use night-vision equipment and then powerful white light and . . . not there.
They encountered aliens or something else so strange they don’t know what to call it.
September 10, 2019
|Pholiota squarossa, shot with the Nikon Coolpix.|
But aside from a really artistic shot of aspen-bark graffiti, which would have appeared on this world-famous blog, I was not too brokenhearted. It had cost me only a little more than $20 on eBay.
Two years ago, I did a little smartphone-versus-pocket digital camera field test, "iPhone versus Pentax Point-and-Shoot," followed by a musing on cost-versus-speed of access, "The Smartphone vs. the Pocket Camera, Revisited."
Now I have a different iPhone (an SE, not the latest, but I like the pocket size) and a second little Nikon Coolpix off eBay, probably at least a decade old. The Nikon still wins for cost, spot-metering, and genuine optical zoom. The iPhone . . . well, Instagram.
Even that retro set-up is increasingly post-retro. The digital camera market — both high-end and low-end — is in free fall.
Camera sales are continuing to falling off a cliff. The latest data from the Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA) shows them in a swoon befitting a Bollywood roadside Romeo. All four big camera brands — Sony, Fuji, Canon, and Nikon — are reposting rapid declines. And it is not just the point and shoot cameras whose sales are collapsing. We also see sales of higher-end DSLR cameras stall. And — wait for it — even mirrorless cameras, which were supposed to be a panacea for all that ails the camera business, are heading south.Meanwhile, in the acoustic world, vinyl records may soon outsell CDs. So who knows what will happen next. (Vinyl represents 4 percent of all music sales, to put it in perspective.)