Sunset Hike from Cochetopa Creek to Points 8587, 8718 and 8591; All South of Parlin Flats – April 09, 2016

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Sun about to set west of Point 8591

Spring time in the Rocky Mountains.  The winds blow remorselessly, only ceasing, sometimes, when the sun sinks low enough to desist in producing the convection currents that keep the atmosphere stirring.  The snows still cling to the high country, melting under the increasing heat as the rivers and creeks simultaneously swell with the liquid result.  Finding a place to hike presents a challenge as in most places snows are too deep and soft to traverse and in others a swollen and swift stream may create an impassable obstacle.  For those reasons I often hike in the sere sagebrush steppe where water is scarce and the snows vacant.

Generally, I tend to begin my hikes during the morning but I decided that today I would prefer to leave in mid-afternoon and finish my hike in the evening.  It is hard to predict but sometimes the result rewards the intrepid hiker with spectacular color.  I would also say, on the spiritual side, that the sunset, being one of two times of crepuscular light, is a sacred and holy moment in the day’s passage.  Twilight, regardless of whether being dusk or dawn, affects me this way.

The land that I was hiking on is managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management out of the regional Gunnison Field Office.  This area is open to motorized vehicles and cannot be considered wilderness although the land does host much wildlife.  The sagebrush steppe provides fantastic winter habitat for deer and elk as well as year round habitat for  the species that are dependent on the sagebrush for survival.  One such creature is the Gunnison sagegrouse, a species that is in peril.  For this reason the lands that I visited today are closed to  motorized use from the Ides of March through the same for May so as to prevent disturbance to the leks that the grouse use for their courtship and breeding activities.

Starting off of Colorado 114, I began by walking up BLM Road 3076 along an unnamed gulch that terminates near what is shown on the topographic map as Valdez Spring.  Once I left the gulch I was greeted by a large grassy meadow above which reared Point 8587.  The dogs, Draco and Leah – my two faithful hiking companions – and I climbed up to the summit where we could see for miles in every direction.  The Sawatch Range is not too distant nor are the Cochetopa Hills, both of which constitute part of the Great Divide.  The former consists of the lofty, jagged peaks that most folks associate with the Colorado Rocky Mountains while the latter are composed of rolling, but rugged, hills covered in a dense forest.

Typical of Spring time in the Rocky Mountains, the winds were blowing fiercely.  The gusts must have been close to forty miles an hour.  The winds desiccate what is already a dry landscape and I drank plenty of water to keep me hydrated.  Fortunately, although most of the snow had melted from the landscape, there remained remnants of cornices and fields of snow on the north side of the gullies and slopes from which the dogs could slake their thirst.  This little to no surface water available anywhere nearby.

At this point I had done what I had wanted to do.  Namely, that I had climbed up to a high point from which I could let my gaze wander about as I took in the landscape.  To the north, about a mile away, lay Point 8718.  It hadn’t taken so much as an hour to reach this first summit and I decided that we had plenty of time to hike down from this eminence and then up to the next.  On the north side of Point 8587 resides a grove of Douglas fir along with the seasonally concomitant patch of snow.  We, the canines and I, sauntered down through the thin forest were they could slurp up slushy snow and I could revel among the trees.  Due to the vulnerability of the wildlife at this time of year I kept the dogs close by so that we would minimally disturb any nearby wildlife.

Jaunting off across the flat lands between the two heights we strode along, exposed to the wind’s fury.  I delighted in the texture of the land as it demarcates the differences in vegetation communities.  Mostly I was looking at the huge swaths of sagebrush, but here and there for whatever reason, they are interrupted with meadows of grass.  Were the snow collects during winter grow groves of Douglas fir and aspen, the densities of both increasing with elevation up to a certain point.

Point 8718 lies atop a broad mesa as opposed to Point 8587, from which I had just descended, which is more of a single point at the top of a conical mound of earth.  This broad mesa is one of many in the area and are all remnants of ancient lava flows dating back some tens of millions of years.  This particular mesa has three lobes to it, and this high point lies on the northern extrusion.  Climbing up to it involved a bit of scrambling over the basaltic cap rock, through brush that likes to snag clothing.  Once atop the mesa I decided to hike over to the eastern lobe from which I hoped to be a bit more sheltered from the raging winds, blowing from the west, and also to gain a good view of the surrounding lands.

This land has been shaped by volcanic and subterranean forces.  If not by flowing lava and spewing ash, then by swells of magma that have pushed their way up, deforming the landscape around them without actually breaching the rock.  Often, after the pool of magma has slowly cooled, the layers that were previously overburden erode away leaving the now cooled magma exposed as a solid core of igneous rock.  Thus are born batholiths, and this area is home to many such.  To my north lay Tomichi Dome and to my south rises Razor Creek Dome, two prominent examples.

My idea of finding a lee slope from which I could temporarily escape the blasting wind was a fine thought but proved to be more difficult to execute into reality.  The problem was that most of the lee slopes still had cornices of snow and finding a decent place to sit was challenging.  I did find a wall of stone built by someone wanting to sit and observe the valley below and made good use of it.  Here I could sit in relative comfort and watch the various clouds sail across the sky, pushed by the relentless winds.  Writing now, in July when all is warm, I easily forget how cold those winds were.

I then walked down from the mesa accessing BLM Road 3076d1 to the north.  Before continuing on my way and returning to the south, I made a quick and short ascent of an isolated mesa separated from that upon which sits Point 8718.  This viewpoint, denoted as Point 8696 on the quadrangle published by the United States Geologic Survey, allows some fine views of Parlin Flats, Fossil Ridge, Cochetopa Dome and the Sawatch Range.  The Bureau of Land Management has cataloged most of the roads in the area and has furthermore close some of the more damaging and redundant.  This is gratifying to see as each mile of road allows for a certain amount degradation of the wildlife habitat.  I used one such closed road to loop back around the eastern flank of the mesa so that I was hiking back towards the south.  Reaching BLM Road 3076 I trekked along that until I reached BLM Road 3080.  This latter road runs south past the eastern flank of Point 8587 and I thought that it would be fun and edifying to make a loop around the high point that I had first ascended earlier in the day.

As I strode along the seasonally little used road through the sagebrush sea I realized that I could challenge myself further by climbing up to Point 8591 just as the sun was beginning its final descent towards the horizon.  I just could not resist climbing up to another high point to stare out over this amazing landscape.  Glumly I thought that I would not have enough light left in the day to accomplish this last bit of exploration and that maybe I was pushing things too far.  Then I said to myself “Nonsense, there is plenty of time left in the day to seize the moment”.  Thus, I cut across from the road to catch a ridge that leads up to this final highpoint.

Here lay my great reward.  As the sun approached the horizon it filled the air with a surreal golden light.  Not only that, but as the sun set and took its warmth along with it the winds abated and I was left suddenly in a stillness punctuated by the brilliant yellow shafts of nearly horizontal light found only at the crepuscular times.  I win again!  I was in awe and felt elated at my good fortune to be so rewarded.  I knew now that I still had about a mile and half to hike before I returned to my waiting automobile, and as the sun descended below the horizon I made haste to pack up my belongings and head back to the car.

I walked back through the sagebrush and along BLM Road 3080b, south of Point 8587.  The unnamed gully which I had originally ascended I now descended in the twilight’s last gleaming.  It is a magical thing to witness, the gloaming over a wild landscape.  As I passed beneath the cottonwood that grow along the low points in the gulch I notice the first quarter moon already high in the sky shining down on me and the dogs.  Having the heavenly night light guiding the way added a special coda to this hike, one which reaffirmed my belief that we need these open landscapes and quiet places just as much as the bustling urban centers that fill so much of our lives.

Double Header: Mill Creek and Hinkie Gulch – April 08, 2016

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A dusk view of Mill Creek from Hinkie Gulch

O Spring!  Green things are revived as the snow melts.  That white blanket that has swaddled the land for the past many months slowly dissipates as life is renewed with vigor.  The gurgling waters soak into the soil and produce an inordinate amount of mud and thus the Spring season is often referred to sardonically as “Mud Season”.  Of course, that muddy ground also creates a situation where the roots of the grass and other vegetation can be soaked and saturated with the life giving water that will create the fine, green Summer that we all enjoy.

I will admit that finding a place to hike or ski during this time of year can be something of a challenge.  A chosen route along a favorite trail may interchange between mud and snow as the aspect changes.  The south face, catching the warm sun, may have no snow cover at all, and may have possibly dried out.  The north face, shady and cool, is likely to keep a deep snow pack that would cause the traveler to wade up to his or her hips.  The snow may be hard packed during the morning, allowing easy passage, only to become soft and crumbly during the afternoon such that it will not bear weight at all.  Looking north towards the south face, a trail may appear to be snow free and only later is it discovered that when the route passes over a small ridge, not readily discernible from a distance, that snow impedes the way.

Therefore, the aforementioned conditions repeatedly challenge my knowledge of where it is convenient to get out and hike or ski.  The latter activity can be daunting as what appears to be a swath of snow suddenly becomes dry land upon rounding a corner.  I often find myself either staying well below the snowpack, out in the sagebrush where the snow accumulation is minimal and the sun melts it away early, so that I can hike or I head up high into the mountains where skiing can occur without running into bare ground.

However, that being said, I often find myself following the melt up valley.  On this day, late in the afternoon after I had completed my chores and caught up on some rest, I decided to investigate the situation to be found on Mill Creek, tributary to Ohio Creek and managed by the Gunnison National Forest as part of the estate of public lands that belong to us all.  The winter trailhead sits at about eighty-seven hundred feet in elevation and on a north face.  While the parking lot was snow free, mostly due to plowing, the trail itself remained covered in snow.  However, the south face of the east-west trending drainage had already melted out.

This area is one of spectacular beauty owing to the large aspen forests and amazing sculptures carved out from the West Elk breccia.  The rock has been shaped into countless hoodoos, spires, cliffs and fins that ignite the imagination.  The rock remains unchanged during the year as do the evergreen conifers strewn about among the aspen.  However, those latter trees were still more than a month away from budding out green leaves and only the stark white boles could be seen.  Where the snow had melted out the grasses were exposed but only a minimal of green could be discerned as new growth.  Mostly, especially from a distance, it appeared as a tawny sort of gray.

In a fit of indolence, I had decided not to strap on the snowshoes that I had brought.  Instead, I decided to walk atop the snow pack.  This decision was aided by that fact that the snow was patchy and numerous puddles and mud were exposed between the soft snows.  So off we went, the dogs, my two German shepherds, and I.  For the most part, the snow bore our weight, although the top coat was squishy.  In the end, I didn’t walk too far, perhaps a mile or so through the aspen before I reached the road’s end where a large meadow allows an expansive view of the surrounding ridges and interesting geology.

My original intention had been to keep on hiking until sunset but because of the deep snow pack I decided to turn back and return to the trailhead.  As I began to drive down Ohio Creek Road I realized that I still had enough time to make a short hike up the Hinkie Gulch Road, otherwise known as Gunnison National Forest Road 829.  This road climbs from the bottoms along Ohio Creek up into the sagebrush sea that is concomitant with the rising hills and eminences that surround the area.  It is a road in name only, and more suitable for vehicles with high clearance and four-wheel drive.

At this time of year, there is a gate that bars access to motorized vehicles so as to protect the leks, or breeding grounds, of the Gunnison sagegrouse.  Hikers, equestrians and folks on non-motorized bicycles are welcome, however, to gently use the area.  The request is generally made to keep to the trails and roads and not to let dogs run free and potentially disturb the vulnerable grouse.  Many people do not care for the sagebrush sea and steppe as they find it monotonous but the sagebrush does provide valuable winter habitat for elk and deer and is also home to many indigenous species found nowhere else.

The sagegrouse is in peril due to severe reduction of their overall population numbers.  There doesn’t seem to be any one cause and their decrease can be attributed to the catch-all habitat decline.  That latter term may include causes such as road building, cattle grazing, housing developments, increased recreational use and climate change.  Naturally, with so many diverse groups and interests, there are also politics involved.  My county is suing the Federal government over the issue due to the latter’s listing of the bird as threatened as defined by the Endangered Species Act.

What I do know is that all animals may have difficulty in finding food during this time of year.  The snows may be mostly gone from the lower elevations but so are many critters fat reserves and the grass really hasn’t had a chance to grow with abundance and fecundity.  After climbing up the road nearly half a mile the dogs and I encountered a small group of deer.  I had kept the dogs close due to the season and time of day and thought we might encountered wildlife.  I did not want to push the deer due to the stress it would have cause them and in their fragile state that might make the difference in whether or not they survive the next month or two.

Regardless, the light began to fade and dusk approached with the characteristic quickness to be found in the mountains.  The view of the Ohio Creek valley was fantastic.  The West Elk Mountains, the Anthracite Range and Carbon Peak all seem to be floating out across the ether the separated them from me.  The evening colors in the sky, while not spectacular, where colorful and pleasing.  Spring was in the air!  I drew in a deep breath, well scented with the surrounding sagebrush and returned to my car, content to have the privilege of walking around in Nature for a couple of hours at the end of the day.

Winter Lights in Downtown Gunnison, Colorado – December 27, 2009

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Main Street in Gunnison, Colorado, lit up for the Holiday season

Every year, in early December, the City of Gunnison, in the State of Colorado, puts up a large Christmas tree which is subsequently adorned with numerous lights.  Also, like many towns in the United States, the streets are lined with strings of lighting.  These Winter lights add color and spectacle during a season that many people might see otherwise as being dull and drab.

The Public Works department of the city erects the tree on South Main Street and it remains in place for about a month.  What I find interesting is that the tree is donated by a local landowner within the city.  The donor changes from year to year.  There are enough of these large spruces strewn about the city so that there is always one that can be spared for the centerpiece of this festival of lights.

Once the tree is put in place, the city closes Main Street for a night so that a carnival and lighting ceremony can take place.  A large part of the community comes out to participate, and there are warming fires, local businesses with booths selling their wares and hot food and beverages.  It is a good chance to catch up with neighbors and socialize with whomever shows up.  Oftentimes, people feel home bound when the Winter sets in and the temperatures drop.  This is a good opportunity to alleviate some of the depression that the shortened daylight hours bring to some people.

I don’t remember if I went to the carnival that year, in Twenty Aught-Nine.  Perhaps I was working but I do not remember one way or another.  I do remember taking these photos just after Christmas of the same year, late at night, perhaps after returning home from work and wanting to take the dogs out for a walk.  I do recall that I wanted to capture the positive spirit of the season.  It was nearly eleven at night so I was able to stoop down in the middle of the street with minimal concern about traffic.  Now, the traffic lights are on and cycle twenty-four hours a day but back then the signals used to flash yellow or red due to the minimal amount of vehicles on the road late at night.  I preferred that, but times change.

As it turns out, this was the last day of Twenty Aught-Nine that I took photographs on.  It has been interesting to review the year by writing about my various adventures on this blog.  I am amazed by how well I remember certain hikes and how some have been obliterated from my memory.  There are a handful of hikes that were not only memorable but helped to define a region, what I would call iconic.  I have never felt anything but blessed to live here in the American west where public lands abound and a soul has the freedom to leave behind the trappings of civilization.  Getting out into nature helps to sooth the angst that can be produced by the stress concomitant with our workaday lives and I encourage one and all to visit, cherish and protect that which belongs to us all.

Skiing on Gold Creek – December 22, 2009

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Sheba resting near the Gold Creek Campground

Nearly seven years go I made this ski trek on Gold Creek, near Ohio City.  Without a doubt, this is my favorite place to ski.  Access is relatively easy and not too many people use it .  Most folks would prefer to visit the grandeur up towards Crested Butte but I like the low key atmosphere found here.  Of course, this area is open to motorized use, so it is possible that skiers would be sharing the trail with snowmobiles.  Still, I generally see only one or two other groups of people when I am out here.

Gold Creek is a tributary of Quartz Creek.  The latter drains into Tomichi Creek near Parlin.  Tomichi Creek flows down valley until it reaches the City of Gunnison, Colorado, where I make my home, and then combines with the Gunnison River.  Part of the celebrated Gunnison Country, Gold Creek is nestled in the south side of Fossil Ridge.

Undoubtedly, I began the ski at the Winter trailhead a short distance below the old Sandy Hook Mine, near Browns Gulch.  I didn’t ski too far, barely a mile and a half up and the same distance down.  From what I remember and the photographic evidence I have studied it would appear that I did not so much as ski down to use one of the picnic tables at the Gold Creek Campground as is my usual habit.  What is truly amazing is that I remember this ski at all, but I do.  I recall stopping at the sign at the entrance to the campground but do not recollect why I decided to stop there.

Just why this is one of my favorite areas to go cross-country skiing is difficult to explain.  Partly, the chance of triggering an avalanche or snow slide is minimal.  The quietude settles my mind and allows for thoughts to churn within my mind, or for no thoughts to disturb my meditation.  The forested land also smells nice, scented with coniferous odors that emanate from the numerous needles and sap.  I know, additionally, that the small meadow that lies near the campground creates an opening in the vaunted forest from which I can stretch out my view a bit and see the surrounding peaks.

Lady Dog and Sheba the German shepherd made the trek with me.  It would have been early enough in the season that the snow would not have been packed up and the possibility exists that the dogs were floundering in the deep snow.  Lady Dog especially had challenges with snow beyond a fairly shallow accumulation and would quickly lose enthusiasm for wading through the white powder.  That, in the end, may be the reason why I did not continue further.  It could be that I was tired, as well.

I notice that there are no shadows on the snow and that would suggest heavy cloud cover.  There is snow falling, and sometimes I find that the best days for skiing are when all is silent except for the soft sound of snow landing upon the snowpack.  For a society conditioned to constant noise, that something so fragile could produce noise at all must seem beyond belief, but I assure you it is true.

I vaguely remember this being a cold day.  Regardless, I was blessed to have this day to get out and explore one of my favorite realms.  Our public lands, in this case the Gunnison National Forest, provide ample opportunities for exploration as well as critical habitat for wildlife and functioning ecosystems.  They are valuable for all Americans and I hope that you will join me in protecting them.

Skiing in Late Autumn on Mill Creek – December 15, 2009

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Midday sun on the Ides of December, aspen boles starkly rising from the snow blanketed land on Mill Creek

Mill Creek is one of those names that shows up repeatedly on topographic maps throughout the nation.  I’m not sure how many drainages bear such a moniker throughout Gunnison County but I would wager that there are more than one.  This Mill Creek is a tributary of Ohio Creek and drains the eastern flank of the West Elk Mountains.  It also encompasses one of the more grandly scenic areas within the region, the rock having been sculpted by the eons of erosion into various hoodoos, spires and sheer cliffs that must be seen to be appreciated.

During any given year I might visit this area at least once, twice or thrice.  Located within the Gunnison National Forest, the access is fairly straight forward and I never tire of the location.  The West Elk Mountains are volcanic in nature and the rock in the area is composed of breccia.  Obviously igneous in nature, breccia is created when a volcano explodes the hardened rock about its vent and belches out a large volume of volcanic ash or some similar substance.  The breccia is formed when the broken chunks of older rocks becomes suspended in the fine matrix of the ash.  When this type of rock erodes the results are often strange and compelling.  Throughout these mountains can be found many examples of the unusual erosion patterns that create monuments to Nature’s beauty.

Two weeks prior to me skiing on Mill Creek I had still been hiking in the basin of the upper Gunnison River.  However, in the intervening time storms had deposited a layer of snow deep enough to preclude hiking, and I had swapped out my trekking gear and activated my skiing apparatus.  Despite nearly seven years having passed and the familiarity of this area that can confuse the various explorations I have made of it, I have a faint recollection of this ski outing.  Perhaps my recollection is due to the incredibly deep cerulean sky on a nearly cloudless day and the impact that that would have made on my mind.

I can’t say for sure that this was the first ski I made of the season as sometimes I go out into the woods for a quick voyage and fail to take any photographs.  Those treks tend to fade entirely from my mind, especially when made in a familiar realm.  For example, I have skied numerous times on Snodgrass Mountain near Crested Butte without taking any snapshots of those treks.  Most likely, however, this was the first or second ski I made of the season.

What I remember of this trek are the tracks through the snow where someone had driven up the road prior to the depth finally precluding such activity.  Undoubtedly, I began my ski at the winter trailhead near Little Mill Creek.  Someone else had later on created a set of tracks using skis and I was grateful for not having to break trail.  I remember vaguely that I skied farther than that intrepid soul and extended the ski tracks another quarter of a mile or so.  Another firm memory of this particular ski is that I stopped out in the meadow near where the Mill Creek Trail crosses the eponymous drainage to have a quick lunch and, as seen in a couple of the images I made, the lens of my camera began to fog up due to the cold.  I also remember quite clearly becoming rapidly chilled when I stopped exerting myself physically, regardless of the bright sun and lack of wind.  I recall that I did not linger long and soon propelled myself down the trail so as to generate some heat.

Both Lady Dog and Sheba the German shepherd accompanied me on this ski and two more intrepid canines souls could seldom be exceeded by their virtue.  Sadly, this would be the last Winter where Sheba had full use of her mobility as she would soon succumb to a painful cancer that limited her ability to move about.  But on this day she moved around with the grace that she always exhibited and was not intimidated by the snow.  Lady Dog, on the other hand, has never cared for the deep snow and would rarely stray from the beaten path.

This area displays immense beauty and I am blessed to live so close to such abundant public lands.  I do wish that the last mile or so of road where to be shut down and the wilderness area extended down valley.  I see little reason for the additional road past the winter trailhead and try to avoid driving on it.  Unfortunately, despite my use of roads in my daily life, it is unavoidable to come to the conclusion that roads degrade wildlife habitat and induce pollution into waterways.  While I appreciate our modern lifestyle and could be called a hypocrite, I also feel that it is necessary to protect what wildlands we have and simultaneously expand on them.  The best way to appreciate them in general, I feel, is to get out and explore nature and see Her grace in action.

Hike on Onemile and Beaver Creeks – December 02, 2009

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Red Mountain to the left and Whetstone Mountain to the right, seen from above Beaver Creek

I had to think about it.  After a half a decade having passed, nearly seven years, this hike has faded from my memories although bits and pieces are illuminated through the fog.  The recognition came when I realized that a couple of the images I took revealed a face of Red Mountain that could be seen only from the direction of this hike, or somewhere close by, and at that point I recollected that I had made this hike in early December.

Both of the creeks mentioned in the title of this blog drain into the Taylor River and run parallel to each other.  Beaver Creek is a common name throughout the Rocky Mountains and interior western United States and, therefore, I feel it worthwhile to specify which drainage it is a tributary of.  I am guessing that the one mile referred to in the creek of the same name specifies the distance from Spring Creek, since that latter drainage is the only significant object from which a person would make a measurement.

Like so many of my hikes this one takes place exclusively on public lands managed by the Gunnison National Forest.  This particular event took place on the north side of and within the boundaries of the Fossil Ridge Recreation Management Area, a special unit that limits the use of motorized vehicles to already established trails.  About this area I am a bit confused.  When created, motorized vehicles could travel more extensively on the adjacent non-wilderness lands.  However, the travel management rules have become more restrictive on those same lands and I wonder if there is any true difference between the special management area and those lands outside the boundaries.

Leaving the Onemile Campground I hiked about three miles along Gunnison National Forest Road 566, also known as Beaver Creek Road.  Indeed, after the first mile of climbing up Onemile Creek, the road passes over a high ridge and begins to wind in and out of many small tributaries of Beaver Creek.  Two miles later, the road descends from the higher elevations and crosses the eponymous creek.  Most of this land is elevated to about eighty-five to ninety-two hundred feet above sea level.  Conifers abound, as do aspen and sagebrush.  Of course, by early December the aspen had lost their leaves and the boles stood stark against the Autumn’s sky.

There were some clouds in the sky, although the sun did shine readily.  I remember, dimly, the day being blustery and chilly.  I have a faint recollection of starting a small warming fire to ward off the cold once I reached the extent of my hike.  Like so many of my hikes from nearly seven years ago, most of the details have faded with age.  For some reason I have a faint memory of challenging hiking along the road where the previously fallen snow had begun to melt under the warmth of the day.  The road was consequently muddy and I remember sliding around at times.  I’m not sure why this sticks out in my mind as it is not all that unusual of a situation when hiking in this season.

It is possible that I walked a bit further than Beaver Creek, but I don’t clearly remember.  If I did, I would not have gone much further, perhaps another quarter of a mile.  I do remember the fire, and sitting among the sagebrush, watching the world go by.  Hunting season had ended as had tourist season, so not many people are out stomping around in the woods at this time of the year especially since ski season had yet to begin.  I believe that I had brought along Sheba the German Shepherd, now deceased, and Lady Dog and we had the woods to ourselves that day.

Eventually, after the fire consumed the wood and began to smolder, the cold began to seep into my clothing and we walked back the way we came to the trailhead.  From what I can tell, this was my last hike of the season and Twenty Aught-Nine.  From this point onward, at least to the Spring of Twenty Ten, the snows fell deep enough so that I switched out my hiking gear for my cross-country skiing gear.  I am now writing this in early July and despite being in the midst of Summer I know that Fall is not too far in the future.  Regardless of the season, I am blessed to live in a county that has such abundant public lands.  Wildlife is abundant and the ecosystems generally function well with the notable exception of the absence of many of the large predators and herbivores.  That is a problem that needs positive remedy as I firmly believe that the native species of North America should have a home wherever habitat exists.  Still, this is a great place to be.

Completion of Flooring Project at Home in Gunnison, Colorado – November 28, 2009

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The new floor complete, reinstallation of appliances nearly so

After the improperly installed old floor had finally come unglued and the tiles of such had become dislodged, my assistant and I had removed the aforementioned menace and installed a new floor of the same material but with an appropriate amount of glue for the situation.  The situation, such as it was, was that the sub-floor had been left as particle board that is porous and absorbs more glue than would be normal had a sheet of laminate been laid down properly.  Unfortunately, to add that sheet of laminate, not nearly so porous, would have involved the reconstruction of numerous other adjacent aspects of the house so I left it as was.  To remedy the situation, I used approximately twice as much glue as I would have had to otherwise but the results were quicker, cheaper and just as satisfactory.

A couple of days previous the installation of the flooring had been completed and all that had to happen after that point was to let the glue set and cure before all the appliances were returned to their proper place.  The most challenging part of reinstalling the appliances was reattaching the gas line to the stove, mostly because of a certain amount of paranoia regarding my ability to properly tighten the fitting so that gas wouldn’t leak.

I was extremely gratified to have my kitchen back in working order.  I tested the gas fitting with soapy water and did not find any leaks, and nearly seven years later have not had any problems.  Also, the floor has proven to be more durable than that which I had replaced.  The glue set well despite the porous surface upon which it was applied.  The vinyl tile has cracked in places, especially where the adjacent pieces of sub-flooring were of different elevations, but it has not peeled up.  I do pity the next people, whomever they may be in the future, that want to replace this flooring as removing it will be a challenge.

I have never considered myself as being gifted working with my hands and any type of project such as this causes me a certain amount of anxiety.  I must say that I was satisfied with the result and time has borne out that confidence I had at the completion of the project.  It is amazing how complacent we become taking the convenient aspects of our lives for granted and in this case I was happy enough using my kitchen without thinking directly about the ease with which I carried on my daily life.

Thanksgiving had come and gone and the weekend would have had to be considered a success after all was back to its proper place.  Winter would have been between three and four weeks away and the cold was gathering.  Soon enough, I would be trading my hiking gear for skiing paraphernalia.  In fact, the higher elevations would have been open for skiing already due to the snowpack being established.  In the meantime, I was happy to have hot coffee in the morning and to cook a simple, satisfying breakfast.