Fresh Tracks

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La Plata River

Fresh Tracks

As a child growing up in Independence, IA, I was an early riser. I remember winter mornings, sitting in our TV room under a pile of blankets or clean clothes waiting to be folded, listening to cartoons while looking out at the fields of freshly fallen snow. We had an open lot right next to our house and catty-corner across the street was a city park. The lot was empty except for a couple of piles of top soil that were there for some unknown reason. In the summer they served as ramps for our bicycles. The park contained some of the usual things: pavilions, swing set, metal slide, etc. But it also had a baseball field, some city buildings, and a large silver water tower with a red top and INDEPENDENCE painted on the side. Calling the open space in the park a “baseball field” may be an exaggeration. It was a backstop with patches of dirt that signified the bases and pitcher’s mound. The actual dimensions were somewhat subjective.

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the slog

The Slog Called Pole Creek Mountain

Pole Creek Mountain is fairly typical of many San Juan Mountain peaks. It starts on a trail, moves to an off-trail meadow, then to a steep grassy section, on to a section that can really only be described as a slog and finally, a rocky cap that can be ascended in a few different ways.

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big brown mushroom from side

The fungus fad

Mushroom hunting has become somewhat of a sport in southwest Colorado. A popular sport. We know a number of friends who spend hours looking for those somewhat soggy, slimy wild fungi pushing out of the ground. Telluride and Durango Mountain Resort both have their own mushroom festivals. And, just a few weeks ago we passed three hunters on a trail with huge smiles and blue plastic shopping bags full of chanterelles. As for Suzy and I, we prefer to hunt for mushrooms the same way we hunt for elk, with a camera.

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Elephant heads

Wild Flowers in the San Juan Mountains

When we moved to Durango in 2001 we didn’t know anything about wild flowers. We had done quite a bit of hiking in Maryland and Virginia before the move but the most wild flowers we had seen were planted by the DOT in the median strips along the highways. We did notice them and I guess you could say that we appreciated them, at 65 MPH, with the radio cranking, on our way to the beach or my parents house in Salisbury, MD.

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