Monday, June 29, 2009

Pole Gulch- Passport In Time

pit1 I returned yesterday afternoon from my volunteer work with the Forest Service. What a great week! A week of beautiful mountains…mostly beautiful weather and great archaeology.

I left the house mid afternoon last Sunday and drove to Fairplay, CO a small old mining town, now small tourist town about 60 miles, but a world away from here. There I met with the Forest Service archaeologist and several other of the volunteers for an “ice breaker”. After meeting everyone and getting a bite to eat I headed for the campground that was to be our headquarters for the week. It was about 12 miles south of Fairplay and off the highway about a mile. Nothing fancy here. Outhouses and a water pump were the only amenities but the setting under the pine and spruce trees was enough for me.pit4

Our project was to explore Pole Gulch and look for signs of prehistoric and historic activity. The group consisted of seven volunteers and two archaeologists. We split up into two teams and fanned out across an incredibly beautiful valley to begin the search.

The search is simple enough. We walk in a line about 5-10 yards apart and look at the ground trying to find stone tools or flakes indicating that prehistoric people had visited the place. Part of the valley had been searched before and several sites had been discovered so we were pretty sure we’d find more.  pit13

It didn’t take long to find flakes of Jasper on the ground. We could tell that they had been worked by someone and besides the nearest source of Jasper in the area was over 10 miles away. The picture to the right is of a flake like the many we found. We also found some more complete “points” and tools, pictured below.pit2

All in all we found about six different prehistoric sites and three or four historic sites. One of the historic sites was the remains of an old logging camp with what appeared to be four different dwellings. The only thing that remained was scraps of lumber to indicate where the houses were and all sorts of debris; dish fragments which would indicate that women were present; a marble that would indicate that children were present and a lot of cans and other household debris. This site probably dated from 1900 to about 1920.pit3

It’s much harder to date the prehistoric sites but it appeared as if this valley had been used by Native Americans for thousands of years as a summer campground….and I could see why. Plenty of fresh water and game and an incredible view of the surrounding area. One site was on top of a hill that gave a clear view for miles around. If you were there it would be pretty hard for someone to sneak up on you.

We surveyed the area for five days and wound up the project Friday about noon. The Bride came up on Friday afternoon and we had a great two days of just chilling and a little exploring. On Saturday morning I took her back into the area we surveyed and showed her some of the things we found. She was pretty good at spotting flakes on the ground!pit14

On Saturday night The Bride prepared a gourmet meal of lamb chops and grilled asparagus….a little wine, a great meal with great ambiance….life is good.

The wildflowers were also spectacular at the altitude we were at and I was able to get a couple of HDR photos….see below. I still have several more applications in for other PIT projects and hope that I’ll get selected for one or two. This is really habit forming….pit12







Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In The Doldrums

Adventure has taken a break for a while. The weekend was lazy with nothing to report and this week is mostly composed of getting ready for my Passport In Time project which starts on Sunday. I probably will not have any more posts until I’m back on Monday the 29th. I expect to have a whole lot to report then and hopefully some great pictures too.

Tomorrow I will attend the funeral of a friend I worked with for over 20 years. He left the company just a year or so before I did and went to work for a local distributor of construction products. He was a wonderful man who lived to work. He couldn’t stand to be idle and it seems like when we worked together, he was happy only when he was working 60 hour weeks. After we both left the company we would trade emails a couple of times a year but I was unaware that he had any medical issues.

He was only 66 years old. That’s only 4 years older than I am. If nothing else this makes me more determined to live my life to the fullest and keep the adventures, large and small, keep on coming.

his-self, out.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom

June 12, 1920 – August 9, 2006


Dude Ranch Mom


We miss you!


For the past week or three, I’ve been taking hikes to various front range locations to view the wildflowers which are now in full bloom at this altitude. One of the great things about Colorado is that because of the wide range of altitudes in the state, you can see gorgeous wildflowers from late May until the middle of August. In June, the bloom is down here at 5000-6000’.

Here are some pictures I’ve taken while on these hikes.









Primrose Cliff

Wildflower Storm





 Yellow and Red Roxborough









Hiking has been a morning adventure because for the last couple of weeks, afternoon brings some vicious thunder storms and funnel clouds. Yesterday, Guitar and I almost got caught in a really bad one but escaped by the hair of our chinny chin chin!

Storm A Comin'





Thanks for visiting.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Molly Dog, Mammoths, Hot Dogs & B-17s

mol2 Well there’s an intriguing title? That’s a lot of seemingly disconnected stuff but it is all connected in my weekend. First of all Molly Dog is on the mend. That’s her in the picture above with the cast on her right front leg. She’s learning to hobble around on it and thankfully hasn’t bitten at the cast. The vet said it would cost $69 to replace the cast if she tried to chew through it. I really didn’t want to put a cone on her head to stop her from doing that. That seemed like “piling on” in her current condition. The cast is about an inch or two longer than her other legs so she has learned to trail that leg behind her and hop on the other three legs to get around. The cast is mainly to hold her paw in a position so that the tendon will heal properly. She will be in the cast for about 10 more days.lamb1

As for the mammoths, yesterday The Circle attended a lecture about the Lamb Springs Mammoth Archaeological Site, which is about 10 miles from my home. After the lecture which was held at a local library we visited the site.

Readers know that archaeology interests me and this was an exceptional experience because I hadn’t a clue that this site was right in my back yard. The site is extremely important to understanding not only the extinct animals whose bones were found here but also in learning more about the ancient Clovis people that once lived in this area.

Amongst the bones found here were also artifacts used by Clovis man which proved that these ancient hunters killed animals here as long as 11,000 years ago. That’s the earliest evidence of Clovis man ever discovered and even that record could be broken. 13,000 year old mammoth bones were found at the site that appear to have been broken unnaturally….or very much like ancient humans processed bones. The problem for archaeologists is that no Clovis artifacts were found at the same level of the dig so there was no “smoking gun” to tie one to the other……except for one item. A 33 pound rock was found among the bones. What’s the big deal about that you say? Well, the rock didn’t belong there. The area of the dig was clay with only a few small stones in the area. About a mile away however is the bed of the South Platte River and there are plenty of similar stones there. The stone found at the site had marks on one point that looked like it had been repeatedly dropped on something hard and the marks matched up with the marks on the mammoth bone. Anyhow the archaeology community is split over whether the evidence is strong enough to declare that Clovis Man was present in North America 2,000 years earlier than previously thought. Fascinating.lamb2

There really wasn’t much to see at the actual site. All the working pits had been backfilled after the dig in the 1980’s to preserve the area. It was easy however to see the way the land sloped down to the spring, now dry, and imagine animals coming here for water…..Another interesting fact. Archaeologists can tell that the spring was a reliable year round source of water for over 13,000 years. About twenty five years ago however, about the time that this area started to develop, the spring went dry. Modern humans have lowered the water table enough to dry out the spring.

The weather was a perfect as you could ask for and we had a very enjoyable time. After the tour The Circle went to a local hot dog joint called Bernie’s for lunch. I’m not normally a hot dog guy. I prefer hamburgers but I enjoyed the Colfax Dog with a side of onion rings.b17

Finally, there has been a WW II B-17 bomber flying around this area all weekend. It is a magnificent piece of history and seeing it fly only about 1000 feet over my house on D-Day really gave me the willies….in a good way. You could hear the deep throated roar of the four engines about 30 seconds before you could see the plane itself and I tried hard to get a picture for several days but I was only able to get the one you see here. Even though I had my camera at the ready in the house it always seemed to surprise me by approaching from a different direction each time or catching me too far from the camera to get a shot before it disappeared. I would have loved to take a ride in it but at $400 for a 30 minute ride, it’s a little rich for my budget.

All in all just a great weekend……..

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pawnee Buttes, Lamb Springs and Molly Dog

paw4 Yesterday, Guitar and I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, hike around Pawnee Buttes. Pawnee Buttes are a series of geological formations in northeast Colorado. You really want to have to go there, to get there. To catch a phrase, it’s desolate there. The only sign of human habitation are a few scattered ranch houses and paw6 windmills, yes windmills. This area is pretty windy year round and the power companies have installed hundreds of windmills a few miles from the spot of our hike. If you enlarge the picture to the left you can see some on the ridge, center right in picture.

The trip from the Denver area is about 100 miles, but it’s light years away from the city crowds and madness. The hike itself was about 5 miles round trip and it wound over prairie and through some badlands. We saw only two other people there and they were about 1/2 mile away.paw2

The wildflowers were spectacular. It’s amazing the number of different types of flowers we saw in an area that, in the heat of summer, you would think was barren of flowers. I brought my Rocky Mountain wildflower guide but it was no help at all….This terrain could not be classified as “Rocky Mountain” . On our way to Pawnee we passed miles of prairie that were covered with some type of white morning glory type of flower. When I first spotted a field of them, I said to Guitar that it must have just hailed. That’s what the flowers looked like at a distance. The white covered the ground between other plants and bushes and looked like hail. I tried to take a picture but it just doesn’t show the way the eye sees it.

On the way back home we passed through the “almost” ghost town of Keota, CO. There were maybe, five people paw5 living in this otherwise deserted town. This town had it’s heyday just before WWI. At that time it had about 150 town residents and served about a thousand other ranchers, dryland farmers and their families. It had a bank, a newspaper, numerous stores and….no saloons. Today only a few buildings, the water tower and fire hydrants survive.

It was a long and enjoyable day. Guitar and I got back a little after 6 pm and are already beginning to plan for our next hike.

To tide our adventure lust over for the weekend, The Circle, had made plans for an unusual short trip on Saturday morning. Several weeks ago I read an article in a local newspaper about an archaeological site called Lamb Springs. On a local ranch not 20 miles from my home, a rancher in 1960, discovered the bones of a Columbian mammoth, ancient camel and ground sloth. The site now belongs to Douglas County, Colorado and they hold seven tours a year of the site. The Circle will see what this is all about on Saturday. Stay tuned.

While Guitar and I were on our hike yesterday, Molly Dog had an accident. It seems that while chasing a squirrel along the fence in our back yard, she severely cut her foot and tendon on the metal edging around a flower garden. Luckily The Emmer was home at the time and called The Bride. The Bride had to rush home and get her to a vet, who operated immediately. She is now not a happy pooch. Her right front leg is bandaged and in a splint and she is under the effects of heavy sedation for a few days. Total recovery time will be 10 days to two weeks. In looking at the amount of blood on our deck, patio and garage floor, I’m thinking she could have easily bled to death. I will be nurse for that period of time so there will be a break in my adventures for a while.

Thanks for visiting.


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