This, the Great Mountain

By R. F. Grant

While we tread this ground, the coal trains bellow in the distance, rattling the bones of natives beneath the earth. We imagine their headdresses—tattered feathers cresting the brow, multitudinous in hue and number. Femurs of buffaloes, of petrified wood and bone, obsidian arrowheads and charred leather rest beneath our path, amalgamating with the land of our treading. The brisk scent of death and ash, of frost and flesh mold this mountain, the Presence within its chiseled peaks certain. We feel it quietly, like pewter clouds before thunder. Tremors to the housecat before an earthquake. A wordless omen, burgeoning. Spirits watch us, omniscient but unattached. Kneeling toward the earth, they draw the Ouroboros, eternally eating its own tail.

The mountain breathes in this place, the wind coursing through the trees. It speaks in tongues, a language lost to the ancestors. The trembling leaves mimic the shivering of dead rattlesnakes, of instruments once-played fireside, orchestrating the shamanic dance. Behind us spans the valley. Not an atom there is lost. Before us, the mountain, not an atom gained. The wind speaks such a promise, dust devils pirouetting down the cliffs. They diminish at bottom, cackling at the illusion of death.

When the snow falls, a distinct silence settles over the mountain. It is familiar to us, swallowing the forest, encrusting it in ice. Our own breath becomes visible, voluminous, swirling towards the white tempest above. Dissonant, sound clarifies. Surreal, a hollow crack in the woodland causes the blood of life to pump through startled prey. Carapaces of frost encase their feathers and coats. Nap blooms across antlers like moss upon Redwoods. And nearby, ever-present, the scent of gunpowder, a blaze-orange figure sidling through the snow in wait.

Hereupon the mountain, the senses may sharpen. Nature’s virginity befalls the naked eye, the smell of life and death intermingling. Into its unadulterated form the world rewinds. We return again to our sense of belonging, our place within the Cosmos. The great mystery rekindles, the crack in the Orphic Egg visible. Indeed, while we tread this ground, we must remember what the mountain teaches us. We must remember for our children, for it is incommunicable. Beneath the earth, the bones of natives proclaim our time here is precious. And though forward we may progress, we must not forget our roots, for we are fragments plucked from something greater. This, in the end, the mountain teaches us. This, in the end, the great mountain.

–R. F. Grant is a Denver-based freelance writer. View more of his work at rfgrant.com.

Letters #193

Letter art

Envelope: K.Laskey  Silverton CO

We’re in the market for decorative envelopes to help beautify our Letters pages. If you’ve got an artistic envelope bent, pull out your weapons-of-choice, decorate an envelope with our snail mail address on it, mail the resultant envelope to us, and, if we print it, we’ll give you a year’s subscription to the Mountain Gazette.

Setting The North Face history straight

Dear Editor, Just for the record, I noticed an error in regards to the founding of The North Face in the 40th-anniversary edition of Mountain Gazette that I should point out. Not that this was an earth-shaking
mistake, but I was the sole founder of The North Face in 1963 and I sold the company in or around 1970. Hap Klopp was never a partner of mine and entered the company’s activities long after the company was founded, and I had sold it to two brothers from the East Bay who owned a ski shop in Concord or Lafayette (don’t remember now just exactly where they were from, but one of those two places). Klopp happened onto the scene if I remember correctly as he was going to or related in some manner with the Stanford Business School and was doing
a case study of TNF as an entrepreneurial small business. He hung around our offices for a bit while he gathered his information and then that was more or less the last we saw of him. Later, and I do not remember
the circumstances, he somehow bought out the brothers who had bought the company from me.

Anyway, no big deal, but I had heard a number of times over the years that Klopp has posed as the founder and this simply is far from the fact of the matter and I wanted to set the record straight. As I said above, this is not earth-shaking news!

Best regards,
Doug Tompkins

‘Dateline: Europe’ will be missed

Dear Mr. Fayhee: Not sure who made the decision to drop Michael Brady’s “Dateline: Europe” column, but I want to register my disappointment over this decision. Brady’s column was a major reason that I subscribe to your magazine. Although I enjoy the regional nature of MG, I also enjoyed, at least as much, if not more, the cosmopolitan atmosphere that “Dateline: Europe” provided. It’s unfortunate that you don’t feel this way. The Rocky Mountain West can be very parochial and self-centered and I find it a healthy change to read about other regions.

Please reconsider your decision. You’ll probably lose at least one subscriber if you don’t, as the magazine is very much diminished without Mr. Brady’s articles. In fact, I suggest you add more writers like him. I wouldn’t mind reading about other mountainous regions of the world than just the Rocky Mountains.

Kind regards,
Ted Johnson
Belgrade MT

Misguided decision

Dear MJF: I was disappointed you wouldn’t allow any of your own comments from the past to be posted in the “Mountain Gazette’s 60 Best Excerpts” section of your 40th Anniversary issue (MG #191).

I have read Abbey, I have read Thompson and, for my reading time, I would rather have some MJF on hand.

I like Abbey and etc. Yeah you have had other good writers, yeah the best-of section had some good stuff — but still — I always read your stuff, whereas I don’t have the same drive, desire or need to read all the others. For whatever reason, your writing hits the spot, so please suspend the modesty for the next anniversary issue and allow your comments to appear in the best-of section. (I/we may not be around for another 40th anniversary — so why don’t you pull off a 45th or a 48th or some such, and allow your words to appear in big and bold print in the MG 43rd Anniversary Issue?)

So long.
Kevin A. Yuan

Gun Thoughts

John: I’m not a climber, but enjoyed MG #189 about those who do — dog issue is still the best  — but, thinking about topical issues, have you ever considered one on guns?  I’ve lived in the Colorado mountains most of my life. I own guns and I used to hunt. But, ever since I was a Boy Scout in the 1950s, it has never occurred to me to carry a gun when I camp, fish or hike. Lately, I have become aware of several acquaintances who do carry weapons in their backpacks, even on short day hikes. Is this becoming the norm these days? It might make an interesting issue just to try to find out how your readers feel, experiences they’ve had, etc. You have at least one reader who’d be interested.Cheers.

Roger Miller,
Nathrop, CO

Parodied Parody

John: When I first read the “Rumble in Hawai’i” story by Craig Childs  in #187, I thought it was well-done and useful, a cautionary tale of how easy it is to get on the wrong side of the locals even in your own country and with the best of intentions. But I have to give credit where it’s due. Robert Shepherd’s parody of the “ugly Coloradan” in #189 — booted, backpacked and obtuse — is brilliant. I especially loved the conceit that if a natural disaster — fire? flood? windstorm? — wipes out your gazebo, your land becomes everybody’s. A perfect expression of cultural arrogance. (I’m just glad he didn’t identify himself as a Californian. We already have a bad enough reputation!) OK, kinda mean but definitely funny.

Walt Read
Fresno, CA

J-Tree Paradise

John: Charles Clayton’s “Jesus and the Joshua Tree, or How I Almost Became a Climber” (MG #189) reminded me of J-Tree’s effect on this non-climber. While not a religious experience per se, I certainly thanked Gawd for that place during my visit. It’s a park that always held some level of enchanting curiosity for me. If I had to place an objective attraction on it, it’s the desert Seussical landscape, groves of goofy-looking lily relatives resembling toy poodle arbors, the botanical reincarnate of the Muppets’ “Animal” in the hugantic desert palms, and, of course, the rock formations, some literally appearing as vertical geological jigsaw puzzles or even ice cream cones. I recall one that was a perfect V cut into the cliff with a perfect sphere cradled perfectly in the top! J-Tree was all I’d hoped for.

What I didn’t expect was the climbing-friendly rocks! I am not a climber and have little, if any, interest in (though appreciate the skill involved) scaling up walls and back down when I could be coursing in and out of canyons seeking oases and staking out austere mountain passes looking for desert bighorns. However, by the amount of climbing one sees there, you can’t help but feel some sort of tacit peer pressure, and the fact that the large-grit sandpaper rock surfaces make for fairly easy jaunts up 89-degree surfaces made me a dilettante free climber for that week.

In the mornings and after dinner, all I’d have to do is put a boot up and lean forward and upwards to start my way to some outcropping 100 feet above me. It was on some of these perched rock jumbles I have some of my fondest J-Tree recollections. The friendly free-climbing allowed me to scale up to vantage points to see the solar carpet and purple shadows see-saw with each other across this fantastic landscape — a religious experience of its own kind.

Tony Smith
East Longmeadow, MA

Editor’s note: Given the fact that our snail mail address is two states away from where our editor lives, handwritten, typed and scrawled Letters to the Editor often take a while to reach the Official Desk. These next three letters were sent our way last spring. The stagecoach to Gila Country is running slower than ever.

Even More Colorado Songs

Hi, Mr. Fayhee: The Colorado Songs article was wonderful. (Smoke Signals, “Colorado Songs,” MG #185.) It was surprising how many songs exist referencing Colorado. Many of those listed are new to me. And you are right, in that this reader and others can come up with more. Here’s one: A group called Grubstake has a folk-oriented tune that might be called “The Colorado Song”. Harry Tuft, a local folk legend, is one of Grubstake’s musicians, along with three or so others. He runs the Folklore Center in Denver.

The song deals with visitors to CO that stay, thereby adding to the population.

I recall one stanza running something like: “Now we’re having trouble with the jet set/Them lazy no good bastards love to ski/ And they all want fly to Colorado and buy up all our mountain scenery.”

The chorus is roughly: “Oh you can visit now and then/Bring your money and your friends/Just don’t forget to leave when you get through.”

I suppose other Western states enduring an influx of folks have similar songs and sentiments.

Thanks again for a fun article,

Rainer (Said Ry’-ner) Hantschel
Denver, CO

Utah Songs

Hello: I live in Colorado. I know all these Colorado songs and like them, but let me make a suggestion for the finest song about our neighbor to the West. “Utah,” by the Osmonds, off of their hard-rockin’ 1972 album “Crazy Horses.” It is one of the most amazingly non-specific songs ever written … no references to anything that might make Utah a special place, except that the Osmonds live there, and they are going back there because it’s home and “the place to be.” (The least they could have done is make a pro-Mormon pitch like they did on their follow-up album, “The Plan”). That said, it’s a good solid rocker by a truly astounding and underrated group of young men.

Dan Groth
Durango, CO

Shouldn’t have got that MBA

Dear John, Hey — I figured I could call you John as 1) I love the Mountain Gazette, 2) Sometime in the ’80s, my ex-wife & I were just coming down from hiking Greys Peak ( I believe … at 57 now I can barely remember my name, much less which 14ers we hiked) and you were hitchhiking down the road + we gave you a ride, 3) I’m re-reading your book, “Up At Altitude” 4) I pick up this great copy of MG at Ken Sanders’  Rare Books — EARTH FIRST!

Hey — great magazine — A. Stark’s article, “Cosmic Justice” (MG #185) strikes a cord — in 1975 myself + ex brother in law + other best friend camped up the rock north of Nederland + hiked Arapahoe Peak — then, as the road was too tough to drive a fucking Ford Fairlane back down to Boulder to get booze (before Pearl Street was rebuilt), my pal + I hiked from Rainbow Lakes to Nederland to hitch to Boulder. I too noticed these cows, all smarter than me — all trying to deter me from
getting my MBA.

I should have listened.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your publication — like Bowden’s “Tucson City Weekly” in the ’80s — like Jim Stile’s Moab Rants — like DeVere Hinkley’s ’80s single-spaced typed eight-page missives from Cowley, Wyoming — “The Cowley Progress” — the must-read “A Man Can Believe Anything.”

Take Care — keep it going!

In the Service of Her Majesty — Mother Earth! EF!

Dave Naslund
SLC, UT
Loving life behind the ZION CURTAIN

A Sport That Encourages Drinking & Smoking!

Hi! Well March did come in like a lion in these parts — but it sure seems way to lamb-ish too soon! Snow is certainly fading fast — faster than ever I’d bet! Some would claim it’s been mud season all winter. Of course, we’re spoiled here with our geographic advantage — skiing’s been fine to great — alpine @ Wolf Creek and nordic all over our little corner of the state. I don’t mind the mud — it goes away on ground and shoes —eventually. I only hate the wind — the Chinese claim it’s evil — I won’t argue that. I am looking forward to hiking now, I must admit, though, I suspect the beetle-killed pines may pose a real danger when the winds rip!

In the meantime, there’s disc golf — I think you’d really like it, M. John F. You can smoke & drink before, during & after and throwing things at a target satisfies the primal urge — hunting?

Anyway, I wanted to send in a decorated envelope, haven’t gotten to fully digest the dog issue of MG and didn’t want to wait for the next issue. Love ’em all — only wish they were LONGER — with more info, fotos, etc.

If you want to play Pagosa’s sweet disc golf course, look me up and I’ll get you discs & show you around the course — it’s truly a sweet one! Won’t be ready for a bit of course, got to dry up the ice, snow & mud!

Happy Spring!
Addi G.
Pagosa Springs

Editor’s note: The following two Letters were addressed to long-rime MG contributor George Sibley in response to his article, “The Colorado: The First River of the Anthropocene,” which appeared in MG #188.

Hi George: Greetings from Silverton, where the aspens in my yard finally popped their buds just yesterday …

Really enjoyed your piece in MG and the turning two-by-four studs back into trees analogy! Thanks for injecting this much more useful perspective into the mind-numbing litany of “woe is us” literature on the River.

FYI — CSAS, in discussing our organizing premise, talks about the “anthroposphere” and the “music of the spheres” (atmos-, litho-,cryo-, and anthropo-spheres) … the anthropocene is the context for all this!

Cheers,
Chris Landry, Executive Director,
Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies
Silverton CO

George: Beer or wine? I want to know what to buy you in appreciation of your latest work. In fact, whiskey is not out of the question.

I thoroughly enjoyed this essay each time I read it and only curse the Gazette’s format for the difficulty of scanning it so I can distribute it to my fellow members on the Grand Mesa Water Conservancy District board — even if it’s to watch them choke on the word Anthropocene. Congratulations on another fine job.

Thanks again.

Jim Durr

Letters #192

Reader Letter

Envelope: Rod Tatsuno, Idaho

We’re in the market for decorative envelopes to help beautify our Letters pages. If you’ve got an artistic envelope bent, pull out your weapons-of-choice, decorate an envelope with our snail mail address on it, mail the resultant envelope to us, and, if we print it, we’ll give you a year’s subscription to the Mountain Gazette.

Arrested for shooting Hitler

MJF: Inspired by your “Arrested Development” column (Smoke Signals, MG #186): In late 1976, I was a Physics major at CSU. My wife was working at some mundane vitality-sapping job with a bunch of lifeless zombies to pay the bills and concurrently put her husband through school. I was at my desk, fulfilling homework requirements and feeling weighted-down by whatever I figured the oppressive demands of the quotidian sought to drain from my soul. Like rainwater, my attention went from the textbooks to listlessly turning the pages of a CSU general information booklet. I flipped through the requirements for other degrees, and, lo and behold, there was a certificate I was well on the way to fulfilling, which was somewhat similar (maybe only in name only) to that which I had two years yet to attain. I could graduate with this other degree in one year. I felt better already.

Physical Science. I already had the biology (a prior attempt at another major), all the math (hard-core physics mandated an additional four or so courses), most the miscellaneous requirements, except for two categories. Humanities and upper-division courses.

I became an expert at upper-division humanities without prerequisites. I believe I took all classes in that category that the university offered. History of Jazz. Introduction to Formal Logic. The Nature of Culture. History of Ancient Israel (at least I had to, finally, read the entire Old Testament, among other things). The only non-post-grad-level Linguistics course. And Politics and the Environment.

Politics and the Environment was intended to be somewhat “left-leaning,” in that the professor who had always taught it was of the viewpoint that The Environment usually got screwed when coming up against Politics. The first day of class, Professor Meeks took the lectern and made his introduction. Apparently, the usual teacher for this course was missing in some foreign country or something like that, so the university procured a last-minute stand-in. And he announced that, though he did not share the other teacher’s view of the environment needing some assistance in the fight with politics, he’d try to present the material as even-keeled as he could.

He was an enthusiastic lecturer. He’d pace back-and-forth on the stage (the venue for the class was a small auditorium) gesturing and debating points, usually smoking a cigarette, with a NO SMOKING sign high on the wall over-head. He’d finish each smoke, looking down to crush the butt under his heel while maintaining his monologue. I’d look around at the three or so dozen other students, most of whom appeared to be in a trance, or between bouts of light sleep. It seemed incongruous — no, not the smoking — that he’d be pontificating loudly, sometimes waving his arms to make a point, and we’d seem to be … well, so dead.

One day I sat for coffee with him after class. I mentioned the seemingly strange phenomenon of him lecturing enthusiastically, while most or all the class sat there quietly, as if in a stupor or something. I said that I’d been considering doing something to liven up the class. I had a starter’s pistol at home (used to start running races) and thought of staging a mock assassination as he lectured. I am pretty darned sure that he was not adverse to this idea.

THE VERY NEXT DAY the lecture topic was Politics and Overpopulation. And, I had packed the aforesaid starter’s gun in my daypack. Professor Meeks paced back and forth as usual, puffing on a cigarette every few sentences. He progressed toward the scenario of a regime in a country deciding that having many more citizens would be an asset. Out-number the neighbors, more bodies for the army.

“Now, imagine that I am the dictator of your country. I am not a democratically elected leader; I have seized control through ruthless  means. And I appear on the national media and issue an edict: YOU MUST HAVE MORE CHILDREN! How would you REACT?”

I’m sure he looked right at me. “He’s calling my bluff!” I thought. Professor Meeks repeated the ultimatum. “You must have more children! How would you react?”
“Why, I’d shoot you,” I said as I stood, aiming the pistol at him and pulling the trigger. As expected, the class was stunned, and it’s safe to say everyone was awake. The Professor did not miss more than half a beat.

“That fellow would shoot me,” gesturing in my direction.  “What would the rest of you do?”

“I’d complain and write to my congressman,” announced a girl. A few other classmates joined in the discussion. This was more group interaction by far than this class had ever had. I thought my job was done, until the next day.

I should not have continued to carry the pistol in my knapsack, but after class the following day, several town and university officers were waiting for me to leave the room. I was arrested, and led away in handcuffs. After telling my story, more than once, ending up with the chief of the University Police, most of them thought that this circumstance was not only ironic, but a little silly. Arrested for shooting Hitler. The Chief was surprisingly human, and in spite of the uniform, very much like a normal open-minded reasonable person.

I was called a few days later and told that the charges were dropped. The CSU police had consulted with the County D.A. Charges? “Using a facsimile weapon in a manner intended to cause stress and alarm.” Oh, the things I do to help make class interesting.

Rosco Betunada,
Whitewater CO

High Praise for MG’s Covers

J. Fayhee and Gazette Crew: Congrats on your 40th anniversary! It is great to see that, after so much time, you continue to put out quality articles, pushing the edge of political correctness and imagination. Although I have not been alive as long as my dear Gazette, I have been an avid reader since my late teens, first drawn in by the visual appeal of your covers.

I was pleasantly surprised after reading through my first Mountain Gazette, and was glad that you were more than just a pretty face. I grew to love your covers, and love your stories. It was around issue #104 that I stopped throwing away the covers and started papering the walls of my college dorm with them. The covers have been torn from wall after wall only to be rehung in new locations. They have graced my ski bum cottages, houses in Colorado, Utah and Florida, and they all now reside in my classroom, where I am an 8th grade science teacher in Aspen (minus certain issues, specifically #113, which would distract the 13-year-old boys in my class for a long, long time). After covering my cabinets, they have slowly snaked around the room.

One day, while the kids were taking a test, I let my eyes drift through the beautiful artwork you all have created through out the years, and I made a rough estimate that I will be set to retire around issue #490. I am looking forward to reading that issue, but more importantly, I look forward to pinning that cover up in some off-the-grid cabin deep in the mountains, where I only have to visit with folks when I come into town to pick up the new Mountain Gazette.

Until then, thanks for all you do.

Brandy Keleher

Cover contest angst

Dear Mountain Gazette, I will not be voting in your cover contest today. I am too disappointed in the cover choices that you made available to voters. When I saw the “Cover Contest” headline on Facebook, I jumped to the MG page knowing exactly which cover I would vote for, but it was, alas, not on the list of options. The cover I reference, and have framed and hanging in my house, is from issue #96. It is a photograph of an ancient old man standing atop a rocky crag high above a mountain lake. He is wearing a rack of climbing gear and is tied into the end of a climbing rope. He looks cold and exhausted and utterly happy. His giant hands are gnarled and probably aching. His furrowed brow exclaims the feat he’s just endured. It’s a great moment captured by whoever had the pleasure of climbing with the tough old gent. And, in my opinion, it deserves a spot on the list of options for cover contest, as it captures mountain life at its finest moments. Maybe you could replace one of the five half-dressed female figures on the list (Fayhee’s picks no doubt) with #96.

Cheers,
Jeannie M. Barton

Editor’s note: The cover photo referenced was of none other than Fred Beckey.

Futile Book Search

M. John (I can call you that, can’t I?): Although we’ve never formally met, I feel like we’ve known each other for years, being that I’ve read the Mountain Gazette and your columns since its resurrection. In fact, you may not recall, but at the time you were bringing it back to life in ’99, I was living in Summit County and working in the marketing department at Copper Mountain — “working” being a relative term, if you call being cooped up in an office during Summit County summers for nominal pay “work”; more like … well, anyways, it was soon after that that I saw the light and spent the following six years working outside in the county every day, like the Postal Service says — through rain, sleet or snow — tons of snow during a good winter and tons of sun, followed by afternoon rain storms that operated like clockwork in the spring and summers.

Anyways, getting back to my tangent before I get to my point for writing … you were calling the Copper Mountain marketing department and trying to line up meetings with the director in order to figure out a way Copper could support the Gazette’s return and since I was the hired summertime help that answered the phone, all your calls usually went through me and I helped you and whoever it was that you were working with at the time line up those meetings. Not that you don’t know the rest of the story, but the Gazette opened up shop shortly thereafter on Main St. Frisco and I’ve been a reader ever since. I’d see you around town — usually at the Moose Jaw and other watering holes in the county, and, as typical in Summit, recognized you as one of the locals, but we never really interacted. I’ve been from the county to the California coast and now in Boulder for the last six years, where I never fail to snag a copy of the Gazette whenever I see it. Which brings me to why I’m writing …

I remember seeing the ads not too long ago in the Gazette for the book that was published that’s a collection of your writings — the “Colorado Mountain Companion” — we’ll I’ve searched all over. You name the local book store, and I’ve looked there; you name the used bookstore, and I’ve looked there; you name the big-box book retailer, and I’ve looked there; you name the internet site, and I’ve looked there. I give up. I can’t find it anywhere. I’ve been told it was printed in limited quantities and is out of stock (Amazon will even sell it to you for $25 and send you a copy “if” it gets one); but this is Colorado, and I know there’s gotta be a copy somewhere. I’m not the one to give up easily … and I’m patient, so I’m still determined to find it. I like to consider myself fairly intelligent, resourceful and intuitive, but not so much when it finally dawned on me to email you and ask if YOU could tell me where I could get a copy???

Hope you get back to me, keep up the good work, and one of these days I run into you somewhere in these hills I’ve always told myself I’d buy you a beer for being one of the contributing forces behind a magazine like the Mountain Gazette, which has shaped and articulated and reflected so much of my experience of living in Colorado.

Thanks. Let me know.
Andrea Meneghel

P.S.: By the way, where is the Mountain Gazette’s office these days??? In the masthead, there’s a Boulder P.O. box listed with a Virginia phone number. What’s up with that?

Editor’s note: Thank you for your diligence. The book to which you refer, “The Colorado Mountain Companion: A Potpourri of Useful Miscellany from the Highest Parts of the Highest State,” has finally been released. As to the P.S., our sister publication, Elevation Outdoors, has an office in Boulder. Therefore, we use that as our mailing address. The company that owns us both, Summit Publishing, is HQ’d in Charlottesville. Ergo the Virginia phone number. MG operates as a virtual office. Yours truly lives in the Border Country. Our art director lives in Oregon. Our ad people are spread all over the place.

Let there be light

Dearest Mountain Gazette,

I am just partaking in your 40th Edition and lovin’ every minute of it. 1969 was a year of innovation. Bob Gore developed Gore-Tex, but, being skiing dirtbags we were still in the 60/40 material era, what rocked our world was Bob Smith’s new goggle. I was working at Pete Lane’s in Sun Valley, a gathering place for the old-world cognoscenti of skiing. We had tried everything to see in the powder: Boutons, Uvex, Carreras with Band-aids over the air inlets. Bob walked in with some prototypes, which we fought over. The result: Let there be light! We could see. We proudly displayed Smith Scars on the bridges of our noses for the season, a result of going over the front in the deep snow with our narrow Head Standards, the powder ski of choice in those days. The goggles were a bit stiff and unforgiving in their earliest stages, but we didn’t care.

Keep up the good work, showing the fun side of the mountain experience.

Steve Riley,
Ketchum, Idaho

Monkee Voodoo on Halfmoon Creek

Dear M. John: Greetings from Half Moon Road. We read the most recent Smoke Signals with great interest (“The Fire Rings of Halfmoon Creek,” MG #190). We are the only people that truly reside on Half Moon Road. We have the purple barn with the United States and Peace Flag flying. We do hope you noticed us. We have been here 18 years in August and are heading into our 19th winter. We have seen it all.

Interestingly, we know very little of what goes on up Half Moon Road. We have other, better options. Our local friends refer to it as “Little Denver.” We do have many tales of the general public visiting our spectacular, easily accessed piece of the Divide.

We ate dust for years until we figured out that this road was illegal for Colorado Air Quality Standards. Too much traffic.

An endless parade of RVs, macho SUVs, beat-up pick-ups, ATVs, dirtbikes, plain old cars and bicycles and runners. Trying to get away from it all and simultaneously bringing it all with them.

2,375 “trips” past this house in seven days of rain following the 4th of July, 2007.

We got recycled asphalt laid down and improved the air quality by leaps and bounds.

Another problem was the tendency to plow to our house and stop in the winter. This created a winter trailhead, literally, outside our front door.

The general public has a tendency to keep going through unplowed snow until they get stuck. Or they forget sunscreen. Or water. Or gloves. Our favorite is the group that came knocking on the door at 4 a.m. looking for a pipe so they could get stoned for the sunrise in January.

Oh the stories!

We have resolved the trailhead issue through many years of battle with Lake County.  We have an awesome county commissioner now who has worked with us to fix things.

We have direct access to private land and the federal wilderness beyond. That place is our cathedral.

We know nothing of the fire rings up Half Moon Road. We laugh hysterically at your descriptions. We are not surprised. We love reading about your interpretation of Halfmoon. We have gone up there a few times and have run into some real Monkee Voodoo. It is ridiculous, the traffic going up into the campgrounds!!

We love this place. We belong to it. It belongs to us.

If this letter were to be printed, we are not sure we are comfortable with our full names being attached. This is a funny place to live in terms of being both isolated and very public.

Peace,
Therese and Rocky

Gun Thoughts

John: I’m not a climber, but enjoyed #189 about those who do — dog issue is still the best  — but, thinking about topical issues, have you ever considered one on guns?  I’ve lived in the Colorado mountains most of my life. I own guns and I used to hunt. But, ever since I was a Boy Scout in the 1950s, it has never occurred to me to carry a gun when I camp, fish or hike. Lately, I have become aware of several acquaintances who do carry weapons in their backpacks, even on short day hikes. Is this becoming the norm these days? It might make an interesting issue just to try to find out how your readers feel, experiences they’ve had, etc. You have at least one reader who’d be interested.
Cheers.

Roger Miller,
Nathrop, CO

Parodied Parody

John: When I first read the “Rumble in Hawai’i” story by Craig Childs  in #187, I thought it was well-done and useful, a cautionary tale of how easy it is to get on the wrong side of the locals even in your own country and with the best of intentions. But I have to give credit where it’s due. Robert Shepherd’s parody of the “ugly Coloradan” in #189 — booted, backpacked and obtuse — is brilliant. I especially loved the conceit that if a natural disaster — fire? flood? windstorm? — wipes out your gazebo, your land becomes everybody’s. A perfect expression of cultural arrogance. (I’m just glad he didn’t identify himself as a Californian. We already have a bad enough reputation!) OK, kinda mean but definitely funny.

Walt Read
Fresno, CA

J-Tree Paradise

John: Charles Clayton’s “Jesus and the Joshua Tree, or How I Almost Became a Climber” (MG #189) reminded me of J-Tree’s effect on this non-climber. While not a religious experience per se, I certainly thanked Gawd for that place during my visit. It’s a park that always held some level of enchanting curiosity for me. If I had to place on objective attraction on it, it’s the desert Seussical landscape, groves of goofy-looking lily relatives resembling toy poodle arbors, the botanical reincarnate of the Muppets’ “Animal” in the hugantic desert palms, and, of course, the rock formations, some literally appearing as vertical  geological jigsaw puzzles or even ice cream cones. I recall one that was a perfect V cut into the cliff with a perfect sphere cradled perfectly in the top! J-Tree was all I’d hoped for.

What I didn’t expect was the climbing-friendly rocks! I am not a climber and have little, if any, interest in (though appreciate the skill involved) scaling up walls and back down when I could be coursing in and out of canyons seeking oases and staking out austere mountain passes looking for desert bighorns. However, by the amount of climbing one sees there, you can’t help but feel some sort of tacit peer pressure, and the fact that the large-grit sandpaper rock surfaces make for fairly easy jaunts up 89-degree surfaces made me a dilettante free climber for that week.

In the mornings and after dinner, all I’d have to do is put a boot up and lean forward and upwards to start my way to some outcropping 100 feet above me. It was on some of these perched rock jumbles I have some of my fondest J-Tree recollections. The friendly free-climbing allowed me to scale up to vantage points to see the solar carpet and purple shadows see-saw with each other across this fantastic landscape — a religious experience of its own kind.

Tony Smith
East Longmeadow, MA

Editor’s note: Given the fact that our snail mail address is two states away from where our editor lives, handwritten, typed and scrawled Letters to the Editor often take a while to reach the Official Desk. These next three letters were sent our way last spring. The stagecoach to Gila Country is running slower than ever.

Even More Colorado Songs

Hi, Mr. Fayhee: The Colorado Songs article was wonderful. (Smoke Signals, “Colorado Songs,” MG #185.) It was surprising how many songs exist referencing Colorado. Many of those listed are new to me. And you are right, in that this reader and others can come up with more. Here’s one: A group called Grubstake has a folk-oriented tune that might be called “The Colorado Song”. Harry Tuft, a local folk legend, is one of Grubstake’s musicians, along with three or so others.  He runs the Folklore Center in Denver.

The song deals with visitors to CO that stay, thereby adding to the population.

I recall one stanza running something like: “Now we’re having trouble with the jet set/Them lazy no good bastards love to ski/ And they all want fly to Colorado and buy up all our mountain scenery.”

The chorus is roughly: “Oh you can visit now and then/Bring your money and your friends/Just don’t forget to leave when you get through.”

I suppose other Western states enduring an influx of folks have similar songs and sentiments.

Thanks again for a fun article,

Rainer (Said Ry’-ner) Hantschel
Denver, CO

Utah Songs

Hello: I live in Colorado. I know all these Colorado songs and like them, but let me make a suggestion for the finest song about our neighbor to the West. “Utah,” by the Osmonds, off of their hard-rockin’ 1972 album “Crazy Horses.” It is one of the most amazingly non-specific songs ever written … no references to anything that might make Utah a special place, except that the Osmonds live there, and they are going back there because it’s home and “the place to be.” (The least they could have done is make a pro-Mormon pitch like they did on their follow-up album, “The Plan”). That said, it’s a good solid rocker by a truly astounding and underrated group of young men.

Dan Groth
Durango, CO

Shouldn’t have got that MBA

Dear John, Hey — I figured I could call you John as 1) I love the Mountain Gazette, 2) Sometime in the ’80s, my ex-wife & I were just coming down from hiking Greys Peak ( I believe … at 57 now I can barely remember my name, much less which 14ers we hiked) and you were hitchhiking down the road + we gave you a ride, 3) I’m re-reading your book, “Up At Altitude” 4) I pick up this great copy of MG at Ken Sanders’  Rare Books — EARTH FIRST!

Hey — great magazine — A. Stark’s article, “Cosmic Justice” (MG #185) strikes a cord — in 1975 myself + ex brother in law + other best friend camped up the rock north of Nederland + hiked Arapahoe Peak — then, as the road was too tough to drive a fucking Ford Fairlane back down to Boulder to get booze (before Pearl Street was rebuilt) my pal + I hiked from Rainbow Lakes to Nederland to hitch to Boulder. I too noticed these cows, all smarter than me — all trying to deter me from getting my MBA.

I should have listened.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your publication — like Bowden’s “Tucson City Weekly” in the ’80s — like Jim Stile’s Moab Rants — like DeVere Hinkley’s ’80s single-spaced typed eight-page missives from Cowley, Wyoming — “The Cowley Progress” — the must-read “A Man Can Believe Anything.”

Take Care – keep it going!

In the Service of Her Majesty — Mother Earth! EF!

Dave Naslund
SLC, UT
Loving life behind the ZION CURTAIN

A Sport That Encourages Drinking & Smoking!

Hi! Well March did come in like a lion in these parts — but it sure seems way to lamb-ish too soon! Snow is certainly fading fast — faster than ever I’d bet! Some would claim it’s been mud season all winter. Of course, we’re spoiled here with our geographic advantage — skiing’s been fine to great — alpine @ Wolf Creek and nordic all over our little corner of the state. I don’t mind the mud — it goes away on ground and shoes —eventually. I only hate the wind — the Chinese claim it’s evil — I won’t argue that. I am looking forward to hiking now, I must admit, though, I suspect the beetle-killed pines may pose a real danger when the winds rip!

In the meantime, there’s disc golf — I think you’d really like it ,M. John F. You can smoke & drink before, during & after and throwing things at a target satisfies the primal urge — hunting?

Anyway, I wanted to send in a decorated envelope, haven’t gotten to fully digest the dog issue of MG and didn’t want to wait for the next issue. Love ’em all — only wish they were LONGER — with more info, fotos, etc.

If you want to play Pagosa’s sweet disc golf course, look me up and I’ll get you discs & show you around the course — it’s truly a sweet one! Won’t be ready for a bit of course, got to dry up the ice, snow & mud!

Happy Spring!

Addi G.
Pagosa Springs

Editor’s note: The following two Letters were addressed to long-rime MG contributor George Sibley in response to his article, “The Colorado: The First River of the Anthropocene,” which appeared in MG #188.

 

Hi George: Greetings from Silverton, where the aspens in my yard finally popped their buds just yesterday …

Really enjoyed your piece in MG and the turning two-by-four studs back into trees analogy! Thanks for injecting this much more useful perspective into the mind-numbing litany of “woe is us” literature on the River.

FYI — CSAS, in discussing our organizing premise, talks about the “anthroposphere” and the “music of the spheres” (atmos-, litho-,cryo-, and anthropo-spheres) … the anthropocene is the context for all this!

Cheers,

Chris Landry, Executive Director,
Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies

Silverton CO

George: Beer or wine? I want to know what to buy you in appreciation of your latest work. In fact, whiskey is not out of the question.

I thoroughly enjoyed this essay each time I read it and only curse the Gazette’s format for the difficulty of scanning it so I can distribute it to my fellow members on the Grand Mesa Water Conservancy District board — even if it’s to watch them choke on the word Anthropocene. Congratulations on another fine job.

Thanks again.
Jim Durr

 

Letters #190

MG190 letter's

Envelope: Jeffree Peas, Colorado

We’re in the market for decorative envelopes to help beautify our Letters pages. If you’ve got an artistic envelope bent, pull out your weapons-of-choice, decorate an envelope with our snail mail address on it, mail the resultant envelope to us, and, if we print it, we’ll give you a year’s subscription to the Mountain Gazette.

PolySci at 12,000 Feet

Mr. Fayhee: My first letter to your publication. Feel ever free to edit liberally. I always manage to miss the submission deadline for poetry, for your Rivers issue and photos of The Best Dog on the Planet (who is named Dylan and is Hopi, born in Tuba City to the Rez Dog clan, for the Rescue Dog clan) for your Mountain Dogs issue. But something happened yesterday that warrants recording in some public venue, and since I’m sitting beside the Dolores River in the foothills of our beloved San Juans, and the story took place on the Continental Divide at Monarch Mountain Ski Area, your mag comes most to mind.

There was a contingent of soldiers at Monarch this week. I showed up on a Friday, day-six in a row tele-skiing five different areas in a last hurrah with my Monarch pass. The mountain was bedecked in desert-camo fatigues, which I took notice of before I’d even leashed my skis, being newly not-quite-single-it’s-complicated. The kid soldiers on the slopes had minimal cause to shave yet, which was heartbreaking. The guys in the lodge were older — thinning hair, some graying — and wore more of a “been-there, done-that” look, and I’m sure they had been, and had done.

I hadn’t talked much to anyone all week, riding chairs by myself, masticating on life and love. This day I wanted intel. I have a dear friend in the Special Forces who had been deployed to Afghanistan at the age of 50, just after 9-11. I learned from him only weeks after that invasion that not only was an attack on Iraq in the works, but that SpecOps was already there. Inconceivable — what the hell did Iraq have to do with anything? A few months ago, an Iranian handyman named Farhad was building me a new deck. His father was secret service for the Shah before the revolution, and every male in his family had been beheaded. Farhad himself had escaped as a teenager through the snowy mountains of Iran, found asylum in Japan and then America, and will soon have U.S. citizenship. He told me back in December that the reason Obama pulled the U.S. troops out of Iraq early was to have them available for the planned invasion of Iran. What? Three months ago this sounded ridiculous. Now, not so much. A lot of saber rattling lately.

From quizzing my civilian chairmates, I quickly learned the skiing soldiers were army, made up of units from Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, and were on the mountain for “winter conditions training.” I did not get into geopolitical discussions of why this was ominous until I rode up with a 65-year-old retired CSU professor who was also a Vietnam vet. I told him that he certainly had earned the right to voice whatever he thought about a potential U.S. invasion of Iran, and he chuckled a little, “yeah, I do get to have a kind of street cred on this one.” We pretty much finished each other’s sentences about why Iraq and why Iran, and the last word was habitually “oil.”

The next chair I shared with a third-year poly-sci student from Florida, out on spring break. His university-version of upcoming events was analytical, but surprisingly inevitable. At 20 or 21 years old, he’d been a kid when the towers came down, and he was not so much callous as cavalier about the need for us to invade yet another Middle-East country. He guessed that Israel would strike first and we’d have to go in to clean up the mess. But he was certain from his university-led discussions that the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan had not been learned, that the U.S. was still hopelessly naïve about what comes after the invasion, and that it was a shame what would happen to these guys in camo fatigues skiing here today.

Which brings me to an aside: desert camo fatigues in the snow? Really? Please tell me that our guys and girls in the Hindu Kush are not wearing desert camo. Reminds me of the jungle camo worn by the soldiers on the spaceship in “Aliens.” Jungle camo in outer space — really?

Eventually, I rode up with a young volunteer, in his desert camo fatigues, nary a facial hair yet sprouted. So polite, and willing enough to answer my open-ended questions. He talked about how hard it was on the lungs at 12,000 feet, coming from sea level, that he’d never seen snow in his life until yesterday, and how it was important to learn to snowshoe and set up camp in the cold. He said, “Well, we went into Iraq because we thought there were weapons of mass destruction. Turns out we were wrong, but this time we KNOW there are, so we have to go take care of them.” Lord, I wanted to hug the kid and say — no, not “thank you for your service,” but “sweetheart, please be here next year.”

A couple evenings before this, my 12-year-old god-daughter in Avon had been working on a homework assignment on the Iraq war. “We went to war with Iraq because Saddam Hussein threatened President Bush’s dad, right?” I held my tongue and my breath until her mom — a nurse in her late-50s with street cred similar to the Vietnam vet’s — answered, “We went into Iraq because of oil, Emma.”

“Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?

Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago?

… Oh when will we ever learn?

Oh when will we ever learn?”

Here’s to the young soldiers whooping it up at Monarch Mountain in March 2012. I hope to God you’re back next year, and I’ll buy you a beer, if you’re old enough to drink by then.

Suzanne Motsinger
Flagstaff, Arizona

Remembering Cal Glover

Dear John Fayhee: My husband and I have been traveling to Teton Valley for the past seven years. We were drawn to the area because of my husband’s friendship with Cal Glover. They were both in high school together, specifically in the same German class —  Cal would introduce us to all his friends out west in German, quickly adding that they met way back when in Ft. Lauderdale High School, but Bob went north to Massachusetts and he jumped on his motorcycle to head West as a young man of 18 to Yellowstone. If you know Cal, you can just picture him saying this, and in the same breath asking “Where you all from?” and maybe even adding a story or two. His passing was a sad shock to us. Our visit there in February was difficult but glad to be able to see Kim Carlson, his widow, and offer our sympathy to her in person. Reading the Teton Valley newspaper, I saw your notice/website about his writings from past issues and the most recent story about his dog, Toby. I just wanted to tell you it was a fitting tribute to Cal and we so appreciated seeing his collective writing in print.

Thank you for honoring his life by his stories.

Celeste Wilcoxson

Anti-‘Arrested Development’

Sir: Had to respond to the “Arrested Development” Smoke Signals column in Gazette 186. Wow. I mean … wow. I guess nobody likes to give up their freedom unnecessarily, but really …
Let’s see: You admit to disliking law enforcement even as a kid because you engaged in “recreational windshield smashing” and they presumably stopped you. Not a single word about how the folks whose windshields you smashed felt about it. I suppose now if some young punk does some recreational windshield smashing on your personal vehicle, you wouldn’t have anything to say about it, right? Since any kind of infringement on a kid’s desire to wantonly destroy other people’s property is just, like, the man being all heavy and stuff.

But, okay, what you did as a kid was totally cool, and nobody should push you around and tell you to stop destroying other people’s things. Hmmm. But then you get your panties in a twist about living in an area with lots of drug smuggling going on, and having to be waved through checkpoints. I had to reread the piece just to be sure I understood. You object to being waved through checkpoints, or, at the absolute most, having to answer the simple question “Are you an American citizen?” This you equate with living in “police state.”

Deep breath.

Would you like to know what it’s actually like to live in a police state? The cops don’t just wave you through a checkpoint. They stop you and demand money. Or they haul you off to pokey. Then they demand money. And that’s if you’re a white American, ergo privileged. If you’re a local, it can be much worse. They are most definitely not “courteous and professional.” And Lord help you if you write a public column, or even private letter, describing them as “zygotes” or “midgets.”

I might agree with the all-cops-are-pigs line if you could describe behavior like, oh, a dirty cop who breaks taillights like some redneck Southern sheriff from the ’50s. Then you might have a point in your screed. But as you say repeatedly in your column, the police you by your own admission were “messing with” were nothing if not courteous.
When folks treat you respectfully it behooves you to return the favor. If you want to carry a chip the size of Texas on your shoulder, well, that’s your right. But while you do it, you ought to be da** glad you’re living in America and not an actual police state. I thought the Mountain Gazette was a fun, funky, independent paper. This one column just made me a future non-reader.

Sincerely,
Lawrence Pearlman

Pro-‘Arrested Development’ #1

Hi John ! Recently I spent 10 days in beautiful Southern Colo. Stayed a few days in Durango, a few in Pagosa Spgs. Ski’d both & totally enjoyed myself & the wonderful San Juan Mtns! I happened to pick up a copy of Mountain Gazette #186 and enjoyed several interesting & well written articles. My favorite was your piece: Smoke Signals — “Arrested Development.”

I can’t tell you how very similar we are in our feelings regarding law enforcement and especially the Border Patrol. I won’t go in to all the details, but needless to say, you and I share a lot of common feelings and have had many very similar experiences. Interestingly, pretty much all of my friends feel the same.

I have lived in southern AZ (Tucson) for 40 years, and in the last few years, the Border (where I used to trek and explore backcountry and camp a lot!) has been ruined by BP! There are so many things wrong with this. Your article covered nearly all issues, very well. Additionally, I will add that gun trafficking into Mexico has been enabled by “border police.” (I forget the name of the incident, but it was in the news). Also, the most horrendous murdering along the border was actually done by that deranged Minuteman (Anglo) crew that broke in and killed that family down in Arivaca.

I am much more nervous & afraid of meeting BP than I am the occasional “illegal(s)” along trails or backcountry roads.

Thank you for your writing and your work putting out a top-notch publication.

Peter Ianchiou

Pro-‘Arrested Development’ #2

Dear Mr. Fayhee: Like many of your other works, “Arrested Development” packs a punch with refreshing lack of inhibition, factual accuracy and entertaining prose. While I largely agree with your portrayal of modern law enforcement, I submit that the problem is much worse in scope and severity than unpleasant traffic stops and intrusive questioning by “pimply faced” tweenie cops near the Mexican border.

From forest rangers issuing parking tickets at trailheads to TSA strip searches at the airport, the number and variety of uniform-wearing, gun-toting agents of the law is at an all-time high. In spite of state and federal budget crises, there’s seemingly no lack of money to wage war, abroad or domestically. But our military-like buildup is not limited to our Southern border. For example, that notorious hotbed of crime and illegal immigration, Fargo, North Dakota, recently acquired bomb-detection robots, digital combat communications equipment, Kevlar helmets and a $265,643 armored truck with a rotating turret. Google it if you dare. At roughly 100,000 Fargoan souls, that’s $2.65 for every man, woman and child spent on one police truck. Sure, it comes with a gun turret, but, aside from Fourth of July parades, what the hell are they going to do with it in Fargo? This isolated example is representative of a nationwide trend. If this stuff can happen in Fargo, well, so go Billings, Boise and Bend.

Though I might sleep easier knowing that the streets of Fargo are safe from wayward Canucks, I’m deeply concerned about America’s troop withdrawal from two wars. While the thousands of returning combat soldiers have honorably served our country, they are going to be largely unemployed and possessing of a skill set centering around warfare. Because we’ve been an occupying force in Iraq and Afghanistan the past 20 years, today’s soldier is also highly trained in traditional police functions including detective work, interrogation techniques, crowd control and arrests. Thus, since 9/11, cops have been trained & armed like soldiers and soldiers like cops, and it’s a safe bet that many returning vets will seek a career in law enforcement.

As for the mushrooming police population, consider it a federal jobs program like the CCC of the 1930s, but with PTSD thrown in. I say this with no disrespect, but out of common sense and legitimate concern. I’m sure that some of these men and women will make fine police officers. Many, however, will have not only discharged their weapon in the line of duty, but taken human life in combat. On the other hand, very few cops ever discharge their guns directly at another human being while on the job, let alone actually shoot and kill one. The prospect of a new generation of hardened combat vets filling our swelling police ranks should concern us all.

On a more mundane level, the very nature of police work has changed radically in the past 20 years, and for the worse. Increasingly detached from the people they supposedly protect, cops no longer help old ladies navigate crosswalks, drive Otis to the Mayberry jail to sleep off another bender or even perform basic crime-solving. Such fuzzy-bear love is a waste of good money. Police cruisers are now profit centers on wheels whose captains are expected to meet predetermined quotas of money that is poured back into the system in a self-perpetuating cycle.

Though your editorial is limited to encounters with cops, most people who don’t work in or around the legal system typically don’t appreciate the fact that cops are but robotic minions to the Darth Vader of law enforcement, prosecutors. These hyper-religious, politically motivated, self-righteous, suit-wearing, briefcase-toting demigods, who are promoted on the basis of successful and high-profile convictions regardless of truth or justice, have been given god-like power by the United States Supreme Court in the form of “prosecutorial immunity” for all deeds and misdeeds committed in the course and scope of employment. Completely immune from their often-miscreant behavior, prosecutors answer to absolutely no man and certainly not the people they purportedly serve.

The methods by which prosecutors do evil include the obfuscation,
distortion and, if all else fails, complete fabrication of the facts, suppression of evidence, lying, engaging in nefarious legal tactics, advancing absurd interpretations of the law and basically doing most anything to obtain a conviction upon which their financial, social and political lives depend. To make matters worse, the vast majority of prosecutors are non-elected, government employees, no different than a city building inspector, but with the power to destroy another’s life. Prosecutors’ actions are all too often motivated by their religious beliefs, personal agendas and the delusional belief that they have the omniscience of god. But absolute power combined with absolute immunity will corrupt any human.

Unfortunately, your statement that we are declining into a “police state” is a fait accompli. Good luck to us all.

Brad Purdy,
Boise, ID

Letters #189

MG 189 Letters

Envelope: Klara Lapp, CO

We’re in the market for decorative envelopes to help beautify our Letters pages. If you’ve got an artistic envelope bent, pull out your weapons-of-choice, decorate an envelope with our snail mail address on it, mail the resultant envelope to us, and, if we print it, we’ll give you a year’s subscription to the Mountain Gazette.

Uncle Big Bob

John: I happened across your Smoke Signals article about the Dillon Dam Brewery, “Big Bob and the Beer Math Saga” (MG #180). I really enjoyed reading this story, especially as it relates to Bob Kimble, who was my uncle. Today marks the one-year anniversary of his death, so I had decided to google his name. I landed on your article, and enjoyed reading a little more about him and his life. Thanks for a laugh on a day that I really needed it!

Sharon Wright
Birmingham AL

Forsooth, More Bowden

J.F.: Charles Bowden is sooo good, would love to see more and more from him. Also love your poetry section. Consistently good. Could you eke out more space for it??

Thanks!

Tomas!
Mob(not moab), UT

Colorado Songs #1

M. John: Regarding your Smoke Signals article, “Colorado Songs,” in Jan 2012 Mountain Gazette: You just HAVE to include “Wolf Creek Pass” by C.W. McCall!

Robert Stump 

Colorado Songs #2

Master Fayhee: A listener called me during my radio show last week to mention your article on Colorado songs and suggest the challenge of adding to your list.

I have done so and will be playing a set on air tomorrow, should you care to listen. I humbly will only make three additions, two of note.

Thanks for inspiring a quest.
Here is the playlist for that segment:
1. “Colorado”/Rebecca Zapen/Nest
2. “Colorado Girl”/Steve Earl /Townes
3. “My Secret Place”/Joni Mitchell & Peter Gabriel/Chalk Mark in a Rainstorm
4. “Me & That Train”/Patty Larkin/not sure of the CD … just downloaded it.

Lynette O’Kane,
Assistant Music Director
KDNK radio
Carbondale, CO

Colorado Songs #3

M. John: I’m a 77-year-old mountain dude who hitched from my hometown of Hannibal. Mo. in 1953 for a life in the mountains. I went to work for the Dercums at Ski Tip as a dishwasher, woodcutter and après-ski troubadour. After learning to ski at A-Basin, I taught there from ’54 to ’56, then at Loveland Basin and worked at the Alpine Inn in Georgetown where I was promoted  to pots and pans. I lived in the High Country up until moving to Grand Junction a few years ago. In between, I did some interesting things such as running the ski school in Telluride in the early ’70s, singing in several of the local watering places there and was the MC for the first official Telluride Bluegrass festival in ’74. I went to NYC during the “Great Folk Scare” of the ’60s [as U. Utah Phillips described it] and became well established enough that Dave Van Ronk called me “The best known of the least known.” The thrill of the city paled quickly and I came back to the mountains.

I have several albums of songs I’ve written since I returned to Colorado. Many of them have mentions of life in the High Country and the canyons, rivers and deserts of the great Southwest. Most recently, I did a music video called “Dancing Down the Mountains,” a song that I wrote last year. It has some cool footage, including me telemarking while playing my guitar. It answers your prerequisite of having Colorado in the lyrics. It has been out on youtube since last May and to date has had over 1,600 views. Not bad for a video about an old guy still skiing and singing. Check it out — it’s only 4 minutes and 27 seconds long so it won’t take much time out of your busy day and I really think you will enjoy it.

You can find all of my music on iTunes. Some other specific songs that I think would interest you are on my compilation CD, “Colorado Collection”:

• “Colorado Mountain Song,” which starts with the story of my hitching out West in ’53 and the joy of being here after I arrived.

• “The Ballad of Lady Silverheels.” A tale I know you know well.

• “Wild Stallion.” A song inspired by a dream I had about the life of an aging stallion on the Roan Plateau.

• “The Mountain Bike Song.” As Mark Twain might have said, “A good way to spoil a nice hike.”

There is a direct link to Dancing Down The Mountains on my website; www.johnwinnmusic.com or google it.

Your writing is a constant inspiration to me. Many thanks for all that interesting “palavering.”

John Winn

Colorado Songs #4

M. John: From a Rocky Mountain Parrot Head … written in 1980 by Jimmy Buffett: “Incommunicado.”

A verse in the song references Colorado:

“Now on the day that John Wayne Died

I found myself on the Continental Divide.

Tell me where do we go from here?

Think I’ll ride into Leadville,

And have a few beers.”

Tim Payne, Board Chairman,
Cañon City Recreation District.

Colorado Songs #5

Mr. Fayhee: I am disappointed that Merle Haggard got only a mention of his song titles and no lyrical interludes in “Colorado Songs.”

Ever since I heard “Colorado,” it has been one of my favorite songs, especially the chorus: “Have you ever been down to Colo-rado?/I spend a lot of time there in my mind/And if God doesn’t live in Colo-rado, I’ll bet that’s where he spends most of his time.” I once combined that with “Colorado Girl” as I approached Durango from the south on U.S. 550, after a long absence, and lost my mind listening on repeat as I stared down the early-autumn San Juans.

Another song, which you totally forgot to mention, and was on my play list, was Johnny Paycheck’s “Colorado Kool-Aid.” Technically about South Texas, the second stanza mentions one of Colorado’s most-notorious exports: “What’s Colorado Kool-Aid/Well it’s a can of Coors brewed from a mountain stream/It’ll set yer head on fire and make your kidneys scream/Ohhh It sure is fine/Yeah we was havin’ one of them real good times.”

Thanks for digging up all of those songs for those of us who spend a lot of time in Colorado, in our minds.

Adam Throckmorton

Colorado Songs #6

MJF: One of my favorite artists, Modest Mouse, sings appropriately in “Trucker’s Atlas” about unloading his head in CO and continues to rap a bit about other great states such as my home state of AK … although I am not sure if I got off Scot-fucking free. I have enjoyed this ditty whilst driving across the county many times, as I am sure many of your other readers have on road-trippin’ occasions. Take the time to enjoy the song at some point if you haven’t already. Thanks for the words.

Best regards,

Kenneth Rogowski

Colorado Songs #7

Hey, Fayhee: Loved the piece on Colorado Songs! It immediately brought back the lyrics and tune of “If I had a Wagon,” which most of us who were in grade school in Colorado in the late-’60s and early-’70s learned and sang with pride and gusto at our school performances. It goes: “If I had a wagon, I would go to Colorado/Go to Colorado/If I had a wagon, I would/If I had a wagon, I would go to the state/Where a man can walk a mile high … ”

And then it goes on to add verses about driving to Colorado in a Chevy, flying to Colorado in an airplane and landing in Colorado in a space ship (it was popular during the height of the space program), and ends with “having feet hike on, and it’s Pike Peak or Bust/Where America can learn again/Just like Colorado men/How to hold your head up high/Where a man can walk a mile high!”

It was recorded in 1967 by Up with People as part of the “Moral Re-Armament Show” and was written by DB Allen and JP Colwell. KHOW radio in Denver played it every Friday morning. Check out the video on YouTube. And I’m happy to report that some 4th graders in Colorado are still learning this song!

And we shouldn’t forget that Katharine Lee Bates, was so inspired after a trip to the top of Pikes Peak in 1893, that she penned the words to what is now “America the Beautiful.”

Write on, MJ!

Liane Mattson,
Paonia, CO

Colorado Songs #8

Hi John: I enjoyed your article in Smoke Signals on Colorado Songs and wanted to add one to your list. Richie Furay was the architect of country rock and also founding member of Poco, who still plays in Denver. The song, “You Better Think Twice,” mentions Colorado and our lovely mountains and is a very uplifting tune.

Thanks, peace,

Mark Besocke

Colorado Songs #9

John: In your article Colorado songs, you noted a couple of Dan Fogelberg’s numbers and that he wintered outside of Nederland in the ’70s. He later had a home in Durango. Thus the lyric, “I’m in Colorado, when I’m not in some hotel” from his hit, “Leader of the Band.” On “High Country Snows,” he also wrote an instrumental titled “Wolf Creek.” Finally, on his “Wild Places” CD, the song of the same name notes, “I was walking alone, through the lofty San Juans.”

Kevin Masters

Colorado Songs #10

John: I would prefer a good old-fashioned letter, but, alas, I am at work and only have time for a quick note. Have you ever heard of Tony Joe White? If not, then this is your lucky day. Look for an album called “Black and White.” You will be rewarded with not only a song about Aspen, Colorado, but with one about “Soul Franchise,” as well as a few other outstandingly awesome originals and a b-side of solid traditional covers. If for some weird reason you don’t like the music, you will at least get a kick out of the cover photo.

Cheers and keep up the good work.

Jim Martin

Colorado Songs #11

M. John: What about “Have You Been Down to Colorado” by the Bluegrass Cardinals? Good lyric: “If God doesn’t live in Colorado, he spends a lot of time there.” It’s on YouTube.

Gary Lewis

Colorado Songs #12

Hello to M. John Fayhee! A friend gave me the January issue of Mountain Gazette. This magazine was unknown to me, but Police Gazette came to mind and in thinking it may have inspired the former, I was intrigued. I was given this issue that I might find something of interest in your “Colorado Songs” article. So I might.

I must first say that posting your email at the start of said article and inviting comment shows you have guts. As you say, everyone will be outraged that you left out their favorite song. As for me, I feel your list is fairly complete. I was surprised that you gave mention to the lovely song, “Moonlight on the Colorado,” as sung by Chuck Pyle. I am fond of Mr. Pyle’s work, but feel the best recording of this song is by Liz Masterson and the late Sean Blackburn on their “Tune Wranglin’,” a study of Western Swing in the ’30s recorded in 1987.

There is one song you overlooked that I feel worthy of mention. It is a modification of the popular song, “Home on the Range.” It is a Colorado form of said song titled, “Colorado Home” and written by Bob Swartz and his friends in Leadville, circa 1885.

They made for a fun, rousing piece that I often play to crowds in Colorado. A more complete story of the song was written by my friend Ed Quillen in his Colorado Central Magazine. September 2007. http://cozine.com/2007-september/where-was-the-home-on-the-range/

So overall, you came up with a fine article. One you might consider presenting to the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. I think it might pique their interest. Regarding the Mountain Gazette at large, I found the overall articles engaging and fun. I look forward to seeing future editions now that I know of you. Thank you for your article on Colorado Songs.

Sincerely,

Rex Rideout

Aloha … Put Up Your Dukes!

Hello Editor: I recently read the unfortunate experiences of Craig Childs and JT Thomas while visiting lava flows in Hawaii (“Rumble in Hawai’i,” MG #187). I have also been the victim of this type of harassment while photographing at the Waikupanaha lava delta a few miles SW of Kalapana. From the description in the article, it sounds as if this same “gang” is responsible for both incidents.

In May 2009, a few friends and I made an early-morning adventure to the lava flowing into the ocean. Instead of walking the 4.5 hours or more from the Volcanoes Park to the lava delta, we poached the view by parking at a public viewing area near Kalapana. It was 1 a.m. or so, and to get to the lava, I confess that we passed a few government No Trespassing signs as we walked down the middle of the road toward the recent lava flows. Once on the flow, no property borders, forests or houses remain. All that is left is the undulating, cooled lava and the remains of concrete pillars, which were once the supports for a large gazebo situated near the sea cliff. Any form or indication of habitable private property has been erased by the new rock.

My friends and I spent the night shooting pictures and video. We even survived a massive lava bench collapse that threw incandescent bees and ash hundreds of feet into the air. As we were getting in position to photograph the lava with the sunrise, three strangers approached. The largest of the men, our “Big Guy,” was well over 200 pounds and stood at least 6 feet or more. He had a slightly olive complexion and short curly hair. He had no facial hair and his facial features and complexion made it obvious he was not 100-percent Hawaiian.

As the man (soon to be a goon) approached, he started asking us where our permits were and how the land (er, desolated lava) we were on was his friend’s and how he was going to contact the DLNR (the Division of Land and Natural Resource police). I asked the goon where HIS permit was, but he kept changing the subject back to us and his right to be there because the sea cliff was his friend’s property. He kept telling us to leave, but my friends and I held our ground. We offered to share our location for photography, but the goon continued to get into our faces as we tried to reason with him.

Unlike the article in Mountain Gazette, no physical violence occurred, but it was close. Fortunately, we had the power of numbers over the goon. I’m a lifelong hockey player used to taking on bullies, and one of my friends is a multi-disciplined, high-level martial artist. Our confidence and the number ratio kept the conflict from escalating. Although the goon had two accomplices, these smaller, and truly Hawaiian-looking, men were always in the background and didn’t seem to want to get involved. I got the impression that they were a bit embarrassed by their friend.

Eventually these men left us alone and we continued to take our pictures. After sunrise, we hiked back to the car where police from the DLNR were waiting. Their daily patrol, not contact from the lava enforcers, brought the DLNR to the parking lot. They took down our names and license numbers, gave us a stern warning and said that, if want to see the lava, then hike the long way from the park. (We most likely avoided a ticket/arrest since we were well prepared with, boots, backpacks, respirators, gloves, etc.).

I mentioned to the DLNR our confrontation with the men at the lava delta. We gave the police a full description of the lava enforcers, since it appeared they would be back for a truck left at the parking lot. I’m not sure what happened later, but I hope the goon and his friends paid for harassing us.

While most Hawaiians have no problem with respectful tourists, there are a few that I have encountered who feel the volcano is for Hawaiians only. They insist that their religion and belief in Pele gives them some special right over all other humans to get close to the lava. I’d imagine in the MG article that the Big Guy’s rant over taking pictures of his mother had something to do with taking pictures of Pele, and not the goon’s real, biological mother. Many Hawaiians also forget that the volcanoes were active long before their ancestors arrived on the Islands, and volcanism will continue long after the last humans are gone.

During our exchange, I mentioned that I’m from Colorado and that I welcome people from all over the world to view my backyard. I said that I don’t have any claim to the Mountains and why should he have claim to the volcano? We are all tourists on the planet, and actions like his will only frighten away other cash-wielding visitors to the Big Island.

Please Check out: www.youtube.com/gravitydude99 for a collection of videos and clips from my volcano adventures. www.gravitydude.daportfolio.com has my stills.

Robert Shepherd

Wheat Ridge, CO

PolySci at 12,000 Feet

Mr. Fayhee: My first letter to your publication. Feel ever free to edit liberally. I always manage to miss the submission deadline for poetry, for your Rivers issue and photos of The Best Dog on the Planet (who is named Dylan and is Hopi, born in Tuba City to the Rez Dog clan, for the Rescue Dog clan) for your Mountain Dogs issue. But something happened yesterday that warrants recording in some public venue, and since I’m sitting beside the Dolores River in the foothills of our beloved San Juans, and the story took place on the Continental Divide at Monarch Mountain Ski Area, your mag comes most to mind.

There was a contingent of soldiers at Monarch this week. I showed up on a Friday, day-six in a row tele-skiing five different areas in a last hurrah with my Monarch pass. The mountain was bedecked in desert-camo fatigues, which I took notice of before I’d even leashed my skis, being newly not-quite-single-it’s-complicated. The kid soldiers on the slopes had minimal cause to shave yet, which was heartbreaking. The guys in the lodge were older — thinning hair, some graying — and wore more of a “been-there, done-that” look, and I’m sure they had been, and had done.

I hadn’t talked much to anyone all week, riding chairs by myself, masticating on life and love. This day I wanted intel. I have a dear friend in the Special Forces who had been deployed to Afghanistan at the age of 50, just after 9-11. I learned from him only weeks after that invasion that not only was an attack on Iraq in the works, but that SpecOps was already there. Inconceivable — what the hell did Iraq have to do with anything? A few months ago, an Iranian handyman named Farhad was building me a new deck. His father was secret service for the Shah before the revolution, and every male in his family had been beheaded. Farhad himself had escaped as a teenager through the snowy mountains of Iran, found asylum in Japan and then America, and will soon have U.S. citizenship. He told me back in December that the reason Obama pulled the U.S. troops out of Iraq early was to have them available for the planned invasion of Iran. What? Three months ago this sounded ridiculous. Now, not so much. A lot of saber rattling lately.

From quizzing my civilian chairmates, I quickly learned the skiing soldiers were army, made up of units from Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, and were on the mountain for “winter conditions training.” I did not get into geopolitical discussions of why this was ominous until I rode up with a 65-year-old retired CSU professor who was also a Vietnam vet. I told him that he certainly had earned the right to voice whatever he thought about a potential U.S. invasion of Iran, and he chuckled a little, “yeah, I do get to have a kind of street cred on this one.” We pretty much finished each other’s sentences about why Iraq and why Iran, and the last word was habitually “oil.”

The next chair I shared with a third-year polysci student from Florida, out on spring break. His university-version of upcoming events was analytical, but surprisingly inevitable. At 20 or 21 years old, he’d been a kid when the towers came down, and he was not so much callous as cavalier about the need for us to invade yet another Middle-East country. He guessed that Israel would strike first and we’d have to go in to clean up the mess. But he was certain from his university-led discussions that the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan had not been learned, that the U.S. was still hopelessly naïve about what comes after the invasion, and that it was a shame what would happen to these guys in camo fatigues skiing here today.

Which brings me to an aside: desert camo fatigues in the snow? Really? Please tell me that our guys and girls in the Hindu Kush are not wearing desert camo. Reminds me of the jungle camo worn by the soldiers on the spaceship in “Aliens.” Jungle camo in outer space — really?

Eventually, I rode up with a young volunteer, in his desert camo fatigues, nary a facial hair yet sprouted. So polite, and willing enough to answer my open-ended questions. He talked about how hard it was on the lungs at 12,000 feet, coming from sea level, that he’d never seen snow in his life until yesterday, and how it was important to learn to snowshoe and set up camp in the cold. He said, “Well, we went into Iraq because we thought there were weapons of mass destruction. Turns out we were wrong, but this time we KNOW there are, so we have to go take care of them.” Lord, I wanted to hug the kid and say — no, not “thank you for your service,” but “sweetheart, please be here next year.”

A couple evenings before this, my 12-year-old god-daughter in Avon had been working on a homework assignment on the Iraq war. “We went to war with Iraq because Saddham Hussein threatened President Bush’s dad, right?” I held my tongue and my breath until her mom — a nurse in her late50s with street cred similar to the Vietnam vet’s — answered, “We went into Iraq because of oil, Emma.”

“Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?

Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago?

… Oh when will we ever learn?

Oh when will we ever learn?”

Here’s to the young soldiers whooping it up at Monarch Mountain in March 2012. I hope to God you’re back next year, and I’ll buy you a beer, if you’re old enough to drink by then.

Suzanne Motsinger
Flagstaff, Arizona

Remembering Cal Glover

Dear John Fayhee: My husband and I have been traveling to Teton Valley for the past seven years. We were drawn to the area because of my husband’s friendship with Cal Glover. They were both in high school together, specifically in the same German class —  Cal would introduce us to all his friends out west in German, quickly adding that they met way back when in Ft. Lauderdale High School, but Bob went north to Massachusetts and he jumped on his motor cycle to head West as a young man of 18 to Yellowstone. If you know Cal, you can just picture him saying this, and in the same breath asking “Where you all from?” and maybe even adding a story or two. His passing was a sad shock to us. Our visit there in February was difficult but glad to be able to see Kim Carlson, his widow, and offer our sympathy to her in person. Reading the Teton Valley newspaper, I saw your notice/website about his writings from past issues and the most recent story about his dog, Toby. I just wanted to tell you it was a fitting tribute to Cal and we so appreciated seeing his collective writing in print.

Thank you for honoring his life by his stories

Celeste Wilcoxson

Pro-‘Arrested Development’

Hi John ! Recently I spent 10 days in beautiful Southern Colo. Stayed a few days in Durango, a few in Pagosa Spgs. Ski’d both & totally enjoyed myself & the wonderful San Juan Mtns! I happened to pick up a copy of Mountain Gazette No.186 and enjoyed several interesting & well written articles. My Favorite was your piece: Smoke Signals — “Arrested Development.”

I can’t tell you how Very Similar we are in our feelings regarding law enforcement and especially the Border Patrol. I won’t go in to all the details, but needless to say, you and I share a lot of common feelings and have had many very similar experiences. Interestingly, pretty much all of my friends feel the same.

I have lived in southern AZ (Tucson) for 40 years, and in the last few years, the Border (where I used to trek and explore backcountry and camp a lot!) has been ruined by BP! There are so many things wrong with this. Your article covered nearly all issues, very well. Additionally, I will add that gun trafficking Into Mexico has been enabled by “border police.” (I forget the name of the incident, but it was in the news). Also, the most horrendous murdering along the border was actually done by that deranged Minuteman (Anglo) crew that broke in and killed that family down in Arivaca.

I am much more nervous & afraid of meeting BP than I am the occasional “illegal(s)” along trails or backcountry roads.

Thank you for your writing and your work putting out a top-notch publication.

Peter Ianchiou

Anti-‘Arrested Development’

Sir: Had to respond to the “Arrested Development” column in Gazette 186. Wow. I mean … wow. I guess nobody likes to give up their freedom unnecessarily, but really …
Let’s see: You admit to disliking law enforcement even as a kid because you engaged in “recreational windshield smashing” and they presumably stopped you. Not a single word about how the folks whose windshields you smashed felt about it. I suppose now if some young punk does some recreational windshield smashing on your personal vehicle, you wouldn’t have anything to say about it, right? Since any kind of infringement on a kid’s desire to wantonly destroy other people’s property is just, like, the man being all heavy and stuff.

But, okay, what you did as a kid was totally cool, and nobody should push you around and tell you to stop destroying other people’s things. Hmmm. But then you get your panties in a twist about living in an area with lots of drug smuggling going on, and having to be waved through checkpoints. I had to reread the piece just to be sure I understood. You object to being waved through checkpoints, or, at the absolute most, having to answer the simple question “Are you an American citizen?” This you equate with living in “police state.”

Deep breath.

Would you like to know what it’s actually like to live in a police state? The cops don’t just wave you through a checkpoint. They stop you and demand money. Or they haul you off to pokey. Then they demand money. And that’s if you’re a white American, ergo privileged. If you’re a local, it can be much worse. They are most definitely not “courteous and professional.” And Lord help you if you write a public column, or even private letter, describing them as “zygotes” or “midgets.”

I might agree with the all-cops-are-pigs line if you could describe behavior like, oh, a dirty cop who breaks taillights like some redneck Southern sheriff from the ’50s. Then you might have a point in your screed. But as you say repeatedly in your column, the police you by your own admission were “messing with” were nothing if not courteous.
When folks treat you respectfully it behooves you to return the favor. If you want to carry a chip the size of Texas on your shoulder, well, that’s your right. But while you do it, you ought to be da** glad you’re living in America and not an actual police state. I thought the Mountain Gazette was a fun, funky, independent paper. This one column just made me a future non-reader.

Sincerely,

Lawrence Pearlman

Pro-‘Arrested Development’

Dear Mr. Fayhee: Like many of your other works, “Arrested Development” packs a punch with refreshing lack of inhibition, factual accuracy and entertaining prose. While I largely agree with your portrayal of modern law enforcement, I submit that the problem is much worse in scope and severity than unpleasant traffic stops and intrusive questioning by “pimply faced” tweenie cops near the Mexican border.

From forest rangers issuing parking tickets at trailheads to TSA strip searches at the airport, the number and variety of uniform-wearing, gun-toting agents of the law is at an all-time high. In spite of state and federal budget crises, there’s seemingly no lack of money to wage war, abroad or domestically. But our military-like buildup is not limited to our Southern border. For example, that notorious hotbed of crime and illegal immigration, Fargo, North Dakota, recently acquired bomb-detection robots, digital combat communications equipment, Kevlar helmets and a $265,643 armored truck with a rotating turret. Google it if you dare. At roughly 100,000 Fargoan souls, that’s $2.65 for every man, woman and child spent on one police truck. Sure, it comes with a gun turret, but, aside from Fourth of July parades, what the hell are they going to do with it in Fargo? This isolated example is representative of a nationwide trend. If this stuff can happen in Fargo, well, so go Billings, Boise and Bend.

Though I might sleep easier knowing that the streets of Fargo are safe from wayward Canucks, I’m deeply concerned about America’s troop withdrawal from two wars. While the thousands of returning combat soldiers have honorably served our country, they are going to be largely unemployed and possessing of a skill set centering around warfare. Because we’ve been an occupying force in Iraq and Afghanistan the past 20 years, today’s soldier is also highly trained in traditional police functions including detective work, interrogation techniques, crowd control and arrests. Thus, since 9/11, cops have been trained & armed like soldiers and soldiers like cops, and it’s a safe bet that many returning vets will seek a career in law enforcement.

As for the mushrooming police population, consider it a federal jobs program like the CCC of the 1930s, but with PTSD thrown in. I say this with no disrespect, but out of common sense and legitimate concern. I’m sure that some of these men and women will make fine police officers. Many, however, will have not only discharged their weapon in the line of duty, but taken human life in combat. On the other hand, very few cops ever discharge their guns directly at another human being while on the job, let alone actually shoot and kill one. The prospect of a new generation of hardened combat vets filling our swelling police ranks should concern us all.

On a more mundane level, the very nature of police work has changed radically in the past 20 years, and for the worse. Increasingly detached from the people they supposedly protect, cops no longer help old ladies navigate crosswalks, drive Otis to the Mayberry jail to sleep off another bender or even perform basic crime-solving. Such fuzzy-bear love is a waste of good money. Police cruisers are now profit centers on wheels whose captains are expected to meet predetermined quotas of money that is poured back into the system in a self-perpetuating cycle.

Though your editorial is limited to encounters with cops, most people who don’t work in or around the legal system typically don’t appreciate the fact that cops are but robotic minions to the Darth Vader of law enforcement, prosecutors. These hyper-religious, politically motivated, self-righteous, suit-wearing, briefcase-toting, demigods, who are promoted on the basis of successful and high-profile convictions regardless of truth or justice, have been given god-like power by the United States Supreme Court in the form of “prosecutorial immunity” for all deeds and misdeeds committed in the course and scope of employment. Completely immune from their often-miscreant behavior, prosecutors answer to absolutely no man and certainly not the people they purportedly serve.

The methods by which prosecutors do evil include the obfuscation, distortion and, if all else fails, complete fabrication of the facts, suppression of evidence, lying, engaging in nefarious legal tactics, advancing absurd interpretations of the law and basically doing most anything to obtain a conviction upon which their financial, social and political lives depend. To make matters worse, the vast majority of prosecutors are non-elected, government employees, no different than a city building inspector, but with the power to destroy another’s life. Prosecutors’ actions are all too often motivated by their religious beliefs, personal agendas and the delusional belief that they have the omniscience of god. But absolute power combined with absolute immunity will corrupt any human.

Unfortunately, your statement that we are declining into a “police state” is a fait accompli. Good luck to us all.

Brad Purdy,
Boise, ID

Letters #188

MG 188 Letter

Envelope: Katie Oslapas
We’re in the market for decorative envelopes to help beautify our Letters pages. If you’ve got an artistic envelope bent, pull out your weapons-of-choice, decorate an envelope with our snail mail address on it, mail the resultant envelope to us, and, if we print it, we’ll give you a year’s subscription to the Mountain Gazette.

Colorado songs #1

Hi John: As a music teacher of 30 years with a specialty in folk music, I enjoyed reading your article about Colorado songs (“Colorado Songs,” Smoke Signals, MG #185). I have an addition for you and a clarification.

First: “Cripple Creek” is a folk song with many verses that celebrates the lifestyle of the miners in Cripple Creek:

“Goin’ up to Cripple creek. Goin’  in a whirl.

Goin’ up to Cripple Creek to see my girl. (Who really would have been in the red-light district of Old Colorado City.)

Goin’ up to Cripple Creek. Goin’ on a run.

Goin’ up to Cripple Creek to have a little fun.”

If you google Cripple Creek and John Lomax collection of American folk songs, you can find more verses.

Second: It is my understanding the “Colorado Trail” is about an old wagon trail they came through Colorado. The trail was not as popular as the Santa Fe Trail or the Oregon Trail, but the song was supposed to be a cattle lullaby sung by cowboys. When I grew up in the ’50s, our family had a wonderful record of “The Songs of the West,” by the Norman Luboff Choir, which had a gorgeous arrangement of “Colorado Trail.” The trail was definitely created long before the footpath that crosses our state nowadays.

So that’s my contribution to your song collection. Blasts from the way-back past. I have been frustrated that there are not many folk songs mentioning our state. I think many of the pioneers were passing through here to the west coast, or else they had hypothermia and altitude sickness and died before they could write any songs!

Good luck with your collection,
Ginger Littleton
Colorado Springs

Colorado songs #2

John: Great Smoke Signals. The only two songs  I can think of that you missed, probably because they don’t actually include “Colorado,” is the song “Denver” on Willie Nelson’s “Redheaded Stranger” album and “Wolf Creek Pass,” by CW McCall (I think — I loved truck songs as a kid and still do).

As far as greater Rocky Mountain regional tunes naming specific places, these come to mind:

• “Let Me Die in My Footsteps,” by Bob Dylan (“Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho”).

• “Taos,” by Waylon Jennings.

• “Santa Fe,” by Bob Dylan.

• “Billy,” by Dylan (“The businessmen from Taos want you to go down … ”).

• “Big City,” by Merle Haggard (“Somewhere in the middle of Montana …”).

• If Cheyenne counts, then there are two: “Jack Straw,” by the Grateful Dead and “Grievous Angel,” by G. Parsons.

Songs that mention the Great Divide or Rocky Mountains or something along those lines:

• “Blue Canadian Rockies,” by the Byrds.

• “Night Rider’s Lament,” by Jerry Jeff.

• “Great Divide,” by Neil Young.

As it happens, I was just listening to “Spike Driver’s Blues” (this version an oldie by Mississippi John Hurt) and it says this:

“It’s a long way from east Colorado, honey, to my home.”

Also, for generic Rocky Mountain songs, there’s “Rocky Mountain Music,” by Eddie Rabbit.

As I peruse my music (all on the computer these days, I’m sad to say), I see a billion-and-one songs about the South, the prairie and California, but so very few about the Rockies. Seems like there must be some mining-era songs out there somewhere on some Smithsonian folk collection or something.

Chaz Clayton,
Taos

Colorado songs #3

John: I enjoyed your recent column on Colorado songs. A particular favorite of mine, especially when driving home on Highway 9 at night with a full moon illuminating the Gore Range, is “Colorado,” by Grizzly Bear.

Regards,
Josh Woody

Colorado Songs #4

John: The Band … “Up on Cripple Creek.” Well, it’s a maybe, at least to the extent that I could not find a reference that was definitive. It could be Cripple Creek, Virginia.

Very good writing … I enjoyed it very much.

Cheers,
Bob Schafish
Lakewood, CO

Editor’s note” The Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek” is definitely about Cripple Creek, VA.

Colorado Songs #5

John: Off the top of my head, you forgot:

• Danny Holien, “Colorado.”

• Rusty Weir, “Coast of Colorado.”

• Michael Stanley, “Denver Rain.”

But the some of the best mountain songs don’t mention a place name:

• The Monroe Doctrine, “Time and a River Flowing” — one of the proto- new-grass bands.

• Frummox, “High Country Caravan/Song for Stephen Stills” (Steve Fromhotlz and Dan McCrimmon).

• The Dirt Band, “Rippin’ Waters.”

I’m sure there are many more in the gray matter, those floated to the top.

Dave Linden

Colorado Songs #6

Dear MJ: While it does not have the word “Colorado” in it, one song is a huge memory …

November 1982, a newly single mother, embarking on a new adventure … driving my Olds Delta 88 with my toddler daughter and all my worldly possessions over Berthoud Pass in a driving blizzard …  thinking I was absolutely crazy!!! … song comes on the radio … Bob Seeger’s “Get Out of Denver.” “Baby go go.”  Thirty years later, 10 in Grand County, 10 in Summit county and now a grateful resident of the Roaring Fork Valley … best decision I ever made …  I still hear that song any time I head west.

Long-time reader … actually made your acquaintance many years ago in Summit.

Thanks for all you do.
Marti Adolph

Colorado Songs #7

Mr. Fayhee: Thanks for another great Smoke Signals article. I’d like to add the song “Denver” from the classic album “Red Headed Stranger,” by Willie Nelson to your list of Colorado songs.

Sincerely,
R. J. Vik

Colorado Songs #8

John: Smoke Signals has again exceeded my expectations. “Colorado Songs” also depleted my monthly budget for new song downloads. My feedback is to laud, not be critical with “how could he not include (such and such) or at least something by (fill in the blank).” A heartfelt thanks for sharing the songs of Colorado from your research. I volunteer as a DJ for Radio Free Minturn, a non-profit community radio station broadcasting throughout the Vail Valley. I research and compile songs with similar themes for my shows. One of my shows five years ago was themed Colorado. Though, at that point I did not easily find songs that were the right genre fit.

Your article revealed songs that I believed to be long forgotten. The Ozark Mountain Daredevils … wow … a true blast! And, surely, their song, “If You Want To Get To Heaven,” was referring to Colorado since “you got to raise a little hell!” Other songs from my past include The Marshall Tucker Band’s “A New Life,” depicting a man being shot in Denver and landing in jail there. Even though Charlie Daniels sang a lot about Tennessee and Texas, whenever I hear “Saddle Tramp” or “Long Haired Country Boy,” Colorado is where I am in my mind through those songs.

The Colorado River deserved mention in songs by Jimmie Dale Gilmore and the McKay Brothers. My mind takes me to the Colorado River when I hear Colorado’s own Leftover Salmon playing “Rivers Rising” or The Colorado Playboys’ “River Song.” No mention of Colorado is needed, because my heart is always on that river. Then check out a soulful song by Railroad Earth, called … “Colorado.”

Thank you for citing Chevy Chase’s “Colorado” from the 1973 National Lampoon’s “Lemmings.” Welcome to a place where matter doesn’t when listening to Red Sovine’s “Colorado Kool-Aid.” And, as you get “Across The Rocky Mountains,” by Bruce Hornsby & Ricky Skaggs, you reach “The King of Colorado,” by The Band of Heathens. And, I did not know that Firefall was founded by Rick Roberts from The Flying Burrito Brothers … both these groups recorded “Colorado.” Emmylou Harris was not the only one singing about leaving Colorado in “Boulder to Birmingham.” The Hillbilly Hellcats are “Leavin’ Colorado” and The Woodys are going from “Telluride To Tennessee,” as well.

Thank you for re-introducing me to the music of Judy Collins. “The Blizzard” is destined to be included in an upcoming playlist for the air. Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle spawned a life long friendship to produce two “Colorado” songs and naming of a son, Justin Townes Earle, after a dear friend. Not only does Bowling For Soup “Surf Colorado,” but Robert Burkhardt is “Surfin’ Colorado.”

I respectfully disagree that “Rocky Mountain Way,” by Joe Walsh “makes no sense at all.” It makes very good sense to me because “the Rocky Mountain way is better than the way we had.” Was the late, great Dan Fogelberg singing about the tree or the city in his song, “Aspen/These Days,” from his “Captured Angel” album? I heard it in 1974 in a barracks in Okinawa, Japan. Again, who would have thought that this Tennessee boy would know the difference by moving to the Rocky Mountain? I have a song in my heart and my heart is in Colorado. By the way, I miss Dan … cancer sucks.

Music bonds us to one another and kudos to you for a departure from your ab-normal Smoke Signals. I hope to hear of your future music discoveries from throughout our mountains.

Ya’llternative music, brother. Thank you, man!

Tuned In,
Brad Austin
Radio Free Minturn DJ

Colorado Songs #11

Master Fayhee: A listener called me during my radio show last week to mention your article on Colorado songs and suggest the challenge of adding to your list.

I have done so and will be playing a set on air tomorrow, should you care to listen.

I humbly will only make three additions, two of note.

Thanks for inspiring a quest.

Here is the playlist for that segment:

1.  “Colorado”/Rebecca Zapen/Nest

2. “Colorado Girl”/Steve Earl /Townes

3. “My Secret Place”/Joni Mitchell & Peter Gabriel/Chalk Mark in a Rainstorm

4. “Me & That Train”/Patty Larkin/not sure of the CD … just downloaded it.

Lynette O’Kane, Assistant Music Director
KDNK radio
Carbondale, CO

Mountain Gazette welcomes letters. Please email your incendiary verbiage to: mjfayhee@mountaingazette.com.

Letters #187

Envelope
Envelope: Zephyr

We’re in the market for decorative envelopes to help beautify our Letters pages. If you’ve got an artistic envelope bent, pull out your weapons-of-choice, decorate an envelope with our snail mail address on it, mail the resultant envelope to us, and, if we print it, we’ll give you a year’s subscription to the Mountain Gazette.

Jen Jackson Rocks!

Editor, I loved Jen Jackson’s piece on Moab (“When in Doubt, Pee on the fire,” MG #183). It really captured the spark that makes living here great despite being inundated by goobs most of the year.

Thx,

Bruce Dissel

Moab, UT

Sgt. Mike Rocks!

Dear Mr. Fayhee: Long-time reader, first-time writer here. Thank you for Mountain Notebook Dateline: Afghanistan. It’s the best thing I’ve read in years.

And to Sgt. Mike, how about this: Thank you for telling the truth. It may be the greatest service of all. Godspeed, Sergeant.

Sincerely,

Bennett Pollack

Gypsum, CO

Struck by thunder, premonition and synchronicity

John: In reference to your “The Bright White Light” (Smoke Signals, MG #181). For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been having what might have been a premonition. Out on this ranch in the San Juans by myself, I have a lot of time to think, and a lot of fence to fix, so much that I can’t always get it done before the afternoon storms of this summer monsoon. One thought repeatedly produced by the constant banter of my subconscious has been: what would it be like to be struck by lightning? If not fatal, would it be enlightening? Spiritual awakening has been described as like being struck by lightning, but it has also been said to be an interminable process. Enlightenment hasn’t come to me yet, through prayers for it or through meditation, so I had wondered if getting struck by lightning might actually bring a sort of enlightenment with it. Apparently not.

Lately I’ve been reading about synchronicity in James Redfield’s “The Celestine Vision.” Premonitions and strange coincidences, like thinking of an old friend and then running into him or her for the first time in years, are at the basis of this idea of synchronicity, important in Redfield’s philosophy and literature as well as that of the great psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Until now, I’ve been thinking that I’ve never experienced synchronicity, except for possibly a few occasions, nothing that could not be otherwise explained. Of course, it can always be explained — like being in the right place at the wrong time.

I had also been thinking about my friend Mark Volt, a kind of old-timer on the Gore Range. He is full of odd and funny sayings, mostly of uncertain origin, often of vague meaning and usually inspiring rolled eyes. Like “struck by thunder.”

The first of the rain was falling. I was standing next to a temporary electric fence of polywire, which is a kind of string with fine wire woven through it, an essential tool to manage the distribution of livestock grazing here in the High Country. It wasn’t electrified; I had built it and just hooked it up to a more permanent electric fence of high-tensile wire. I don’t think I was touching it, but I couldn’t have been more than a few inches from it.

The boom was not much short of deafening. For a moment, everything was black — except for a line of white, maybe slightly greenish-yellow, light where the polywire had been. Is that what the deer in the headlights sees? I was on the ground, half lying, half sitting, fully stunned. I have been shocked by electric fence before, and this was many orders of magnitude beyond that. Struck by thunder, indeed. I saw the thin, charred remains of the polywire on the ground next to me. My legs and feet hurt, but I couldn’t move them for the first 10 seconds or so. Then I could crawl. After maybe 30 seconds, I could stand on shaky legs and tingling feet. I willed myself to walk. At this point, I figured I was probably going to be alright. I got on the four-wheeler and rode it back down to the road.

My right thigh still hurt, and, for a while, so did my right shoulder and upper arm. Sitting on a log, I pulled off my right boot and sock and checked my tingling foot. No uglier than usual. I pulled down my pants and looked at my thigh. There was a light red mottling there, at the height of the polywire, and extending in a line down to my lower leg. It did not look or feel like a burn; the pain was more like muscle soreness.

Back on the four-wheeler, I raced the rain back down the mile or two to my truck. I lost. It came down hard, stinging my face and soaking through my light rain jacket. Shivering and dripping, I climbed into my truck, started the engine and turned on the heat and defroster. I drove off with the tailgate down, all manner of ranching equipment sliding out the back of the bed on the steep road. After gathering the tools and 50-pound salt blocks, and throwing the pry bar and spool of fence wire back in as quickly as possible, I drove into camp.

I started a fire in my cabin and heated water for matte and hot chocolate (the spicy kind with chile powder). I peeled off my wet shirt and jeans, pulled on dry ones. I realized there was a ringing, or a high-pitched electric hum in my left ear.

I sat by the fire, going over it again in my mind: the boom, the darkness, the white streak: struck by thunder. As the shock wore off, I considered that I may not be enlightened, but my earlier wondering might have been a premonition. If I weren’t such a skeptic, I would say this is a striking example of synchronicity. The thought gives me chills, but of course that could just be because I’m cold.

Matt Barnes

Storm on Willow Pass

John: Your lightning story was electrifying, a bolt of brilliance. Here’s a contribution.

Willow Basin is a gentle place, a hidden place. We are camped on the tundra above Willow Lake. We sip red wine from a plastic juice bottle before lighting the stove to boil water for pasta. We just sit on our pads and look at each other. In two years, we’ll be married, but we don’t know that yet, don’t even suspect it.

After a spaghetti dinner, we take a walk along a grassy bench, holding hands. Each of us makes a silent pledge that will not be translated into words for many months. There is no need to articulate the impulses of our hearts. We are content to have our bond unspoken, not wanting to formalize the undefined, the wonderful. This wild place invites freedom from words, from definitions, from spoken formality.

There is a flock of sheep grazing a mile or so down the valley. We hear their faint voices on the wind. We are happy to share the basin with them and their shepherd. As darkness brings us back to camp, we see the flicker of his fire, but we don’t return it. The stars are our fire. We huddle together in our own warmth. The flowers have closed their petals. The surface of the lake has turned flat and metallic. She leans her back against my chest and I fold my arms around her.

Later, we trade positions and I feel her warmth move into me. Her hands soothe my shoulders where the heavy frame pack gnawed. Muscles and skin respond to her touch, and I’m aware of a deeper feeling that her touch awakens. Our bed is soft that night on the spongy tundra that contours to tired hips and shoulders.

The morning dawns with gathering clouds, their undersides dark and glowering. Pancakes with maple syrup and sausage complement strong coffee with evaporated milk from a tin. We break down camp and hurriedly pack. Drizzle patters across the basin beneath a wisp of cloud that sweeps past. Behind it, to the west, dark clouds line up portentously, like a squadron of dirigibles.

“Wish we had another day,” she says wistfully.

“I wish we had a week, a month, a year.”

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Envelope: L. Wilson Hailey ID

A deep roll of thunder echoes across the basin. We sling on our packs and are soon panting up the switchbacks leading to the pass. The lake is slate gray and corrugated by wind. The shepherd’s camp is deserted; the sheep have moved down into the timber. A distinct black line marks the storm’s leading edge, with drifts of rain trailing behind. The storm moves over the basin and crosses the lake.

At the pass, we drop packs and pull on rain jackets. She takes the lead on the descent into the narrow valley while I pause a moment to face what’s moving in on the strengthening wind. There’s excitement in the latent power and dark fury menacing overhead. I feel my mood shifting like the weather. I regret returning to that other world where my soul can become deadened with disquiet and sorrow. The echoes of that world seem to emanate from the deep reverberations of thunder rolling over me, rattling my rib cage.

I hurry after her as the storm breaks. We’re hit by rounds of hail machine-gunned from a pitch-black sky. The hail pings off our packs and stings our legs. A lightning flash arcs like a missile, crashing onto the ridge above us. Half a second later, a sharp report splits the air. We make a dash for the sheltering trees, skip-jogging down the trail, ignoring the weight of our packs. The hail changes to rain and the rain turns heavy and drenching.

Heads down, rain running off the hoods of our jackets, we splash through foaming puddles. The trail becomes a rivulet of rainwater where pellets of hail gather in the eddies, a white crest against the muddy flow. Salvos of lightning strike the ridges on both sides. Concurrent flashes create a strobe effect. The thunder is continuous, a deep, sonorous booming. The air smells of rain-washed mountains, a bouquet of spruce pitch blended with grasses, sedges, flowers, the redolence of the earth itself. There is no sweeter smell.

I no longer hear her footsteps, so I stop and turn. She is a dozen yards behind, walking placidly down the trail in her wet and shining blue jacket, the hood shrouding her face. On one side of the trail is a yellow-green willow thicket, the leaves glimmering with raindrops. On the other is a spray of neon pink fireweed standing head-high and nodding under the rainfall. The ridges are misty with torn clouds ripped from the dark storm that still glowers overhead.

She looks up and smiles, and I am suddenly taken by how lovely she is in the pouring rain, how beautiful among the bright flowers. There are droplets of water on her cheeks and a sparkling light in her eyes. Perhaps we are seeing each other for the first time under this cloud of rain and fire. Here is our moment, our place in time. There is no reason to rush back to the known world, so we stand in the rain and let it wash over us.

Paul Andersen,

Aspen

Editor’s note: Paul Andersen is an author and columnist for the Aspen Times. This vignette is excerpted from his fiction collection of short stories, “Moonlight Over Pearl.”

North by Northwest

Hey Fayhee: In reference to your story, “North by Northwest” (Smoke Signals, MG #182): I do indeed remember where I was on 9/11 … in the Sawtooth Wilderness Area in northern Idaho. I was on a solitary backpack trip, which I have done often since my first backpacking trip with my father in 1972, near where I grew up in Colorado.

On Saturday, September 8, I arrived in Boise and rented a car and headed to Stanley, Idaho. I planned a five-day excursion just west of town and headed into the wilderness on Sunday afternoon. I did not run into any one during that time, the weather was great, and I was invigorated by the time I had spent in the woods, alone. On Thursday morning, I reached my car and went into Stanley to fill up my gas tank at the Stanley Lodge.

While my car was filling up I went into the little store connected to the lodge and asked the clerk (a young tattooed, pierced man) who had won the Monday Night Football New York Giants/Denver Broncos game, I being a lifelong Broncos fan. He looked at me like I was from Mars. I blew him off and, while I was pouring a cup of coffee, I looked up at the TV that was in the corner. On the screen was the image of the second plane going into the World Trade Center. I thought it was a trailer for a new movie. I asked the clerk, “What new movie is this?” He just looked at me with a blank stare and asked, “Where have you been?” I told him I had been backpacking since Sunday. That was when he told me what had happened. An older gentleman soon came in and talked with the clerk, while I was sitting in a chair in stunned silence. The gentleman came over and told me that I was perhaps the only person in America who had not known what happened, and sat with me for four hours as I watched in horror.

On my drive back to Boise, where I would be stranded for days, I thought that I had should of stayed in the woods, forever, instead of reentering an uncivilized civilization.

Dan Ellier Chapman

North by Northwest #2

Hello John: September 9, 2001, I started a job with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps — their three-week “Fall Crew,” which found me camping and doing trail work in the Green Mountains. We set up camp that evening, only a mile or so in from the Mt. Worcester trailhead. Monday was spent learning the basics of trail maintenance, camping and the general dynamics of living and working with a new group of people.

Tuesday, September 11, we started our day by continuing to improve the worn-out lower section of the trail. It was a wonderful, sunny, warm, perfect late-summer Vermont day. There were no hikers early that morning, which did not seem out of place, considering we only saw a few on Monday.

As I was busily digging a new water bar mid-morning, a solitary hiker came by. All I remember is: He was an older man and seemed a bit odd. I think all he said to me was: “a plane flew into the World Trade Center” and kept hiking. He told each of my co-workers this fact and hiked on. We discussed this man, wondering if he was mentally stable, after he passed. I thought maybe he was telling us about a movie.

Our solitary hiker came back from the peak and told us the same thing. This time, he spoke to us longer and told us that a jet had flown into one of the towers and he decided to seek refuge in the woods, only to find a hapless, un-informed trail crew. None of us saw the indelible images that most of the rest of the nation saw. None of us knew about the mass hysteria that was taking over the nation at the time. None of us knew the enormity of the destruction of that day. We just went back to working on our trail.

Early afternoon, the supervisor from headquarters came out. He confirmed what our solitary hiker had told us, added the towers had fallen and a plane had crashed into the Pentagon. I don’t think he knew about the fourth plane in Pennsylvania. All we knew about the attackers was they were “terrorists,” whoever that was. Speaking for myself, the history of the situation still had not registered with me. The only electronic media available to us was the radio in the van, back at the trailhead.

We decided to hike to the top of Mt. Worcester, seeking the same refuge as our talisman. Mt. Worcester is only about 3,000 feet tall, but a hard slog straight up through the forest and over large granite blocks at top. None of us registered that there were no planes over our peak. We took in the sights of the Green Mountains turning into fall and lay around on the sun-warmed boulders until it was time to go back for dinner.

After dinner, we hiked out to the van to use the crew cell phone and call our loved ones. We listened to the radio in the van while each person was outside on the phone. We finally, definitely, learned what happened that morning. When I got a hold of my parents, all we discussed was the road trip I had just taken from New Mexico to Moab, Jackson, West Yellowstone and on to Vermont. There was no mention of the attacks, other than my Mom asking: “Do you know what happened today?” Which I answered in the affirmative.

Wednesday, we went back to work as usual. We certainly discussed the attacks and how they might affect each of us, with most of the crew calling the northeast home. We saw more hikers on Wednesday, all of them escaping to the woods to get away from what we would later lean was incessant televised carnage. Most of them talked with us and asked if we knew about the attacks.

We went back to the van later that week to listen to W. speak to the country. In my life, that has to have been one of the few Presidential speeches I have ever completely listened to. We again called our parents and I actually discussed the attacks and bin Laden with them.

Saturday, the 15th, found us moving our camp and stopping in Montpelier to do our laundry. Even though it is a small town, only about 8,000 residents, it had always seemed busy to me. That day, it was almost deserted. The laundry attendant told us the owner of the laundromat was from Lebanon and with the intense xenophobia that had taken hold, even in bucolic Vermont, had been out of sight since Tuesday.

Four days after the attacks, we still had not seen the television images that everyone else saw. By that point, the over-saturation of the media was beginning to slow, though we might have seen one image on CNN. We did get a hold of some newspapers, but again, four days later, they did not have all the images that certainly everyone saw in their Wednesday morning paper. I knew what had happened, how many were missing or dead and who the attacks were attributed to, but I am not sure if everything had soaked in by then. Ten years later, I have seen maybe an hour total of the televised insanity of that day because I was busily ensconced in the mountains, digging a water bar.

Adam Throckmorton 

Mountain Gazette welcomes letters. Please email your incendiary verbiage to: mjfayhee@mountaingazette.com.