the mountain west

August 18, 2015

Montrose, Colorado

Richard E. Fike founded the Museum of the Mountain West in 1997. He is a retired historical archaeologist having served as state archaeologist for the Bureau of Land Management in both Utah and Colorado. Fike served on committees in both Utah and Colorado for the Federal & State Register of Historic Places and is an expert in historical restoration. Fike began collecting western memorabilia when he was 4 years old. He had his first museum in his parent’s guest room at the age of 8. By age 12, he had begun his card catalog of artifacts. This Museum is the result of Fike’s lifetime dedication to preserving the history of the west.  (excerpt from Museum of the Mountain West)

One of the many interesting old log cabins around the museum.

_DSC9507_8_9_2015-08-18-Mtn-West-Museum-ortonAn old work horse retired.

_DSC9546_7_8_2015-08-18-Mtn-West-Museum-BW-txtThe old blacksmith workshop that repaired wooden wagons.


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Owl Creek Pass

August 15, 2015

Ridgway, Colorado

We enjoyed a jeep ride over Owl Creek Pass from Ridgway to Montrose.  The wildflowers were still on display at elevation.  This is a view of the famous field where the final scene from “True Grit” was filmed with John Wayne.

_DSC9399_400_401_2015-08-15-Owl-Creek-Pass-ortnThe beautiful Chimney Rock can be seen towering for miles around.

_DSC9438_39_40_2015-08-15-Owl-Creek-Pass-Chimney-rock Another view of the Cimarron Mountains in a grove of aspens near Silver Jack Reservoir.  I hope to return here in a month as catch the aspens in autumn gold.



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Yankee Boy Basin

Ouray, Colorado

August 8, 2015


To many photographers, no single place in Colorado defines the wildflower bloom and the budding anticipation of the season than this destination in the beautiful San Juan Mountains.

Nestled at an elevation between 11,500 and 12,000 feet, Yankee Boy Basin contains some of the most prolific stands of wildflowers in the state.  The basin itself is surrounded by several breathtaking peaks–Potosi Peak, Teakettle Mountain, Cirque Mountain, Stony Mountain, and Gilpin Mountain.  It truly is a paradise to photograph.

I love the famous Twin Falls and the flowers in the basin along the water.  Here are two images near Twin Falls along Sneffels Creek.



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the hanging flume

August 5, 2015

Along the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic & Historic Byway

A small group of jeeps followed the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic & Historic Byway today.  It was a beautiful drive through the Dolores Canyon carved by the Dolores River.

It was a step back in time to see the remains of the famous Hanging Flume.  Assume it is 1889. “Wealthy Eastern Financiers are betting that the Colorado Gold Rush will pay off for them. The placer deposits near the banks of the San Miguel River and Dolores River are promising, but miners are unable to divert enough water to make the claim profitable.

Nearby, the San Miguel River and Dolores River possessed the volume of water necessary to provide enough pressure for a successful hydraulic mining endeavor. Although these rivers were relatively close to the Bancroft mining claim, they flowed just out of reach.

It isn’t to say that the idea of building a flume was so crazy. Flumes for placer mining were common at the time. Flume construction methods had been used in California for years and required only minimal skills. To cross arroyos and washes, water could be funneled through flume boxes supported by trestles. But in the canyons of the Dolores and San Miguel Rivers, minimal engineering skill was not enough. This flume would have to be ten miles long, and to complete the entire route at the proper gradient, the Flume would have to cling to seven miles of sheer rock walls, at times suspended hundreds of feet above the river.

The Hanging Flume is perhaps one of the most risky and lofty plans in mining history and for the purposes of placer mining, pretty much a complete failure. But as a heritage tourism site, it still holds our attention, long after the memory of its father, the mysterious Nathaniel P. Turner and hundreds of grunt workers have faded. Recent preservation efforts promise that we will enjoy the Hanging Flume for generations to come. ”

(excerpt from “The Hanging Flume”

Here is a shot of one of rock walls that still holds the remains of the hanging flume along the Dolores River.


In 2012 a team of historic preservation experts came to together to reconstruct a 48- foot section of the hanging flume. It might help to visualize what it must have looked like back in 1889.


A wonderful overview of the Dolores River as it flows through the Dolores Canyon.


This charcoal oven was used to make charcoal to fire the local steel mill that made the metal brackets for the hanging flume.


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The Black Canyon

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Montrose, Colorado

July 30, 2015

To me, all of our national parks hold something unique and beautiful.  The steep walls of the Black Canyon range in depth from 2,700 feet north of Warner Point to 1,750 feet at the Narrows.  The Gunnison has a very steep gradient as it flows through the canyon with an average fall of 95 feet per mile.  This gives the river the energy needed to cut downward faster than other kinds of erosion.

Our first stop is Tomichi Point looking southeasterly.  The canyon seems to go on forever.

_DSC8779_80_81_2015-07-30-Black-Canyon-Gunnison-NP-Tomichi-PtA view into the Chasm can make one a little uneasy.  Standing here it is hard to image anyone trying to cross the canyon or navigate it’s waters.

_DSC8839_40_41_2015-07-30-Black-Canyon-Gunnison-NP-ChasmMy favorite is the Painted Wall with it’s amazing fissures.  This is just the top.  It goes down to the bottom of the canyon.

_DSC8883_4_5_2015-07-30-Black-Canyon-Gunnison-NP-Painted-Wall-ortnAn early surveyor, H.C. Wright was a member of the 1882 Byron Bryant railroad survey.  He said “Hereto was unfolded view after view of the most wonderful, the most thrilling of rock exposures, one vanishing from view only to be replaced by another still more imposing.  A view which could easily be made into a Scottish Feudal Castle would be followed by another suggesting the wildest parts of imposing height and majestic proportions…”

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Rescue in the mountains

Ouray, Colorado

July 28, 2015

We set out for a day of jeeping with a group of old and new friends.  Heading up Yankee Boy Basin, we turned off near Camp Bird Mine.  Exploring a new area high into Richmond Basin, we found the landscapes just jaw-dropping.  As we traveled higher into the basin on a narrow shelf road that was really just a talus slope, snow drifts remained on the trail.  Steve (in the leader jeep) powered through the drift, but the second jeep (Brad and I) got tangled up in the deep drift and the rear end skidded out to the edge of the trail.  Brad remained cool and calm as Steve offered to attach a rescue strap and drag us over the snow bank.  I shoveled snow from around the tires as Steve attached the strap. It was an easy pull for him to drag us over the snow bank.  Thanks for the rescue, Steve.  Can’t wait to get the bill!


Photo credit to Steve.

Only 4 jeep traveled the next leg to 11,300 ft.  We stopped for this image of King’s Crown in the foreground and the Richmond Basin view looking back from where we came.  You may spot a few jeeps waiting below that did not pass the snow drift.

_DSC8661_2_3_2015-07-28-Richmond-Basin-Kings-CrownWe saw many waterfalls, cascades, high mountain ponds and fields of wildflowers on this amazing ride.  So much to see and explore in Ouray county and the Uncompahgre National Forest.




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