UP BEAR CREEK | Visiting Dolores’s Chinese Mtns

07/28/14 | By | More

HANGING WITH THE BOYZ … Got to go camping this past weekend with my two boys – Rio Coyotl and Gregorio Oshá. One’s 27 and one’s 15 but both are much bigger than me, just as competitive and argumentative, and wise to all my tricks. So, I’m basically defenseless when they get on my case, take over the car, decide where we’re going and what we’re eating. I’ve made most family decisions for years. ‘Bout time I got a break … So it’s a kick to drive to Dolores LaChapelle’s favorite retreat in the San Juans and roast kabobs over an open fire, toast Olathe corn in the coals, and goof around telling stories, watching spectacular light shows in the peaks, and enjoying various mischiefs (as boys are given to) … In the morning we take a steep forest hike. They double-team it to the top, while I use my sticks to get 3/4s there. They catch me on their run down, avoiding mid-day thunder. Off on a race to the bottom. I follow them – the need to bag peaks long gone. These days I treasure going slow. Not just because I’m old and I have to (which is true) but also because I love to linger in the fields of Parrot’s Beak and Elephant Head, wild geranium, Indian paintbrush, lupine and bluebells … And I was rewarded on one steep slope of purple to see squadrons of Hummingbird Moths (Hemaris spp.) executing complex aerials, roving from bloom to bloom looking for morning’s intact nectar … A woman and her daughter on their way down tells me she was up the trail just two weeks ago, and there were no flowers. So it seems we hit the wildflowers perfectly this year. They’re everywhere. All colors. Greens and rainbow hues. “It’s a wonderful world,” the woman tosses back at me as she disappears into a stand of spruce/fir. And she’s right. It is! … Dolores always called this favorite spot in the San Juans the “Chinese Mountains” for two reasons. First, the rock spires and sheer cliffs reminded her of many ancient Taoist scrolls from China. And second, she liked keeping her favorite things secret, except for her inner circle, so as not to see them overrun in these days of industrial tourism. I respect honoring those thoughts.

TALKING GOURDS … Come hear North Fork poets with a Buddhist bent Tara Miller and Jane McGarry at First Tuesdays at Arroyo’s, Aug. 5th at 8 p.m. (summer hours). The wine is superb, the words delicious and the theme for those bringing poems to share is “With what sense do you see?”

PLP SCIENCE … Hope some of you heard about the great science lecture series that the Montrose Public Library and the Public Land Partnership has been sponsoring and were able to attend … Last night (Aug. 4th) Chris Landry of the Silverton-based Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies gave an excellent update of his studies on the effect of wind-blown dust deposition on the timing, duration and rate of snow melt. And no big surprise. It’s speeding up, which has implications for water users all over Colorado … Good to see the reinvigorated collaborative, PLP, bringing up-to-date science into our thinking and (hopefully) decision-making.

SCOTT ARMENTROUT … Finally got to meet the “new” GMUG (Grand Mesa Uncompahgre & Gunnison) Forest Supervisor. He took Charlie Richmond’s place some two years ago. But for the last couple years I’ve kind of been out of the loop on regional public lands issues, with Mary’s passing and all. So while we’d been introduced, it was only this week I finally got a chance to discuss regional and county public land issues with Scott directly … Like his explaining to me that the brown trees on the cliffs above the Ouray Pool (50 percent mortality) were firs not spruce, as I mistakenly wrote in an earlier column. An infestation but a different beetle than the spruce scourge … Our meeting followed closely on the heels of a meeting Scott held with regional enviro groups, including our own Sheep Mountain Alliance. Given some missteps with a scoping process, Scott responded to serious enviro concerns about a fast track long-term salvage logging proposal with the jarringly unwieldy name of SBEADMR by calling a process time-out. It’s the kind of smart move that you’d expect from a seasoned USFS line officer who began his career as a wildlife biologist … I’m hoping that the Montrose-based Public Lands Partnership, which San Miguel County has rejoined, can assist the agency in moving this project along by recommending a structure for full stakeholder participation in achieving this 10-year salvage timber project’s goals. As a veteran of the Burn Canyon Salvage Timber Monitoring Project, I agree with the enviros that there has to be project monitoring in order to consider what kinds of adaptive management may be needed in the future. And the agency seems to be on board as well. PLP is planning a science meeting and a field tour next month. If we can all get on the same page, we might be able to craft an ecologic and economic project that helps the forest as well as surrounding communities … Honestly, I’m very pleased that Scott understands the value of this kind of working with everyone to achieve a balanced outcome.



I could be more open
if you stopped reaching
said the hand


-Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

from Eight Self-Portraits



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Category: Commentary, Opinion, Up Bear Creek

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