LUCKY we are to have the fresh water cycle! A late August visit to Rocky Mountain National Park confirms how beautiful the headwaters can be when flowing from a source high in the mountains. Below the Fern Lake trailhead lies the Big Thompson River where it meanders as a cold, clear flowing stream from the snowfields and ground water in the middle picture. Standing in the water feels good on the feet and under a warm sun feels good splattered on the face. Though one fisherman stands in the picture the Park was far from uncrowded. A mile a way, hundreds were stopped to watch a large bull elk and his harem of cows lazily grazing in a meadow. And almost as tame as a herd of golden retrievers! Looking downstream, the river will flow through the town of Estes Park, down the Big Thompson Canyon toward Loveland, into the South Platte which will join the Missouri River and catch up to the Mississippi between St. Louis MO and Alton IL. What water does make it to the Mississippi and on toward the delta at New Orleans will not be so fresh and clean, picking up pesticides, herbicides, bacteria and viruses, sediments, and other human gunk along the way.
Fortunately, upstream is where Estes Park Brewery can pull the freshest waters from the Big T and use it to make beers. Their ales, across the menu board are all true to their styles. One style, which is unique to EP Brewing, is their Tropical Thunder – a white pale ale brewed with pineapple and passion fruit. What a phenomenal beer!! It gets the three thumbs up award for the week! To be continued… dg
Bear with me as I attempt to figure out how to properly format my blog posts. Aug 28 in the morning found me in Hays Kansas on my way to Boulder, CO. My dad came to Boulder in 1946 when Boulder had a population of 5,000 and CU was 7,000 students. He loved it and when he and mom came to summer school for numerous summer sessions in the 50s and lived with his Aunt Nigel near the campus, he was offered a job at Baseline Junior High. However, the cost of living was higher than Illinois and he was offered more money there. One of their favorite places was the top of Flagstaff Mountain on the west side of Boulder. There are expansive views of the plains to the east and the Indian Peaks to the west, but the sentinel for them all is Long’s Peak to the northwest, the one fourteener in the Rocky Mountain National Park at 14,255. I have been on the summit twice, flat, and damn near the size of football field, one time by the Keyhole route, and one time by the old cables route on the north face, the closest I have come to checking out of the hotel early as I was climbing with 3 other guys with ropes. I heard one guy above me scream ‘ROCK!!!’ one of the scariest words you can hear on a climb. I looked up too see a bowling ball sized rock coming directly at me, tumbling down the steep rock face. I made a decision to jump to my left and it went to my right. Soon thereafter, I believe I made the decision that trail running was my favorite sport and not so much needing to summit every fourteen thousand peak in Colorado… Living became a higher priority. The joke amongst climbers who dare life and limb was always “this climb is dangerous, we could be killed or even injured.” That S-E-E (significant emotional event) changed my priorities…
These things were on my mind as I drove toward Boulder yesterday afternoon. There were no mountains to be seen as heavy smoke from Northwest forest fires obscured the whole Front Range. My goal was to park at Chautauqua, a favorite place of my parents, and run the Flagstaff Trail to the top where my parents’ ashes reside, per their request. That task completed and the promise fulfilled, I run the Flagstaff trail when I am in town. It is a steep, well maintained trail with light traffic as most people stay on the Mesa Trail, around the Flatirons or hike Gregory Canyon up toward Green Mountain. Boulder has an extensive trail system to serve the active people and visitors in this town. And plenty of beers with which to match those trails. And match I did!
THE PHOTOS – 1 – A slightly telephoto shot of Boulder 1200 feet below from the top of Flagstaff. A pic to the west would have shown nothing, as the mountains were not visible . 2 – Beer on sale at Alfalfa’s market at the junction of Broadway and Arapahoe where wonderful healthy food can be found. And plenty of tables inside and out to enjoy such. My two favorite IPAs in Boulder are – the FYIPA at Mountain Sun/Southern Sun and the Down Dog IPA at Shine, both beers in the highest ranks of well balanced well hopped phenomenal IPAs in the country. And when a good dive pub with local beer on draft is desired, try the Pearl Street Pub with an upstairs and downstairs bar, and though on the Pearl Street Mall, provides a refuge of being far from the madding crowds on the mall. And Audrey is on the wall in the basement! Long live classy icons, people, beers and trails! dg
Brewpubs in Kansas are like waterholes in the deserts, few and far between. However, the brewpubs that are in Kansas are excellent! Out on the western plains of Kansas at mile marker 159 is the town of Hays, a small university town (Fort Hays State University ) and is usually a gas and pee stop for travelers going east or west on Interstate 70. But, if you have the time or will be staying overnight, get the hell away from the chain restaurants and treat yourselves to Gella’s Diner and Lb (Liquid Bread) Brewing Co. in old downtown. Excellent food, good beer and a top notch staff, most of whom are students from the university or recent graduates, are there to serve you in a beautifully restored warehouse building of wood and brick, and offset nicely with the stainless steel of the brew kettles which makes for a high energy upbeat atmosphere.
A more extensive review of Gella’s will be on the main website but today, August 28th, it is time for me to hit the road west to a state with a few more brewpubs, that being Colorado! But, keep Hays on your beerdar (beer radar?) while crossing Kansas and go see Sam and Patrick behind the bar and engage in good conversation while enjoying your sample platter and pints of flavorful ales. dg
When winter moves into spring, conditions can vary. I like my crazy runs, steep, muddy, snowy and with nice rewards of expansive views. This is the Ute Trail which goes from mile marker 133 at Dotserso on Interstate 70 in western Colorado. Trail conditions went from sloppy mud to fresh snow pellet snow. Yes, it took me 56 minutes to run the 2.84 miles uphill as the elevation gain was easily over 1200 vertical feet and the going was slow. This view of the Colorado River is looking north along the Burns Cutoff which parallels the river and the railroad for 35 miles to Highway 131 on the way to Steamboat.
This trail was used by the Ute Indians to go from one hunting ground to another and extends for over fifty miles up and across the wilderness of the Flattops Wilderness Area north of Glenwood Springs Colorado to the White River. I made it another 1/2 mile or so up the trail before turning my mud bound 15 pound shoes back down. Later that day I paired this run with the wonderful beers at Pug Ryan’s in Dillon CO. Sights on the trail that day? Coyote prints in the mud and also a large mountain lion track. Where there are mule deer there are mountain lions. No worries really but I do carry rocks on parts of the trail where I could surprise a cat. Most of the time they hear me coming from my heavy breathing and probably make a beeline away from me… All in a fun day in on a trail while thinking about my next ale…
Why these two pictures? As a freelance writer, I will occasionally write about the subjects on my card in addition to my passions of running and beer. I have ‘water’ on my card as I have studied water resources in quality and quantity since my graduate school days. Wrote a major paper on the Colorado River Compact of 1922 – an agreement between 7 western states and Mexico (all the Mexican Farmers were soon forgotten) for water allocations in the west. That paper had to do with water quantity. The government has screwed that agreement up over the years. NOW, we face perhaps a worse disaster with the BPA (EPA – disguised as the British Petroleum Agency – think Gulf of Mexico oil mess) has allowed a mine to spill its toxic waste from hell without proper precautions for such a disaster. Now, millions of people, wildlife, ground water supplies, and whole ecosystems will bear the brunt of this ‘mistake.’ Ultimately and sadly, cleanup is virtually impossible so therefore, the expression of ‘dilution is the solution to the pollution’ will have to come from Mother Nature. Being the monsoon season could be a blessing as torrential rains could unleash muddy surface waters into the rivers and eventually bury the toxic heavy metals. But sadly, the ‘cover up’ of the mud won’t be forever. The rivers and reservoirs downstream will be polluted and highly toxic in spots for years to come. The government will blatantly lie to us as will corporations about what’s really in this ‘soup’ and downplay its negative effects. We are paying for the sins of our ancestors who went nuts after the 1872 Mining Act which was a license to rape the West and now it is coming back to haunt us. Even by demanding action, nothing can happen because there is no human fix. Hopefully, Mother Nature will bring rain and lots of snow to places like Bryce Canyon in the pic above and snowmelt from there will trickle into the Paria River, find its way to the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry AZ, and add its minimal volume of water to aid in the cleanup. The snow on my business card will melt, find its way into the Green River (pic is in Dinosaur National Monument – the Utah part) and the Green River will slam into the Colorado River below Moab, Utah and do its part in the dilution solution. (MY OPINION)
From my upcoming novel – THE EMERALD WATERS OF WINTER
When the pain begins, the pain continues, and flows like ice through your veins
“The names again… Blue, Yampa, White, Eagle, Crystal, Frying Pan, Roaring Fork, Gunnison, San Miguel, Dolores, Green, and yes, the mighty Colorado. We will kill them, we will kill them all!”
One of the several in the room stepped onto the deck. He shivered in the damp cold as he lit an expensive cigar. This is what they had been planning for a long time. At first he thought the heavy drips from the awning above were water from the misty Boston night but the texture was thicker as he brushed the fluid from his sleeve. In the darkness, he placed the glowing end of his cigar near his jacket. Blood! The guard on the roof was no longer. He calmly faked a cough and said aloud, “Maybe I shouldn’t be smoking these with my cold…” He promptly put his cigar out on the railing, tossing it 10 stories to the wet street below. He had more. He stepped inside the sliding glass door, and motioned with his finger to the ceiling. Before he could finish saying they all must leave, the deck door exploded. Dressed in commando black, the intruder, in an instant, took care of another bodyguard, while the others scrambled to escape through the front door. The lights went out, a fight ensued, a slash, a stab, a shot. He was good, the intruder was better, and precious time had escaped. When the lights came on, what the intruder had come for was gone.
A story about a deadly virus that goes into a number of the rivers that flow into the Colorado River System… Not so far fetched now…