March 26, 2015
Crack open like a fragile white shell
pumped and swollen in the warm early
chewed the solid river free
ravage the lingering white surface
like an eager lover
Grey waters, grey sky and a land of ashen hillsides
to patches of brown
a random quilt torn and worn with age
drown out the calls of the newly arrived
And the beloved trees stand a silent cold still vigil
Of brown branches and pale needles
And eternal roots entangled roots
Powerful in their ethereal presence
That can not be erased by tiny beetles
nor chased by a changing climate
entangled with those roots within me
the breath of a new season
So… about the goose.
A wildlife success story.
The pursuit of happiness is hardly limited to the human mind. I have looked deep into his warm brown eyes enough to know. He has been lonely, longing, wondering. I hope he is happy now though we may question both the importance we place on the state of happiness and the impermanence of an emotional state. In any case…
Rikki flew the coop. Or rather, the ranch. He’s down at Ute Creek with… geese!
I want to ride down there now to call him, have him fly to me, look deep into my cold grey eyes and remind me that yes, he loves me, he is grateful for my having raised him with love, kindness, care. But these things I already know.
When we returned from Argentina, we watched the poor guy endure big snowstorms and fend off the fox (after nights of trying to wake in time to “eliminate” the fox problem, I actually saw the bushy red fellow run right by that goose, both uninterested in the other, so I suppose they worked their thing out). We watched him do his best to follow his two and four legged family everywhere (you should see how well he now climbs cliffs and hikes through the trees). And still looking out the window from the warmth of my cabin out to the little feathered football in the snow, I felt a sadness and loneliness in him. Yes, in a Canada goose. Go ahead and laugh, but it’s true.
A few evenings ago, we’re out cooking dinner in the fire pit and I hear geese flying by. The first of the season. There’s just this tiny sliver of a moon and they’re following the river. Rikki remained by the fire with us, seemingly unaffected. Then the next day, I hear them mid day. Bob hears them while working down by the new cabin. Rikki was out on pasture grazing with the horses. Decoy, Bob has called him there. That’s the last we’ve seen of him. No feathers. No chance of a predator with my big beast of a barking dog out there with him. In my heart, I understand.
I’m happy but sad at the same time. I’m tempted to go check on him but know I should not. I should let him be. He is where he belongs.
And so am I.
Some things to consider.
My Ted Talk to Self for the Season.
Growing up I wanted to change the world. Didn’t you?
The two of us did. Said we would. Different ways.
Both wanted to change the shape of the box. Or perhaps it was the contents.
You said from within. I said from without.
You told me you’d work with the system.
Me, I wanted to free those trapped inside.
Neither of us were wrong or right.
It takes both kinds. All kinds.
But have we changed it yet?
I’m still trying.
I told you working within was Old School. The box is bigger now. Different. Everything changes. There should be no boundaries. Autonomy and liberation and expansive ideas. Silly me, you said. Maybe you are right. Maybe not.
Remember when I studied art? I’m remembering how it wasn’t until the 15th Century that we figured out perspective. We played with it, mastered it, and moved on. Beyond perspective; beyond Realism; beyond painting only that which we can see though the art form is something we look at. From Classic to Impressionism, Abstraction to Minimalism, Modern and post Modern. Where are we now? Evolving, always evolving…
As human beings we are constantly evolving – as a society, as individuals.
Those that don’t get stuck in the mud.
Try something new.
Look at those who have changed the world.
Those you admire most.
Are they within the box or without?
Chances are you’ll most admire those standing on the side you do.
How do we change the world?
Take charge, take responsibility.
Here’s a quick three step program to get you going.
I’ll let you know how it works – I’m on it.
Let me know how it works for you too.
Question the box and its contents.
Take a good hard look at what’s in there.
Clarity is powerful stuff.
Don’t accept mediocrity. Is good enough good enough?
Don’t accept the truths you were given unless they feel right, down to your very core.
Don’t accept the way that was if you think there can be better. Is the way it was the way you want it to be?
Don’t demand it in others until you can do it yourself.
Figure out where you want it to go.
And since you’re just working on yourself here, where do you want to go?
Who do you want to be? Now.
Not certain? Join the crowd.
Then be willing to step out of it.
Look around. Who do you admire most?
Be that person. Now.
Admiration – yes, even envy – is a call to action.
It’s not a green monster, but a great motivator.
What is it about that person that you want more of?
Rather than hate them for having it, figure out how to have it too.
Don’t take it from them either; that’s bad Karma.
Better yet, create it anew for you.
You can do it, be it, have it.
But you have to work for it.
I just read an article that said no matter what you read from Freud, you really can change your personality.
So, see? You can change something within you.
And if you can do that… then…
Well, let’s just start with that.
The article said all it takes is 12 weeks.
First, figure out what you want to change.
Then, figure out how you want it to be.
Then, for twelve weeks:
Actively be it.
Fake it till you make it.
In 12 weeks, it will be yours.
Right, we have to be realistic here. In 12 weeks, I’m not going to be 20 again. (Don’t worry – I really don’t want to be 20 again!) But I could be more, say, social. (Or maybe not.) Yes, I could, but I don’t know it that’s on my list of things to change. Being socially inept isn’t that bad. There are other things I need to work on first.
Choose something that matters most. Something that will make you feel better about yourself.
And if you feel better about yourself, well, don’t you feel better about your world?
So you see… in 12 weeks, you can change the world.
Just a little bit.
It’s a start.
What are we waiting for?
March 6, 2015
For some really strange reason I have this inner calling to open my mouth and speak up for the wilds and wildlife and the mountains around me. Maybe it’s that David and Goliath thing. At times, it gets me in trouble and doesn’t always get me friends, but I can’t help myself, and feel morally obliged. I have to speak up – maybe the only contrary voice out there – one little woman taking on a bunch of big boys.
Few of you will read this. Fewer still will care. And a few might even get a little riled up (safe to say, based on personal biases and connections held onto tightly). Good. Go ahead. The truth can be disturbing…. Time to open your eyes, and your hearts, and look a little deeper, my friends.
Most of us believe what we want to believe. I guess it’s part of human survival. From assumptions to core beliefs. And changing our minds is as rare as changing religion. I am not asking you to change your mind. Only open it.
This is about the Canadian Lynx relocated to southern Colorado, and those that have worked to create a successful program… at what cost and for whom? Now they have launched a review and I think we can safely guess what they will call their outcome. Before you too are convinced of their self proclaimed success, please read on.
For whom, and at what expense?
I have nothing to lose in speaking up. Nothing riding on this but care and concern for those with whom I share this mountain and the wilds. I also have nothing to gain. No money, no reputation, no ego, nothing to prove to the public.
It’s been about ten years since I first voiced my concerns. I imagine unrelated to my little voice from up on this big mountain, not too long after that, they left the remaining lynx alone. Rumor had it the program ran out of funding, and public opinion was getting wise and getting mad. They simply called their program “a success,” and left the mountain with their tail between their legs. Along the way, they quietly removed their sign depicting the cute little lynx at the beginning of the road where it changes from pavement to dirt which was intended, I suppose, as a warning to people driving by. After all the trapping, touching and handling in the relocation and continued monitoring even after release, the lynx were known to walk towards humans up here, not run away. That’s how most folks around these parts learned to identify the lynx, not to be confused with the wise and native bobcat. Well, that and the darned collars.
I live 18 miles up that road, just beyond where they release the lynx that had been trapped, sedated, relocated, and “rehabbed” to adjust to our altitude, they say. Not a lot of other people live here, especially in winter. I think there’s one family about six miles away as the crow flies; otherwise, the nearest home is 18 miles away… back down by that sign. The lynx do live around me. A few that made it. I see their tracks, and keep my mouth shut and wish they would just hide so “they” wouldn’t come bother them again. But here “they” are, back at it.
And so, I am too. Voicing my concerns about a program that may have been born with the best of intentions. That was many moons (millions of dollars, and hundreds of lives) ago. Now, if we dare to look deeply, we are forced to question: who is this program really for, and who truly stands to gain from this process?
The program I am referring to is the relocation of Canadian Lynx to southern Colorado, an area that at best may have been the southernmost range recorded for this beautiful animal currently designated as a “threatened species” but often referred to incorrectly as “endangered.” I’ve even hear the species referred to as the Colorado Lynx, which I suppose would make this a new species all together, or simply a term of endearment for those wonderful creatures that were taken from their native Canada and actually survived here.
Now they’re doing a review. Proving their success. Yeah! After how much time and money and losses, there are Canada lynx alive and well in Colorado!
Yet, we must not be fooled by the “facts” we are provided with, nor ruled solely on our emotions for cheering on what we want to be: the success of this wild animal. Whose success are we really looking at?
What we have here is an ethical dilemma. We’re playing a game, using a beautiful innocent creature as the pawn and one of the most unpopulated parts of the country as the playing ground. Who really are the players involved? Though we all become involved as our heart strings are toyed with too…
Oddly enough, the “critical habit” for the Canadian Lynx in the Lower 48, as reported by US Fish and Wildlife, does not even go as far south as Colorado, not to mention southern Colorado, but includes Maine, Minnesota, Washington, Wyoming and Montana.
No matter. Here we are in the day of climate change and we’re thinking this is the thing to do: let’s take an animal native to the eastern and western sides of Canada, and drop them off a thousand or two miles south in the middle of the mountains, and see what happens.
This week we have snow. What about the rest of the winter? What about, as even “they“ have called it, the new normal? We jokingly call this part of the southern San Juans The Banana Belt. Compare us to northern BC, Alaska and Quebec where the animals originated, I’d say that’s not too far off. No, we have no bananas. But here at the head of the Rio Grande and the end of the Four Corners region, we have strong sun and wonderful warm days in winter and high altitude unlike anything seen up north…
I may not be any wildlife “specialist” but it does not take such degrees to grant common sense. It takes eyes, mind, and heart. I’m here, and I see. I’m not reporting from behind a desk from some big city far away. I’m talking about my back yard. No, I’m not the slick professional putting out the press releases to stir public interest and to support my cause. I’m just a small woman with a big heart who is crying out to try to get some answers, open some eyes, and protect the wilds I’m lucky (or crazy) enough to live in.
And so, they came here. First because there was no public interference. Hinsdale and Mineral Counties are each about 96% public lands. That means, of course, only 4% private, and so, not a lot of people, period. Those folks up north were not only more plentiful, but wise to potential restrictions like road closures such a program could bring, and would not cooperate.
Recently, I read a new twist to this theory. Their story changed. Now they say they researched and chose this location because they found so many snowshoe hare around here it seemed like a great place to give it a try. I’ve also heard they relocated snowshoe hare here too, so I don’t know what or who to believe any more.
I do know this. My aunt scoffed when years ago I first told her enthusiastically they were bringing the Canadian Lynx to Colorado. She’s from upstate New York. “They tried that here too,” she scowled, “but the lynx all left.”
Ours tried to leave too. But this time, the powers that be chose a location so far away, making it back home would be close to impossible. They found “our” lynx in Kansas, and I don’t remember where else. Many died trying, on the side of the road. Though more of them simply starved.
Proof that if you put enough money into a program, have enough ego to keep at it at all costs, and are willing to risk enough lives, you can make anything work.
Now, I’m just a middle aged lady who has called this mountain home for over a dozen years. Nothing fancy; nothing powerful. In fact, kind of small and usually pretty darned quiet. I’m a homebody and would rather walk or ride a horse than get in or on anything motorized. I don’t fish or hunt and I can’t even get myself to kill a rabbit. I’ve lived up here far beyond where a lady “should” with my husband, my dog, horses, cats, chickens and a wild goose that came to us last spring and hasn’t left. We raised our son here and at 21, he now is wintering at the South Pole station – testament, I suppose, to how remote, removed and cold one assumes it can be here. But we’re comfortable. We live simply and eek out a living between running a seasonal guest ranch, writing and taking on odd jobs. I’m not here to get rich. I’m here just to be here. The wilds, wildlife and Wilderness (note the capital W) mean the world to me after my family and my own animals.
This is my home, and after all these years, and all the battles I have taken on to remain here, I have an incredibly intimate connection with and fierce attachment to the land. And for that land, I have a moral obligation. For that land, I have to speak up and do what I can to protect the land, wilds and wildlife.
As humans, we have a tendency to (1) want to care for those we feel need care; (2) want to prove we can do it – whatever it is – at whatever cost; (3) never want to admit we are wrong; and (4) want to control our environment rather than simply be in it.
Combine these all together, and you have the perfect formula for this program.
In spite of waning public opinion and growing concerns with sightings of these normally elusive animals on roads and/or seemingly starving, at some point, the powers that be called their own program “a success.” I recall reading that “the success” was based on this: there were more cats born that year than cats that died. Oh my god. Do you know how many kittens are in a litter? Now do the math. And see if you can figure this out: how many deaths then were they thus responsible for each year?
And how many millions of dollars were poured into this program to support these efforts… and by whom?
How many millions were spent trapping live animals in Canada, and (we must hope) caring for them in transit, rehab and relocating in to Colorado. On top of that, how many millions more were spent on salaries and snowmobiles and flights, and fossil fuels used to track from the air and trap in the snow?
The only “facts” and “figures” I can find are those provided by the very same people operating this program.
How do we find the truth about these beautiful animals with which we’ve played god, uprooting them from their native lands and turning them out to see what would happen here?
With all the monies poured into this program on behalf of one species, did anyone consider the affect upon other species who now have to co-exist in these changing times, in this changing climate, such as the bobcat, the coyote, and the fox? What impact would the “success” of the lynx have them?
I do care. About them all.
Keep trying… keep spending… money and life… sooner or later, it’s going to work!
Sure, some will make it. Look at the moose. They were never here before and were dropped off and for whatever crazy unknown reason, they are currently thriving. The lynx is not as lucky, but he’s still around.
Before you support or negate this program, I would suggest you try to find the facts. What are the numbers? The real numbers – not those readily provided by the program. How many were released? How many died? How much money was spent? Where did the money come from, and where did it go?
And while you’re at it, ask them this: why?
Success, they have called it. I suppose after all the monies and lives expended, they have to. And who has thought to question? We are all guilty of wanting this to work so badly we were willing to forgo the facts. Now we have to ask: success for whom, and at what expense?
February 28, 2015
Though I rarely mention our guest ranch business with my personal business, the two are of course intertwined and both a part of me. So… here’s the latest from the guest ranch side of me:
Updates from the Upper Rio Grande
Woven into winter… dreaming of favorite places… taking you back to where you want to be…
Dear Friends of Lost Trail Ranch,
As the shrill call of the Redwing Blackbird this week heralds their return to the mountain and brings the promise of spring to our otherwise wintry landscape, we turn our attention towards the seasons upcoming. We welcome you to this beautiful new year, trusting it is a great one so far for you, and hope to have the chance to see many of you in the year ahead.
Some exciting news to share with you:
First, we’re getting a brand new web site! Same location (www.lost-trail.com) but a whole new look. After over a dozen years of toying with our home-made web site – based on the assumption that the beauty of the place is enough to capture your attention and your heart – we’re are super excited to be launching a completely new site, designed and implemented by the extraordinarily talented Kara Brittain of B4Studio (www.b4studio.com). The site is in the works, bringing a beautiful redesign and wonderful working interface, featuring personal photos, stories and a clean, clear, easy to read and navigate format. As we progress with the new site, please take a look, tell us what you think! It’s a work of art, and still in the works, so your feedback would be most appreciated.
And… your involvement!
We would love your help in this process. Please read on…
Stories! Would you be willing to share a story? Instead of the usual rave reviews and recommendations or interesting historic tid-bits from the area, what would be more fun and endearing than to read, share and exchange your personal stories of a special time or event or memory created here at Lost Trail Ranch on the website? Perhaps a tale of awakening to the blessing of an early snow or brilliant rainbow, a wild ride on ATV up to the Divide, a wonderful wildlife viewing, a bunch of song and laugher around a campfire, or the one that got away. Please write (e-mail us) and share! We’d love to read your stories… Okay, I’ll be the first… (story to follow)
Pictures! Have any special pictures you might be willing and able to share with us on the site, too? Perhaps of your favorite place, cabin or part of the cabin that means something dear to you, a quiet moment captured lounging in the sun with a good book in a quiet corner of your cozy cabin, laughing around a camp fire or chillin’ on the front deck. Perhaps of your favorite activity, be it an awesome hike, mountain bike ride or ATV adventure, your favorite fishing hole (if you don’t mind sharing your secrets), a fun day spent in Lake City or Creede, an exhilarating exploration up the mountain? We’d love to see and share your images, from family time or a romantic couple get-away or just the beauty of the cabins and surrounding mountains. When you find a few minutes, please look through some of your favorites, and send ‘em this way if you’re willing and able to share the beauty!
More exciting news: This summer will be the first season we are proudly offering Hill Top Cabin as a part of our rental fleet! Hill Top Cabin is the big, beautiful, private and pristine cabin about a quarter mile up the road from the main ranch, on top of the hill (thus the name) overlooking the ranch, the valley and the reservoir (talk about views!). This opportunity is a dream come true for many who have inquired over the years… now it’s a reality! We are pleased to announce weekly rentals offered from Sunday to Sunday (our main cabins are Saturday to Saturday), June through mid October. Please write us for more details, inquiries and/or to make reservations for the upcoming summer season.
Other news and updates of interest:
On a personal note… Bob & Gin have just returned from another season in Argentina, and are back to working on their home by the river, writing a new book, and starting an exciting new chapter of their life together. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world… or rather, the end of the world! Forrest will be wintering (our summer is his winter) at the South Pole. That’s a lot of cold, dark days while we’ll be here enjoying the comfort and beauty of the Colorado high mountain sun! Some say he was raised for such a situation, but no matter the stories we’ve told you, it really never get’s that rough here. All we know is, we’ll miss him – and hope he manages to stay as warm as one can in the eternal darkness where winter temps average -76 degrees F.
Finally, what are YOU doing this summer? Hoping you’ll be able to be here for at least a week to get your mountain fix! Interested in spending a month or more here at Lost Trail Ranch? We’re looking for a couple of good caretakers – your own private cabin in exchange for minimal daily chores, meeting and greeting, and helping out on the weekend with turnover. This is a non paid position; perfect for someone(s) looking to just getaway and enjoy the peace and privacy of the mountain and our guests for an extended period of time. Please drop us an e-mail if this sound interesting…
Hope to see y’all soon!
With warmest regards,
Lost Trail Ranch
address: 18100 USFS Rd 520, Creede, CO 81130