Posted by: highmountainmuse | August 24, 2009

A Sunday Drive

A Sunday Drive, looking down the road which leads to Stony Pass

A Sunday Drive, looking down the road which leads to Stony Pass

I grew up in Suburbia.  The Sunday Drive was a standard part of life, if not for us, a family with four active kids and parents both working in offices, at home and in the community, then for the many we’d see out on the road, driving oh-so-slow down the roads and lanes on a Sunday afternoon, several in the same big car, folks in the front and back seats of various generations, all looking lazily through the windows at the scenery passing before them, perchance as easy and refreshing as watching an old fashioned movie on TV, one of those filmed in black and white and full of good humor. 

Yesterday I was guilty of the same, in a way.  Though I refuse to admit I am becoming my parents.  Not that it would be a bad thing; it’s just one of those things I am steadfast to never admit…

The better part of the day was spent taking a backpacker up to the Continental Divide Trail as it crosses up on Stony Pass, at the very beginning of the Rio Grande. See? I can still call it “work.” The arrangements were made well in advance by the solo adventurer we were glad to help out  So the three of us decided to not only to lend a hand to this back country hiker, but to make the most of the day.  Shouldn’t we always do that?!?

Forrest on his motor bike and Bob and I and the backpacker in the old truck… up the road we bounced and jogged and jiggled from the Ranch to the Continental Divide at Stony Pass, a notoriously rough and poorly maintained alpine loop jeep road, 17 miles that took nearly two hours, one way…

Oh, I think of how it was back in the day, with horse and wagon or ox and cart, and I refrain from any complain about comfort…

But, alas, to the high country far faster than a horse will allow, this road enables us to travel, to then be high above it all, looking back at our world, at the very beginnings of the Mighty Rio, and far off and away into the world on the other side of the Divide, a world I so rarely venture to, as I’m not known for going much further than a horse can get me in a couple of days.

from where it all begins, the first waters of the Rio Grande

from where it all begins, the first waters of the Rio Grande.

The high country was ablaze in color.  Not the color that deems poetic for the many groups who endure that bumpy drive to come up in the peak of summer with picnic and camera in hand to view the mountain awash in her brilliant wild flower display, on show for all like the bright lights of downtown in a big city.  The color now was as subtle and magnificent, and almost as mysterious, as the sparkling lights in the night sky.  The early autumn change of tundra.  Simple magnificence.  A minimal display in comparison, but deeper as the eye stares longer and farther.  Cold and harsh and real.  Full of question and change and possibly even concern, as the mountain accepts the now freezing night temperatures and lower sun and shorter days and prepares for what she knows will come.

Sunday Drivers?

Sunday Drivers?


  1. Looks like a good sunday drive to me .Your Blazer looks to be about a 75 or about .When i moved here from Arizona thats what we pulled a 30 foot travel trailer with . I wish i still had both .That was better times .Looks like your camper might get wet . Life on your mountain is hard sometimes . But every good things comes some hardships .It justs looks like a wonderful place .

  2. Wow what a nice day for a Sunday. That’s real church for me! Just like being out in the garden or with the flowers and other plants. That’s where I do the best at reflection and thankfulness.

    Thanks for your sermon.


  3. Looks like fun! Makes me want to take an adventure up those 4-wheel roads!

  4. Have you taken the “road” up there before, Karen?

  5. A compliment I do not deserve, Al.

  6. 76, Don!

  7. What a nice way to spend a late-summer Sunday afternoon. When I take a deep breath I can smell the mountain air from here.

  8. No, we haven’t taken the road. Our Suburban isn’t 4-wheel drive so we are limited. Last year we tried to go a little further up 520 but didn’t get very far. Does it lead to the road to Stony Pass or is that somewhere different?

  9. Karen,
    Yes, the road goes up Stony and then continues on down the other side of the Divide, actually going into the town of Silverton. There are neat mines to tour on that side, and good burgers to be had in Silverton, but we didn’t make it that far yesterday. I think renting an ATV and going in fair weather up Stony Pass would be fun – you might want to try that some time. I’ve never gone on ATV but it might be more fun than the big old Blazer…

  10. Sandy,
    It seems of a very similar air to your mountains in your neck of the woods, how similar our seasons tend to be, though perhaps we have a lower oxygen count in this elevation!

  11. Hey Gin,

    Where’s the nearest place to rent an ATV? I’m guessing Creede but thought you might know of someone closer to the ranch. It would be fun to rent a 4-wheeler and go on an adventure.

  12. Karen, You can rent ATVs in South Fork from Twin Pine Motor Sports. Bob recommends for the two of you getting “two up” – so you can ride together. But he also said you might be more comfortable making the trip in a jeep. You can rent one from Cottonwood Cove, just before Creede.

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