WWWH: Poncha Springs Colorado
There were at one time many hotsprings bubbling out of the hills around Poncha Springs. In 1935, when Forrest was just lad, all but one of the springs were capped with cement (halted). The remaining spring was then piped to the nearby city Salida who owns the spring to this day. Salida is also labeled on the map in TFTW.
The Canyon Down: The San Luis Valley
This where I should have realized I was starting to stray, it’s a valley not a canyon. But liked the Home of Brown I found on the way down.
HoB: Great Sand Dunes National Monument.
This is where all the brown sand ends up after being picked up by winds blowing across the valley. The biggest sand dunes in North America. Also on Forrest’s map.
Put In: Rio Grande
Continuing south down the San Luis Valley past the sand dunes you come to where the Rio Grande passes through the city of Alamosa (on the the map). so from here I start following the river.
No Place for the Meek: Ute Mountain
Once you cross into New Mexico, there is a big lonely extinct volcano known as Ute Mountain sitting on the east side of the beginnings of Rio Grande Gorge. There may be a couple interpretations of why it’s no place for the meek.
1. it’s a volcano
2. The infamous Meeker Massacre that occurred in Colorado was committed by Ute Indians.
3. There is Ute creation myth that essentially states that the creator specifically chose the Ute Indians to be the bravest of all the people.
The mountain is on the map just not labeled. You can see it’s little bump just below the CO/NM border along the Rio Grande.
No Paddle Up Your Creek:
There is a rocky wash on the northwest side of the mountain that looks like a creek bed (36.950290°, -105.701648°). You can’t paddle up it because it’s just made up of rocks (heavy loads) and the only water you see might be snow on the top of the mountain (water high).
Could have been the same rocks that make up the creek you can’t paddle, It looks very similar to the shape the blaze on a horse might be. But the thing that I found was what appeared from GE to be a U shaped outcropping of rocks about half way up.
When I saw that on GE I just had to know what it was, so I started planning my trip. It seemed daunting at first to go by myself, but a friend of mine agreed to go with me at the last minute.
Just getting to the mountain was an adventure in itself. It’s in an extremely remote and rarely visited location, and the only access is on poorly maintained two-track dirt roads. I am really glad I rented a Jeep with 4-wheel drive instead of just a regular car. We only saw two other vehicles anywhere near us for the entire day.
When we started our less than a mile hike from the car, the first thing we noticed was the prickly plants literally everywhere on the ground. I’m going to be picking needles out of my boots for weeks. By the time we got to the bottom of the rocks, and I saw what we had to climb I was already starting to doubt my solve. Was this something an 80 year old could do? Maybe not.
We pressed on anyway and scrambled up the side of the mountain to the U shaped object I had found on GE. when we got there I discovered that what looked like a single object from GE was just a pile of rocks and nothing more. What a let down.
We checked many of the numerous crevices and hidey holes in the area anyway and marveled at the fantastic view we had of the valley below and the river gorge.
Finally, it was getting late so we called it quits and headed back down to the Jeep. We headed over to the edge of the Gorge to get a few pictures before we left and made a new arachnid friend on the way.
I believe this search has helped me understand a lot more about where and how I should be looking, and I’m looking forward to getting out again in Spring with a brand new solution to continue the chase. I leaning more toward a smaller scale solve now, hundreds of miles between clues is just way too far.
Thanks for reading, see you on the trail