Columns

Wed
12
Aug
atodd's picture

A river of toxic tears

As the Environmental Pollution Agency — as it is being referred to anywhere downstream of Silverton — tripled the estimate of toxic water spill this week from the Gold King Mine into Cement Creek, a tributary of the Animas River, the Animas was passing its orange glow from Colorado into New Mexico.
Eerily, Dave Taylor of Farmington, New Mexico, wrote the Silverton Standard and The Miner a few weeks ago and virtually predicted this disaster. Taylor, a professional geologist for 47 years, concluded that the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to divert leakage from the mine to holding pools would absolutely result in catastrophe.
Taylor predicted the effort to plug the 500 gallons per minute of exfiltrating water from the mine would backfill the interconnected mine system in the region, and within "seven to 120 days," he wrote, all of the 500 gallons per minute would seep out through new waterways.

Wed
12
Aug
atodd's picture

Mine waste must be addressed

Asking anyone in Silverton, Colo., how the past week has gone would be like ask- ing Mrs. Lincoln how she enjoyed the play.
The disaster that unfolded last week has thrust the problem of acid-mine drainage leaking from abandoned mines in the spectacular San Juans into the national — and even global — spotlight.
The bad publicity so many local busi- ness owners feared from a possible Superfund designation could not possibly match this.
The ugly, orange blob of mine waste that burst through the Gold King portal Aug. 5 also burst a lot of notions about the scope and urgency of the problem that the region has been struggling with for years.
It’s a complex problem with no easy or cheap solutions. And when it comes down to it, the biggest fight has been over who is responsible and who should pay.

Wed
12
Aug
atodd's picture

Up where snow “melts into music”: A hypocrite’s lament

“Keep close to Nature's heart... break clear away once in awhile... climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” (JohnMuir)
It is a Chamber of Commerce morning, and I’m delightfully alone in lofty mountains above Lovely Ouray. The air is unusually warm and close, as cotton-ball clouds already build on ragged peak horizons. Sunlight dapples off rip- pled stream and glints from eyes overflowing with awe, bathing my aged-to-imperfect skin in solar bliss. I ponder the intense light, the staggering energy of its source and the speed at which it trav- els—93 million miles in eight minutes flat. I could almost lie down amongst the wildflowers at my feet and take a nap. Who would know?

Sat
18
Jul
atodd's picture

Vacationing close to home

They say you're a lucky guy or gal if you get to live where you vacation. Of course, when you work where you vacation, the former can overshadow the latter.
Which makes a weekend overshadow the former.
We loaded the pop up and worn-but-reliable SUV and headed to a whole other world — the Cimarron Mountains.
No detours, no one-lane traffic, just turn right on County Road 10, pass Second Chance Animal Shelter and the RAT bike trail and you're in a different world almost immediately.
About 14 miles up we bumped and bounced the little camper slowly behind us past Deb's Meadow, wound our way up to Owl Creek Pass at 10,114 feet, then worked our way behind the Turrets to land an ideal camping spot at the end of the road right on the Middle Fork of the Cimarron.

Sat
18
Jul
atodd's picture

Look again: That mountain may be a molehill…

Summer always makes me think of lakes and mountains – and mountain lakes.
My college roommate from Alaska spent a few days at the cabin recently. Mike is a retired physician battling Parkinson’s now, but he’s doing pretty well and hasn’t lost his lust for adventure or his sense of humor. People facing challenges, whether climbing a mountain or combating a chronic illness, are an inspiration.
Mike grew up in a place called Mountain Lake, Minnesota (population: 2,104; elevation: 1,302 ft.). There are lots of lakes in Minnesota (even the license plates proclaim it: “Land of 10,000 Lakes”), but there isn’t a mountain anywhere near Mountain Lake.
When I asked Mike how the town got its name, he just shrugged and said, “Oh, there’s a little hill there.” Even the town’s official motto, “Home on the prairie,” betrays its inapt appellation.

Thu
02
Jul
atodd's picture

Healthy river takes patience

A long-time flyfisherman told Eric Gardunio, aquatic biologist in Montrose, that back in the 1980s the sight of four-pound Rainbow trout smacking big, puffy flies on the surface of the Gunnison River throughout summer was common.
"You just don't see that now," Gardunio said.
Overcoming whirling disease has been an uphill battle. Caused by a parasite that disrupts the nervous system of a Rainbow, the disease has decimated Rainbow populations throughout the West. The disease makes feeding nearly impossible and renders young Rainbows vulnerable to predators.
One predator is the Brown trout, which minus a healthy population of Rainbows has grown to dominate the lower Gunnison River.

Thu
02
Jul
atodd's picture

In order to shoe a horse it always pays to catch it first

There seems to be a new trend in the area of running…Barefoot. I, myself, no longer run. I have horses and they are much better at running, so I let them carry me. Anyway, the Barefoot Running “takeover” is definitely on the rise with humans. Many orthopedic sources are saying “it is healthier for the structure of the human body, to run without additional cushioning.” I do NOT agree with this statement based solely (pun intended) on past experience. Why, just this morning I stepped out on the front porch and stepped on a “goat head.” Jump, jump, **it, jump, jump **it…that really hurts. For the simple reason of personal safety, I will continue to wear shoes.

Thu
18
Jun
atodd's picture

Colorado and California – Different states, similar fates?

Tom Magstadt

Summer is beautiful in the mountains, but it's also a harbinger of horrors great and small, forest fires being among the worst and most devastating. Mud is no fun either, but without it – in the absence of abundant snow on the upper elevations and a long, slow thaw – we face something far more unforgiving.

For all our sophisticated technology and machines, soaking rains are still the best defense against forest fires. In ways we moderns often fail to recognize, the earth hasn't changed much since the Pleistocene Epoch, when mammoths and mastodons, long-horned bison, saber-toothed cats and giant ground sloths roamed the planet.

One big difference, however, is temperature. Global cooling and glaciers characterized the Pleistocene. The big worry in these times is global warming, disappearing glaciers and drought.

Heavy summer rains mean more mud, but every good thing comes with a price. If it doesn't, we're either stealing it or wasting it or both.

Wed
10
Jun
atodd's picture

Cartoon

Wed
10
Jun
atodd's picture

The ridge to the “Bridge of Heaven,” a hike up memory lane

The Old Horse Thief Trailhead is a Nolan Ryan stone's-throw from our house in Lovely Ouray. In minutes Bobbie and I are zigzagging up its wooded switchbacks, savoring fresh, pine-scented air that we’ve come to expect but now take for granted. The morning air is cool to bare skin, the trail damp from recent showers. Our bodies and minds soon warm to the uphill task and reluctantly cooperate. Life is still good.

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