The Tale of a Stubborn Dog, or a Dominguez Canyon Run

One of the best things about living in Ridgway is the access to the mountains right along side desert access. After exploring Alta, Katie and I wrapped up her trip to the Western Slope with a visit to Big Dominguez Canyon.

Big Dominguez is one of my favorite spring escapes a little more than an hour north but it is a glorious escape from lingering winter at higher elevations.

Funny story about these Sprocket photos: I tried to leave him in the car. He’d done nine miles with some elevation gain the day before so I thought I probably shouldn’t push old dog too hard. The day was definitely cool so I cracked all the windows and started to run away from the car when he totally lost his cool.

If you’ve met my dog, he’s kind of a mute. He might whine a little when he is excited but he definitely doesn’t yelp, bark, cry, and make a giant fuss. Except, apparently when you try to leave him behind when going for a run next to a river. Just like the wrapped around his paw dog mom I am, I relented and let him come. I figured if he lost steam, I’d turn around and let Katie finish the run without me.

He never lost steam. I underestimated the invigorating effects of a river bath followed by a sand roll for my old pup.

Katie, bless her heart, didn’t judge me (at least audibly) for giving in to him and commented that I’m the chillest dog mom for just letting him be dirty. What can I say, I’m a sucker for the old boy. ♥

Photos courtesy Katie Sealer. (Sprocks also made several appearances on her Instagram, including in her profile picture because he’s the best.)

Alta Lakes Road

Thanks to a combination of exhaustion, minor injury, and EMT class, I wound up staying home for most of Spring Break. Fortunately for me, my break overlapped with Instagram friend Katie’s break. Katie and I have known each other on Instagram for a long time (in fact, I can’t remember exactly what permutation of events actually lead to us connecting) but we’ve never met on person. That didn’t stop Katie from reaching out and seeing if we could hang out for a few days.

We were short a pair of snowshoes and I have an old dog in tow who hasn’t had much exercise lately so after some early spring trail brainstorming, I decided we should go up to Alta Lakes road near Telluride. Katie had never been to Telluride and because the road is used for snowmobiles I figured that it would make for easy walking (it did).

As is usual when you’re hiking south of Telluride, the mountains in front of you are gorgeous but then you turn around and see the Wilsons. (I don’t know, that turn around suprise just gets me every time.)

The lakes were buried under snow so I think the highlight was checking out the ghost town of Alta. (Alta was the first industrial site to receive AC power!) We didn’t end up checking out much of town because the post holing off of the main snowmobile track was real—I tried to get off the road a little bit for a better photo and ended up buried to my hips…

After the hike, we headed into Telluride and had lunch at the Phoenix Bean. Sprocks was exhausted but he gamely walked to the restaurant with us and slept under the table dreaming of cheese falling from our plates. (Katie made sure his dream came true.) Back in Ridgway we chilled out and watched the light change as the sunset before getting to bed early. (I got lots of sleep over break.)

Labrador Joy

Sprocket and I visited the river on a chilly late winter day with my friend and her pup. We hung out and Sprocket swam and snow fell all around us.

(All photos courtesy Nadia.) 

What Have I Been Up To?

Since moving into my house just before New Years, I’ve almost as equally moved into my car. In addition to a healthy commute, I’ve added a commute to an EMT class two to three days a week. Long time readers of this blog might remember that in spring 2012 I took an EMT course. Unfortunately, in all of my travels and tumult, my NREMT certification lapsed long enough that to get it back, I had to re-take the course. I figured, at once wisely and dumbly, that it would be easiest to just keep pushing forward with my crazy life and get it done with before returning to regularly scheduled hiking and exploring programming.

This has meant very little time for running or relaxing. (Twice a week, I leave home at 6:20am and get home about 10:15pm.) When I am home, I have homework to take care of and sleep to have. On top of class and teaching, I’ve still been pulling some shifts at my side hustle for that extra cash infusion.

Winter was kind of non-existent around these parts but Sprocket and I did get to do one really cool thing: one evening when we got about 8-10″ of snow, we left to do a 5 mile cross country skiing from our front door!

Having a house to come back and shower at has made it easier to grab those chances to run when they arise. Sprocket certainly appreciates having a warm place to wait for me to come home but even more I think he likes having a warm place to recover from snowy swims in the river.

I have another three weeks left of class and we’re both pumped to have a summer full of adventure!

Ute Indian Museum

Way back in January, I visited the recently renovated Ute Indian Museum. With my recent readings about exploration of the Western Slope (and the rest of the West) by Europeans and later Americans, I decided it was time to check out the history of the people that they’d displaced. The museum was renovated over the winter of 2016-2107 with what I understand to be extensive input from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Southern Ute Tribe, and the Ute Tribe of the Unitah and Ouray Reservation. The Ute Indian Museum is part of the History Colorado museum network. The museum is located near the site of Ouray and Chipeta’s ranch just south of Montrose.

The museum isn’t particularly large but it does contain a lot of information and the new exhibits are really well done. I learned a lot as the museum moved from how the Ute tribe interacted with the physical environment and more about their historic range to artifacts of the tribe. In these early sections of the museum I was really struck by the use of “we” and “our” in the text to accompany exhibits. It served to really emphasize to me how a whole people was affected by the arrival of explorers in the area.

Seeing some of the historical artifacts was really exciting. The museum has several pieces of clothing worn by Ouray and Chipeta which I found really cool. That sinking sober feeling I’d gotten earlier, really struck home when I got to the section of the museum highlighting how the reservations of the Ute bands were splintered and made smaller over the years. I was familiar with the history from Ouray: Chief of the Utes and other books that I’ve read but seeing it laid out in graphic form was really striking.

The final section of the museum featured contemporary exhibits from the various Ute tribal groups. They were very positive in nature and talked about traditions that are preserved by the tribe.

After a quick pit stop in the gift shop, I headed out to the grounds of the museum. Chipeta, had been buried in Utah where she had died on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation but in 1924, her remains were moved to the museum grounds. (Chief Ouray’s remains are buried near Ignatio, Colorado.) I also checked out the interpretive signs about the Domniguez-Escalante expedition of 1776 down closer to the river.

I’m really glad that I visited the museum. I live on land that used to belong to the Utes and was glad to learn more about the tribes, especially their current situations. I’ve been in Colorado for five years now (and delightedly, all out on the Western Slope) and deepening my understanding of history here is always something I value.

As of this writing, the museum is $6 for adults (but if you’re a member of History Colorado it’s included) and well worth the visit!

On The Page: Pure Land

You know those books that you read breathlessly, hanging on each word but yet rushing on to the next one? Pure Land  was one of those books. I don’t have a whole lot of time to read these days so I got some reading in Thursday night, and then Saturday after I got home from EMT class, I dove into it intending fully to relish the rest of the book.

This is not to say that Pure Land is a happy story. Or a story where you don’t know the ending. It is the intersecting story of Tomomi Hanamure, a Japanese woman deeply in love with America’s West, a young Havasupai man named Randy Wescogame, and the story of the story teller, author Annette McGivney.

Tomomi was murdered on hike to Havasupai Falls in the Grand Canyon in May of 2006. A regular solo traveler of the United States, Hanamure was lured off the trail by Wescogame and brutally stabbed to death. McGivney entered the story when she wrote “Freefall” for Backpacker in 2007.

Through this deeper telling of the tale of intersecting lives we meet Tomomi’s father, Randy’s father, the woman who compassionately helped Randy come to a confession, and others who have insight into the people involved in this tragic story. It was no surprise what the ending of the story was but yet, it felt necessary to read.

For me personally, however, McGivney’s weaving of her own family story of abuse and recovery into the book was the most astounding. It seemed a part of the story alone until she mentioned the idea of a trauma bond with an abuser. I finished the book and put it down on my makeshift nightstand. I did what any self respecting Millennial would do and I unlocked my phone and turned to Google. The idea of a bond that pulls the abused tighter to the abuser made my breath catch in my throat. Unlike I would have years ago, I locked the phone, buried my head in Sprocket and went to sleep. The gut punch of years of isolation has finally started to fade with the salve of community, achievement, and progress.

I almost feel like I need to re-read Pure Land. I identified so much with Tomomi and Annette that I feel like I ignored Randy, perhaps the least surface sympathetic character but yet one affected by the deepest, multi-generational traumas. McGivney does an excellent job of making all of the people in the book real and complex.

Pure Land is not just a book about the outdoors, although it is, it’s also about the struggles of the Havasupai tribe and its individual members. It’s also about creating your own life and balancing it with family. It’s about living. A lot of times when I give you an “On The Page” report, I talk about who would enjoy this book. Whoever you are, reading this, go read it.

On The Page: Juan Rivera’s Colorado, 1765

Last summer when my mom came to visit, she bought me a present: Juan Rivera’s Colorado, 1765. Fresh off my trip to OKC where my Spanish colonial history obsession was kindled by stops in Santa Fe and at the Pecos pueblo I had stopped in at Ouray’s Buckskin Bookseller to find a copy of the journals of the Dominguez-Escalate expedition. The owner pointed out this new release from Western Reflections Publishing (yes, I’m still slowly purchasing their entire catalog).

Steven Baker scrupulously traces Rivera’s expeditions to southwestern Colorado. Apparently there was some controversy about whether Rivera had gone to Moab or to Delta. I loved the detailed tracing of his route. I’m a map and geography nerd and the territory traveled by Rivera is my home ground. He passed by Chimney Rock then, on his fall expedition, up through the Dolores River canyon to what is now the west end of Montrose County and then over the Uncompaghre Plateau to Delta.  I find myself just astounded by what they were able to accomplish with such limited information!

This beautiful hard cover wasn’t cheap (thanks Mom!) but it is filled will gorgeous maps drawn by Gail Sargent of each section of the journey as well as photographs of many locations with notations of trails traversed by the expedition.

I’m so glad that this book has joined my library. I think it’s incredibly important to know the history of the area where you live and I learned so much (and added a few hikes to my list and … bonus! they’ll be spring accessible!).

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

Las Vegas!

In the car on the way back from the airport, a friend texted me, “Vegas? That’s not your style.”

I would counter that a little bit of everything alongside a big helping of adventure is my style, but I digress.

Last weekend, I traveled with some friends and my mom to Vegas to see George Strait in concert (with Lyle Lovett!!! and Robert Earl Keen). While seeing King George was the headlining event of our weekend, we had a lot of fun “doing Vegas.”

Amanda and I caught a flight out of GJ Thursday afternoon and started the party as soon as we got into the terminal. We even bought our tickets months apart and sat next to each other.  Once we landed and checked into our hotel, we immediately set out in search of food and then engaged in heavy duty people watching at the Cosmopolitan.

The next morning, my mom arrived and we headed out for brunch and some sight seeing. My friend Helen and her husband arrived mid afternoon and we had some celebratory “we’re all in Vegas” champagne at the hotel before heading to dinner and some after dinner drinks. While most of the crew headed to bed, Amanda and I went out for some dancing.

Saturday was more sight seeing but the big event was that evening. It was time to see George! There was a lot of “Do you think he’ll play this song?” talk and general excitement as we got ready for the show.

Our dinner before the show was actually one of my favorite moments in Vegas. The food was good (we ate at Tom’s Urban in NY-NY) and we might have discussed Pure Country a lot. Mom ordered ghost pepper wings and basically stared down the waitress when she was warned that they’re the hottest pepper in the world. And then, to top it all off, as we stood up after dinner Mom reminded me she wanted to ride the roller coaster at NY-NY before the concert. So we did. I might have laughed at her the entire time. I’m kind of a pro at laughing at people on roller coasters.

The show definitely did not disappoint. (Okay, well, maybe I could have listed to Lyle Lovett open for another hour and George play all night but reasonable expectations are important.)

I sang along to each and every song. When I grew up, George Strait was in the tape deck on the way to every camping trip (except when the Mariners were on) and the sound track to more than a few family gatherings. On top of that, he’s the best looking 65 year old I’ve ever seen. Anyway.

The next day, everyone other than Amanda and I had to catch early (or really really early) flights so the two of us enjoyed a lazy morning getting out of the hotel, hit up their (free) Sunday bloody mary and mimosa bar, had one last brunch on the Strip and then headed to the airport.

I had been sort of nervous about this trip: it was a motley group of people and the common denominator was … me. In the end, it was fantastic. I even get to tease my mom for the time she forgot to tip the Transformer for the rest of time: “Bumble Bee need tip.”

Happy 8th Birthday Sprocky

Sprocket turned eight on Sunday. We woke up to snow gently drifting around the house and a couple of inches on the ground. I soaked up the loveliness of the light, some coffee, and the comfort of the couch for awhile before I remembered it was my sweet boy’s birthday.

There is little that my pupper loves more than to frolic in the snow. I knew the next move was to get dressed and head out for a run with him; especially since I had to head out for work shortly.

Guys, I forgot my phone.

That means there are no pictures. Which is probably fine. The weather was not particularly photogenic. The clouds were low and the snow was continually falling softly. The quiet, could not be captured on camera (even if it was occasionally punctuated by a plow on 550 below the trail).

But that also means there are no pictures of Sprocket running full out for a block and turning to look at me completely delighted.

There are no pictures of him standing in water just over his paws looking shocked I let him.

There’s no photos of me grinning in the perfect falling snow as I followed his wiggle-butt up the trail to the summit of Boot Hill.

I don’t have pictures of how perfect the little yuccas looked under their blanket of snow and how SP came to check them out with me.

There’s no video of him doing his best mountain bike impression zooming down hills to catch me after deer scents distracted him so I could get ahead.

There’s no capture of him nudging my hand before trying to get me to chase him on the path beside the river.

We put in almost five slow, snowy miles and I think I grinned the entire time. Back home, I ran in the house to capture this shot of me and my boy on his birthday. I’m a ridiculous dog owner but there’s nothing ridiculous really about loving a pup that loves life and helping me love life as much as he does.

Women Who Inspire: Launching Damsel NOT in Distress

Starting today, it’s time to bid adeu to 3Up Adventures.*

A lot has changed in my life, and more and more often, the world around me seems to be changing just as fast. I have grown substantially by embracing my ability to do things—I’ve worked on renovations, become passable at maintaining my vehicle, and feel pretty empowered to tackle projects and experiences of all kinds.


This blog will largely continue to be a record of my own activities and projects. One of the things that has always motivated me to write here is to create a record of places I’ve gone and things I’ve done first and foremost for myself. On the other hand, I do have some wonderful readers of this blog. It is a new goal of mine to bring you stories of other women doing inspiring things. I am not entirely sure what form that will take but I am excited to build that space.

Thank you so much to you all for following my adventures. I find the feedback that I get from readers who are inspired by *me* super inspiring.

 

What’s Changed? Where do I follow along?
  • Update your RSS feeds/readers to follow http://damselnotindistress.com/blog/. All new blog posts will be made only on Damsel NOT in Distress, although I’m attempting redirect 3Up traffic and links to the appropriate posts here.
  • Facebook made me start an entirely new page claiming my name was misleading to readers so you can find me there under “Damsel NOT in Distress.”
  • My Twitter and Instagram handles have simply been updated to the new name.

*3Up was named for my ex, Sprocket, and I all riding on our quad together. 3Up, the corollary for a couple and their dog instead of “2 Up” on a motorcycle.