Wild Ride II

Rio Grande in Costilla County, CO

Looking upstream here. Yes, that’s the Rio Grande.

Turn 180° from where I shot the previous Rio Grande image from an ancient trestle bridge in Costilla County, Colorado and this is what you get. Hard to believe, isn’t it? The mountains in the background make up the Mount Blanca massif and probably have names, but everyone I know just calls the whole thing “Mount Blanca.” The higher peaks are over 14,000 feet. Its fearsome presence always shakes me.

The air was hazy to the north that day, which softened the view in an unusual way for such a powerful wild place. This scene breaks all kinds of perceptual boundaries for me. I feel like there should be hippos here, maybe zebras on the plains, or grazing dinosaurs.

  • Rita August 11, 2017, 9:56 AM

    Wow. Gorgeous. Thank you.

    • JHF August 18, 2017, 8:36 PM

      You’re welcome. Population in that county is about three people per square mile, but where I took that photo has gotta be under that.

  • Sherry August 11, 2017, 1:55 PM

    What a great birthday present to yourself! And many more, my friend.

    • JHF August 18, 2017, 8:37 PM

      Thanks! It certainly was a most amazing day. I’ll post a picture of where we ate lunch shortly.

  • M.J. August 14, 2017, 7:33 PM

    Sounds like a great birthday appreciating God’s creations! Just gorgeous!

    • JHF August 18, 2017, 8:51 PM

      And virtually alone most of the time. That’s what’s incredible to me. You can’t do that everywhere.

  • Kerry Jones August 17, 2017, 4:35 AM

    One of my favorites, too. Thanks for the post! My late friend and colleague who grew up in Texas would often tell a story of his first encounter with a wonderful tributary of The Río — the Rio Conejos. He went into a small convenience store in Antonito and asked “Can you tell me the way to the ‘Reee O Coney Joe!'” I now laugh and shed a tear as I cross it a few times a year going to and fro. Somehow we made it to the to top of Blanca in 2000. Little Bear Peak next door is one of the most difficult and dangerous 14ers in CO.

    • JHF August 18, 2017, 8:40 PM

      Blanca is very scary from a distance. I can’t imagine it would be anything but dangerous up close. All those fourteeners between there and, say, Crestone—talk about another scary place—are damn impressive. I live living in a landscape that can kill you, though.

      “Ree O Coney Joe,” I love it!

  • Tim August 18, 2017, 7:35 PM

    When I lived in Colorado Springs, I used to always take US-160 through Durango whenever I headed back to California to visit my parents. I remember well both the Blanca and Spanish Peak mountains – they’re both really “in your face” as they thrust up out of the flat countryside 🙂 Beautiful area.

    Speaking of “animals that should be here”, if you ever make it a bit further north to Colorado Springs, and have a chance to head west on US-24, make sure to stop at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. At 8200 ft elevation, it was a wonderful surprise when I first stopped and saw their semi-fossilized redwood tree stumps, and the insects embedded in amber. Turns out that before the Rockies went through their teenage uplift years, it was all a swampy area next to the inland sea. Makes me not feel so old 🙂

    • JHF August 18, 2017, 8:49 PM

      Hi Tim, thanks for the fossil beds tip. That’s just the kind of thing I stop for! I love knowing about the geology of an area I’m exploring.

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