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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Exploring Steamboat Springs, Colorado



Last weekend in Steamboat Springs I appeared on a local television station, Steamboat TV18, and then at the local bookstore for a reading. One of the best things about Steamboat Springs is Erica, owner of Epilogue Book Company, an independent bookstore with a great collection of western literature. Erica, thank you for welcoming me to Steamboat!

I also met a few of the local personalities and visited with some wonderful folks from Deep Roots, a newly formed group dedicated to the growing and raising of local food. They were intrigued with my stories of rearing my son and daughter on a small family ranch in Wyoming.


After the TV interview, John and I headed over to the Fairgrounds. Steamboat hosts a great rodeo during the summer months. Though we were too late in the season for a performance, we were lucky enough to stumble onto the facilitities where Sombrero Ranches keeps some of their horses. Randy, one of the wranglers, eased up on his morning chores and took time to visit. Sombrero is the largest outfitter in Colorado, having between 1600 and 1800 horses in their remuda. That's a lot of horses. During the off-season, the horses are moved to winter range, with the exception of the older ones, who spend their winters in milder, lower-altitude pastures.


We had fun watching "Biggen" (nickname for one of Sombrero's big wranglers) fit some new shoes to Wonder, a large palomino draft horse. The two didn't quite see eye-to-eye, so it had its interesting moments and reminded me of a book I'm reading right now - Horses: From Our Side of the Fence by Sandy Lagno. She relates, in a respectful way, "what horses show her telepathically." It's a fascinating read. Chapters include the "visual" impressions she has received from brood mares, stallions, wild horses, slaughter houses, training horses, etc.


Later that day, we hiked up to Fish Creek Falls, only a short drive from town. This spectacular waterfall cascades down over nearly 300 verticle feet of rock. You can hike close enough to feel the spray on your cheeks. Fish Creek, located in Routt National Forest, is fed by several small lakes near Rabbit Ears Pass in Colorado and drains an immense area. We had our choice of several trails from moderate to more difficult hiking. Though we didn't take it, there is a trail that leads up past the falls, then along the creek and eventually to Fish Creek Reservoir, which sits at about 9800' altitude.

Next time you visit this beautiful old ranching town, make sure you stop in at Erica's, and then walk across the street and poke your nose in F.M. Light & Sons. Four generations of the same family have run the store, outfitting the West for over a century. I bought John a black and white paisley "wild rag" for his birthday, and unless he's reading this blog, it will be a surprise.

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