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The Sangre De Cristos Mountains

Maybe it was the full moon, maybe the enjoyment of less work with Grayson along, maybe the excitement of getting closer and closer to the last of the major mountain chains in the Rockies- no I think it was the full moon- but man were we hyper today! Grayson made some sort of joke about “yo ho yo ho- a cowboy’s life for me” and of course- that song was stuck in our heads ALL day! We walked like 7 miles today- too energetic to sit on a horse at a walk. We even skipped lunch- we had too much energy to bother to stop! I’m sure the brownies Grayson made for us added to the energy! :)

We passed a really cool looking ‘grulla’ colored horse. They are mouse-gray with stripes on their legs and down their back. But this particular one had marking around its eyes that looked like it had makeup on. It was quite interested in our horses, so it was easy to get pictures of him.

We stopped a number of times today to adjust Satchmo’s saddle. It seems to keep sliding back, and we are experimenting with various ways of padding it. We think the problem is that all of our horses’ backs have changed shapes and now our saddles are too wide or not fitting properly- on any of them. There is a pad company that specializes in saddle pads that help horses be comfortable under a saddle that does not fit them properly. We will be giving them a call when we get to cell reception…..

The clouds finally cleared enough today for us to get a peak at the Sangre de Cristos Mountains (“blood of Christ”). They are quite stunning, very pointy, and steep and tall. They remind us very much of the Tetons at home. We asked the locals why the mountains had this name. The first explanation was that when the sun goes down on some days, the mountains reflect bright red. Ok. That’s nice. So do a lot of other mountains. I wasn’t convinced. I mean, this is a pretty powerful name- it had to have a better reason. So we kept asking. The next explanation we got was that there is a peak in the range that, when the snow melts, it leaves snow in the shape of a cross a lot longer than the rest of the snow- every year. That’s pretty cool- I could buy that explanation. But then, as we rode closer, we were able to see the base of the mountains. The bottom third of the mountain was covered in an unusual and distinctly different vegetation than the top two thirds of the mountain. Most mountains are covered in some variety of tree that is either fairly consistent from top to bottom, or the vegetation blends to something different as the elevation changes. This mountain was very different from anything we’ve seen- the trees simply stopped two thirds of the way down- and the bottom third was covered in an oak type bush that- at least at this time of year- was red. Not only was it red, but the bushes followed the crevices and ravines in the mountain where water flows and looked like they were running in rivers down the mountain to pool at the bottom. Pictures, of course, do not do it justice, but we all agreed that it looked like rivers of red running down the mountain. We may never know the real reason for the name, but we did enjoy the distinct beauty of this stand-alone mountain range.

One more night of being spoiled by Grayson, then up and over we go! Too bad they’re predicting snow tomorrow…..


  1. well, see you’re on route 50 now. if you follow that out it’ll take you right past uncle Joel’s house and on to the coast in Maryland.

    Saw 15 deer opening morning, didn’t get any though.

  2. The name ‘Sangre de Christos’ may date back to the era of the Conquistadores. Sometimes, at dawn, they definitely look pinkish-red.

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