Places: Simmons Peak

Story and photo by Ericka Kastner

As of the writing of this column, snow had not yet fallen in Central Colorado’s banana belt, making it pertinent to write about hiking places rather than snowy adventures for December. Should a descent of the white stuff begin to grace the San Luis Valley and accumulate by the time this piece is published, the road approaching the route would be a fabulous cross country ski, and the trail at higher elevations would provide beautiful and challenging terrain for snowshoeing.

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Sculptor Chris Byars: A Salida Original

By Mike Rosso

It’s quite likely there may never have been an arts scene in Salida without the arrival of sculptor Chris Byars. One of the ironies of this is that many recent artists to town have never even met the man.

While on a back roads tour of Colorado in 1971, the Denver native stopped in Salida to visit his older brother Jack, who was living there at the time. The following weekend, Chris followed suit.

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Rocks Along the Rainbow

By Vince Matthews

The Rainbow Trail affords an outstanding opportunity to travel through deep time. The trail wends around two of Colorado’s youngest mountain ranges, which together contain 25 of the State’s 58 Fourteeners. The footpath traverses parts of Earth’s crust that record much of Colorado’s 2-billion-year-old history. Faults and folds along the trail record times of crustal deformation. Rocks that were metamorphosed 1.8 billion years ago record Colorado’s oldest-known, mountain-building event. Colorful conglomerates record the 300-million-year-old mountain-building event that gave rise to the Ancestral Rocky Mountains. The high elevations of the Sawatch and Sangre de Cristo Ranges are testaments to the mountain-building event that is currently transpiring. Glacial deposits along the trail record times of great climate change.

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Taking Flight in Villa Grove

For a week or so this summer, the majestic Sangre De Cristo mountains served as the backdrop for a colorful array of gravity-defying crafts, catching thermals and drifting on the wind.

Dubbed Colorado Fly Week, an event held this past July just east of Villa Grove hosted nearly 130 hang gliders and paragliders from all over the U.S., testing their skills, enjoying the views and raising money to improve access to their launch point. Flyers enjoy the valley view after launching from a nearby bluff, a fifteen-minute drive up from the landing zone (LZ). Along with various festivities, there is a friendly competition based on a number of factors, including total air time and altitude gain. One flyer managed to soar all the way down the Sangre De Cristo range to Taos, New Mexico, where he reportedly spent the night in a homeless shelter due to the fact that he carried no money on his flight.

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