Monday, August 06, 2012

Up on Kenosha Pass

Yesterday Connie and I took the dogs up to Kenosha Pass to do some hiking around and to see if we could get out of the heat. It was actually pretty warm up there, about 80 degrees. Last fall I posted some pictures of aspens we took on a visit up here.

The dogs had lots of fun. The pups are getting on toward full grown. They each weigh about 42 pounds and Buck is as tall at the shoulder as Sadie is now. They got their rabies shots week before last.
We took an old two-track up to the top of a south-facing ridge, where we saw this old-school precipitation gauge. There was also a radio repeater station with a bunch of antennas, mostly focused south.  

Looks like the rain gauge had been replaced by this new solar-powered weather station.

There was an awesome view south into South Park from some open areas in the aspen groves on the ridge top. I believe that's the Collegiate Peaks down on the far horizon.

The most interesting thing we saw though, was this collapsed dug-out structure that was a few hundred yards away from the weather station and radio tower. A reminder, as always you can click on these pictures to enlarge them for better viewing. 

This picture is taken from the down hill side into the open end of the excavated area. Somebody moved a lot of dirt to built this thing. The wood for the roof appears to be all aspen timbers. I looked pretty closely at the ends of the timbers looking for ax or saw marks, or even the tell-tale chewed-off look that stone axes leave. I didn't see any marks at all, leading me to believe that the builder gathered down timber rather than cut anything.

Another thing I found interesting was the timbers appear to be arranged in a circular pattern, maybe in a conical fashion, rather than bridging straight across from the edges of the excavation. I'm assuming there must have been some central post to prop the timbers against, but I couldn't identify one in the mass of poles.

If you look closely in the middle of the picture, you'll see a live aspen growing right through the middle of the pile of collapsed timbers. That is an old aspen, maybe six to eight inches in diameter I believe that would have to push the date for this thing back into the Nineteenth century anyway. You could core the tree to determine its age and see.

We walked around and around this thing, especially checking down hill, and couldn't find any artifacts at all. So we got no clues from that avenue. Also didn't see any other features around it like hearths or pits.

I have to stress that this isn't where you would typically site a dwelling. There is no water source within half a mile. It's on an exposed ridge top where you would catch a lot of weather. Your only saving grace is some warmth from the southern exposure. My gut feeling is this was built for the view south. 

I have seen a lot of accounts from this part of the world of Native American wickiups, lean-tos, or tipi-like lodges built of aspen poles like these. Some of these are still standing though they were built in the second half of the Nineteenth century. Euro-american structures in the mountains from this time period are usually conventional cabins. Dug-out structures were usually resorted to out on the prairie where there wasn't enough timber to build a "proper" house. This thing seems to combine both Native American and Euro-american features.

What do you think?  


Darrell said...

I think the Collegiates would be more to the southwest... if you're looking south that's probably Waugh Mtn and its neighbors along the south end of S. Park, or Black Mtn and Thirtynine Mile in front of Waugh and co.

The Collegiates are more jagged, and peek over the Mosquito range on the west side of S. Park. :)

Reid Farmer said...

Thanks, I imagine you are right!

Chas S. Clifton said...

Seems like way too many poles for a tipi, so may be it is more of a "debris shelter" with the outer layer fallen off, which could have been made by most anyone.

Or else Bigfoot did it.

Gil said...

It's good to see the Aussies doing well. How much bigger weight-wise do you expect the boys to get? Handsome pooches...

Anonymous said...

How very interesting! I found something somewhat similar once, that may or of course, may not be an old Native shelter. Roaming in a remote area of the Appalachians on the Tennessee/N.C. border, far, far from any roads or even trails(other than game trails), I blundered into a neato rock shelter created by a massive rock overhang--a completely natural shelter. But there was an obviously manmade windbreak built up with rocks on one side--I just assumed some roaming hunter in the recent past did it. I visited this spot regularly--there was a marvelous upper valley FULL of game--turkey, deer and bear--that NOBODY ever visited--a secret, safe valley from human encroachment(except for me, but I'm barely human, and I never disturbed any animals there--I considered the place sacred and inviolate). And the more I visited this shelter, the more I came to believe it was REALLY old--I never found a trace of trash or other modern evidence--even old hunting camps used only a time or two virtually always have an old bottlecap or bit of glass or tin. NOTHING like that anywhere around this place--and out of curiousity, I dug around, too, looking for such. And I came to believe it was a very old Cherokee hunting camp--the proximity of that valley full of game may have been the incentive to camp there--regularly enough to erect a substantial rock windbreak. I never found any arrowheads or other such sign, either, though, but I didn't dig very deep either.....L.B.

Reid Farmer said...

It's good to see the Aussies doing well. How much bigger weight-wise do you expect the boys to get? Handsome pooches...


Thank you! I'm guessing they'll top out in the 50-55 lb range. But that's just a guess based on looking at their parents