Monday, August 06, 2012
Up on Kenosha Pass
aspens we took on a visit up here.
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Looks like the rain gauge had been replaced by this new solar-powered weather station.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?