Twenty Shades of Green: hiking Newlin Creek Trail

 

left to right: Dan Lukshandler, Doris Dembosky, Debbie Rabinowitz, Steve Bauer, Carmel and Dave Huestis, Rein Barnes, Becky and Bill Mazurek

left to right: Dan Lukshandler, Doris Dembosky, Debbie Rabinowitz, Steve Bauer, Carmel and Bob Huestis, Rein Barnes, Becky and Bill Mazurek. Photograph by Phil Rabinowitz

“Intrepid”  is the only word to describe Club America’s Senior Hikers who braved the icy waters on Newlin Creek to boulder scramble their way through and up The Wet Mountain canyon to Herrick’s 1887 sawmill. It is a short hike – only four and a half miles round trip with an elevation gain of only 1,360 feet, but the length of the hike is by-the-book. Yesterday’s hike was nothing like a dry book.

Wading through water that channeled down the hiking path and the swollen creek that overran its banks, our only option was to laugh.  Our laughter took the form of black humor. At times we called out “Shark!” or “Piranha!” Given the temperature of the water, it was more likely that we might have sighted an iceberg off a nearby glacier.

2015 05 28 newlin 057For the first half mile or so we gamely tried to ford the raging water by crossing on logs, but the logs proved unstable and the rocks too slippery.  When the logs ran out, we were forced to wade.

Once we had braved the water, the die was cast. When you are wet, you are wet. Unless you lose your footing and fall in, you can’t get wetter. As it was, tall hikers got wet to their knees; shorter hikers got wet to mid-thigh. On our return, we skipped the logs entirely. Like dogs on the scent, we stepped into the water without a backward glance.

2015 05 28 newlin 031We were on an adventure. True, it was a small adventure: it was unlikely we would be swept away and drown, but Thursday’s hike up the canyon was extraordinary. We saw everything more clearly: the sky was bluer, the water frothier, the canyon walls taller, and the flowers more abundant. Candytuft, white Violets, red Columbine, Arnica (“Does anyone need something for pain?”), Bluebells, and 20 shades of Green paved our way.

Wading and bouldering our way up the canyon to Herrick’s 1887 sawmill was an exercise in appreciation. Here was a man with vision and frontier guts. The creek runs down the middle; the hiking trail crosses and re-crosses the creek twenty times; and trees crowd in on either side.

2015 05 28 newlin 075It is hard to imagine Nathaniel (his wife Harriot and their children) transporting his equipment, five horses, one mule, two log wagons, and a Studebaker wagon with log chains up to his work site. Having approached the mill site  from the east, we wondered if maybe Herrick had come in from the west – off Oak Creek Grade maybe.

Additionally, Herrick had to haul in a huge steam boiler and flywheel. His plan was to mill lumber for the mining camps to the north. Herrick died the same year that he built the mill – a true case of Dream Deferred.

 

2015 05 28 newlin 013

In addition to signage at the mill site, the United States Forest Service drew our attention to the endangered status of the Greenback Cutthroat Trout – the only trout native to the South Platte and Arkansas River basins.  Because of its endangered status (same old same old: loss of habitat, over-fishing, and the introduction of non-native trout) fishing is prohibited along Newlin Creek where restoration efforts are underway.

2015 05 28 newlin 007Local readers can easily find Newlin Creek off SH 67, 4.3 miles south of Florence. A sign to Newlin Creek, CR 15, is posted on the west side of the highway. The road to the parking lot is deeply rutted. 4-wheel drive and high-clearance is essential. If your vehicle does not feature both, park your car before you reach the parking lot.

Phil and Debbie Rabinowitz plan the weekly hikes. Keep up-to-date with Club America’s next hike and destination. Contact them at debbiephil70@gmail.com. Ask them to add your name to the senior hiking mailing list. You may have missed the most exciting hike of the season. Or maybe not. You never know what lies beyond the next bend.

Nature trumps Man once again. Like me, you have probably planted a tree, only to see it wither and die despite your tendering it with compost and fertilizer. Nature, on the other hand, just does what it has to do. The boulder is not in front of the tree, but under the base of the tree. The roots did what they had to do.

Nature trumps Man once again. Like me, you have probably planted a tree, only to see it wither and die despite your tendering it with compost and fertilizer. Nature, on the other hand, just does what it has to do. The boulder is not in front of the tree, but under the base of the tree. The roots did what they had to do.

 

 

 

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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