Did you know that there are plants growing along creeks and hills in the Denver area that can be used to treat a toothache, help disinfect a wound, or make rope?
Plant knowledge is crucial information for anyone who spends time outdoors from the amateur hiker to the professional ecologist. Your nature experience is enriched when you can find and identify useful plants growing all around you. In fact, this knowledge could be used to save your life.
Spend a full day with Cattail Bob finding, identifying, sampling over one hundred edible, medicinal, poisonous (don’t sample these), tool making, and smokable plants that grow everywhere in the Denver Front Range.
After probably more than a decade of wanting to, I finally visited the weirdly named Wheeler Geologic Area in a remote area of Colorado. I forget where I heard about it first but it sounded interesting and never forgot about it. Jump right to the photos and video: Backpacking Wheeler Geologic Area
History from southern-colorado.guide.com
In 1907, Frank Spencer, the supervisor of the Rio Grande National Forest, had been instructed to identify areas that might be worthy of becoming a national monument. He had heard rumors of a hidden place in the La Garita Mountain which the Utes referred to as the “The Sandstones.” He began searching for what is today Wheeler Geological Area. After finding this unique area, Spencer traveled to Washington to push for making this area a national monument.The problem with visiting was that it is rather out of the way. It is a 5 hour drive from Denver plus time for gassing up and getting something to eat. So it is about 6 hours of travel meaning that an extended weekend is best but the site is actually quite small. For years I passed it over and did other things instead. There are a lot of potential places to go and things to see on a long weekened.
On December 7, 1908, President Roosevelt proclaimed Wheeler National Monument. It was named in honor of Captain George Wheeler who led the War Department’s surveying team through Colorado. Wheeler Geological Area was on National Forest Land so the Forest Service managed the area. It was recommended that a good road be built to the area so tourists could see it. This suggestion was not followed and the only way to view Wheeler Geological Area was by foot. After World War I a horse trail was developed complete with a cabin, corral, and picnic area. With the invention of the automobile and no road, very few visitors ever saw the unique formations. The park service was not interesting in building a road so the local people of Creede pushed for building a road. With a lack of money this road never materialized.
In 1944, M.R. Tillotson, director of Region Three of the National Park Service, visited Wheeler Geological Area. He did not find Wheeler unattractive but was much more impressed with the ride into the monument than the formations themselves. He felt that Wheeler was not outstanding enough to be considered a National Monument and urged that it be returned to National Forest. So on August 3, 1950, only 43 years after becoming a National Monument, Wheeler was changed back to a National Forest area and today we have Wheeler Geological Area.
At last I decided to make the trip over the Labor Day weekend. And I even planned to spend an extra day there to maximize my time in the area. Day 1 I would just drive out to the regular trailhead and camp out. That would let me get a relaxed start to the trip. Day 2-3 I would take the backpacking trail to the formations and spend the night there before returning to the trailhead and camping out again. Day 4 I would sleep in and leisurely enjoy the campsite before driving home.
The trip was a good one although I must admit it really is a small area of formations with only 1 great spot for photos. It is a surprise to me that it was ever a National Monument. Also surprising were how many people were there. Of course it was a holiday weekend but still it was surprising. Also the 4x4 road that has such an offputting reputation was totally drivable as evidenced by the number of stock pickups at the 4wd trailhead. When I backpack, I like my destination to be somewhere that you can't simply drive to.
Bulk loading to vidme is well underway. Until I am "verified" I have a 3GB cap per week so it will be a while yet. I have a handful of followers so far but hopefully that will increase steadily. That platform is so small compared to YouTube. That is good and bad.
I snuck out of work early for Secrets of the wild edible, medicinal, poisonous and useful plants of the plains. This was part of a wilderness awareness/survival skills group that I keep an eye on for interesting classes. It's only been the second one I've gone to in several years with this group. It was in a local park on the way home so super convenient. I invited Alana and we were both late but at least we made it and there was only one other person besides Andrew the instructor. It started off a little slow but ended up being very worthwhile. I learned to recognize several new plants so it was a success. Later that weekend I returned and picked some prickly pear tunas (which were past their prime) and then discovered some salsify gone to seed right there. I should have collected some of those seeds to plant in my sad little wild food garden.
Quality time with my sister this week. I think it stacked up well against last year's activities. Pictures to come. I would say I planned a perfect getaway.
Fun was had by all!
"One travels more usefully when alone, because he reflects more." — Thomas Jefferson