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By Rick Stinchfield
Special to The SUN
“If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees.” — Hal Borland.
The timely arrival of monsoon pattern rains brings the return of free walks and talks sponsored by the Pagosa Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest.
All programs are open to anyone with an interest in learning more about the complex and fascinating area surrounding Pagosa Springs.
On Thursday, Aug. 15, at 9 a.m., Pagosa Ranger District Forester Steve Hartsvigen will lead an interpretive program to view and talk about the reasons for, and effects of, beetle-caused die-off of Engelmann spruce around Wolf Creek Pass. Originally scheduled for early July, this program was postponed by the West Fork Complex Fire, which exhibited extreme fire behavior in areas of beetle-killed trees. The meeting place for this hike will be the large parking area at the junction of U.S. 160 and Forest Road 039 (the Falls Creek Road) about 17 miles northeast of Pagosa Springs.
One of the many benefits of summer rains in Pagosa Country is the emergence of a wide variety of mushrooms in the evergreen forest. Gretchen Fitzgerald will lead a slow-paced walk in the Williams Creek area to identify mushroom species on Friday, Aug. 23, at 10 a.m. The program will begin at the Williams Creek Trailhead. Turn off U.S.160 onto Piedra Road (County Road 600 and Forest Road 631), drive 22.3 miles and turn right on Williams Creek Road (Forest Road 640); continue to the trailhead, at its end.
For many years, local researcher Peggy Bergon has collected photographs of arborglyphs — carvings on aspen trees done by Hispanic sheepherders dating from the late 1800s to the 1950s. On this three-mile walk, you will see many of their writings and artworks while learning about the early sheep industry in Archuleta County. The program will meet at the Buckles Lake (V Rock) Trailhead on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 9 a.m. Drive south on U.S. 84 for about 19 miles, turn left on the Buckles Lake Road (Forest Road 663) and follow it to the end in about seven miles. Due to the nature of the walk, it is limited to 12 participants; to reserve a spot, call the Pagosa Ranger District at 264-2268.
All programs are outside and everyone should be prepared for rapid changes in weather. Sunscreen, sufficient water and appropriate footwear make the hikes safer and more enjoyable.
Please leave canine companions at home.
Hikes usually last two to three hours.
For more information on any of these programs, call 264-2268.