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63. A Victim of the Life on the Mountain



62. Another installment of our "Nice Neighbors" series

We came home after a week in New Mexico . The weather was beautiful, not too cold but windy. The roads were dry.

It had snowed about two weeks ago, so we expected a little snow higher up

What we did not think of was the wind. Here was the first fallen tree. Fortunately, it was already in some one else's way who had a chain saw. He did not cut the tree all the way to the edge of the road but enough to get by. And since some one already had used the road before us there was hope it would continue all the way to our place

Snow started above Geyser's

Another amputated tree

Now this was the end. For a short time we considered hiking to our cabin and retrieving our chainsaw. It is about a mile there, plus a mile back, carrying the rather heavy chain saw. We decided to try our luck via Collinson


The amputated tree from the other side

This was Collinson where we had  to turn around because two fallen trees blocked the road

Helga had meanwhile  texted Tim and Becky that we were stuck and hiking to our cabin fetching our chainsaw. That was before we changed our mind. Where we were now there was no cell signal. We decided to drive to Tim's and Becky's place, hoping that they were there and ask them to lend us a chain saw.

Driving on Schierl when we came around a curve there was an ATV driving in the opposite direction. I never knew that a red Ranger could look so beautiful.

What happened was that Tim got the information from Helga about the tree blocking Schierl and us walking home. Tim and Becky did not wait long but jumped into their Ranger with the intent to help us. We explained the situation to them (they pointed out that it should be easy to find the tree blocking Schierl), they continued, we turned around (again) and followed them.

This is the "beautiful" Red Ranger

When we arrived Tim had already started cutting the tree

It took a while but finally the job was done.

We thanked Tim and Becky for all their work. Before they took off Helga had an idea: what happens if there is another tree blocking the road. Tim and Becky agreed  to drive ahead of us to make sure we don't get stuck again

We saw the Ranger a few hundred feet stopped again. There was another tree across Schierl

We cleared this tree off the road

Our hero, the old man from the mountain.

There was even a third tree which blocked the road and  had to be removed. Tim and Becky followed us all the way to our cabin to make sure there would not be a fourth tree preventing us from getting home.

A big THANK YOU to both of you





61. We have nice neighbors in FWCR. Cont.

As I had pointed out in #60. below we have nice neighbors in FWCR. Some come to help us with trees, other come by just for a chat and a cup of coffee and cake. We have oaths who just drop in for a short stroll around

Some visit us to admire our beautiful view



60. We have nice neighbors in FWCR. Very nice neighbors.

The story started with Tim offering to split the pile of cut tree trunks in our backyard. I refused the offer, of course, unless I could pay, an offer he refused. He told me it would only take him half an hour which I knew was just bragging. I finally accepted his offer, reluctantly but gratefully. He arrived next day with his splitter in tow. Tim was very efficient with his splitter and he might have finished in an hour had not his splitter given out. A part broke which ended our effort. During a coffee break he asked what we would be doing with the uprooted trees in our front yard. Helga did not like the view of three trees dying in our front yard and we had contemplated to hire some contractor to cut them up and remove them. 20 or even 10 years ago we would have done this ourselves but we're getting old. When Tim heard this he immediately offered to cut the trees himself and drive the branches to the slash pile, no big deal. This was an even more outrageous offer. We grew up self-sufficient, being able to do everything ourselves, without outside help. I put up an even more forceful fight, most likely subconsciously not wanting to admit that I was getting old. But Tim would not have it. I finally remembered that I had helped another neighbor for a few days upgrading his plumbing system, so I reasoned I had helped another neighbor and I should gladly accept Tim's generous offer.

Next day he showed up early with his chainsaw and had started cutting the first tree before we even had time to get our gear ready. When we were finally ready we joined Tim cutting branches and finally the entire tree. We were so busy that we did not even take pictures. After we were finished with the first tree we immediately attacked the second tree. This is where we took the first picture  


The second tree

End of Tree #2


What's left of the first tree; evening


Early next day Tim was here again with his Ranger and a trailer to load the branches


Our first trip to the slash pile


Loading the second trailer load

The third tree


Loading the third trailer load


Cutting up the last tree


A big thank you to Tim who, by the way, does not only help us for a cup of coffee but selflessly supports other neighbors too.




59. Wind Damage

Wind damage is not limited to uprooted trees or blown off shingles, wind can also damage solar systems.

I don't know if you still remember this picture which I put on the web page on April 4th of this year. When we came home on this day our solar array looked differently

The installation is about 9 years old. The panels were mounted with stainless steel screws, nuts, washers and split washers, as per instructions of the panel manufacturer. However, the manufacturer had not considered the wind conditions at our place in FWCR. What happened was the wind with its constant rattle had loosened the two screws on the windward side. One screw had lost its nut, the other screw was completely gone. Each panel is mounted with four screws. A major wind gust then flipped the panel over on top of its neighbor. I immediately tightened all other screws, all of which were not completely tight any more

Today, with finally little or no wind, I started repairing the panel. It was impossible to bend the frame back into its original shape. I had to cut  out the damaged part and replace it with a piece of  angle aluminum which I screwed to the remaining frame. The tempered glass cover had shattered when the panel hit the other panel, reducing the stiffness of the panel; with part of the original frame missing I wonder how stable the whole system is. We will see.

It took me almost an entire day to de-install the panel, find a solution how to repair it, re-install it, and put the entire array back into summer operation. If you wonder what the two chains are doing on a tracker: after some other bad experience I decided a tracker is not the right support for large solar panels at our location. So, I'm tying the tracker just down with a chain on either side.

The cracked surface glass pane and the missing  part of the original frame replaced by a piece of black angle aluminum

Why I'm telling the story? To let you know that it is a good idea to tighten the screws holding down the panels, especially when you have strong winds and when the panels are mounted on a tracker. I assume that it's not so critical when they are mounted on a fixed, unmovable, structure. A tracker, on the other hand, is constantly moving when the wind is blowing hard



58. Life and Death, part 2

This time it was not animals but trees which died. We're having a lot of dead trees in FWCR which were killed by the Spring Fire. Most of them were still standing. Last night and today we had an exceptionally strong wind which caused havoc with these trees, and even some living trees. All the following pictures were taken on our lot.

This is a living tree which is still supported by some Aspen


A tree blocking our hiking trail




57. A Burglar Caught on Camera

It was a dark and stormy night...., well, actually it was about 7:30, still light enough for taking pictures when we heard a short noise in the basement. Helga walked outside on the deck and saw a bear on our steps. She rushed back in to grab the camera and started shooting (only with the camera!)

What happened was the door was not securely closed; I only put a piece of wood between the handles of the two doors to prevent the door from being blown open by the wind. But this was not enough to stop the bear from ripping open the door, breaking the connecting piece of wood. Fortunately this was the only damage we suffered. Helga was waiting for the bear to come out of the garage but apparently it had run under the deck to the other side of the cabin and escaped Helga's attention. Never a dull moment on the mountain



56. A "New" Neighbor

The other day we met Jeff King, for us a new acquaintance. It turned out that he has owned his lot for many years (it is the lot formerly belonging to Ashley Spears). It's just that we never met him. The main reason I'm writing about Jeff in Life on the Mountain is the fact that he might be of interest and help to some residents in FWCR. Not only is Jeff a nice guy (aren't all of us in FWCR nice guys), but he is also a contractor for all different kinds of projects, willing and able to take on jobs in FWCR. 




55. Listen to the Weather Forecast!

Last Sunday the weather forecast predicted 2 to 3 feet of snow during the next 36 hours. This was the second out-of-season snow storm this year. The previous weeks were nice and very warm. We still had our pickup in our driveway, but decided that it would be prudent to drive it further down into the valley, especially, since the forecast also talked about temperatures below zero degrees (Fahrenheit!). On Friday we had observed a few hunters in a tent, on Spangle, right across the valley. With the bad weather forecast we expected them to move out on Sunday. In the afternoon we drove our pickup partway down and returned with the Argo. It was already getting dark and started snowing. On the way back we met a pickup on his way out. He stopped and we asked him if the others had also left. He told us that he was the last, he had a flat tire, and he was in a rush to get out before the storm. His wife in Colorado Springs had called him and told him they already had about two inches of snow on the ground. We wished him a safe trip on I 25 and continued our slow (Argo!) trip back. When we got home we were in the clouds and could not see anything but assumed the tent and the vehicles had disappeared.

On the following Monday there was no big surprise, we had received a good two feet of snow

On  Monday we were in the clouds, it was snowing on and off. We did not see much

There was a big surprise on Tuesday, though. We still could see the tent and the two vehicle. Apparently, the pickup driver we met on Sunday, and who had left, belonged to another hunting party

As you can see the guys had already tried to move their vehicles but had not been very successful

That was the end on Tuesday

On Wednesday morning, the weather was rather cloudy, they got re-enforcement

It took them a few hours to get the Jeep down to Brophy, and  to get the re-enforcement equipment unstuck

Early afternoon. the Jeep had disappeared, only the tent and the pickup with the attached utility trailer were left



All of a sudden there was a piece of equipment which had not been there before. We wondered what it was

Late in the afternoon a side by side appeared

The Jeep was parked at the intersection to Gray place

The side-by-side was heading towards the remaining pickup

Driving uphill in reverse


Now we know what the mysterious thing was: an ATV

But even with the laid tracks it was not easy to drive down to Brophy

They finally made it and are disappearing in the woods

There's some gap now in the reporting. While we were not looking they removed the pickup with the utility trailer and two of them came back and stayed in the tent.


When I got up early morning  on Thursday(it was still dark), I saw some blue light in the tent. Later, when it was a little lighter two of them were trying to get the Jeep going, which, apparently, was not so easy.

They were more under the car than in the car

After they made it down to Brophy, the suspense-packed story ended

We only observed normal hunting activities, with hunters driving along Brophy/Spangle and up to the tent. It will be interesting when and how they are going to remove the tent. But the weather forecast for the next several day calls for warm and sunny weather.

We don't need TV here. We can watch our own live action



54. Kay Playter, R.I.P.





52. Farewell Party for the Ericksons

Steve and  Lori have sold their cabin and will be alternating between their abode in  Colorado Springs and traveling in their motorhome, exploring our beautiful country. They invited their neighbors to a nice afternoon party during which they permitted us to take pictures. Here are a few of them

Fingerlickin' good

Bruce had a flat tire. Now he is trying to find the spare tire

He is supervised by four very active and helpful neighbors

We'll miss you, Steve and Lori


51. Sometimes it's not so easy to get to your cabin


Especially in winter

Ed has three possibilities to reach his cabin. During the preceding two days he had unsuccessfully tried two of them. So, we suggested he'd use the third (quite some detour) via Schierl. We offered to accompany him with the Argo 


Ed and his family arrived with a snowmobile, his new side-by-side Polaris General and a dog




First things first: coffee, cookies, situation discussion, warning of danger of sinking into the snow

The world famous tenor singing a dirge



"This is how the Polaris General floats on the snow"


Some exercise before the big adventure



Three teams: 4 with ATV, two with snowmobile, two with ARGO. Off we go

We decided that the snowmobile should go first, then the Argo and last the General (being the heaviest vehicle)


The General following in the Argo tracks


Here, the snowmobile had made a little detour, but was able to extricate itself


In front: the snowmobile


First trouble (actually, it was the second, but the first was minor). With the help of a rope and the Argo the stop was relatively short





All is well again: elk crossings, gorgeous weather, beautiful day

We're rolling again




Second trouble. This time a little more serious. At a steeper incline we decided that the snowmobile rider should lay a track and then return to pick up his passenger. When he turned around the snow was too deep and the snowmobile slid off the track into the abyss


We tried different kinds of retrieval, but only succeeded when Ed parked the General right above the snowmobile and used its winch to pull the snowmobile back up again.



Two critical observers


All of this had taken quite some time. Two ladies of the group decided to use snowshoes to continue on foot and lay tracks for the snow mobile.. When the snowmobile was back up we thought it would be better if the snowmobile would also take off without the passenger and we, by now reduced to two Argo inhabitants and three General riders (plus dog), would follow


We did not get very far before the third trouble stopped us again. I explored a little further with the Argo, but decided that even the Argo would not make it. The General got stuck a few feet further up. I turned around. The remaining party held a short briefing at the end of which we decided to leave the General where it was, the two ladies and Ed would hike to their cabin which was not too far away any more. Fortunately we had taken along two extra pairs of snow shoes which we lent to the ladies (Ed had big boots and no snow shoes)


Helga and I returned home, which was much simpler now, just driving in the existing tracks


What took us about three hours going west on Schierl, now took us only about half an hour

Never a dull moment


50. Life and Death on the Mountain

On another trip down into the valley we encountered the remnants of a gourmet dinner of a mountain lion.

This looks as if the animal had been killed quite some time ago

But here it looks as if this event had happened rather recently. Or maybe the animal was killed some time ago and another predator took advantage of whatever was left over.


49. Cutting Corners


On our way to Alamosa, we were almost in the valley, we got a surprise when we rounded one of the last corners on Merlo


The driver of the truck delivering Sam Brown's new log cabin underestimated our roads and took the first major corner too narrow and almost lost his trailer. The road, as you can see, was completely blocked


We did the same as the pickup which followed the truck. We turned around and drove all the way back to Schierl.



In the afternoon, at about 4:00PM we came back and watched how a large tow truck inch by inch extricated the trailer



On the other side other vehicles also got stuck - or were watching

Guess who this is



It was not easy








Finally, the trailer was back on solid ground. But how to proceed? The driver of the truck determined that this was enough and he would not continue. He had checked out the curves further up and decided he would not make it. But turning around where he was was not possible. First he tried himself to back up but did not get very far. The driver of the tow truck came to his assistance and was really able to back up the rig so that it was straight on the road.

Backing up meant the front of the truck had to plow through all the vegetation outside of the road.

I thought they were lucky that there was no major hole, rock or gully covered by the bushes


But he made it and all of us, except the tow truck, drove in reverse down the road


Until the unfortunate truck with the log cabin on his trailer got stuck once again

The tow truck driver helped him once more and was able to get the vehicle going again. We let them pass at the vehicle compound and started on our way back home


This is what Merlo looks now at the spot where the truck got stranded

Never a dull moment on the mountain



48. Rescue of a Neighbor


Originally, we had planned to come back to FWCR a week earlier, but then we noticed that Ken had no rope and no shovel when he would get stuck. So we delayed our trip by one week and planned to arrive just in time to help Ken.

Merlo Dip


And here he was


As mentioned before, Ken had no rope and ours was below all our luggage. But Helga dug it out.


We hitched the ATV to our Argo



And here it is







Never a dull moment


47. Taking Pictures

One of our neighbors whose cabin had burnt down during the Spring Fire asked us to send him a few pictures of his property, wishing to see what it looked like in winter. First we told him that the conditions this winter were so bad that he would have to wait a while. Fortunately, Glen with his snow cat had helped Vic to get his pickup down into the valley. And fortunately for us, he laid tracks on the roads we had to use to drive to the place where we intended to take pictures.

We drove down our driveway and turned into Schierl which looked good for a few feet, but when we hit the second snow drift things did not look so promising anymore






These were the tracks of the snow cat, but here they did not help; the snow drifts had melted and refrozen; we did not dare go over the second snow drift, which on the down side was vertical and about 5 ft high.


So, we circumnavigated the treacherous drift


This looks better


As you can see the snow is distributed very unevenly, and there is not much


The ride was very bumpy because the wind had compressed the snow rather dense.





On Spangle the snow was deep and we were following the tracks of the snow cat



However, the snow cat has a much higher ground clearance and we did not think it advisable to follow these tracks risking high centering. So we created our own tracks


The road was rather interesting




Some bizarre snow drifts


And some bizarre tree stumps from after the fire






San Isabel Electric cut a number of trees after the fire to prevent them from falling on the overhead electric lines



Occasionally we encountered other road hazards besides snow drifts


It was not easy to immediately find the right property, with the cabin missing and with all the snow cover, but we finally found it.


We put on our snow shoes and walked to the place where we suspected his cabin was located


Fortunately, the wind had blown the snow off some corner of the foundation



Stowing away the snow shoes


On the way back



And now this spot in motion


httpdocs/images/LoM47 Argo 2019.mp4



46. Treacherous Roads

At this time of the year as well as in spring our roads become rather treacherous. In the valley the roads are all dry and half way up the mountain the roads are dusty, then patches of very shallow snow and higher up more snow, but not much. Actually, there are plenty of tracks, everything looks smooth and innocent. "If other people drove there why should there be a problem for me"? The tracks in the snow, however, were mostly created by tracked vehicles. So you drive until you hit a lower spot which is covered by a foot of snow. When we started out for our daily walk we encountered a pickup truck on Powers right below our cabin. It stoped and we talked for a short while with the driver and his friends, hunters from Georgia. We warned them that a little farther on Powers there was a bad spot. They decided to turn around, asked politely if they could use our driveway to make the turn, turned around and were ready to drive back on Powers, down to Schierl. However, this is when their luck ran out and they got stuck in the snow. It was a big pickup truck, 4x4, with knobby tires, but it did not help, the wheels spun.


We tried to push



Fortunately, they were well equipped and had shovels and chains in the vehicle. We shoveled and pushed, put gravel under the wheels. It did not help. It was very windy and therefore a little chilly. Helga went back to our cabin to make coffee. While hiking back she took a couple of pictures of vehicles stuck on the other side (the place where I had warned the Georgians against)



The guy who got stuck must have called a tow service to tow him out.


With a lot of shoveling and pushing we finally got the vehicle moving again, but only for a few feet before it got stuck a second time



We tried to hitch it up to a tree using a come-along. Meanwhile I went to fetch additional ropes to be able to connect the come-along to a more convenient tree




The vehicle still would not move


It's difficult to mount chains when the vehicle is immobile and only the wheels spin. So we tried to coax the pickup onto the chains using the come-along




They finally got unstuck (and hopefully they made it down into the valley). This is Jim, George and Ralph

Never a dull moment on the mountain


45. First Snow Storm


One might think that people get smarter when getting older. this might be true for some, but not necessarily for others.

We drove home yesterday, returning from our fall camping trip, trying to beat the predicted snow storm. We were lucky, it did not snow and we were able to unload in dry weather. I immediately turned around and drove the pickup down, though, not expecting a major storm. In the last few years the weather forecasts were more on the pessimistic side; usually it did not snow much. But just in case. Helga followed with the Argo. I parked the pickup right behind the Merlo Dip. Helga wanted to go further down. "There won't be that much snow, and I have four-wheel drive". When we arrived home it started snowing, but very lightly.

Next day - today - we had more snow than predicted. Additionally, the wind was picking up and it still snowed. So we decided to see if we could move the pickup further down the road.



The pickup was snowed in and it took a lot of work to make it ready


We had agreed that Helga would go first with the Argo and I would follow in her tracks

The pickup was meanwhile warm and cozy; I shifted into "Low" and "Snow" and carefully took off. To my surprise and great pleasure the vehicle did not need Helga's tracks but drove easily without any difficulties, despite the fact that I did not have snow tires. So I passed the Argo and took the lead.The visibility was horrible


I could not figure out where the road was, but the going was good. Then I realized that the road was someplace else than where I was. No problem. I steered back in the direction of the road and had a bad surprise. My happy ride stopped in the ditch, which, of course, was filled with snow and not visible. All my four wheels just spun around without any traction whatsoever.




We shoveled around the wheels, hooked up the Argo and towed the pickup backwards out of the ditch. Note: writing it now is much faster than the actual action. But finally we got the pickup unstuck, I obediently followed Helga's tracks and parked the vehicle after an uneventful drive further down on Borman



On our way home



Time for a good espresso






This was the extent of the fire, covering approx. 110,000 acres


A total of 146 structures burned, 14 of which were located in FWCR


1. How It Developed


On June 27 at 15:25 we spotted smoke, quite some distance away.






We're getting calls that Forbes Park is under mandatory evacuation; FWCR is on pre-evacuation




The fire was growing fast. The wind has picked up



The wind has increased and has shifted blowing in our direction



The fire now is crossing over the ridge heading into Forbes Park




 The fire has become very big, fast, and uncomfortably close.

We're packing a few belongings and heading out. On the way down, we meet about 10 police cars, informing us that they were collecting any remaining FWCR residents still in FWCR. FWCR was now under mandatory evacuation.

So, we drove to the Community Center where we stayed overnight.

This picture was taken by Jim Drain


2. View from the Tower


FWCR received a Communication Tower a few years ago, built by Viaero, and fought against with gusto by some FWCR residents, which is equipped with a sophisticated web cam which can be remotely controlled. Some of us made good use of the camera and its capabilities and asked the nice operator to zoom in on their cabins hoping to see if they were still standing. Most of us just watched fascinated how the fire spread and how the airborne fire crews fought the fire.

The following are pictures taken of the Viaero video right off the monitor.




Creating a fire line


The fire line

3. Fire Fighters


We, the evacuees, lived for two weeks at the Community Center in Blanca-Fort Garland. During this time we observed how a new city grew in the fields behind the community center and was dismantled again after the fire was extinguished. The firefighters first came from nearby, then from Colorado and finally from all over the US until, at the end, approximately 1,700 fire fighters were fighting the Spring Fire.


Base Camp in the evening


Crew from Georgia


Returning in the evening


The National Guard was also helping




 Forest Service from Oregon







 After a few days the tent city overflowed


The Colorado Crew

4. Vehicles and Support Equipment


Wer zählt die Völker, nennt die Namen

As described before, there were fire fighters from all over the US. And with them came a multitude of different vehicles and different equipment. Here are a few samples:
















5. Walk to the Post Office


While we stayed at the Community Center we walked almost daily to the post office to pick up our mail. After 20 years of living here we finally got to know the area in more detail




 This was the day when the Forbes Park people (aka  the Parkers) were allowed to drive into the Park for four hours to inspect their cabins



 With Vic and Gabi

With the sherrif  who coordinated the traffic flow (and a little piece of ice cream)


This was also the day when LaVeta Pass, which had been closed for several days, was reopened. So we took the opportunity to see for ourselves how things were.




Things were not so good. There was ample justification for the closure of the pass


A short chat with the fire fighters on LaVeta Pass

6. Life at the Community Center


All evacuees were offered to stay in the Emergency Center at the Blanca/Ft. Garland Community Center

We were fortunate because we had our Trailer on the mountain for maintenance. When we left FWCR at 10 PM on June 27th we took our trailer with us and parked in the field behind the Community center



 Fortunately, for the second night we found a place with an electric outlet which allowed us to sleep comfortably during the night, with the A/C humming


We got a briefing every day at 1:00PM in the Gym which was also transmitted on Facebook and on the Internet. During this briefing we were informed about the fire (“growing” and “not contained” for many days), how many fire fighters were on the scene and what they were doing; when we could expect returning home (“no date yet; depends on the wind and the fire”); and eventually, where the fire was contained and, towards the end of the two weeks, when and how we could return.

The briefing was also translated into sign language (the lady on the right in the picture)


The line-up of the officials providing information


We got freshly prepared food three times a day. To my great surprise the food was not only edible and plenty, but in most cases well prepared and tasty. And to my even greater surprise and pleasure, most of the food was prepared without garlic.


The cafeteria


Plenty of drinks available for 24 hours (though, they forgot the whisky)


Cots for those who did not find a hotel room or did not have an RV (all hotels were solidly booked)


In the evening we could observe spectacular smoke clouds

7. Going Home 1


This was the day when FWCR was supposed to be officially informed about the status of our cabins. The previous day the county assessors had driven around in FWCR and taken pictures of our cabins. Today we would get the pictures


Green cabins were ok; orange cabins were burned


For most it was not much of a surprise because in many cases they already had seen – or not seen anymore – their cabin on the Viaero web cam. Though, a few were surprised, pleasantly, I may add, when they found out that their cabin was still standing.

The picture the Assessor took of our cabin

Studying the official documents


During the briefing on the 9th  the Creekers learned that instead of being allowed into FWCR for only 4 hours as the Parkers had done we could go back on the 10th for good. The electricity had been restored and everything was safe - except a few small fires (see next installment)


Now this is July 10th


The welcome committee

What fire?

The misery started at the intersection Schierl and Merlo



Our cabin is ok

A perfect stage for singing the National Anthem

What me out of tune?


8. Going Home 2


On the way home, we encountered another welcoming committee, this time from the Red Cross, handing out brooms, shovels, cleaning items and other necessities


Behind the cabin lots of areas were badly burned


The fire reached the cabin as close as about 1 ft


Those were steps right under the solar panels which burned completely, but fortunately the solar system was not affected


We had invited the Red Cross volunteers for some cake and coffee as a little thank-you for all their efforts


We went on a short explaratory hike, and what did we find


A small fire right below one of the pine trees


Despite all the devastation, life goes on


A little later a crew of firefighters came by on their routine check up. When I proudly showed them my efforts they pointed out where it still smoked (though I’m convinced that there must have been smoke without a fire 😊 )

This team was from Montana

9. Aftermath


Our cabin survived but not our forest behind the cabin
















The End



44. Wind Damage

This year we had the worst wind damage in FWCR that I can remember. Most trees across the roads were cut and removed by neighbors (see 43. Travel in Winter). But some trees, mainly on Powers, were/are so large that we don't have the size chainsaws to cut them. Tim will contract a professional wood cutter to remove these trees. Kenny supplied a few pictures of trees on the roads




43. Travel in Winter

We returned from a week of skiing, expecting the usual spring travel home, which is dusty at the low elevations, muddy higher up and getting closer to our cabin, snow. We noticed pretty on that there must have been some wind, with tree branches, some small, some larger, on the road. On the upper part of Schierl we encountered the first tree across the road. Fortunately it was cut and the uppper part was removed.


Shortly thereafter we encountered the second obstacle




Fortunately we had a vigorous young man in front of us who had arready cut the first tree and was in the process of cutting the second tree





I helped him pulling the tree out of the way


Using his winch




We moved a few branches out of the way. And on we went.

Thank you, Kevin and Mary!


42. X-Country Skiing on the Mountain

Kenny and Bettye told us that they would like to buy X-country skis and take up X-country skiing. We offered to lend them our skis so that they could try them out before buying skis and possibly finding out that X-country skiing was not as much fun as originally thought. That's what we did today

We loaded our two pairs on our snowmobile and met them while they were snowshoeing

First job, changing boots. For those of you unfamiliar with X-country skis: the boots and the binding go together. We also brought our boots, fortunately theu fit


Next Job, how to get the boots and the binding together



The problem with youngsters is always the same, they don't have the patience to wait until their ability matches their desire. And, of course, as all youngsters, "it wasn't my fault; the boots were too large and did not fit tightly enough"

Fortunately his dog came to his rescue



Women have more sense


Also, she has more support



Changing direction is sometimes difficult, especially when those boards are so awfully long and have the tendency to get cross with each other



But finally we managed


Meanwhile a complete rescue team had arrived, but fortunately no injuries were reported, except another bruised ego




In case you wondered: this was the method we transported two pairs of skis and two pairs of poles on our snowmobile

Kenny and Bettye decided they liked cross country skiing and they would buy equipment

Never a dull moment on the mountain



41. Yoga on the Mountain



We were in the clouds all day yesterday. The temperature did not go above 24 degrees and it was windy

We went for a hike

The trees were heavily covered with frost

We're in the clouds. The snow was deep. Helga told me to stand still, she wanted to take a picture

All of a sudden I lost my balance and fell forward into the snow. I stretched out my arms to push me back up again but the snow was too deep.

So I decided to make a somersault on the ground

But even this was not so simple, with the deep snow and the snowshoes on my feet

Eventually I rolled over, full of cold snow but without any major damage (except to my ego)

Fortunately Helga was able to laugh and take pictures at the same time

Never a dull moment on the mountain



40. Another rescue mission, this time unsuccessful

It was a rather soggy weather with rain on and off, sometimes heavy. Helga and I were on the computer when the telephone rang.  I answered and at the same time looked out the window. On our driveway I saw one of our neighbors on an ATV with his telephone trying to find out if we were at home. We immediately invited him in. He was rather cold because he had traveled quite some distance on his vehicle and the outside temperature was not conforming to the calendar.  Helga brewed some hot coffee and offered some Austrian cake. Our visitor then told us his story. He had just returned from Arizona towing a trailer with a 10,000-pound tractor on it. He was towing the trailer with a heavy duty Diesel truck with dualies (twin tires) in the back, in low four-wheel mode. Strong enough for anything. However, when it rains in FWCR, and that it did, just before he arrived, (remember yesterday’s picture?)


the roads become VERY slippery. No dualies, no Diesel, no low four-wheel helps. And he took a curve too far on the inside and his trailer slipped sideways and now he was stuck. We offered to help. After he had finished the coffee and had warmed up a little we took off, following him on his ATV with our pick-up. Meanwhile it was past 5 PM.


After several miles driving on a sometimes very slippery Powers Road we finally reached the place of the accident. Fortunately, it had stopped raining but the road at that spot had not dried at all.  It was very muddy.

As you can see the situation does not look good.


We discussed the situation how to best attempt to extricate the trailer. Our neighbor was concerned that if we move the trailer it might slip further down the slope. So we decided to stabilize the trailer sideways by tying it to a tree. Fortunately, we both had tow-ropes which we put to good use


Looking for a tree


After we secured the trailer so that it would not slip further sideways we tried to pull the trailer out with our two vehicles. My pick-up is only a so called quarter-ton, i.e. not very big, and, unfortunately, I had set up a service appointment for the next day with a Ford dealer because sometimes my four-wheel did not work. Of course, right here the four wheel did not engage. So on my side one wheel spun; on my neighbor’s truck one front wheel and one rear wheel spun; and the trailer did not move at all. I suspect, even with an operating four wheel on my part we would not have been able to pull the trailer out. The road just was still too slippery.

The only help we now could offer was to transfer all his food stuff for his intended stay of 10 days from his vehicle to ours. We brought everything to his cabin so that at least he did not have to go hungry. His vehicle and the trailer we left where they were hoping that no one would be using Powers Road this evening. A hunter whom we met on his way down Powers we told that Powers was blocked.

Epilogue: This morning we saw a tow truck pass by our cabin. We hope that these professionals with better equipment will be able to extricate our neighbor’s truck and trailer 

Later: Kevin told me that the tow truck was able to pull his truck plus trailer out of his predicament without a problem, using his two winches

All is well that ends well





39. Frozen Carburetor

When we drove home with our Argo last week we got stuck in a bad snow drift on our drive way. No big deal. We just left it there and hiked the last few hundred feet home. Next day I had a migraine and did not want to shovel, but Helga could not resist. She shoveled for a while, started the engine but was unable to shift into reverse; so she shut off the engine. And this is when the misery started (As everyone can see it was clearly Helga's fault). When I later tried to fire up the engine it did not catch. No sound other than the starter turning it over. I tried with choke, without choke; in idleand with the throttle fully open. Nothing. So there were two possibilities: either no gas, or no spark. The tank was 3/4 full but I still added gas until the tank was full full. No change. I unplugged the gas line and checked the fuel pump; the fuel pump worked. I unscrewd a spark plug: there was a spark. I poured gasolin directly into the carburator and the engine roared to life as long as I poured gas into the carburator. I even called one of our FWCR neighbors, Jonathan, who has the sales and service in Alamosa of the type of engine which drives the Argo.  He agreed with me that it was clearly the carburator. I had taken the carburator apart 4 years ago, but was not very enamored by the idea of having to replicate this exposed to below freezing temperatures and a strong wind, on an incline. Fortunately yesterday there was less wind and it was a little warmer so we decided to try towing the Argo with the snowmobile into the shed. I was a little sceptic if the snowmobile could pull the Argo but it was worth a try. I had taken out the battery, fully recharged it and reinstalled it. When I tried to start the engine, see above. So we shoveled around the Argo and under the tracks and were able to pull it out of the snow drift onto more terra firma. But this was downhill.

Now came the big question. Will it work uphill? We prepared the Argo, lined up the snowmobile, connected both with a sturdy rope, made a clear plan how to tow and where to and then started the snowmobile





I revved the snowmobile engine, but no movement. I tried a second time; the only result was that I smelled the V-belt. So we gave up. A snowmobile is not designed to tow heavy loads.

Today there was no wind at all and it was even warmer than yesterday. Just to make sure, I repeated my routine with the Argo and a fully charged battery in the morning. No luck. So I decided to call the resident Good Samaritan and asked him if he could tow the Argo with his Ranger into our shed. Kenny immediately agreed to help me and promised to come at about noon.He called when he was on his way and I made preparations for him to tow the Argo. But just in case, the temperature had risen to 35°, I turned the ignition key. And the engine fired up without a problem.

Our thanks for Jonathan and to Kenny for their help.



38. Other Neighbors

Most of our neighbors in FWCR are nice and considerate. Most but not all.

It started out that Helga got an e-mail with a complaint that after a 10 hour ride with his buddies he found out that he was unable to drive to his cabin even with a four wheel vehicle. He asked who could drive him there or where he could get such a vehicle. As an afterthought he said he would pay. Helga directed him to Mark's in Alamosa where he could buy or rent a tracked vehicle or a snowmobile.

A day later, just after sunset, he called and told me that he and his four friends had reached his cabin whith snowmobiles but another vehicle (ATV?) was stuck somewhere on the way. He asked if I knew someone who could tow it out with an Argo (I got the very strong impression he meant me). I told him it was getting dark in half an hour, but this did not bother him (it would have taken us an hour to get to his place). He had four friends with him and expected a 78 year old couple to extricate his vehicle. I gave him the telephone number of a neighbor closer by and hope that this guy also told him to fly a kite.

We have helped quite a number of neighbors over the years who ran into a problem. But just to expect neighbors to assist you when you're unwilling or too lazy to help yourself  is not the FWCR way.



37. Life and Death on the Mountain

Tim and Becky watched a very unusual event, right in their back yard, a mountain lion killing a deer. They were able to take a number of pictures, some of which I'm publishing below

Tim 1
Mountain Lion 2
Mountain Lion 3
Mountain Lion 4