December 2017 print of the month

This picture was one from an early spring hike into Devil’s Head Fire Tower along the Colorado front range. It is not such a long hike except for the fact that the Forest Service closes the access in winter to the campground only a mile away from the watch tower, effectively making it a 4+ mile round trip hike… in snow.

Devil’s Head Fire Tower is the only remaining watch tower in Colorado that is still staffed by the National Forest Service for early notification of fires in the area. There are several others still in existence, but they are not staffed by the National Forest Service. Interestingly you can rent one and spend the night there.

Once you get to the rocky promontory, known as Devil’s Thumb, it is easy to see what’s next. The climb up the 143 steps to the station is a bit harrowing. Someone decided to place the steps in one of the last turns over a 100 foot drop. It’s at first hard to know whether to trust the stairway, so some convincing must be done to go around the last turn to the watchtower. I kept telling myself in the early morning darkness that many other people have done this without peril. It still did not calm the concern that I would be the first.

Thankfully the view and solitude before the sunrise was both sublime and epic. To the south was Pikes Peak. To the east was the great expanse of the western Great Plains. To the north were the lights of the Denver metropolitan area dimming as the sun rose. To the west were the rolling low mountains of the front range leading on to the peaks along the backbone of Colorado. It was a rare and odd juxtaposition. Yet it was a moment that I knew had happened every day for centuries and even millennia. That was truly the reason to have been there.

Pikes Peak from Devil’s Thumb

 

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