Paonia and the Raggeds

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I’ve been a lazy blogger. Time to start digging myself out of a rapidly-compounding photo backlog.

I spent mid-June back in Colorado, helping Kate close out life in Paonia, and move back to the Northwest to start a new gig as HCN’s Seattle correspondent. It was bittersweet for her, and for me. Home, it seems, is made of many places.

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We took two days for a quick backpacking trip into the Raggeds Wilderness, in the northeast corner of the West Elk Range. It’s unusual for Colorado in featuring relatively low elevation habitat, rich riparian zones cloaking the river canyons hewn into the Western Slope.

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The striking confluence of Anthracite Creek and Ruby-Anthracite Creek.

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The Ruby Range, a defining feature of Crested Butte’s skyline, from its far side.

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East and West Beckwith Peaks, with their striking succession of linearly stacked cirques.

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Our camp, in a strange and wonderful grove of scrub oak amid sage and stunted aspen, ~8400′.

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Not a bad view from the tent. At least until the storm rolled in…

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…which happened shortly before dusk. We stayed dry through the night, but after a few hours hunkered down at dawn in a sagging tent, its pitch loosened by wind and wet clay, we broke camp in the gale and fled for the car.

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The remaining days in Paonia were clear and hot, with vivid sunsets, beer at dusk, and a pervasive sense of melancholia.

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“…but o my desert / yours is the only death I cannot bear.”

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