Essential Stories of Land & People

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As we reported last week (Victory at Trout Creek), Carl Young climbed Reinecker Ridge this past fall and gave us a whole new vista on Buffalo Peaks Ranch. As you look west, that’s the ranch in the middle of Carl’s shot (the tiny cluster of white buildings), with Buffalo Peaks & the Mosquito Range (left to right) on the horizon.

In many ways South Park hasn’t changed much since the days when Ute and Arapaho hunting parties roamed across the high mountain grasslands.  The Land Library has been collecting Native American books for over 20 years now, but South Park’s landscape has inspired us to gather even more.

What a perfect place for one of the ranch’s special libraries — one dedicated to the history and culture of Native Americans, from Mexico to the Arctic Circle.

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We’ve been especially diligent about gathering all that we can about the tribes that spent time in South Park: the Ute, Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Kiowa.

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But mostly, the Land Library’s collection has a continent-wide focus:

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with tribal histories, and more than a hundred volumes of myths and folktales:

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There are so many great lessons to learn. From the Inuit,

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to the many tribes of the American Southwest:

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And with our love of rock art across the globe, there will be at least a bookcase full of books on North American petroglyphs and pictographs:

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Along with essays, poetry and fiction from generations of Native American writers:

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Help us grow this collection — it’s impossible to tell the story of the land without them!

We have the books, the shelves, ongoing programs, and a long-term lease on a historic ranch in the high mountain grasslands of Colorado. With your help we can accomplish so much more in 2018!

The Rocky Mountain Land Library’s December Drive is underway. We are seeking your support once again, this time to help raise $20,000 to support the Land Library’s most ambitious summer of renovation yet.

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With $20,000 we will unleash the Land Library’s amazing volunteer team, giving them the tools, supplies (bricks & mortar, lumber & nails), and support they need to take on a myriad of projects, including building platform tents, and a innovative new book pavilion that will look a something like this:

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Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more exciting plans!

Feel free to click on our PayPal donation button at the top right of this post, or it you prefer to write a check, our best address is: Rocky Mountain Land Library, 2550 W. 39th Avenue, Denver, CO 80211.

THANKS so much!

 

 

 

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Spreading Books across the Ranch

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How do you turn an abandoned historic ranch into a residential library?

Sometime during our long (& still ongoing) planning process we decided that Buffalo Peaks Ranch would house not one, but several libraries spread across the ranch — in various buildings and barns.

The list is not complete, but Buffalo Peaks Ranch will have special libraries dedicated to Natural History, Western & Native American history, poetry & literature, environmental studies, astronomy, mining, railroads, and Public Lands across the world (from National Parks to community gardens).

Plus one very special library that we are really excited about!

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In the ranch’s Main House, right through the green screen door to the right, we’ll be setting up the Marie Guiraud Ranching Library — celebrating ranching history & traditions, from the early days to the present, with books on ranching in the American West, and across the globe.

This constantly-growing library is named after Marie Guiraud, who along with her husband Adolph, first established this homestead ranch, back in 1862 along the Middle Fork of Colorado’s South Platte River.

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Marie’s life was a remarkable one that we’ll return to again and again. Her story will help us tell the larger story of women in the West.

photo of Marie Guiraud courtesy of Jacquelyn Guiraud Miller & Fred Guiraud

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The library has many books on artists & photographers who captured this traditional way of working on the land.

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The growing collection includes old ranch histories, ranch memoirs, cowboy songs & poetry.

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plus tales of new ranching traditions.

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And yes, this is a Ranch Library dedicated to ranching across the world!

We have the books, the shelves, ongoing programs, and a long-term lease on a historic ranch in the high mountain grasslands of Colorado. With your help we can accomplish so much more in 2018!

The Rocky Mountain Land Library’s December Drive is underway. We are seeking your support once again, this time to help raise $20,000 to support the Land Library’s most ambitious summer of renovation yet.

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With $20,000 we will unleash the Land Library’s amazing volunteer team, giving them the tools, supplies (bricks & mortar, lumber & nails), and support they need to take on a myriad of projects, including building platform tents, and a innovative new book pavilion that will look a something like this:

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Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more exciting plans!

Feel free to click on our PayPal donation button at the top right of this post, or it you prefer to write a check, our best address is: Rocky Mountain Land Library, 2550 W. 39th Avenue, Denver, CO 80211.

THANKS so much!

Victory at Trout Creek

We love it anytime Carl Young, Jay Halsey, and Sarah McLaughlin visit Buffalo Peaks Ranch. They revel in the wide open spaces, the quiet, and yes, even the wind. Over the past few years their photographs have done more to excite people about the Land Library than anything we’ve been able to put into words.

Enjoy one of our previous posts about Carl, Jay & Sarah’s ranch visit last year, and be sure to visit Carl Young’s website, Riding with CarlExploring North America in a ’69 Pontiac LeMans. You’ll see this wonderful piece there, along with many others:

Ever wondered what lies on the other side of this ridge? We certainly have. Reinecker Ridge looms impressively in most of our photographs taken at the Buffalo Peaks Ranch. Last year, Jay and I made a half-baked attempt to walk to the base of the ridge, but we didn’t get any farther than Trout Creek (you can read about that misadventure here). The next day, we all piled into Sarah’s Subaru and tried to reach the ridge via service roads, but we were stopped short by a locked gate. Determined that we would summit this beast in 2017, we researched our best route to ridge by studying aerial images of the valley. What appeared to be a culvert, well to the north of last year’s route, gave us hope that we would reach our destination. Just after sunrise on a cool, windy and beautiful October morning, we set out.

The photo above (my favorite of the day) was captured by Sarah, who followed us through her lens until we were swallowed by the shadow of the mighty ridge. The next two photos also belong to Sarah. Here we are at the starting line, fueled by a hearty breakfast…

Striking eastward across the valley. The cows paid us no attention…

Even without the fence or the cattle trail to follow, our target would be easy to find…

The promised culvert! Our ticket across Trout Creek…

After hopping the final barbed-wire fence at the base of the ridge, the climbing began, as did the anticipation. What would we see on the other side? Our route from here would be improvised. As the slope steepened, we entered the last of the morning’s shadow…

Which soon disappeared as the sun found us once again…

The terrain grew rockier as we ascended. We discovered many large red boulders embedded in the ground; this one resembling a giant egg in a nest…

And this one, split in two by natural forces who knows how many thousands of years ago…

A look at the slope as we switchbacked our way to the top; Trout Creek winding below toward its union with the Middle Fork South Platte River…

Huzzah! Happy hikers at the summit…

Jay, leaning into the wind; me, trying to hold onto the phone. Once we had left the valley floor and started our climb, that morning’s hard west wind steadily grew stronger as we gained altitude, pushing us up the hill. At the summit, with the ridge out of its way so it could fly freely, I conservatively estimate the wind was sustained in excess of 60 mph; wouldn’t be surprised if it was actually higher than 70 mph. Standing still was quite difficult…

A beautiful and long-awaited view of the Buffalo Peaks Ranch…

To our knowledge, the very first time that the Rocky Mountain Land Library banner has been flown over Reinecker Ridge…

Reaching the summit was quite rewarding, but the real prize was waiting for us on the eastern side of the ridge. As we walked down a short distance, the wind continued to howl overhead, but it became little more than a gentle breeze at ground level. We stood there looking out over a vast and beautiful landscape stretching all the way to the distant mountains; no signs of civilization, no moving creatures…just hills and valleys, grass and rocks, a few scattered trees, sitting in silence under an immense blue sky. Such a powerful and sublime vista.

Jay, in the lower left corner, sitting down for a moment to take in the scenery. That bald hill in the middle distance is known as Bald Hill (as seen on this topo map; elevation 9556′). As we gazed at this wonderland, we couldn’t help but make plans for our next visit to the ranch, which will include an extended exploration of this valley and, of course, a march to the summit of Bald Hill…

With so many amazing peaks and parks and trails in Colorado, this particular spot isn’t likely on anyone’s hit list. And by the numbers, avid hikers and climbers might find it less than noteworthy. Our one-way walking distance from the ranch was just over one mile; the elevation at the summit of the ridge is 9481′ (confirmed by the topo map and the altimeter app on my phone). From the floor of the valley near Trout Creek, that’s an elevation gain of only 370′. Still, it’s no exaggeration to say that this was the most satisfying hike of my life. I’ve visited the high points of 31 states (all of them, incidentally, lower in elevation than this ridge), but treks of that nature are all rather predictable…a known destination, a well-marked and well-established trail shared with dozens of other hikers. But on this day, we were explorers. We were out there alone, blazing our own trail. And the adventure climaxed with an element of discovery—something that’s not frequently experienced in this century. We had some giddy moments up on that ridge, and I’m sure it wasn’t simply due to a lack of oxygen.

Before we began our walk back to the ranch, I recorded a video which features a 360° view from the top of the ridge. It’s a little shaky, as the wind was trying to rip the phone from my hands, but it will give you a much better look at the land to the east of the ridge (and a better appreciation for the strength of that gale). The link below will take you to Vimeo (video duration is 1:51). Enjoy the view!

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Public Lands Across the Globe, a Special Library at Buffalo Peaks Ranch

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The Rocky Mountain Land Library has amassed thousands of books on Public Lands, from city parks to wildlife refuges, all across the globe. Among our most recent additions is Edge of Morning: Native Voices Speak for the Bears Ears, an important & very timely collection of essays on Southern Utah’s National Monument, which is also a sacred site for many tribes.

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All of these books tell an inspiring story of setting land aside for the sake of nature itself, and for the benefit of untold generations.

Stories of the hard work that went into their faithful formation offers solace in difficult times.

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Preserving land has never been an easy task, and it always gives us a boost when we come across the writings of a pioneer conservationist such as Sigurd Olson. Olson helped establish the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, along with several National Parks during his years with The Wilderness Society.

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Fortunately, National Parks & preserves is not just an American idea. We have lots of lessons to learn from across the globe.

We’re not exactly sure where this special collection will be house at Buffalo Peaks Ranch, the site of the Land Library’s emerging residential home. But we can’t wait to begin shelving books that we all need right now — today.

The Rocky Mountain Land Library’s December Drive is underway. We are seeking your support once again, this time to help raise $20,000 to support the Land Library’s most ambitious summer of renovation yet.

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With $20,000 we will unleash the Land Library’s amazing volunteer team, giving them the tools, supplies (bricks & mortar, lumber & nails), and support they need to take on a myriad of projects, including building platform tents, and a innovative new book pavilion that will look a something like this:

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Stay tuned over the next month for more exciting plans!

Feel free to click on our PayPal donation button at the top right of this post, or it you prefer to write a check, our best address is: Rocky Mountain Land Library, 2550 W. 39th Avenue, Denver, CO 80211.

THANKS so much!

 

Happy Memories of Harry to Kick Off Our December Drive

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NBC’s Harry Smith atop the Bunkhouse at Buffalo Peaks Ranch

It was over two years ago that Harry Smith and his NBC News film crew hopped on a plane in New York City, and before they knew it they were at 9,200 feet in South Park, Colorado.

What a great day that was, as Harry & his crew crafted a story about the Rocky Mountain Land Library, and the remarkable volunteer work of HistoriCorps. To this day, every time I look across at the Bunkhouse’s ridgeline, I think of Harry Smith riding saddle up there, gently quizzing the HistoriCorp crew.

It was such a great report, we’ve brought it out of the archives for all to see again. As we continue our December Drive to raise funds for more progress at the ranch in 2018, we wanted you all to see why we love this ranch so much.

Click on the screen shot below for the full NBC News report by Harry Smith!

Click here for Harry Smith's Sunday Today Show story!

We are seeking your support once again, this time to help raise $20,000 to support the Land Library’s most ambitious summer of renovation yet.

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With $20,000 we will unleash the Land Library’s amazing volunteer team, giving them the tools, supplies (bricks & mortar, lumber & nails), and support they need to take on a myriad of projects, including building platform tents, and a innovative new book pavilion that will look a something like this:

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Stay tuned over the next month for more exciting plans!

Feel free to click on our PayPal donation button at the top right of this post, or it you prefer to write a check, our best address is: Rocky Mountain Land Library, 2550 W. 39th Avenue, Denver, CO 80211.

THANKS so much!

 

So Focused, So Intent

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It’s never too early to plan ahead. The Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials, one of the Rocky Mountain’s great rural celebrations, will run from September 5-9 in 2018.

Wild-range sheep come down from the mountains to encounter their first truly-avid sheepdogs. Each day of the Meeker Classic centers on the remarkable three-way interaction between handler (shepherd), dog, and sheep — a tight interplay that would fascinate any student of animal behavior. Maybe that’s why we feel a pang of regret whenever we miss going to Meeker in September.

Avoid that pang, and make your plans by visiting the Meeker Classic website! Take a look at this newly released video clip:

West of Meeker, there’s the Soldier Hollow Classic in Heber, Utah:

In Meeker, Heber, or across the globe, there’s a great joy in watching an animal so smart, so capable, so intent.

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To get you in the mood we highly recommend this wonderful book from the United Kingdom:

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And of course there’s this classic memoir from the Land Library’s shelves — Archer Gilfillan’s Sheep: Life on the South Dakota Range (1929). Here’s Gilfillan writing simply and eloquently about little known lives:

“One of the popular misconceptions about herding is that it is a monotonous job; or as a friend of mine puts it, ‘Herding is all right if you don’t have an active mind.” But there is really little monotony in it. The sheep rarely act the same two days in succession. If they run one day, they are apt to be quiet the next. They herd differently in a high wind from what they do in a gentle breeze. They travel with a cold wind and against a warm one. They are apt to graze contentedly where feed is plenty and to string out and run where the pickings are poor. Herding at one season is so different from herding at another as almost to constitute a different job.”

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Sheep storm, South Park, Colorado. photo by Myron Wood

 

#GivingTuesday Begins the Land Library’s Next Chapter

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Cooks House before reroofing, and many coats of fresh paint.  photo by Michael Ciaglo

Thanks to over 1,000 Kickstarter backers, the Rocky Mountain Land Library will complete renovation on the Cooks House at Buffalo Peaks Ranch next summer. With that done, the ranch will have lodgings, a classroom space, a warm & wonderful kitchen, along with the ranch’s first library.

The Cooks House exterior work is complete. It’s hard to believe it’s the same building!

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The Cooks House in early morning mist. photo by Jay Halsey

We are thrilled to launch our new fundraising campaign on #Giving Tuesday. For the next five weeks we will send out weekly updates on our plans for 2018. We are seeking your support once again, this time to help raise $20,000 to support the Land Library’s most ambitious summer of renovation yet.

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With $20,000 we will unleash the Land Library’s amazing volunteer team, giving them the tools, supplies (bricks & mortar, lumber & nails), and support they need to take on a myriad of projects, including building platform tents, and a innovative new book pavilion that will look a something like this:

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Liyuan Library in China

Stay tuned over the next five weeks for more exciting plans!

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving. Please join this wonderful movement dedicated to giving back and creating something beyond ourselves. The Land Library has an ambitious goal ahead and we need your support. We are excited about what we all can accomplish in the year ahead!

Feel free to click on our PayPal donation button at the top right of this post, or it you prefer to write a check, our best address is: Rocky Mountain Land Library, 2550 W. 39th Avenue, Denver, CO 80211.

THANKS so much!

For more on the Rocky Mountain Land Library & South Park’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch, we hope you enjoy this 7-minute video: