In the October issue of
Colorado Central Magazine

Margaret Knight on the new Rusty Lung Trail near Salida. Photo by Ben Knight,

The Rusty Lung: Salida’s Newest Trail

Since 2006, a group of volunteers named Salida Mountain Trails (SMT) have been steadily increasing the number and quality of non-motorized, multi-use trails in the Salida vicinity.

The latest addition to the extensive trail system harkens back to the early days of mountain biking in the area. Back in the 1980s, mountain biking was beginning to be taken up by more and more riders. It offered an off-road, nature-based experience. Two early Salida pioneers of the sport, Don McClung and the late Mike Rust, developed a loop trail on the backside of Tenderfoot Mountain on Bureau of Land Management property. It was steep, rocky and challenging, especially in the pre-suspension days of the ‘80s, and named The Sunset Trail by another early Salida mountain biker, Jack Chivvis.

McClung, a bike designer and builder, began riding what he called “a faint animal game trail,” in a 1988 Mountain Mail story about the mountain biking opportunities which were opening up back then. Unfortunately, the original trail disappeared in private property and was eventually abandoned as new, legal trails began popping up. Read more


Gardening in Circles: Give Peas a Chance

By John Mattingly

Shutting down a garden is like saying goodbye to a good old friend who visited for the summer, a friend who challenged you, fed you, worked you, taught you the upside of patience and sharpened your powers of observation and contemplation.

You knew the friend had to leave, but in the course of the season you tossed that onto the compost heap. It seemed the friend would always be there, connecting body and soul through Earth and sun.

As the end of September approaches, a gardener becomes attentive to the cool feel of the morning air, and takes measures to keep the friend around a while longer, and makes an effort to preserve the friend’s bounty to bring light to the dark days of winter.

In the Valley, frost-free days after mid-September are a gift, even though the heat units are few. Many nights the temperature drops to 33 degrees and then bounces up to 60 in the first hour of sun. This can be good for curing some crops, but inevitably reminds us that our friend is packing up, getting ready to go.

One consolation is that much of the work of a garden continues in all seasons: working with the aftermath and thinking about rotation and expansion options for next year.

One of the farmers I learned a lot from in my youth asked me, “When does next year begin?”

Thinking it was a simple calendar question, I said, “January first.” Read more


Greenback Cutthroat Trout Update

By Tina Mitchell

In July, 2016, a lightning strike sparked the Hayden Pass Fire in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Within days, it had exploded into a 26-square-mile conflagration that forced area residents to evacuate. As they prepared to head out, firefighters raced in. Following close behind, a team of more than 30 specially trained wildlife staff and volunteers had one goal in mind – to save a fish from this fire. Not just any fish, but a genetically unique subspecies of greenback cutthroat trout found only in the South Prong of Hayden Creek, near Coaldale.

When they arrived at the lowest mile of the creek, the team found decent conditions. The fish were going about their ordinary pursuits. But for Greg Policky, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) aquatic biologist heading the rescue effort, the biggest concern wasn’t necessarily the fire itself but the potential after-effects such as flash flooding and sediments or ash inundating the stream. By the end of the day, the wildlife team had removed 196 greenbacks from the South Prong. The Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery, between Gunnison and Crested Butte, took 158 of the fish. The remainder were released in Newlin Creek, a small stream in the Wet Mountains south of Cañon City. The team also left several hundred fish in the South Prong, hoping that any subsequent monsoon rains would spare the drainage so that these remaining fish could survive in their natural habitat. Read more