Luthier Kurt Snyder – Kutthroat Stringworks

By Ericka Kastner Fire-singed Douglas fir deadwood, collected at the base of Mount Shavano, makes up the soundboard of the steel-stringed baritone ukulele crafted by luthier Kurt Snyder. For every instrument that he makes, Kurt’s intention is to reflect the beauty and grace of the Rocky Mountains, both in styling and in sound. Seven years […]

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The Fairview Lookout

by Ericka Kastner Lovers of four-wheeling, hikes above treeline and ridiculous views of the Continental Divide should put this adventure on their to-do list. The highest fire tower in North America sits on Fairview Peak at 13,214 feet in elevation, just north of the town of Pitkin. This one-room stone hut, constructed in 1912 (just […]

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Places – The Turner Farm

by Ericka Kastner History buffs and Central Colorado day-trippers need to look no further than Buena Vista’s Turner Farm and Apple Orchard for the perfect way to spend an afternoon. In addition to the 50 apple trees and substantial vegetable and flower gardens on the property, there is also a two-story 1910 farmhouse, a mother-in-law […]

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Places Column – Zapata Falls

by Ericka Kastner Stunning sand dunes views, classic Colorado wildflowers, creek wading, slot canyon exploration and an awe-inspiring waterfall. Surprisingly, the short hike to Zapata Falls has it all, and then some. The wide, quarter-mile long trail ascends gradually from 9,000 to 9,400 feet in elevation and takes only about 15 minutes to complete. There […]

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PJ Bergin Felt Artist

by Ericka Kastner Felting has been around for a long time. But the large-scale wall installations and glow boxes created by PJ Bergin in her Salida Felt in Hand Studio are exceptionally unusual. It’s been seven years since PJ launched her business and website, and the majority of her work is primarily commissioned pieces for […]

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Places: Willow Lake

By Ericka Kastner The Rocky Mountains are scattered with high mountain lakes, and Central Colorado is no exception. One of the best lakes I’ve seen yet lies at about 11,800 feet in elevation just east of Crestone. While the Willow Lake Trail is wildly popular with visitors on weekends, it still makes for a spectacular […]

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Bringing the Stone Age into the 21st Century

by Ericka Kastner Crestone’s Earth Knack Stone Age Living Skills founder Robin Blankenship says by the time she graduated from college, she’d spent half of her life in the outdoors, a journey that was set in motion when she was a young girl attending a 63-acre campus in the Northern Illinois woodlands from first through […]

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The Maysville Schoolhouse

By Ericka Kastner Seven miles west of Poncha Springs, nestled in a valley along the banks of the South Arkansas River, sits one of the cutest little schoolhouses you’ll ever see. With its brightly painted cherry red exterior, the Maysville School is impossible to miss and definitely worth a stop on the way up into […]

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Places: Aspen Ridge

by Ericka Kastner Aspen Ridge is highly regarded by Colorado leaf-peepers touring on four wheels in the fall, but fewer people consider the area’s beauty and recreational merits for two-wheeled outdoor enthusiasts in the spring and summer. The nearly 40 miles of double track spanning from Salida to just east of Johnson Village on Trout […]

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Places: The Crestone Stupas

By Ericka Kastner Passing through the San Luis Valley, travelers looking east toward the Sangre De Cristo Range may find it impossible to discern the two great stupas hidden among the trees, yet towering above the landscape in the mountain foothills just outside Crestone. The stupas are woven into the rich spiritual history of Crestone, […]

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Fooses Creek

By Ericka Kastner Beloved by locals as one of the quickest routes to getting in a skinny ski fix, Fooses Creek Trail affords not only quick access from Salida (about a 15-minute drive by car or hitch by thumb) but also varied terrain and numerous route options, making it a trail with something for everyone […]

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Tomatoes: The Gateway Drug to Gardening

By Ericka Kastner My eyes flooded with tears as Penn placed the packet of Poma Amoris tomato seeds in the palm of my hand as a gift. In that moment, what I’d known for years was confirmed, – growing food from seed was an extension of my soul. And in Penn, I’d found a kindred […]

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Doggone Tasty

by Ericka Kastner Cultural anthropologist-turned-baker for dogs, Salida’s Sydney Schalit is baking up a storm. Her business, The Colorado Barkery, cranks out an average of 700 handmade, meat-free “Colorado Proud” dog treats each week. With the help of Mountain Mama Milling in Monte Vista, supplier of the coarse-ground wheat, 70 percent of the ingredients are […]

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About the Cover Photographer: Ericka Kastner

Photographer, writer and event stylist by trade, Ericka Kastner lives in historic downtown Salida with her three school-aged children. She has worked as a photojournalist for The Chaffee County Times, The Mountain Mail and Colorado Central Magazine and shoots event photography for local running races.

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