Mountains (with Maps!)

A long time ago, I made a list of my favorite words. The two on top were “mountains” and “wonder.” If I wrote a list like that today, I’d probably have the same two words on top.

I like living a little distance from the mountains so I can see them ranged across the horizon. That’s why I chose Monte Vista instead of some of the other towns in the Valley when I moved here. I’m perfectly placed to look at the San Juans (not that far away) and at the Sangre de Cristos (farther away). I can watch the alpenglow (morning and evening) and enjoy the gathering clouds in both directions.

This side (eastern) of the San Juans is pretty “soft” and gentle, but the west side is a different story. The San Juans are the largest range in Colorado, and they cover a good part of the state — “good” meaning both “high quality” and “large.” The dark green line on the map below marks the Continental Divide. The orange line that runs from Alamosa to Cortez is my street. πŸ™‚

The Rio Grande starts up in the San Juans, and I hope someday to go to the source up on Canby Mountain. That will happen when I get my hip and get my jeep πŸ™‚


The Sangres,Β at least here where I live, remind me of the Alps with their jagged peaks abrubtly jutting from the Valley floor. In Colorado, they are a long, narrow range that marks the end of the Rocky Mountains and the beginning of the Great Plains.


Mountains are a source of wonderment for me. I look at them all the time and they are never the same. Mt. Blanca (featured photo) is a massif, not really just one mountain. It’s one of the Navajo’s four sacred mountains and marked the northeastern boundary of their lands.


I can subscribe to these boundaries, too. They circumscribe some of my favorite places in the world, where I’ve had the chance to experience many moments of…



Daily Prompt: Wonder

19 thoughts on “Mountains (with Maps!)

  1. Thanks for this post with the maps! I have a much better idea now of where you are — no wonder you enjoy those beautiful mountains so much from that huge valley!

  2. A bit of a delay on my reply, as I wanted to get on my laptop and really be able to see your maps. I have a much better sense of Monte Vista and its geographic relationships now. Thanks. I’ve been down in your part of the state, but not in the San Luis Valley for many years. I remember bits from childhood trips, but those were tainted by being car trips with 4 kids, 2 adults, and a driver whose sense of wonder was considerably different from my own.

    I’m inspired to revisit.

    • I have a spare room, but you must like dogs. πŸ™‚

      We drove through here a lot when I was a kid because my dad — who worked for Denver Research Institute, part of the University of Denver — was doing research down by Alamagordo. I think it left a lasting, if inarticulate, impression on me. As I was packing to move here, I found a painting I did as a five year that is unmistakeably the Sangre de Cristos with me in front of them. When my friend and I droved down from Poncha Pass when I came to see the town for the first time, I knew I was home.

  3. When I was a child I was obsessed with collecting maps. Every gas station I’d collect one of everything they had. Some were aesthetically more pleasing to me and I would consider them a treasure. I’d pour over each one looking for the little, out of the way places serviced by light grey (minor paved) and dashed (unpaved graded) roads. I’d follow the parallel lines (unpaved dirt) and the dashed parallel lines (primitive trails) and wonder what lay there.

    Cities had symbols representing the population. Different lines meant different types of borders. Milage between intersections and cities, local airports, jet airports, international airports, air force bases, military reservations, state, national and local parks, roadside rest areas, rivers and lakes, and oceans, county seats, state capitols, I examined it all. Years later in US Geography class, I was amazed at how many kids couldn’t even read a map.

    It was my only way to explore the world beyond a few rural counties in mid-Michigan.

    • I love maps, too. One of the coolest men I’ve known was the roommate of a guy who was trying to date me back in college. They had a one bedroom apt and built a special double-bed bunk bed to deal with that situation. Doug’s bed was the top bunk and on the ceiling he’d taped topo maps of places he wanted to hike. Because I write historical fiction, I’ve used maps hundreds of years old. There was a moment when I was writing Martin of Gfenn that I realized how different the landscape was in the 13th century even with most of the geological features being the same. I still haven’t wrapped my head around that completely.

Comments are closed.