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La Monda


7/22/10, La Monda Pass, CO - Much of the day was spent going in circles.  Not because I was aimlessly wandering; rather, because the Forrest Service decided they didnít want horses in a big chunk of the woods. Tonight, weíre camped in a piece of the National Forrest, two miles north of La Monda Pass that doesnít care whether your vehicle expels carbon monoxide or manure.

This morning, I had all three horses hitched to climb the steep headwall, leading to Cumbre Pass.  For two miles the lads were pulling a 10 to 12% grade, so they got quite a work out.

The top of the pass holds the train station for the Cumbre to Antonita narrow gauge train. Normally, the train runs from Chama to Antonita, but a cinder from the steam engine burnt down a trestle about 5 miles out of Chama.  A Fireman, following the train in a service car usually extinguishes all fire, but he must have missed one!

A couple of hundred yards passed the train station, I pulled the lads over to give them a long rest and put Doc at the rear of the trailer.  While there, a nice family pulled over to say hello and meet the team.

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B.O.B. with a steam engine and train station in the background.  This scene could have been from 1880, when the narrow gauge railway opened for business.

Not far past the top of Cumbres Pass was a turnoff for Trujillo Meadows and a reservoir. I figured a day of fishing and downtime would be good, so away we went.  It was 2 1/2 miles back and a steep climb, so I put the lads back in the Unicorn. When I got near the campgrounds, I had a heck of a time getting around a cattle guard, only to discover from the camp attendant that horses werenít allowed above the cattle guard. 

Like many of the National Forrest campgrounds, this one charged a fee, so I wasnít intending on staying there anyway.  But by restricting horses on the road above the campground, I couldnít be near water, so I turned around and left. On the way out, I met a couple of different Forrest Service personnel and voiced my displeasure with their policy that allows noisy ATVs and cattle grazing near the campground, but excludes horses. Also, within a mile or two of all Ďfee typeí campgrounds Iíve seen, the Forrest Service excludes camping. If you ask them, itís to protect the environment. Funny how this policy is only in place near a campground where you have to pay.  If it doesnít cost anything to camp, Iíve never seen any restrictions.

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Doc, up to his old tricks again!

After a 5 mile detour, we regained the highway and set off for La Monda Pass.  As the day progressed, the temperature dropped and it began to rain. Every time I pulled over to rest the team or get a cup of coffee, someone would stop to chat and take pictures. I just had the two Belgians hitched, so they were pretty tuckered out by the time we made the top of La Monda Pass. I pushed on for another two miles before finding a good place to camp.

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The road between Cumbres and La Monda Passes runs above the train tracks.  It sure makes it harder for Butch Cassidy to ride up and rob the train!

Tonight, the lads are resting comfortably on some good grass in a mountain meadow.  After setting up camp, on turned the heat on for a while to take the chill off my bones.  It feels good to be cool again, but after a while it begins to wear on me.

Last night and tonight Iím pretty remote, so there isnít any cell or internet service. Hopefully Iíll get close enough to civilization tomorrow to post the last couple of blogs.

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Some of the cattle on a grazing lease in the high country for the summer.

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At 10,230 Feet, La Monda Pass in the highest Iíve taken the horse to date (although I think we were higher at Trujillo Meadows.