Livestock retrieval? Bringin’ in the cows ?
Well, one cow. Whatever …
This past weekend I went on a road-bike ride. Parked the car at the intersection of Kannah and Purdy Mesa Roads. I hadn’t been on a ride in that area for a while and intended to do a short loop – go up Kannah, switchback up Purdy Mesa, then back down to the car. I had barely gone a mile and was passing another ranch to my left. Kannah Creek Road hugs the right edge of the valley, with the irrigated bottom-properties to my left, and Kannah Creek pretty much at the toe of the slope on the other side. It was (and is) calving season, and I get a kick of seeing the cows with their newborns. A man was bringing hay to the cows in the fenced-in field. As I passed, I saw him get off the tractor to round-up a couple cattle outside of the fenced-in area, but still within his property’s gate. I continued up the road, enjoying the mother-offspring pairs in the field. About a quarter-mile further I startled a little brown calf out on the road along the fence. I debated about continuing to ride, but within a half-minute decided to go back to inform the rancher of this. As I turned, the calf started running away – fortunately back towards the ranch gate. I rode just fast/slow enough to continue chasing it, hoping it would turn into the ranch-gate. It did. The rancher looked up, gave me a wave of appreciation, opened the gate, and presumably a mother-child re-union ensued shortly thereafter.
A few years ago I was up above the location mentioned previously, riding my mountain-bike up the dirt-&-gravel Land’s End Road. I passed an open flat area where people frequently set up camp – usually hunters (must have been the autumnal season). I saw a few people out among their tents and trailers, and it appeared they were looking for something. They weren’t looking at the ground, but scanning about, so it probably wasn’t a lost wallet.
A couple switch-backs later I’m feeling my usual borderline fatigue, eyes focused on the ground just ahead. The road surface (hardly dusty due to recent-rain-congealed soil) was pretty optimal for maintaining and showing tracks — of vehicles, the occasional deer crossing the road, and horse hoof-prints with a snake-like line between the hoof-prints. I put the proverbial two-&-two together, and deduced that a run-away horse had just been walking/trotting up the road, with the tether-rope dragging behind – as there were no vehicle marks more recent. A turn or so later I saw the horse ahead, and somewhat surprisingly, did not startle him/her as I passed. I got about 20 yards ahead, laid down the bike, and, again, was lucky that I was able to approach the horse without spooking it. I grabbed the tether-rope and was able to lead it … where? I was briefly overwhelmed by considerations as to how to go back down to the camp with the horse. Abandon (hide) the bike? Nah, I found a nearby wide spot on the road and securely tied the rope to a tree, but off the main roadway.
I then pedaled (coasted, actually) the half-mile or so down to the level meadow-y area and approached who seemed to be the “main man” of this temporary village. In retrospect, I was just a little dismayed that he didn’t show even a semblance of appreciation – that this dirty sweat-soaked mountain-biker (of all incomprehensible personages, I suppose) would tell him that his horse had been (1) found, (2) tied-up, and (3) safe, about ½ mile up the road.
The year was either 1966 or ’67. I was in high school, and, of course, living with the family in our house in Evergreen. My mother’s sister, Babs, had come out from Florida to visit and stay with us for a week. When it came time for her to leave, I was asked to drive Mom and Babs to the Denver airport. Mom was going to reciprocate Babs’ visit and stay in Florida for the following week. Evergreen is in the mountains not far from the big city and the airport was on the other side of Denver.
We went in my car. The car was given to me by my grandfather, a 1956 Buick Century (special?) – it would be quite the classic collector’s item today. I drove as safely and prudently as I could. (Well, what do you expect? — my mother and my aunt. Not my usual thrill-seeking moronic teenaged passengers). I dropped both of them off at Stapleton (this was, as you might have surmised, many years before DIA). Driving back home the 40+ miles, mostly along somewhat ‘back roads’ (this was a few years before the Interstates, and C-470) I felt … PARANOID. I don’t think that werd (‘pear-annoyed’) was a commonly utilized vernacular back then … didn’t our present society become more-&-more paranoid during the psychedelic/marijuana-smoking era of the 1970’s?
Maybe this feeling was enhanced by the 6-pack of 3.2% Coors beer I had hidden in the car before the drive down. Having seen Auntie Babs and my mom safely (?) off at the entrance to the airport, I opened the first can of beer to drive home. Yeah, it had to have been in the summer, and it was hot, and I was thirsty. I skirted what I (at that time) perceived to be the “main roads” so I could motor along noisily (& drinkingly) in my V-8 muscle car on more remote roads.
I gradually drove my circum(ad)venturous route around the north, and then west edge of the Denver metro area, until I could finally go up U.S. Hwy 40 towards home. The paranoid feeling didn’t diminish at all – I wasn’t really doing anything wrong, nor driving too fast, and halted for most stop signs, but I continually worried that the police would stop me.
Back then the ‘shortcut-road’ to get to U.S. 40 to go up the mountains was an ill-advertised gravel road between U.S. Hwy 6 to the US40 frontage road. I knew that shortcut well. Turning off from US6 onto the gravel road, I felt that I was finally free from whatever ghost or demon or unbenign spirit which had been haunting me. I sped around a corner and had to stop in a hurry as there were four or so law-enforcement vehicles blocking the road! I could hardly believe that the police had arranged such a large-scale ambush for me! All the cars’ lights were flashing, and a couple policemen hurried over to my car.
“Could you park your car there?” one asked, pointing to a space between two of their vehicles. I was, of course, stunned but quickly learned that a couple dozen horses had gotten out of a pasture further down the road – and were being herded towards us. Our cars pretty much blocked the road between the fences on either side, and there was an open gate a few yards away. I was asked/instructed to stand in an open space between two of the cars, and wave my arms to prevent any errant equines from slipping through. A couple minutes later the herd came thundering toward us, followed by some cowboys on their horses. As planned (and hoped-for) the runaways went through the gate, which was quickly closed, and our job was done.
One of the cops shook my hand and thanked me for being so quickly and surprisingly drafted for my involuntary public service. Turned out to be an interesting and, sort of, fun day.