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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

A Journey to Valley View‏

January 18th, 2011 · 1 Comment

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Valley View Hot Springs in southern Colorado is so far from my home in Boulder that it calls for a visit of at least two nights and an appreciation that the journey can be as important as the destination. I had both during this three-day Martin Luther King Weekend.

Valley View is a rustic clothing-optional resort at an elevation of 8,600 to 9,000 feet perched above the San Luis Valley where it abuts the Sangre de Cristo Range. The San Luis Valley is a huge alpine desert encompassing 8,000 square miles of Colorado and northern New Mexico.

The journey of 185 miles from my home took a friend and me through amazing changes of scenery and weather. We started the trip by driving down the corridor between the Front Range and Denver. Soon the road climbs the mountains up to 10,000 foot Kenosha Pass, where it drops down into South Park, one of the largest of Colorado’s mountain valleys. Then, at 9,000 foot Poncha Pass, begins the 122-mile-long San Luis Valley.

En route we encountered herds of elk, pronghorn, and deer as well as flocks of geese. Here below in South Park is a small part of the largest elk herd I have ever seen.

Elk Run

Elk Run

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Four hours later the herd to photograph was pronghorns.

A Pronghorn Family

A Pronghorn Family

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About 35 miles beyond Valley View is Crestone, a spiritual center that includes deer as well as monks.

Mule Deer in Crestone

Mule Deer in Crestone

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Near the town of Salida I stopped to photograph three snow geese feeding with many Canada geese, one of Colorado’s most common birds. But these snow geese, which breed in Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and Siberia, had strayed far from their usual winter migration route.

Three Lost Snow Geese

Three Lost Snow Geese

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Snow Goose Meets Canada Goose

Snow Goose Meets Canada Goose

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The Crestone area contains a large number of spiritual retreats, including one that is Carmelite (Roman Catholic), another that is Zen Buddhist, one dedicated to the spiritual exercise of Jyorei, and three that are Hindu. But Tibetan Buddhists are particularly well represented with seven retreats. Here is the stupa (a Buddhist monument housing relics) at the Yeshe Rangsal Retreat Center that Tsokyni Rinpoche founded.

The Jangchub Chörten Stupa of Enlightenment in Crestone

The Jangchub Chörten Stupa of Enlightenment in Crestone

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Near Crestone, but out in the San Luis Valley, this view below of the piñon pines that dot the land below the Sangre de Cristo mountains presented itself.

Valley and Mountain

Valley and Mountain

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Between Crestone and Valley View Hot Springs at sunset on Sunday we stopped at Joyful Journey Hot Springs, where my friend got a therapeutic massage while I soaked in the hottest pool and then took pictures at sunset. Here one high peak of the mountains came out of the clouds for me.

A Sangre de Cristo Mountain Peak

A Sangre de Cristo Mountain Peak

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The journey back home had the only weather we encountered. Monday alternated among sun, rain, sleet, snow, and blowing snow. The weather lifted for the photograph below.

Barn and Mountain

Barn and Mountain

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But a little later the snow came. This cabin below looks a lot colder than the barn in the photograph above.

A Cabin in the Snow

A Cabin in the Snow

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But indoors in the town of Salida I found an exceptional memento of the journey. This little book that I bought in an antique shop emotionally recalled my childhood. More than 70 years ago my mother read The Little Engine That Could to me again and again. It was my favorite book and helped to inspire my lifelong optimism.

The Little Engine That Could (1930 Edition)

The Little Engine That Could (1930 Edition)

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Subconsciously, as I journey through my lucky life, I keep repeating, like the Little Blue Engine, “I think I can — I think I can.”

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Posted in: Photography, Uncategorized

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Fred Bauder // Jan 21, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Hi,

    Very nice. I worked at Vally View for several years and live in Crestone.

    Fred

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