Tag Archives: Saguache news

Saguache News – September 6

Saguache Grieves, Saguache Believes

The Superintendent’s Corner

By Travis Garoutte, Mountain Valley Schools, Saguache

August of 2018 was an incredibly hard month for the small community of Saguache. In that short timespan, hearts were broken over and over again by the passing of so many loved ones. I have seen the tears flow freely lately, and I struggle to make sense of it all. I do know that living in a small community is a blessing, a place where you are more than just a number, more than just a face in the crowd. In Saguache, people are deeply connected and their lives touch each other in unique ways.

While Saguache grieves, it also believes in compassion and kindness. I have witnessed an amazing outpouring of comfort, support, and love these past few weeks during community vigils, memorials, athletic events, and daily interactions between caring people. I am proud to call Saguache my home.    

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This weekend I watched our high school students come together and dedicate football and volleyball games in honor of friends and former teammates that were taken from this earth much too soon. Their dedication, cooperation, and effort produced some remarkable results. For the first time that I can remember, both teams won with impressive shutouts. The volleyball team won the match against Primero in three straight games (3-0), while the football team beat the Bulldogs by a score of 58-0. The human spirit never ceases to amaze me.

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I was equally impressed by the community support at our first home games against the Primero Bulldogs. The sizeable crowd was loud and proud as they cheered for the Mountain Valley/Moffat Indians. The games were so exciting that even the construction workers building our new school could be heard cheering from the platform west of the football field. After the games, as I was walking home, the construction crew stopped me and asked if I could get them some Mountain Valley shirts. It appears as though our athletes have some new fans!

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At a time when our community needed something positive, the “Field of Dreams” was completed just before our first football contest with Primero, allowing us to host home games in Saguache. I am so thankful that our community has chosen to stand up for our kids. Corey and Aubrey Hill, as well as the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, graciously allowed Mountain Valley to utilize the land east of the school as a football field for the 2018 season. Athletic Director Larry Joe Hunt, Facilities Director Anthony Salaz, and FCI Construction Superintendent Troy Sergesketter have put in countless hours prepping the new field. Joel Johnson, Justin Wilson, Michael Roberts, Scott Alexander and the football team also worked hard to help build their very own “Field of Dreams.” Thank you, Saguache!

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It is my hope and prayer that we continue to rally around each other, not just during times of grief and struggle, but always. We are a stronger and more compassionate community because of the past few weeks. As we move forward, I hope everyone continues to focus on building positive relationships, connecting with neighbors, and supporting those in need. Together, we can and will make a difference.



Saguache News – September 3

Laboring the Weekend Away: 124 Years Later

Labor Day Weekend: for many, this three-day weekend represents the final fling of summer. In the high country, it’s the last warm-weather holiday for backyard cookouts before the cooler weather sends people indoors.

While BBQs can be a lot of work, that’s not why it’s called Labor Day. This holiday has paid tribute to the American worker for 124 years. The roots of this celebration can be traced back to a time when the U.S. workforce was experiencing great transition. The Industrial Revolution was in full swing and people were trading in their rural farm lives for the dream of a secure, year-round income that came with a factory job. Unfortunately, they often found themselves toiling 12 – 14 hour days in dingy, and sometimes dangerous conditions.

historic-labor-day-pictures-and-graphics-when-is-labor-day-2014-15-3It was his outrage concerning these working conditions that prompted Peter McGuire, a leader of the carpenters union, with the idea of a day for workers to show their solidarity. So in 1882, they had a big parade in New York. Workers showed their disdain for working conditions by carrying signs that read, “Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest and eight hours for recreation!” The whole happening turned out to be more of a festival than a demonstration. There were picnics and fireworks, plus everyone took the day off from work.

The demonstration was successful in capturing the interest of the nation, motivating President Grover Cleveland to sign a bill making the first Monday in September a national holiday honoring the American worker. Ultimately, his gesture was viewed as political, trying to appease an unhappy constituency concerning his handling of a labor strike at the Pullman Company in Chicago which left 34 people dead. Cleveland’s scheme did not work. While Labor Day was established as a national holiday, the president lost his bid for re-election.


Saguache News – September 1

Ready, Aim, Fire – Hunting Season is Underway 

The 2018 Colorado Hunting Season officially got underway last Saturday, Aug. 25 with the opening of archery season. And while the thick of the season – rifle season – doesn’t start for another month, sportsmen and women have already been spotted (or not?) around town in their camouflage get-ups.huntignsignpost

Hunters are good for the economy. They not only purchase hunting gear, trucks, ATVs and boats; they also fill their gas tanks and coolers. They stay at motels and resorts. They buy hunting clothes and those goofy hunting hats with sayings like, “If the Lead Don’t Fly, the Meat Don’t Fry.”

According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, 259,000 people hunt in Colorado each year. The group’s data states that hunters spend $221 million a year, on trip-related expenses in Colorado and $185 million on hunting equipment. It says a typical hunter spends $1,800 a year on hunting-related activities.

While other places in the state might not appreciate the hunters’ tourism dollars, Saguache County is keenly aware of it. And maybe that’s because there is a large population of San Luis Valley hunters and fishermen, who recognize that wildlife recreation is an important component of the local economy.Hunting Cover 2018.jpg

Hunters also pay a truckload of special excise taxes, in the form of licenses, fees and equipment. In turn, those funds are earmarked for wildlife and habitat conservation.

And in Saguache County, hunting has strong generational ties, with grandpas and granddaughters taking to the trail together, to stock the family’s freezer with fresh game for the winter. Many families rely on their Fall harvest to get them through until Spring!

Another benefit of hunting that should not be under-rated, is that it is good for body, mind and soul. As the world seems to spin faster and faster – even for alpine dwellers – hunting provides a healthy escape. It offers relaxation and affords quality time with family and friends, many times out of range of cell service or internet connection.

So, as the bright orange vests begin their annual migration into the Colorado high country, be sure to make them feel welcome, with a friendly elk bugle.


The 2018 Colorado Hunting Season is officially underway. Photo: Saguache Today.


Saguache News – August 30

How Many People Climbed SLV 14ers in 2017?

According to the most recent hiking use report released last month (July 2018) by the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI), last year an estimated 334,000 people hiked a 14,000-foot peak in Colorado during the primary hiking season 

This total represents an overall increase of roughly 23,000 person days compared to CFI’s estimate of 311,000 hiker use days for 2016. The increase stems from both more accurate use estimates on the highest-use 14ers, as well as year-over-year increases of 7 percent on several peaks with a multi-year history of reliable data collection.2017-Colorado-14er-Hiker-Use-Days-Estimate-7.19

“Colorado’s Fourteeners continue to be some of the most popular mountain hiking and climbing destinations in the country—particularly those peaks located closest to Denver,” said Lloyd F. Athearn, executive director of CFI. “More than 55 percent of all 14er hiking use statewide occurs on the 11 peaks closest to the Front Range population centers, while almost one-third of use is concentrated on just 6 peaks. Since 2015 hiking use has grown around 7 percent on 14ers with the most reliable history of data collection.”

The most popular 14er in the state is Mount Bierstadt, which had a projected 39,000 hiker use days in 2017 based on counts provided by the US Forest Service. The busiest single day last season on Bierstadt was July 18, which saw a whopping 1,382 hikers attempt the peak.

In second place was Grays and Torreys Peaks, the two 14ers that straddle the Continental Divide just south of I-70, which are generally climbed together using a single trail. CFI estimates that almost 28,500 people climbed the route last year.

The silver lining for those peaks nearest to Saguache Today, is that they see less hikers. Of course, the San Juans to the west see more users as a range that includes 13 peaks over 14,000 feet. While the Sangre de Cristo Range gets less use, with Blanca Peak topping the list for hikers.

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The Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range has 10 peaks over 14,000 feet. Photo: Saguache Today/ Brennan Ruegg.

“With each passing year our confidence in the hiker use estimates increases,” added Athearn. “We have improved the number and placement of CFI trail counters, optimized data collection techniques to reduce data gaps and located additional data sets from third parties. The net effect is that estimates of hiker traffic on 32 peaks is based principally on some form of field monitoring. CFI’s multi-factor modeling program estimates hiking use on the remaining 22 peaks.”

Moving counters to more optimal locations, more clearly delineating trails as they pass by counters and obtaining Forest Service counter data for four locations helped improve the accuracy for several 14er routes.

Forest Service data collected on Mount Bierstadt showed that actual hiking use was far higher than projected by CFI using data from a 2012 study and adjusting based on observed increases at other highuse 14er locations. Bierstadt alone represents 11.7 percent of 14er hiking use statewide.

The trail counter location used in 2015 and 2016 on Mount Elbert’s East Ridge route showed spikes in hiking use that exceeded the number of hikers on the more commonly used Northeast Ridge route that is accessed by a much easier road and has a much larger parking lot. Moving the counter in 2017 to a more optimal location resulted in much lower hiker counts. The first East Elbert location likely suffered from false counts due to vegetation triggering the counter when it was warmed by the sun and blown by the wind.

San Luis Peak

The San Luis Peak Backcountry Project took place this summers and involved some much needed trail work to this 14ers passageway. Photo: 14ers.com

While the location of the Mount Sherman trail counter did not change between 2016 and 2017, CFI staff more clearly delineated the trail as it passed by the counter. Multiple social trails in 2016 likely resulted in many climbers not passing by the counter’s infrared sensor, thereby reducing the estimated number of climbers.

Forest Service infrared trail counters placed at trailheads serving Mounts Belford, Oxford, Harvard, Columbia, Massive and Missouri Mountain helped provided upper limits for people hiking on these trails, which also serviced other recreational destinations. CFI’s projections for use on these peaks all fell below the trailhead counts.

“Hiking use on the 14ers seems to be increasing at about seven percent per year at several reliable, multiyear data collection locations,” said Athearn. “Colorado is in the top 10 of fastest growing states with a population growth of 1.7% annually between 2015 and 2017. However, in-migration was highest for those aged 24-32, the prime age for fit, outdoor-oriented people to be exploring Colorado’s high peaks.”

Counter locations used to establish the longer term growth rate include Mounts Democrat, Elbert (North Ridge and Black Cloud), and Shavano, as well as La Plata, Huron, Redcloud/Sunshine, Wilson and Blanca Peaks. CFI’s estimate of hiking use suggests a statewide economic impact of more than $90 million directly attributable to hiking 14ers based on economic expenditure studies performed by Colorado State University economists John Loomis and Catherine Keske. Their 2009 study found that climbers of Quandary Peak near Breckenridge spent an average of $271.17 per day for gasoline, food, lodging, equipment and other retail purchases.i

“14er hiking use is a significant and growing source of economic development for Colorado and many of its trailhead communities across the state,” said Athearn. “The challenge is building out and maintaining the network of sustainably designed, durably constructed summit hiking trails—CFI’s top priority—before hiking use impacts make this harder and more expensive to do. If we can provide a robust network of 14er hiking trails that protects the fragile alpine tundra ecosystems through which these trails pass we can protect these signature Colorado peaks while helping foster this source of hiker-generated revenue for years to come. However, use on some peaks is literally mushrooming and may be exceeding CFI’s ability to build sustainable summit trails.”

CFI’s hiking use projections are based on the combination of several data sources.

  1. CFI collected hourby-hour data during the 2017 hiking season using compact infrared trail counters that were placed at 20 locations adjacent to summit hiking trails servicing 23 14er peaks. Hiking use is estimated for the period between May 30 – more – and October 9. Missing data were modeled using a linear model incorporating week number, day of the week, holiday and use levels on other similar peaks, which has shown to be statistically accurate.
  2. Hiking use projections for all other 14ers were based on crowdsourced “14er checklists” submitted to the 14ers.com website by more than 17,000 individual hikers. Estimates for peaks without trail counters were calculated using a trend line Calculated by the relative frequency of reported hiking use on all peaks using data points as anchors for peaks that had trail counters in 2017.
  3. Trail counters used by the Forest Service on Mount Bierstadt and at three trailheads serving 14ers and data sets obtained from other organizations helped refine use estimates for several peaks. CFI began deploying compact infrared trail counters as part of a pilot program in 2014 at five locations: Grays/Torreys, Castle, Quandary, Redcloud/Sunshine and Handies Peaks (American Basin). The program was expanded in 2015 to five additional locations: Mounts Elbert (3 locations), Democrat and Handies Peak (Grizzly Gulch). Additional funding in 2016 allowed CFI to add 10 new monitoring locations: Mounts Sneffels, Sherman, Princeton, Antero and Shavano, La Plata, Huron and Wilson Peaks, Challenger Point/Kit Carson Peak and Blanca Peak/Ellingwood Point. In 2017 the Antero counter was moved to the Winfield approach to La Plata Peak. Hiking use is being monitored at 22 locations during the 2018 summer hiking season. New monitoring locations include Mount Lindsey (on private land authorized by the Blanca Ranch), Pikes Peak (Barr Trail and the Devil’s Playground Route), and the West Ridge of Quandary Peak. Counters will not be placed on Mount Princeton or La Plata Peak—Winfield route due to low use or high rates of hiker tampering. CFI uses the term “person days” to report hiking use on the 14ers. This represents one person hiking one peak on one day. Anecdotally we know that individual enthusiasts may hike multiple 14ers over the course of a given year, including climbing the same peak multiple times. Using “person days” reports the number of days of hiking use that occurred, but does not represent the number of individual people who hiked 14ers that year.

About Colorado Fourteeners Initiative. CFI was founded in 1994 to preserve and protect the natural integrity of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks through active stewardship and public education. To date CFI has constructed 31 sustainably designed, durably built summit trails on 28 14er peaks. CFI has engaged almost 15,500 days of volunteer stewardship since 2001 in the construction and maintenance of these peaks. A multi-pronged educational strategy has contacted more than 127,000 hikers in the field through paid crews and volunteer Peak Stewards, while CFI’s YouTube channel contains more than 40 educational videos that have been viewed more than 43,500 times. Learn more at http://www.14ers.org and obtain frequent updates on Facebook.

Saguache News – August 29

Hay Directory Out for Colorado

The 2018 Colorado Hay Directory, published by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, is now available. You may find Saguache County suppliers on page 15 of the report. Other San Luis Valley farmers are included as well.

“With dry conditions in Colorado and across the country, this publication helps connect horse and livestock owners with the hay they need,” said Wendy White, marketing specialist for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. “It is a valuable resource for both producers and buyers.” Colorado Hay Directory

The 32nd edition of the Colorado Hay Directory features producers and brokers of hay as well as companies that provide hay-related products and services. Categorized by region, each listing includes the type and amount of hay available, bale type and size, whether or not laboratory analysis is available, certified weed free status and identifies organic hay. 

The Colorado Hay Directory is published by the Colorado Department of Agriculture in cooperation with participating Colorado hay producers, Colorado State University Extension, and with support from Hutchison Incorporated, KeyAg and Tytan International. 

The directory and other hay resources are available online at www.coloradoagriculture.com. For more information or to request a copy of the 2018 Colorado Hay Directory, call the Colorado Department of Agriculture at (303) 869-9175.

Saguache News – August 28

Photo Contest Sees Fierce Competition, Deadlines

Attention all you shutterbugs! It’s not too late to submit your great shots to the Annual Photo Contest in Saguache. This year, the event was moved to coordinate with the Annual Fall Festival and Quilt Show to be held on Saturday, Sept. 15.

But there’s a lot to do before then – so round up your favorite snapshots, chat-snaps and good, old-fashioned black & whites, and let the community be the judge!

Last year’s contest had a record 125 photos from 29 artists! And perhaps as a testament to “tradition meets with technology,” the Grand Champion Photo – “Round-Up” was captured by Josiah Brinkley from his iPhone! 

Last year’s Photo Contest Grand Champion went to Josiah Brinkley for this “Round-Up” shot he snapped with his iPhone.

This year’s categories include:  Historical Buildings, Local (people or activities), Best Friends (two or more animals, children adults of mix),Landscape, Skyscapes (sunrise, sunsets, rainbow, storm clouds, lightening), Wildlife, Miscellaneous(still life, or any topic not fitting into the other categories), Miscellaneous/Organic (floral trees, vegetables, plant life), Action (working cowboys, rodeo. rafting, sporting event), Pets ( domesticated, animals, i.e. cats, dogs, horses, chickens cows), Series ( 2 – 4 related photos), Black & White (any subject), and Professional (any subject).

All photos must have been taken in the San Luis valley.  Each person is limited to two photos in any category.  Entries must be suitably framed or matted.

The 2017 competition was fierce in the Saguache Photo Contest – submit your entry!

There will be ribbons for places 1-6 in each category as well as on overall Grand Champion and Reserve Champion awarded to amateurs only.  The professional category will have the same categories same rules and may be grouped together if not enough entries are submitted.  A professional is described as “a person taking and showing photographs specifically for profit.”

Entries are due starting Wednesday, Sept. 5 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day, and close Friday, Sept. 7 at 2 p.m. at the Fellowship Hall of the Methodist Church at 6th and Christy Streets. Public judging will begin Wednesday, Sept. 12 through Friday, Sept. 14 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Fellowship Hall.  Winners are a “Viewer’s Choice” decision.

The photos will be on display with their wards beginning Saturday Sept. 15 at 9 a.m. at the Fellowship Hall entries must be picked up between 3:30 – 4 p.m. Entry forms may be filled out the day the photos are submitted. There is no entry fee for the photo contest.

So keep those camera handy or those phones ready to snap your winning photo. Or maybe you have the champion picture in your collection? Submit it!

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With a total 125 photos from 29 artists submitted in 2017, the 75 voters had a difficult time selecting their favorites in each of the nine categories! Submit yours!

Saguache News – August 26

Spiritual Center Wraps Up Summer Series

This Wednesday, Aug. 29 will see the final presentation in the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center’s 2018 Summer Events. Join Father Joseph Vigil for the program: “Passion of St. John the Baptist, ” starting with 11 a.m. Mass at the historic church.  Fr. Vigil was the inspiration and guiding light for the site’s historic renovations, initiated nearly 10 years ago. Refreshments will follow the program. All are welcome.2018_PassionStJohnBaptist_Email (1).jpg

The summer series has prompted a flourishing interest in the Center, located in at La Garita, in the northwest San Luis Valley. The latest celebration had dozens of Catholic faithful, and historic preservationists pack the St. John the Baptist Church on July 28 to celebrate the most recent milestone of a new roof and ongoing efforts to restore the structure.  

For readers unfamiliar with the center, it is a unique 10-acre site that offers a historical view of cultural traditions and a Catholic way of life brought from old Spain by the first Hispano settlers who traveled to the Spanish northern frontier from New Mexico.

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A new roof and cross for the church’s steeple were celebrated with Mass, a community meal and presentation about the Catholics influence in the San Luis Valley on July 28. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

As noted on the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center’s website, it’s a place of panoramic beauty, in the northern portion of the San Luis Valley, protected by the rugged San Juan Mountain Range to the west and looks across the vast valley floor towards the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east.

As a visitor, you can trace the path of the Hispano settlers when you see St. John the Baptist Catholic Church; as you pause at the site of the ruins of the old convent, now a monument dedicated to San Juan Bautista; as you wander through the rows of graves in the Carnero Creek Cemetery you can see family inscriptions and old gravesite markers; and finally, as you look upon a recent addition to the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center, a Rosary Walk dedicated to Saint John Paul II.

And if you like scenic natural beauty to accompany your spiritual quests, then the view from the “top of the hill” will not disappoint.  

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The pews were full at the St. John the Baptist in La Garita on July 28 as the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center celebrated Mass along with a new roof and cross for the historic building located in Saguache Today.

In 2007, a revitalization of the church and the surrounding property was inspired and guided by Father Joseph Vigil of the San Juan Catholic Community.  Through his efforts, a renewed pride emerged for the treasure and beauty of the tradition and history of the church.   As a result, the interior of the church has been restored, and the grounds now include walkways, a monument dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and a rosary walk dedicated to St. John Paul II.  

Then according to their website, early this spring, the Pueblo Diocese accepted the Archuleta Family Foundation’s request to donate and manage replacement of the church roof.  Not only did they give the approval to more forward but offered wonderful support in the efforts at the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center. They were fortunate to receive great work from ZTEC Construction who traveled each day from La Jara, Colorado. 

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With thanks to the Archuleta Family Foundation, the roof to the St. John the Baptist Church in La Garita was replace this spring. Photo: San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center webiste.

During the roof replacement, it was discovered that the steeple’s cross was very weather-beaten and needed to be replaced.  A new cross was built by Ed Kulp with the help of his wife Kathy.  It was Ed who envisioned the concept of the St. John Paul II Rosary Walk and also constructed the decade monuments.  Ed and Kathy are closely involved with the Archuleta Family Foundation in maintaining and planning events for the Spiritual Center. When the cross was ready to be installed, Fr. Stephen Injoalu, from the San Juan Catholic Community in Monte Vista, blessed the cross.

Collectively, the St. John Church and surrounding features comprise the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center, dedicated to the courageous Hispano people who settled in La Garita and to the Priests and Sisters that supported them in their Catholic faith.  It is also dedicated to the Penitentes who helped keep the Catholic faith alive in the absence of priests during the early settlement.

So if there are any Saguache Today readers who are looking for a “place of peace, prayer and reflection in the San Luis Valley,” head toward La Garita and the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center and take advantage their next program, the last one this summer on August 29!

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Hollyhocks are in bloom along the St. John Paul II Rosary Walk at the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center in La Garita. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell