Camping on Rabbit Ears Pass, part 3


Editor's note: Chuck Mack took this trip to Rabbit Ears Pass on Aug. 14 to 18.

Ever get to wondering how the little streams and creeks in the mountains get their names? Lots of the mountain streams on the Rabbit Ears range do not have a name or at least a name is not on the map. Walton Creek is an exception, however. It has lots of little tributary streams that do not have a name on the map. Nathaniel has good luck fishing in one of these little tributaries so we started calling it Nathaniel Creek. However on the lower side of the road he didn't have very good luck fishing so he started calling that section "No Fish Creek." Then we were scouting out another little creek and Nathaniel found a cell phone that had been run over by a snowmobile. Probably the phone had fallen from someone's pocket while they were riding a snowmobile and the track ran over the phone and there the phone lay on the ground after the snow melted until Nathaniel stumbled upon it. The phone was damaged and you can see a mark where the steel cleats on the snowmobile track had hit it. Nathaniel loves finding treasures while we are camping and that will be one of his prized possessions. Anyhow, being as how the phone wasn't far from the creek we were scouting, Nathaniel named that creek "Cell Phone Creek."

On another little creek, we found part of the hood and windshield from a snowmobile. Evidently someone had crashed their snowmobile and didn't gather up all the pieces. Now, a good name to apply to that creek was "Windshield Creek." Of course these are modern times and you can not officially name a creek or stream on just a whim alone. Back over 100 years ago when this country was being explored and settled lots of mountain streams got their name in just this way. Buffalo Park is a good example of this. Someone discovered a buffalo skull embedded in a stream bank, and that someone started referring to the place as Buffalo Park. Soon, other people started referring to the place as Buffalo Park, and that is what it is known as today. So, if 100 years or so ago, Nathaniel had found his cell phone and started calling the creek Cell Phone Creek. By golly, that is what it would be known as today. The naming of the creeks by Nathaniel is in no way official. But, I suppose as long as Alberta, Nathaniel and I live, that is what we will call them in the future!

Most of the little mountain streams get their start as a spring running out of the hillside or maybe just a bunch of springs making a marshy place. Anyhow, every little stream has a beginning and an ending. The Rabbit Ears Range straddles the Continental Divide, and, depending on which side of the divide a little stream starts its life as a spring, it keeps gathering more water from other little springs along the way. And those little mountain streams start their journey towards either the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean. And that little spring of water gushing out of the ground where Nathaniel and I walked to the other day was heading on its way towards the Pacific Ocean. Nathaniel thought the way I explained it to him was interesting. Walking back from that spring, every time we found another little stream of water we had to walk up to where that water came from the ground and headed towards the stream of water, which was getting bigger all the time. And gosh, when I told Nathaniel the little stream of water we were following would eventually run into the Yampa River, then to the Green River and finally into the Colorado River and then on to the Pacific Ocean in the Gulf of Mexico, he thought it would be really interesting to follow that little stream of water for the whole journey. And I had to admit that if it were possible for us to do that it would make a journey of all journeys!

We told Nathaniel that on one of our camping days we would drive back down to Steamboat and have the Chinese buffet. We did that, and stopped at Wal-Mart and bought Nathaniel his very own fly fishing pole. A beautiful green eight-foot pole with an aluminum reel and green fly fishing line. To properly fish a place like Rabbit Ears, or any other mountain stream, the fishermen has to stay out of sight of the stream and the best way to do that is to have a long fishing pole and a light-weight fly fishing pole makes the best stream fishing set up. Nathaniel has been using my trusty old fishing pole. Now, he has his very own stream fishing pole, and, of course, of it he's mighty proud!

He's kind of disappointed that school is starting and it will cut down on our camping time. But, we told him there is always another summer, and our plans are to do even more camping and fishing next year. He said, "yes but it's a long time away." And I suppose to him it seems that way.

And those are the highlights of our latest camping trip. I would be writing from now to doomsday if I described every adventure and all the fun we had in detail.

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