The prominent San Juan peaks…

An interview at 14,000 feet

This interviewed has been compiled under duration by a crack team of investigative journalists trying to rationalize spending a good chunk of the long, hot summer stumbling around high in the San Juan Mountains. It in no way reflects the shortsightedness, political bias or intolerant stands common to this newspaper. The report is not intended to substitute for the eerie harbingers, half-truths, crisp dialogue, educational opportunities, fantasy time travel or twisted focus presented in the mainstream funny papers.
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Horseshoe: (crawling up the last few feet to the top of Mount Sneffels) Good day, Ms Sneffels. I hope we aren’t intruding so early in the morning. Did you sleep well?

Sneffels: Sleep well? Up here, with sheets of bedrock? You must be kidding. It snowed last night. I’m soaked to the strata and haven’t even had time to fix my face. I must look hideous.
Horseshoe: On the contrary…you look…quite majestic.
Sneffels: Why thank you. How about a nice hot cup of tundra tea. I have it imported from the Sangre de Cristos.
Horseshoe: Sure. I guess you’re wondering what I’m up to here so early.
Sneffels: We don’t get a lot of visitors until about noon, then the lightning scares them off by two and things calm down again. (A rock falls down almost hitting me). Damn mountain goats. Clumsy bastards. No consideration. No sense of design. They never used to come up this high until the humans started the jeep tours and helix skiing.
Horseshoe: My publisher sent me up here to get a story on the Pacific Rim and climate change…
Sneffels: Well you’re 800 miles off course.
Horseshoe: But I came to talk to you and several other mountains here in the San Juans to get your angle on it all. Even though there are few actual volcanoes here, the whole place is the largest erosional remnant of a complete volcanic field. Scientists say the San Juans were created by five volcanic eruptions each with a magnitude ten times greater than Mt St. Helens.
Sneffels: When was all of this to have happened?
Horseshoe: About 35 million years ago.
Sneffels: Before my time.
Horseshoe: Did you ever meet La Garita Caldera?
Sneffels: I knew her during the Precambrian Era when we were a lot younger. She was an eruption waiting to happen. All talk-no action.
Horseshoe: Are there mountains like her in the San Juans today?
Sneffels: You mean volcanoes? Say it. It’s not so bad. Yes, Lone Cone still fancies himself an active volcano but most geologists laugh him off the stage when he starts in. He’s the only mountain in this range with enough hot air to almost pull it off.
Horseshoe: A real hot head, huh?
Sneffels: Oh he’s a genuine volcano all right…though extinct from what I hear. We don’t talk about that in front of him. You should stop and ask Old Man Wilson about him. They’ve been neighbors for millenniums. No love lost there. I’d go with you but I think I’ll just stay here and be high.

After crossing into the Western San Juans the hard way we finally reached the crest of Mt Wilson. We carefully ascended the steep rock face and scrambled up to the top of the magnificent 14er.
Horseshoe: Hello Mount Wilson. Are you there?
Mt Wilson: Yes I’m there. I’m here. I’m pretty much everywhere up here. But please get off my chest. It’s hard enough to do crunches when you’re made of metamorphic rock.
Horseshoe: Oh sorry.
Mt. Wilson: Men who move mountains, huh. What a crock of lava.
Horseshoe: May I speak with you for a moment about global warming and seismic energy and…
Mt Wilson: So you’ve been talking to Mount Sneffels? That bony broad doesn’t know if she’s coming or going. Not well grounded if you know what I mean. What did she say about me?
Horseshoe: Only that I should talk to you about Lone Cone.
Mt Wilson: So that’s it. I should have known. That Lone Cone gets all the attention. Don’t know what the ladies see in him. He’s always been a punk in my book. I knew him at Vesuvius Junior College. He was very active in a lot of underground volcanic activities there.
Horseshoe: Do you think he plans to erupt in the future?
Mount Wilson: He has too many faults and that crater face ain’t gonna win him any friends. His volcanic block along with his personal hygiene could dictate anything.
Horseshoe: When was the last time he blew his stack?
Mt Wilson: During the Haleyolithic Era he got all huffy about some pterodactyls using him for nesting. Up here…mind you. He shot a few rounds of steam and they split. If you don’t believe me, ask him yourself. He’s over there toward Norwood with his head in the clouds. Just do yourself a favor and don’t say anything about his faults. He’s also touchy about the word dormant…something about his twisted male ego.
Horseshoe: Thanks Mr. Wilson.
Mt Wilson: You betcha. Hey if you run into Last Dollar Mountain on your travels tell him he still owes me money from a poke game in 450, will ya.

We proceeded to climb the south ascent to Lone Cone despite warnings of electric fields and unfriendly ptarmigan. As we approached his conical mound he resembled a medieval castle. We yelled a greeting like before.
Horseshoe: Greetings Mr. Cone. We’re from the San Juan Horseshoe. I understand you’re a volcano.
Lone Cone: Well I’m not a Chevrolet.
Horseshoe: I’ve been talking a lot of your neighbors about volcanoes and global arming and I…
Lone Cone: Those ninnies over by Ouray? Bunch of angular nonconformists. I went to a barbecue over there a couple of hundred years ago and it took me three years to get home. Damn.
Horseshoe: Are you extinct like they say?
Lone Cone: I certainly was not that Fourth of July. It was a Carnival atmosphere. Extinct? I should say not. It started as an impulsive glance and ended in a landslide. I’m known as quite the ladies’ mountain you know.
Horseshoe: You know La Garita Caldera?
Lone Cone: Garita babe? We saw quite a little of each other during the Triassic Period, but the commute cooled things off. Have you ever tried to get a mountain into the back seat of a 57 Ford?
Horseshoe: Not recently.
Lone Cone: Oh a wise guy? How would you like a little eruption or maybe a landslide aimed in your direction? Didn’t your momma ever teach you any manners?
Horseshoe: Yes but I gave them up to go into journalism. But do you plan to erupt soon?
Lone Cone: Only if I get another real estate sign stuck in the side of my head. The other day some lady asked me for my listing. Was she coming on to me? You people ski all over our faces. You take our pictures. You gaze in our direction but when it gets dark you leave us out here…all alone. Lone as it were. Lone.
Horseshoe: So…the eruption potential?
Lone Cone: Yeah, I think I will. Imagine the attention from the rest of the world if I spewed out and made a mess. I’d probably qualify for federal assistance. A disaster area right here in the San Juans. The Andes and the Urals and the Alps would be green with envy. Maybe I’ll do it for Christmas. Back in the old days the tribes would throw me a virgin princess or two…to calm me down…but with civil rights and all I can’t expect that this go round.
Horseshoe: Those days may be gone forever. Thanks for talking to us. We’ll send you a copy of the story. – Gabby Haze

Filed Under: Fractured Opinion


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