It all adds up to final long weekend of outdoor activity

The date is 09-09-09, which adds to 27, and two plus seven is nine.

While auspicious simply for the numeric parallel, today might be especially of interest to numerologists, who remind us that there are nine Supreme Court justices, Beethoven wrote nine symphonies, a round of golf is nine holes and baseball features nine-person teams playing nine-inning games.

And this is the ninth month, a time when we are shifting away from the long days of summer to activities fitting into the days that seem abbreviated, with dark already coming at least once long before the end of the trail was in sight.

Fully cognizant of it being the last long weekend of the summer, Sunday was spent on the Uncompahgre Plateau, where untold hundreds of other recreationists, seemingly all of them atop four-wheel drives, ATVs or dirt bikes, were spending what might be the last time they get out before winter slams the door on high-country rubber-tired recreation.

Also, dusky grouse season started Sept. 1 and the Uncompahgre is a wonderful place to chase grouse. Long hillsides of ripe berries and clouds of grasshoppers provide a late-summer smorgasbord for dusky grouse, and vast expanses of public land offer access nearly everywhere you turn.

Dusky grouse also are known as blue or mountain grouse, even though the American Ornithological Union recently split blue grouse into two species, the coastal Sooty grouse and the Dusky grouse of the interior Rocky Mountains.

But this weekend our favorite grouse haunts were overrun by cattle, ATVs and dirt bikes, so we shrugged off the hunt and instead decided since we’d already made the drive, we’d go where the gas-powered crowd can’t, down the steep trail that falls off the Divide Road into Carson Hole.

Once below the rim, the noise of carbon-fueled engines abated, soon replaced by heavy breathing as we climbed down and then up, following the succession of trails that line what is one of the main drainages on the north side of the plateau.

The creek burbled alongside, its flow regularly interrupted by the continuation of beaver dams, bringing a flood plain of green to the austere landscape dominated otherwise by sagebrush and pinyon/juniper.

These pocket-sized streams flowing out of Carson Hole — La Fair, which runs into Smith Creek, which in turn joins with Big Dominguez Creek, which runs to the Gunnison River — hold populations of Colorado River cutthroat trout, and the small fish finned lazily in the pools, mostly unperturbed by our awkward shadows falling over them.

This might be fly fishing at its most difficult. There’s really no casting involved. Instead, you weave a fly rod among willow branches, dapping a fly softly on the water with patience and a sense of timelessness, for there’s no hurry down here. Numerologists say the energy of nine flows like water.

The Uncompahgre Plateau also is popular among big-game hunters, and with archery season nearly two weeks old, we passed camps of bowhunters spending the heat of the day in camp, waiting placidly for the general hubbub to quiet and the late afternoon and dusk to resume their stealthy activities.

Bowhunting is a time-consuming endeavor with little physical reward, the overall success rate not much above 17 percent.

Grand Junction Realtor and archery hunter Brandon Siegfried recently upset that particular cart, beating those odds by scoring a cow elk on opening morning.

He shot the cow from 20 yards and spent the rest of the day packing the meat back to camp.

“Nasty awesome,” he called it.

We climbed the steep trail out of Carson Hole just as the sun was nearing the horizon, a fiery baseball burning a red hole in the distant haze.

And a baseball, of course, has 108 stitches, which adds up to nine.


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