Copyright © 2005 Henrietta W. Hay
The Grand Mesa
September 23, 2005
I didn't get up onto the Mesa on color Sunday, but I didn't really need to. The shining beauty of it is engraved in my head.
The Grand Mesa is the highest flat top mountain in the world with a long history. A hundred million years ago it was on the swampy shore of an inland sea. Living in these swamps were large numbers of dinosaurs, and their tracks can be found today in the rocks above the beds of coal. The sea slowly disappeared, the area began to rise, 10,000 feet in fact. Then came volcanoes. The lava cooled forming a flat surface that today is the top of Grand Mesa. Beginning about fifteen million years ago a glacier pushed across the top of the lava and scooped out large shallow depressions that formed more than 200 lakes. Let's se how Intelligent Design explain those events!
Evidence suggests that ancient people were already living in the area 10,000 years ago. Later It was a hunting ground for the Utes The first Europeans known to encounter it were members of the famous Dominguez-Escalante expedition hunting for an overland route to the Pacific in 1776.
For the past hundred years or so Grand Mesa has been the summer and winter playground for people who live around it. And during the 60 years I have lived in Grand Junction I have become quite well acquainted with it, but my first visit was not a happy one.
When I was a kid back in the twenties I had never heard of the Grand Mesa, but one summer my Dad had to attend two meetings, one in Collbran and one in Cedaredge two days apart.
After the Collbran meeting we studied the map and saw a little blue line across Grand Mesa. It was obviously the shortest route to Cedaredge, and since we wanted to camp out , we started off.
There was one problem that we had not taken into account. It rained.
And it rained. And then it rained some more. And the road - that squiggly little blue line - turned into the longest mud hole in history.
The old Hudson would go just about anywhere, but it balked at moving in dobie mud, and so somewhere on the top of the Grand Mesa the gears gave out. There we sat, in the rain, with night coming, apparently the only people in the world. We managed to put up our tent by the side of the road. It leaked, but it was better than sleeping in the car with isinglass windows.
Building a fire was impossible, so the three beautiful steaks we had brought for our dinner could only taunt us. We ate everything we had that didn't have to be cooked and settled in for a long, wet night.
Fortunately, in the morning a truck came along headed down the hill.
The driver sent a rescue truck and sure enough, we finally got off that mountain. I swore never to climb it again - never dreaming that one day it would become one of my favorite spots in the world.
First impressions are not always lasting. Today Grad Mesa is a part of my home. I have driven or walked or skied over great parts of it, I always watch for the swan's neck to be broken so that I know spring will really be here. I am fortunate to have lived over half my life in its shadow.