Copyright © 2008 Henrietta W. Hay
A Weekend on the X Lazy F Ranch
April 11, 2008
There I was -- riding up a dirt road in a pickup -- a pickup with a gun rack in the back window and a rifle in the gun rack! Whoa! How could I ever have climbed into such a vehicle?
But that ride in that pickup was a high point in a weekend I spent some years ago getting acquainted with Black Mesa and the X Lazy F ranch.
Charley, my new friend with the pickup managed the X Lazy F, now a guest ranch on Black Mesa. I was there with my friend Terry and her daughter Katie as a guest at the adoption group week-end at the X Lazy F.
"Henrietta," said Charley, how would you like to take a trail ride in a pickup?" "You betcha," and so started that glorious ride across the mesa. Coming onto the east rim without warning took my breath away. From that rim you can see forever. I looked down onto Curecanti Creek and way up the other side to Soap Mesa and beyond.
I wondered why anyone would ever want to live anywhere except near the mountains.
After seeing my reaction to the east rim Charley said, "Want to see the Billy Knott homestead?" "Of course," I said and off we went again. The homestead was on the south end of Black Mesa, above - way above -- the Gunnison River Valley. As a kid I had seen the mesa from below, but never from above.
On the ride over, Charley explained how to spot a deer in the forest. The trick I learned is to look for something in the in the trees that doesn't fit. Trees are vertical. Deer are not. I'm going to have to work on that one.
Several times, we emerged from the quakies onto a sun drenched meadow of wild flowers. Finally, in the middle of one of the meadows, there it was -- the sagging remains of an old barn.
The early pay road from eastern Colorado to the Western Slope went over Monarch Pass and along the Gunnison River valley. Some miles west of Gunnison there was a little town called Sapinero.
In the early part of the century somebody had carved out a road up Corral Gulch onto the Black Mesa. And a man named Billy Knott had homesteaded a ranch up there, the beginning of the X Lazy F.
He built a barn and a cabin, hauling everything he needed up from Sapinero by horse and wagon. We stood in what is left of the big barn and looked up at the sky through the skeletal remains of the roof. We touched the huge pieces of rusty farm machinery still there and thought about Billy Knott.
In the winter he would strap a five gallon can of cream on his back and snowshoe down to Sapinero, returning with the supplies the cream had bought.
We wondered about Mrs. Billy Knott, who she was, where she came from, how she survived the isolation.
Later, back at the ranch house, Charley's wife filled me in on the very checkered history of a working cattle ranch.
The house was built in the thirties. All the logs were cut with a double-bladed ax by a man they called the Ax Man.
After an adventurous youth, the X Lazy F Ranch had settled down into a more sedate middle age.
When I was a kid and fished the Gunnison around Sapinero before they covered it with water and called it Blue Lake, Billy was probably raising cattle a half mile above me.
Am I ever glad I got into that pickup!