On the 22nd day of September, 2007, on or about 1300 hours, deep in the Cabin Creek watershed on the 13,911 ft. Mt. Meeker, the eastern most peak of the Longs Peak Massif, my beloved wife Deborah and I spread the remains of Aaron Boggs Anthony.
"Dad Anthony"....or "Bob"....or "Boggs"....or " A-A-Aaron!!!..or other loving names were attached to him over his 88 years. Mostly we kids called him Dad or Poppo.
His service to this country during World War Two has already been recounted. His work as a civil engineer will remain long after most of us are dust. However, the uncounted hours of sweat, toil and laughter he put in at the Ripley Family Compound of Luring Pines at Meeker Park have not been recalled.
They are akin to the many hours... and days... and long summer nights that many of us spent loving and being loved by that place, by the people who shared it and by the wonderful family who ran it from 1949 to 1972.
The following map, photos and writing chronicle the final deposition of Dad's ashes.
Hopefully, this will recall in those who read it, similar memories for those who share in this little walk on a Saturday afternoon on the eve of the Autumnal Equinox.
All of the photos can be clicked and a larger image will come into view.
The yellow highlight is the watercourse of Cabin Creek from its headwaters on Mt. Meeker to where it meets Horse Creek and the South Fork of the St. Vrain River.
Homesteads like this old Boulder Creek Ranch were settled in glacial valleys and open glades of the Front Range from the 1850's through the 1920's.
A view of Mt. Meeker from the southern approach. If you look closely on the far left ridge you will see the profile known as "Chief's Head Peak" (13,579 ft.) These wide open glacial "parks" were formed during the last great ice age.
Cabin Creek...named for the remains of a cabin which Kit Carson built and used as his refuge during his years as a trapper in the employ of the Bent and St. Vrain Company in the late 1840's. It still provides a home to Brookies, Browns and the errant Rainbow Trout.
Sure now, myself it is. My ancient pack stuffed with Dad's ashes, lunch, water, rain gear and first aid kit. You will notice that "Snuffy Senior", my favorite sidearm...a S&W model 27, "N"Frame .357 Mag rides comfortably on my right hip. Deborah says that I an not bad looking for a beat up sixty year old hipster.
The Bridge across Cabin Creek. This is where most of the Ripley kids who were so inclined, sat and caught their first trout. The bridge also led to a path which took us to a wonderful little country store filled with penny candy, canned goods and barrels of pickles and crackers, bait for fishing, beer for the men and dime novels for the ladies. This bridge has been replaced at least four times in my lifetime...and it looks as though it needs to be replaced again.
Picnic Rock, where the original Ripley clan held cookouts after long weekends of work. There are spirits who still reside here....waiting for the return of the King..... It is a place full of wonder and pathos and joy.
I spread the first of Dad's ashes to meld with his compatriots at Picnic Rock. I could write a litany and not be done with names who reside here in a very, very long time. You see, beloved, the list grows almost daily.....
One of the deep holds where the trout reside where a small fall concentrates oxygen, food and a safe place to ride out the summer....growing, thriving. This trip may be about Dad Anthony, yet I cannot help but seek out where the wild trout live.
Deb catches me telling her that I have just seen a good size trout, 10 to 12 inches, moving into a feeding lane. No fishing today....at least not with a rod and line!
One of Dad's favorite places....An engineered waterfall, made to dam the creek to provide water for pumping without curbing its ability to maintain a good flow for both fish and man.
Spreading Dad's ashes into the flow of Cabin Creek. I am certain that some miniscule molecule will make a wayward path down to the Gulf of Mexico. There the ol' man will help feed the progeny of all those shrimp he consumed over the years. Lordy, how he loved seafood!
Look closely, you will see him settle into the sandy sunlit creek bottom.
Rest well and long, Poppo. You served God, your country and your family for many a long year. You deserve this quiet place, this gentle rest, this place you loved. May the good Lord that created you cradle you in his strong and loving arms, just as you did for me so many years ago.
Walking back through the old family compound, Luring Pines. The current owners have kept up the tradition of names on the cabins. And they have maintained the feel, the presence of place...of history. It is a good and blessed place.
Each is still marked with the original signage which my grandmother carved:
Brookside, Columbine, Deer Trail, Echo, Fern Glen, Grey Squirrel, Hoot Owl and Jay.
Each cabin is now privately owned, well maintained....a grand testament to the Ripley tradition.
The Crossroads, looking due north at Cabin Mountain, where Big Owl Road crosses Cabin Creek and the road splits, either returning to Highway 7 or heading downstream to the Big Elk Ranch and the South St. Vrain Canyon. Notice all the mailboxes.
Camp St. Malo, nestled at the base of Mt. Meeker where Cabin Creek crosses beneath Highway 7. Pope John-Paul II requested and held a personal retreat here in the mid-ninteen eighties.
The South Fork of the St. Vrain River facing West into the rugged high country of the southern reaches of Rocky Mountain National Park. This is the Wild Basin Wilderness, some of the most treacherous and inaccessible wild country left in Northern Colorado. To the north is the Never Summer Range, the headwaters of the Big Thompson River, the Poudre River and the North Fork of the South Platte River. To the south is the Indian Peaks Wilderness, a wicked mass of twisting montane and alpine canyons that claims the lives of unprepared humans on a yearly basis....
And this is where we leave this place, this time. The main cabin and lodge...Dad's favorite.
He is finally at rest and I hope y'all have enjoyed the tour of the Northern Front Range of the Rockies in Colorado, on the first day of Autumn, 2007.
God bless y'all, and may He hold you close and warm against His sweet breast, just as he has taken my beloved father and holds him close.