Day up,  day back, 3 on the trails.

This past week I seized a window of opportunity and traveled to Lake City, Hinsdale County, Colorado for a visit.

My road trips aren’t nearly as exciting as Hunter Biden’s, but then again, I’m not the smartest guy that Slow Joe ever met — and no laptops are missing.

Full disclosure, I haven’t been feeling well and I thought that some time above timberline might bring everything into battery. Low stress, low impact, 4 by 4 mining roads, and so forth.

Durango-Silverton Railroad


Rush Hour in Durango

The possibly less than obvious question might be, “LL did you get any writing done on Loki’s Fire, the sequel to Red Mist?” Thank you for asking, yes I did. This is a shameless plug for the book, but I’ve taken some time to write while on the road. There is very little nightlife in Ouray, Colorado  (refuge of Ayn Rand’s character, John Galt in Atlas Shrugged).


Yankee Girl Mine and Red Mountain

I know, sometimes it’s a political blog, sometimes a military blog, sometimes a food blog, and sometimes a travel blog.

Yankee Boy Basin


Some campers love drinking unfiltered water directly from mountain streams. I admit that I’ve done that, but I don’t do it now.


A Very Brief History of Drinking Water

There have been recent discussions about the water delivered by means of aqueducts built by Rome, and the purity of “moving water”.

It wasn’t pure, and it would make any modern person sick or kill them. Romans, anciently, and people living in rural areas without water treatment today understand that water cannot be consumed “raw” without treatment because amoebas can kill you, even if water has no fecal matter and seems not turbid and is actually running water.

The Romans did what people have done for centuries. They added alcohol, acetic acid or myrrh to the water after boiling it (when boiling was possible).

Boiling was used not to clean the water but to concentrate the sugar of the must in such a way that a good Roman wine, made of concentrated must full of fructose does.

You did NOT use such concentrated wine to get drunk at the orgy. Heavy wine would put you under the table long before you could get into the activity. They used less intense wine for the party scene.

Romans often carried wine concentrate around with them or bought the concentrate to add to water at the nearest “taberna vinaria”.

We all know that you don’t make clean water by making it flow but by killing germs, as Pasteur informed us.

Roman water was treated in places, but not like today, when you can drink water because it has chlorine added at the source but by adding vinegar or wine after collecting the water from the aqueduct.

Vinegar added water was common, even for poor people and it was called posca.


That is why beer and wine were invented and how civilization started in Memphis in Egypt, 6000 years ago or more and, is also one of the reasons why tea was used as a medicinal beverage in China and more recently in Europe since 1610, give or take.

It is very hard to become civilized while diarrhea is killing you and your will to live.

Sapa, made of boiled must, is still being sold. It’s in essence what the Romans and Greeks used – unfiltered grape juice in various stages of fermentation.

Drinking Sapa will definitely put hair on your chest, and you’re unlikely to confront any living amoebas.


PS – “Don’t eat yellow snow” remains sound advice.


    • It’s worth a visit, Bluey. Lots of scenery, not so many people, fun 4×4 trails above 12,000 ft.

  1. Posca ain’t half bad. Kind of refreshing, like a sports drink but without sugar.

    A reasonable substitute would be… pickle juice. The leftover liquids from the jar of pickles. Nothing like a cold glass of pickle juice on a hot day.

    Medieval people also were smart about water. Vinegar, weak wine, weak or not-so-weak beer and ale. Even a constantly cooking pot of meat broth made from scraps and bones. Big huge mug of meat broth. MMMMMmmmmm… Or vegetable broth.

    All that blah blah Romans and Medieval people were stupid is all from the dumbass Victorians.

    Also, medieval and premedieval people kept a pretty clean house or castle. They knew filth and garbage bred disease. Again, stupid Victorians.

    • I keep telling people we aren’t smarter than the Romans or Medieval people. We just have another 1 or 2 thousand years of learning to build on. And it seems like we’re busy pissing it away to be “woke”.

      • I keep thinking that you were born 1000 years too late, Beans.

        Right on, Bluey. The difference between a human living 2000 years ago and one today may be the frame of reference, but they were people just like us.

  2. We drank water strait out of an old hand pump well growing up with no obvious side effects that I know of. Our 100 head of Holsteins thrived on our farms water. It takes a copious amount of water intake to produce a gallon of milk. Myself and my five brothers were not allowed in the cows water tank. Dad didn’t want us contaminating their water. They made us money, we just cost him money!

  3. It’s been a number of years since I’ve been to Hinsdale County. Beautiful country back then, and quite wild. I don’t imagine it’s changed much since then. Alferd Packer practiced his culinary skills there. I have been up and over Cinnamon Pass. I recall a sign at the start of the road recommending 4×4 and prohibiting trailers. There was switchback or two that I had to back up to get around. The vies were spectacular.

    • Yes, the place is neat. Photos don’t do any of it justice. I return every so often to refresh my chi.

  4. we kids drank from the creek all the time while out in the woods playing, not knowing that upstream were dozens of old appliances rusting in the water among other things. even after we found them, we still drank from it believing the running water myth. until one day at about 16, i was mending fences, first warm day of spring. the fence line cut across the creek twice in its 50 acre square pasture. on the return trip, hot and thirsty i took a long drink. walking back to the truck i found our missing cow, dead and decomposing in the creek. covid can’t kill me.

    • Kids these days need more dirt in their system…all my buddies are the same, drank from the creek and hose, got cruddy…inoculated beyond anything Pfizer could come up with (not that what they have is an actual vax, color me skeptical.)

      • Yep. All those cuts and scrapes we got playing in the local dirt helped build our immunity. For the bad ones, Mom would liberally douse them with Bactine, and the REALLY bad ones got Mercurochrome or (shudder) IODINE!

        Playing in open fields, building forts and caves, crawling around in the primordial ooze during the Spring rains, climbing trees and getting scraped up…..all the “normal” kid things we did back then.

        And then there was handling, cleaning, and eating the fish we caught, along with getting jabbed by catfish, fishhooks, and the spines on bass and other fish.

        Some of the stuff we did as play would get a kid thrown into the Isolation Ward of the ICU these days….

          • We were “Children of the 50’s”, Paul. That was normal activity where I grew up. For quite a few years our area was only about half built up, with BIG empty lots all around us. For little boys with active imaginations, it was close to paradise.

            I even had room to launch and recover my Estes rockets, and plenty of room for antennas.

    • When I was in the scouts, there was a creek we filled lister bags with. We had it tested.
      It came back better than Detroit City tap water, which is actually pretty good.

  5. Pickle juice is also recommended for those suffering leg cramps, particularly at night while trying to rest. My bride swears by it, and having seen the agita when it’s not at hand I agree with her.

  6. Good to get away to recharge the spiritual batteries, especially there. Distractions are elective. If you wanna get lost that’s the place…Yankee, Chicago Lakes…The Weminuche is stunning.

    I see you took the train up to Silverton. 3-1/2 hours, one way. Next trip we took the bus back, 50 minutes. Got to thinking, when the miners came off the mountain to town, parked their horse and rig at the Livery, hit the saloon to wet their whistle, then got on the train to Durango, they must have thought, “Man this is fast”. 4 hours instead of two days horseback.

    Ouray is great, is CW McCall still mayor? Imogene Pass is a good 4wheeler ride to Telluride. When I was A LOT younger got talked into doing it on a mountain bike…ride a little, carry the bike, ride some more. But then all downhill into town for pizza and beer…and a nap.

    And if you’re “quiet” we’ll know you’re up on some mountain enjoying God’s creation. As it should be.

  7. Water. Our small city’s water has been voted #1 or#2 in the nation (don’t know who the voters are). Still gets filtered i my apartment. The best municipal water I remember drinking was in Anchorage in the 70’s. Rev. Paul says that has changed for the worse.

    Early 2000’s ran 5 day offsite car sales in that part of Colorado. Who needs a 4×4 when you have a Lincoln Town Car? Further west is the Uncompahgre Plateau, a place I like for solitude. Not as rugged but as remote as anyplace in Colorado.

    • Thanks Rob. I’m back home now, still in the high mountains, but different high mountains. It was a nice trip, a refreshing trip.

  8. Beautiful country up there! Peaceful and little traffic is a real plus! Re water/wine, yes it was done for reasons! As kids, we did drink out of the creeks/rivers, and didn’t get sick. I think part of that was our immune systems were better because we grew up outside and got dirty. Kids today are so protected they are MUCH more prone to autoimmune issues…

    • Human beings were not designed to be coddled the way that our modern world is doing it. We destroy what it is to be men and women…. but maybe that’s their point.

  9. The water diet. Buy a gallon jug of whatever kind of water you come to first in the grocery store. What kind is not important. Pour the contents out in the parking lot and drive around til you find a cow pasture with a pond, preferably one without a bull but with cows in the pond or at least standing around adjacent to it. Fill the jug back up from said pond, taking care where you step during the process, and drink the contents during the course of an afternoon.

    You’ll get the e coli and the pounds will fly right off you.

  10. I have taken the Silverton train, God’s country up there!

    I bought your book and it is next up on my reading list.

    Kids these days are not exposed to enough bacteria, need to get into the dirt more. Heck , when I was growing up no one had ever heard of a peanut allergy.

  11. Your blog = Your choice of topics.

    Always worked for me.

    That’s some gorgeous scenery. SLW’s been on the “Georgetown Loop” RR a couple of times, but all I’ve done is the Pike’s Peak cog railway, which is finally back in operation. We’re planning on dragging my son there before the snow hits.

    Sorry to hear you’re under the weather. Been going through some things, myself.

    Interesting history of potable water. The Sapa is like carrying around some purification tablets, which we have in our kits along with a filter.

  12. Ouray night life is better in the winter due to ice climbing. Harder to get to though grandkids would enjoy it.

    • I’m not much of a nightlife guy unless night life=star gazing.

      I did have a slab of medium prime rib w/horseradish, baked spud, veg, a salad, and some bread at the Outlaw last night in Ouray. That may qualify as night life but I was done by 6:30…

  13. I read once that in third world hot climates you could put clear water in cast-off clear plastic first world water bottles and leave it in full sun for a day, and the combination of heat+UV was enough to kill the bugs.

    Here in the first world, the $20 “Polar Pure” little glass bottle of Iodine crystals with the liquid crystal thermometer on the side is again available. Put some number of capfuls of Iodine solution in the bottle into the untreated water, and wait half an hour. Little bottle treats hundreds of gallons. Bottle offgasses Iodine, so don’t store it in your backpack’s pocket in the closet because the gas will stain and corrode.

  14. Water:
    I knew a psychologist who, when traveling I5 northbound, always stopped at Ashland, OR and insisted his kids drink from the community fountain.
    The city water had a high concentration of lithium carbonate that he claimed mellowed out the kids for the rest of the trip.

  15. It puzzled the heck out of me about age 18 when some outdoor hiking magazine was talking about giardia. Wuzzat? Like the rest here, drank out of the brook (don’t swallow the leeches) and the pond and old hoses and the hand pump in the graveyard. Most of residents had been there for at least 100 years anyway…

    • That was my standard activity as well. Today I practice more caution. I’m not saying that I should, just that I do.

  16. Thru-hiking the AT back in 2012, it was common lore not to drink out of streams or creeks and to treat your drinking water with whatever means you chose. I broke the rules many times (but only south of NY) and I never caught the bug. But others did and had to leave the trail for an extended stay in the local hospital and then head back home. Roll of the dice. When you’ve been without water for 6 hours, you get desperate. If I remember, Connecticut was hot and miserable….every spring was dried up and fellow hikers were going crazy for water. Fun times.

    • I had dysentery in the military (I think it’s so long ago now that we used sticks and stones) and it was horrible. That was enough. Blood at both ends is a reminder of why one must be careful.

  17. Looks like a great trip, LL ! Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Almost all of the public wells and springs here in southern New England have been capped off or capped and tapped for (cheap) commercial access – “fill your own bottle spring water”.

    I think there are still more public ones in operation up in the northern parts. I hope so, anyway.

    Providence used to have fantastic tap water, but the growth of the service area to cover other towns with failed water supply systems and a huge overreaction to a cryptosporidium outbreak in the ’80s have lead to decreased quality and increased chlorination. It’s only mediocre these days.


  18. I like your travel blogs because you always take great pictures.
    Any of which would make a great puzzle!
    Hope you are feeling better. Be safe and God bless.

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