© 2019 Copyright by P. K. H. Groth, Denver, Colorado, USA All rights reserved - See contact page for for permission to republish article excerpts.
Flat Tops Wilderness Legends
A Really Lonesome and Disturbed Flat Tops Dove: Budges Resort was then forty- five dirt-miserable- road miles off the Old Highway 6 within the southern edge of the Flat Tops Primitive Area. The Lodge and seven cabins were built in the 1930s. While occasional improvements were made, the lodge and the seven cabins pretty much look as Teddy Roosevelt found them. Budges has a long history of quality elk and deer hunting and remains a superb remote place to harmonize with nature and harvest prime elk and deer. During a long-past hunting season, an old timer exposed this tidbit of Lodge history. Many years ago, he was camping in mid-July at Coffee Pot Springs. A young woman rode a horse in at dusk. She wore a coat, but arrived without saddlebag, gear, food or horse fodder. She had ridden the entire day. Her posterior ached and her mind reeled. The distraught vixen gulped the offered food and unloaded about her journey from hell. She had been invited to a weekend “wilderness wedding” at the acclaimed Budges Hunting Lodge and Resort. I know it is hard to believe anyone would schedule such a remote wedding, especially before Interstate 70 was built and the decrepit back track roads were improved. The damsel had envisioned attending a fantasy occasion. She knew the bride exceedingly well, but had not met the groom’s relatives and their hunting friends. She errored there, because the prenuptial party exposed more than the girl could ever have conjured or dreamed. The young woman revolted at the coarseness of most participants, and the spartan Depression Era-like accommodations at that time. (TV’s “Duck Dynasty” show hunting guys on crushed couches come to my mind.) The groom fit in with the general poor characters of the bunch. The maiden was totally out of place and self-conscious in the booze-fueled revelry. Unable to sleep, she arose at predawn, silently and secretly stole and somehow saddled a lodge horse, and managed to be twenty-five miles away at sundown. She guessed by that time the wedding party probably had shed their hangovers they come to their senses enough to realize one attendee gotten sick and gone home. This wedding guest slept cuddled in her coat on pine needles under a tree in the campground. The horse rustler was gone before dawn on her ride ride of another twenty five miles away and three thousand precipitous feet down to the Eagle Valley, and then to the old sleepy town of Gypsum. Perhaps there her gnawing innards found vittles in the tiny breakfast cottage that was Gypsum’s only eatery. Her weekend and life of misery were over! Oh, it was probably about then that the overly imbibed crew comprehended that no practical jokesters had “kidnapped” the bride never-in-Hell-to-be. In 2018, I was asked if Budges ever had prostitutes. I thought not, suggesting that such rumors may have originated from the rough-tough female wranglers sometimes employed there. They easily could have viciously beaten off advances and thus earned themselves derogatory designations. But then, perhaps the wedding escape story had some unreported twists. Did the innocent fiancé hear that her love’s buddies hauled in some night women for a raucous stag party? I bet even odds that she may have eagerly arrived a day early only to walk in on the debased occasion! A Man and His Sweetheart Dreams Lay Under a Tree: Some Flat Tops hunters were scouting for game when they encountered an old, frayed backpack. Some rotted fragments of clothing and a few minor implements were scattered around, apparently by animals and years of weathering. Nearby in the brush were also scattered human bones. Authorities were not able to identify the victim with the condition of the bones, and there were few pieces of evidence. However, a portion of legible letter paper disclosed an apparent “Dear John” letter. The unique signature name suggested a girl who most likely lived in New Zealand. The despondent fellow resigned himself to end misery with a last hike in memory of his lost love. That could explain why he carried no camping gear, and so little to find. He just wanted the last, eternal, night’s sleep. Keep Your Rifle and Hunting Diary for Heirloom Memories: What stories could be told by a family hunting rifle. The above rifle is a shortened muzzleloader with an extended history. It passed down from 1800 through my wife’s family. John Hagy (aka, Hagja, Hagey, Hagae, Hagi) was the son of an 1739 immigrant from the canton of Zurich, Prussian Empire (now Switzerland) that settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He is known to have handmade only three rifles. Not that he was a wimp, but each rifle took six weeks to make; that is about two years of between planting and harvesting seasons (think winter evening labor by candlelight). The three guns were made between 1800 -1810. The gun has a silver coin melded into a half moon for decoration, or for the optimum fall moon phase to hunt deer? The gun stock was decorated from burning a spiral-wound prime cord. The long gun was shortened to be “stylish” and even later changed from a flintlock to percussion. A bulge in the barrel indicates a final shot was not properly seated to the powder. Was this an experience of a novice heir? The gun has an “idiot’s tale”. Linda’s father and father-in-law as children investigated the recesses of the dusty family attic. They found a b-b gun and the ancient long gun. A spat ensued. The winner got the bb gun. Dad defaulted to what was thought to be a converted Henry Rifle. Forty years later a curator identified the exceptionally rare gun. Unknowingly, he had deferred to a gem! The crux of this story is to carefully choose the heirs of your treasured guns. Dealers are quick to point out that old rifles get worn out. They do, but the rifle with Great Grandpa’s hunting diary will be a family treasure. 1945 Diary entry, Freeport deer camp, Pennsylvania: “Three deer taken by---------------------”
© 2016 -2017 Copyright by P. K. H. Groth, Denver, Colorado, USA All rights reserved - See contact page for for permission to republish article excerpts.