Above: On the Continental Divide, Colorado, 1988
Enos Mills (1870-1922)
Enos Mills , naturalist and conservationist, was instrumental in the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park. Like his mentor John Muir, Mills was an intrepid solitary high country rambler, as well as an accomplished Colorado mountain guide. There are mountain tales aplenty in Adventures of a Nature Guide. At one point, Mills climbs Long’s Peak alone in a gale with winds topping 170 mph., “carried away with the wild, elemental eloquence of the storm.” Near the summit, the wind is so fierce he cannot make headway, so he concludes to “reverse ends.” “Putting a shoulder against a rock point, I allowed the wind to push my legs around. This . . . enabled me to brace effectively with my feet, and also to hang on more securely with my hands… There was no climbing; the wind sucked, dragged, pushed, and floated me ever upward.”
My absolute favorite chapter in this book, and, really, the reason I read the book for LibriVox, is the one entitled: “Harriet Peters–Little Mountain Climber.” Harriet was eight years old when she climbed Long’s Peak with Enos Mills in 1905, something she had asked to do two years before!
“Little Harriet Peters, a six-year old friend of mine, was listening intently to the comments of the climbers whom I had just guided to the summit of Long’s Peak. They were describing their trip to a number of others. Presently Harriet turned to me and asked what birds and animals lived on the top of this high peak of the Rockies. Often I had been asked what could be seen from the top of the peak; many people were curious about the size of the summit; most interested climbers wanted to know how long it took to go up and back; but never before had anyone asked what lived there. When the mountain climbing discussion ended, this little girl very soberly asked if I would sometime take her to the top of Long’s Peak.“Yes, I replied, just as soon as we feel that you can go up and back easily. It is a long, steep climb.”Then she wanted to know: “Is it uphill all the way?” Enos Mills
Note from Sue: Harriet Peters reminded me a lot of myself. I spent a lot of time in the mountains when I was growing up, but I’m not sure I entirely shared Harriet’s enthusiasm for long hikes. This picture was our family’s Christmas card for 1945. It was taken at the start of a 4-day pack trip into Dewey Lake, near Rainier National Park. My older sister was eight and I was 4 years old. My father’s explanation for my decided pout was that I didn’t want to hike the three miles into the lake. However, my take on the incident is different, which I remember vividly even at this late date. I objected to being lined up by the photographer and told to smile for the camera! My father threatened that if I didn’t smile, they would send sourpuss cards to all their friends. I still refused. In the resulting picture, my sister is barely containing her laughter at our antics.