There is a place, far up a mountain trail in the West Elk Wilderness that most people pass by without a thought. To reach it takes hours on foot or horseback. Most days start before dawn — hours of catching, saddling and loading horses, just to get us to the trailhead.

As the pack string hits the trail, we cross the wilderness boundary in the first quarter mile. Three hours later, deep in the wilderness, the place comes into view. The trail narrows, hugging the top of huge cliffs with an unforgettable view of the Gunnison Valley. Then the trail moves away from the cliffs and as it heads back into the timber, something seemingly out of place comes into sight.

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