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Author: Subject: HOW THE TROUT CLIMBED SAN PEDRO MARTIR MOUNTAIN IN BAJA CALIFORNIA By C.E. UTT
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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 08:12 AM
HOW THE TROUT CLIMBED SAN PEDRO MARTIR MOUNTAIN IN BAJA CALIFORNIA By C.E. UTT


This article is at: http://www.leighrobertson.net/trout.html and is Utt's own story of how the Baja trout was spread into other streams...

It was in April 1893 when I, in an overland journey by horse and wagon to Yuma, met in the desert a short distance west of where now stands Calexico, a cowboy who was in charge of a bunch of cattle. His chief duty seemed to be to float cattle back and forth across the international boundary line without having to answer pointed questions to an overzealous U.S. Customs inspector.

He told me of the great mountain San Pedro Martir, located in Baja California, a hundred or more miles below the border. He described it as abounding in deer, mountain sheep, mountain quail, and on the ponds wild duck came in the fall of the year in great numbers. In short it was a huntsman’s paradise. I of course wanted to visit this paradise but the desire had to go on cold storage while I attended to more pressing demands.

It was about thirty years later when the necessity of bringing home the daily bacon was behind me, that I again had my desire revived to visit San Pedro Martir. This was caused by reading the fairly lengthy report of Mr. Nelson who around 1906-7 made for the U.S. Government a biological survey of the entire peninsula and it’s coastal islands. In this report he speaks of finding trout in the Santo Domingo River at the base of the mountain, near San Antonio. This was too much: a huntsman’s paradise with trout thrown in was irresistible. With a couple of companions I drove down to the Hamilton Ranch and secured from a Mexican rancher a pack outfit for the visit to the mountain. At San Antonio about forty miles out by pack train we found trout in the river and in a branch commonly called La Zanja, which enters it at San Antonio.

The great mountain is some sixty miles long and from five to twenty miles wide above the five thousand foot level. It rises very precipitously from all sides so that no wagon road has ever been built up it. Thus the several fine streams which drain it cascade down its steep sides in leaps which no trout can negotiate.

After our trout fishing at the base of the mountain we ascended the Santa Cruz trail and visited La Grulla, where the ducks gather. After our hunt was ended we returned to Santo Domingo by way of the old ruined Mission San Pedro Martir. We bivouacked one day beside a beautiful babbling brook near the old Mission and mourned the absence of trout where there was such a beautiful home for them.

Returning home to work I was haunted from time to time by those several streams barren of trout. I would dismiss them with the mental remark; "Well they ought to have trout." This went on for two or three years when the thought appeared, ""Why not do it yourself?" Thus I began the pleasant task of teaching trout to climb the mountain-—this is simple but laborious.

It was in the summer of 1929 that with a companion I went again to San Antonio armed with a quantity of five-gallon cans for transporting the fish. As this was my first experience of the kind I did not know how many fish to put in a can nor how long they would live between changes of water. To be on the safe side I put five fingerlings (taken with ordinary fly hook) in each can, the cans fitted two in a case and one case on each side of a pack mule made a not too heavy burden. I loaded one mule with fish and another with four cans of water for change as I did not then know how long it would be to water or how long the fish would live without change.

I had selected the old Mission stream as the first attempt. It is quite hot at this low altitude in summer, so we started just before sundown and traveled by moonlight; about three hours out we stopped on the trail, unpacked the mules and changed the water then repacked and an hour after midnight dumped a score of fish in the stream about six miles below the old Mission and below the cascades. A few days afterwards we started with another cargo just after daybreak and around 10:00 a.m. we put the cans in the shade submerged in the stream. We changed the water two or three times and late in the afternoon we repacked and finished the last six miles of the journey in time to dump a score of fingerlings in the stream a half-mile east of the old mission ruins. Thus we had fish both above and below the gorge. I did not again visit the newly stocked stream until 1934 (five years later) at which time I found it teeming with trout. The experiment had been so successful that I determined to extend my fish farms each summer.

Thus in 1935 I again went to Santo Domingo alone, excepting for two Mexican helpers. This time I went to the Old Mission and took my fish from the stream that I had stocked a half dozen years before. I only took one cargo of fish over the range to an elevation some 2000 feet greater than the Mission stream. We dumped half of them in the main Santo Domingo River, which above San Antonio is renamed La Grulla, and the other half we liberated in La Zanja a half mile below the Meling trail. This trip took all day and we spent the next two days in hunting and in returning to camp at the Mission.

In 1936, accompanied by a grandson of some fourteen years, I again visited the San Pedro Mission stream and this time we made two plantings. On the first trip we liberated 30 fingerlings in a large pool in the La Grulla and on the next trip we put 16 in a nice pool in the La Zanja at the intake of the Young ditch (a mining ditch now abandoned).

In 1937 I went alone excepting my two mozos for tending the riding and pack animals. I had two main objectives beside several lesser ones. I wanted to capture a black rattlesnake for the San Diego Zoo and to stock a branch of the La Grulla higher up with trout. I took over only two cans of fish and a can I had prepared for the rattlesnake. As it was near night when we arrived, we parked our fish in the cool flowing stream before we camped for the night. The fish cans, which had large screw tops, were covered with screen and submerged in a flowing stream so that I did not have to get up at midnight to change water as I often had to when there was no stream, and water for change had to come from a meager supply.

The following morning was Sunday and seemed a splendid day for a good deed like stocking a stream. So we ascended the left fork of the La Grulla, but we did not deem it worthy of planting. We did capture a black rattlesnake and returned to camp and La Grulla. After noon we took the trout over and released them in the middle fork of the Valladares.

I carried that rattlesnake some two hundred and fifty miles in a tin can on a burro and when I finally delivered him to the zoo his disposition seemed to be nasty. The snake sharps tell me this snake is a variant of the pacific rattlesnake but he is usually completely suffused with black and only a close inspection reveals any pattern. I have never run across one at elevations under 5000 feet and this one was taken at around 8000 feet.

Before leaving La Grulla for Mount San Juan de Dios, 80 miles to the south, I tried the stream and took a fine 14 inch trout which contained an eight inch one digested to the point where there was little left but the skeleton. This was probably from my first seeding in 1935 because it could scarcely have grown from 5 to 14 inches since the 1936 planting.

This right-hand branch of the La Grulla rises out of a marsh (cienega) and duck ponds and flows for a half mile to join the left fork. The two form a shallow sandy bottom fifty feet wide and a few inches deep which flows languidly down between granite ramparts until it reaches the gorge where it awakes and by repeated leaps reaches the bottom two or three thousand feet below. The fish in this short right-handed fork are always large. I have taken several of thirteen and fourteen inches and other fishermen have reported them eighteen inches in length. There seem to be almost no small fish. Since the stream rises in a cienega I think it has little trout feed and that the large fish feed on their own fry. I once offered a couple of grandsons one dollar each for trout 6 inches and under and they failed to capture the prize. All the other streams I have stocked have all sizes and plenty of them.

In 1938, accompanied by two school-boy grand-children (Alan Robertson and Jack Deaver) and my usual Mexican pack train man, I again visited the mountain, this time for the purpose of taking trout to the San Rafael River at the north-western end of the mountain, a day and a half journey distant. This time we did not take fish from the San Pedro stream as that would have required two and one half days journey. As the La Zanja was by this time well stocked with trout up to twelve inches in length, we took our fish from this stream. We took only 4 cans and put only four fish in each can as the trail was unexplored by us and we might have to keep trout without new water longer than usual.

We started after noon and by night had come to camp in the Meling pasture, which is fenced and has a good spring of water. I changed the water on arrival, again at nine o’clock, then at midnight and at four and seven the next morning. We started early and by noon had reached a cattle ranch where we lunched and persuaded the cowman to accompany us and show us the best trail. ( Rancho Conception and Tom Farlow) We changed water once that afternoon and poured our 16 fish all very much alive into the brawling San Rafael about a mile below the intake of the Johnston canal (another hydraulic mining venture.)

I thought the San Rafael the most likely stream in the mountains, so to be sure that it was stocked I returned in the summer of 1939. With two other grandchildren I started from La Zanja with 30 fish. (Leigh Robertson and Ted Deaver) We camped that night by the east branch of the Valladares. After an early start we arrived at the cow ranch about noon. I expected to reach the San Rafael before night and wanted to liberate my fish at a place called Rancho Garret, about five miles down stream from where I poured them in the year before. My Mexican guide, however, had not been to this place for over thirty years. As the ranch had been deserted for nearly that long, the brush had grown over the trail and just at sundown the guide said we would have to wait till morning to hunt the old trail. Trout confined in five-gallon cans must have the water changed often, so I told the boys to make camp while the guide and I tried to get to a small trickle of a stream where we had changed the water the year before. When we arrived at this water after dark, about 16 of my precious fish had died and the others were groggy. I stayed with the fish all night so as to change the water while the guide went back with the animals to the boys. The next morning the guide reappeared with the stock and we packed our fourteen remaining trout and returned to where the boys had spent the night for he had discovered the old trail about a hundred yards from where they had slept. We dropped down to the stream and delivered our fourteen precious fish into the care of the good San Rafael.

In June, 1941, with another grandson, I spent a week or so fishing on the La Zanja and the guide, the kid and I carried in pails 50 trout over the ridge to the south fork of the Valladares.

In October of the same year, accompanied by a prospector friend, I visited all the streams I had stocked and took fish from all of them excepting the Valladares, in which I made two more plantings farther down stream. The same month I took fish from the San Rafael where the first liberation had been made three years before--carried them up stream and released them above the Johnson canal.

These 1941 planting in the Valladares or some of them were successful because in June 1943 some friends and I captured fish up to twelve inches in length.

The streams which I have stocked, the San Pedro, La Grulla, La Zanja and Valladares are all branches of the Santo Domingo River but the San Rafael is an entirely different watershed. It drains a great area on the northwest end of the Mountain and flows westerly until within about ten miles of the ocean, where it turns sharply to the south and enters the Pacific about two miles east from Cape Colnet.

I have added some fifty miles to the trout streams of this grand mountain but posterity owes me nothing, for I have had double pay in the satisfaction of work successfully accomplished. This exploit has given me more satisfaction than any or all the numerous business enterprises I have helped develop—because it is more permanent.

So long as water in sufficient quantities to sustain trout runs off the slopes of San Pedro Martir the disciples of Isaac Walton will be taking trout from its streams.




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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 08:53 AM


Well, today moving fish from stream to stream is considered an act of eco-terrorism. But here the man did not mix genetic strains. All he did was spread a species in 2 adjacent watersheds that are truly isolated. I say - good job. He helped the survival of a population.

Yum, I love fried trout. And catching one on a fly in baja, how exotic.
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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 10:09 AM


The species endemic to this area is a variant of cutthroat trout, not golden trout. It is absolutely gorgeous. Can be taken on a #18 lake mary fly on a 6x tippit. One has to be extraordinarily adept with a fly rod as the streams are tiny and the fish are easily spooked by footfalls, shadows, and silhouettes. Please remove the barb. Take one fish and a dozen images. Please.



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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 10:57 AM


Excellent Baja Lore DK, I assumed they were planted
by someone, but I thaught they would have been
brought down from the US, not natural to the area.
David E points
out they are of a Cutthroat strain, is this in anyway
related to the steelhead? The lakes in tha Ca. Sierras
would be barren of trout if not for stocking, except
as pointed out the Golden which came out of the
Kern area
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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 11:12 AM


Fabulous story.

David, Where do you find this stuff?????
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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 11:18 AM


Quote:
Originally posted by DavidE
The species endemic to this area is a variant of cutthroat trout, not golden trout.


cuttthroat? i thought they were a rainbow (or steelhead) trout.

here is an academic journal article on trout in mexico, incl baja: http://ballast-outreach-ucsgep.ucdavis.edu/files/136961.pdf


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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 11:22 AM


Quote:
Originally posted by David K
I wanted to capture a black rattlesnake for the San Diego Zoo

We did capture a black rattlesnake and returned to camp

The snake sharps tell me this snake is a variant of the pacific rattlesnake but he is usually completely suffused with black and only a close inspection reveals any pattern. I have never run across one at elevations under 5000 feet and this one was taken at around 8000 feet.



anybody ever seen a black rattle snake in SPM? i have only seen regular variety...
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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 12:28 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by mtgoat666
Quote:
Originally posted by DavidE
The species endemic to this area is a variant of cutthroat trout, not golden trout.


cuttthroat? i thought they were a rainbow (or steelhead) trout.

here is an academic journal article on trout in mexico, incl baja: http://ballast-outreach-ucsgep.ucdavis.edu/files/136961.pdf




As did I. Cutthroats are relegated to waters east of the sierras. Waters that do not flow into the pacific. This baja strain is merely an offshoot of steelhead that managed to make it during a wet year. With time the genetics started to change.

What a magnificent image. Such a handsome animal.

I would have thought a hopper imitation would work well. The terrain suggests grashoppers. Perhaps a Joe's Hopper.
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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 12:54 PM


Skipjack Joe, The rivers up here in North Idaho flow into the Pacific by way of the Columbia. Cutthroats live in 'em.:yes:
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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 12:57 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by Skipjack Joe
Quote:
Originally posted by mtgoat666
Quote:
Originally posted by DavidE
The species endemic to this area is a variant of cutthroat trout, not golden trout.


cuttthroat? i thought they were a rainbow (or steelhead) trout.

here is an academic journal article on trout in mexico, incl baja: http://ballast-outreach-ucsgep.ucdavis.edu/files/136961.pdf




As did I. Cutthroats are relegated to waters east of the sierras. Waters that do not flow into the pacific. This baja strain is merely an offshoot of steelhead that managed to make it during a wet year. With time the genetics started to change.

What a magnificent image. Such a handsome animal.

I would have thought a hopper imitation would work well. The terrain suggests grashoppers. Perhaps a Joe's Hopper.


davide said they were cuttthroat. the references all say they are rainbows. i fish so rarely, they all just look like trout to me.
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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 01:32 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by Cypress
Skipjack Joe, The rivers up here in North Idaho flow into the Pacific by way of the Columbia. Cutthroats live in 'em.:yes:


Yes, I know that large steelhead are caught by Lewiston, yet as you say the tributaries contain cutthroat. I don't know how the separation was naturally maintained.

The rivers of Idaho and Montana are mostly rainbow now. Deemed a superior gamefish it was introduced everywhere (ecoterrorism). It is indeed a superior gamefish. The cutthroat is considered dimwitted (it's not) and boring (it is). It's like comparing a ferrari to a sedan. The park is all rainbow and browns. Yet the Red Lakes still contain cutthroat. The upper yellowstone is all cutthroat as is the lake. The upper Idaho is cutthroat but the lower is rainbow. Slough creek is cutthroat but below it's rainbow. There is no going back. But when Lewis and Clark came through it was all cutthroat.

[Edited on 4-19-2012 by Skipjack Joe]
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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 02:11 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by RnR
Fabulous story.

David, Where do you find this stuff?????


I first read of Mr. Utt fish transplant in the Lower California Guidebook (by Gerhard and Gulick c1962) when I was a kid... I also read it in other Baja publications. The one above is excellent since Utt wrote it... I just found using Google! Amazing what is on the Internet!




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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 02:51 PM


Trout Of The San Pedro Martir

Oncorhynchus mykiss nelsoni

The image shown, while noble in intent is similar in effect to displaying a rainbow (water sun and sky) in black and white. The San Pedro Martir trout is every bit as fabulous to the eye as a jumping Dorado.

When I was a youngster I fished mostly successfully for every specie of trout in the book. I hiked above Llewellen Falls in the Sierras for Paiute cutthroats (native), The headwaters of the Little Truckee for the Tahoe Spotted cutthroat (native), The head of the Kern for Goldens (native), Muriel, Goethe, 20-lakes basin, et. al for Goldens. Pyramid and Walker lakes for cutthroat, various lakes for Kamloops, Eagle Lake for it's rainbow varietal, browns out of the Madison and Gallatin rivers, brook trout out of Henry's lake, Dolly Varden from Montana (also caught grayling), sea run cutthroats, steelhead (tough to catch!) and more I've forgotten about.

My opinion of the San Pedro variety is that they are spectacular in appearance. Every bit as colorful as the golden, or brook trout (male). The pictured fish has parr markings which are common on a six inch fish but the San Pedro Martir youngsters had very few spots mostly on the anterior. The adults had bigger spots and slightly more than the youngsters.




Species

The name trout is commonly used for some species in three of the seven genera in the subfamily Salmoninae: Salmo, Atlantic species; Oncorhynchus, Pacific species; and Salvelinus, which includes fish also sometimes called char or charr. Fish referred to as trout include:

Genus Salmo
Adriatic trout, Salmo obtusirostris
S. o. oxyrhynchus
S. o. salonitana
S. o. krkensis
S. o. zetensis
Salmo trutta
Brown trout, S. t. morpha fario and S. t. morpha lacustris
Sea trout, S. t. morpha trutta
Flathead trout, Salmo platycephalus
Marble trout, Soca River trout or Soča trout – Salmo marmoratus
Ohrid trout, Salmo letnica, S. balcanicus (exctinct), S. lumi, and S. aphelios
Sevan trout, Salmo ischchan
Winter bakhtak, S. i. ischchan
Summer bakhtak, S. i. aestivalis
Gegharkuni, S. i. gegarkuni
Bojak, S. i. danilewskii
Genus Oncorhynchus
Biwa trout, Oncorhynchus masou rhodurus
Cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarki
Coastal cutthroat trout, O. c. clarki
Crescenti trout, O. c. crescenti
Alvord cutthroat trout O. c. alvordensis (extinct)
Bonneville cutthroat trout O. c. utah
Humboldt cutthroat trout O. c. spp.
Lahontan cutthroat trout O. c. henshawi
Whitehorse Basin cutthroat trout, O. c. spp.
Paiute cutthroat trout O. c. seleniris
Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout, O. c. behnkei
Westslope cutthroat trout O. c. lewisi
Yellowfin cutthroat trout O. c. macdonaldi (extinct)
Yellowstone cutthroat trout O. c. bouvieri
Colorado River cutthroat trout O. c. pleuriticus
Greenback cutthroat trout O. c. stomias
Rio Grande cutthroat trout O. c. virginalis
Oncorhynchus gilae
Gila trout, O. g. gilae
Apache trout, O. g. apache
Rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss
Kamchatkan rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss mykiss
Columbia River redband trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdnerii
Coastal rainbow trout/Steelhead trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus
Beardslee trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus var. beardsleei
Great Basin redband trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss newberrii
Golden trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita
Kern River rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita var. gilberti
Sacramento golden trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita var. stonei
Little Kern golden trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita var. whitei
Kamloops rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss kamloops
Baja California rainbow trout, Nelson's trout, or San Pedro Martir trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss nelsoni
Eagle Lake trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss aquilarum
McCloud River redband, Oncorhynchus mykiss stonei
Sheepheaven Creek redband, Oncorhynchus mykiss spp.
Mexican Golden Trout, Oncorhynchus chrysogaster (Includes as many as eight other species or sub-species, not yet formally named)
Genus Salvelinus (Char)
Brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis
Aurora trout, S. f. timagamiensis
Bull trout, Salvelinus confluentus
Salvelinus malma
Dolly Varden trout, S. m. malma
Southern Dolly Varden, S. m. krascheninnikova
S. m. miyabei
Lake trout, Salvelinus namaycush
Silver trout, † Salvelinus agassizi (extinct)
Hybrids
Tiger trout, Salmo trutta X Salvelinus fontinalis
Splake, Salvelinus namaycush X Salvelinus fontinalis




Rainbow Trout




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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 02:59 PM


Great article about the Baja trout. Thanks for posting.



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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 03:00 PM


My browser ate the link :-)


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trout




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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 03:30 PM


When we hiked into Mission San Pedro Martir we camped under a huge tree right next to the stream by the mission. Lots of water flowing and the trout were visible darting around just like in the Sierra Nevada. Meling Ranch had a newspaper story posted about the trout planting. Nice to have the complete story.
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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 03:38 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by Skipjack Joe... The upper Idaho is cutthroat but the lower is rainbow.


I'm not sure what you mean by "The upper Idaho" but southeastern Idaho is loaded with cutthroat over on the S. Fork of the Snake and its tributaries.

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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 03:42 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by David K
Quote:
Originally posted by mtgoat666
Quote:
Originally posted by David K
I wanted to capture a black rattlesnake for the San Diego Zoo

We did capture a black rattlesnake and returned to camp

The snake sharps tell me this snake is a variant of the pacific rattlesnake but he is usually completely suffused with black and only a close inspection reveals any pattern. I have never run across one at elevations under 5000 feet and this one was taken at around 8000 feet.



anybody ever seen a black rattle snake in SPM? i have only seen regular variety...


I didn't write that... why is my name in the quote box with it? I have never heard of a black rattlesnake...


That's from Utt's article. Selecting "Reply With Quote" can't tell what's your writing and what's written by someone else unless it's in its own quote box, like this multiple quote here.

Allen R.

[Edited on 4-19-2012 by bufeo]
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[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 04:18 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by bufeo
Quote:
Originally posted by Skipjack Joe... The upper Idaho is cutthroat but the lower is rainbow.


I'm not sure what you mean by "The upper Idaho" but southeastern Idaho is loaded with cutthroat over on the S. Fork of the Snake and its tributaries.

Allen R


I haven't fished the S. Fork of the snake but isn't it a combinatin of rainbow and cutthroat. After all the Henry's Fork is it's neighbor and it's all rainbow. But I hear the S. Fork by the Tetons is all cutthroat. It's checkered.

I was actually thinking of the area around Boise. I've fished Silver Creek and the rivers near the town where Hemingway lived. All rainbow.
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Mood: 'At home we demand facts and get them. In Mexico one subsists on rumor and never demands anything.' Charles Flandrau,

[*] posted on 4-19-2012 at 04:27 PM


I'm more than a little bitter how migrant Cal-ee-forn-ians have screwed up Montana. "Eew, you can't fish the Madison! There's only a hundred thirty billion fish left". Places that really need protecting like the high country behind Ada's ranchito get little more than the benefit of peer pressure.



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