ELEVATED | Peaks and Valleys, in Photos and Paint
by Leslie Vreeland
Nov 21, 2013 | 1489 views | 0 0 comments | 70 70 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PEAKS AND VALLEYS – Photos of every one of 100-plus mountainsin the Telluride region, and how they got their names, in the just-published "Peaks of Telluride." (Courtesy photo)
PEAKS AND VALLEYS – Photos of every one of 100-plus mountainsin the Telluride region, and how they got their names, in the just-published "Peaks of Telluride." (Courtesy photo)

The Peaks of Telluride

When you hike the mountains in this region every day you can, you know and love them well. Jeff Burch scales the local peaks every weekend – he’s out both Saturday and Sunday, all year around, until mountain snows force him to take a break. Burch has worked for the U.S. Forest Service the past 22 years. And he’s a photographer and passionate researcher. Put that all together, and you come up with the book Burch says “has consumed me” for the past 12 months: The Peaks of Telluride. 

It’s one-of-a-kind, beautiful, and beautifully researched. The local mountains get assiduous, exhaustive treatment in Burch’s hands; he has photographed every peak in and around Telluride, often from varying angles and in different times of year (mountains often look different from different perspectives and in different seasons, he reasoned, “and the idea is to show you the mountains as you see them”). 

Burke recently produced The Peaks of the Uncompahgre with historian Don Paulson, of the Ouray County Historical Society. This go-round, he was working on his own, and sought the help of knowledgeable locals. The list reads like a who’s who of what’s what: Billy Mahoney, Sr., Rick Trujillo, Dirk DePagter, Don Paulson, individuals from Telluride’s Wilkinson Library, the Telluride Historical Museum, the U.S. Geological Survey, and George Greenbank and Johnnie Stevens are among those who lent assistance. “Those guys know the country, and helped me get it right,” he said. “We had some fun sessions poring over draft labels and telling stories.”

Burch subtitled his tome Labeled Images and Stories Behind the Names of the Mountains. A mountain’s name will often change over the years, he said, depending on who is doing the naming. Take, for example, Lone Cone, a subject of this column last week. From Burch’s book, I learned that the mountain was originally called West Point by Lt. William L. Marshall of the Wheeler Survey, because it is the last peak to the west in Colorado, and that later, it was deemed Devil’s Throne, because if viewed from the north, it resembles a very large chair. Finally, it was titled Lone Cone, by the Hayden Survey, because it is isolated and conical. I erroneously referred to it as a dormant volcano, but Burch’s prose set me straight: it is actually a laccolith composed of intrusive magma that hardened just beneath the surface “and was exposed, as we see it today, by subsequent erosion.” Take that, Vreeland. In his acknowledgments, Burch writes: “I accept responsibility for any errors here, and even expect that our understanding of all that really happened will be improved based on reports and recollections prompted by this writing.” He is a scrupulous truth-teller, and gives all glory to the hills. “You’ll find two or maybe three personal remarks in the book, but I screened most of them out of there,” he said. “This isn’t about me. It’s about the mountains.” The Peaks of Telluride is at Between the Covers, Jagged Edge and Mountain Market. It can also be purchased from Burch directly. Reach him at jeffburch@montrose.net.

Art on Trout Road

A highly personal view of the hills and valleys of this region can be seen this weekend at Art on Trout Road, the annual autumnal exhibit hosted by ceramicist Bill Wilson at his home studio. It’s the twenty-second year Wilson has opened his workspace to display the works of friends and neighbors; this year, Wilson will be joined by Gina Grundemann, who paints pastoral landscapes, and abstract-oil painter Ron Hoeksma. Grundemann gathers inspiration for her works by driving, or riding on the back of a Yamaha V Star motorcycle with her husband, along the back roads between Western Colorado and Northern New Mexico. “I’ve bonded to this landscape,” she says, “and a painter usually paints what they imagine themselves in.” Art on Trout Road is at 68408 Trout Road, four miles south of Montrose, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit billwilsonpottery.com/art2.htm.

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