Photo of the Week – The Highest Point of the Great Plains

Fishers Peak – the highest point of the entire Great Plains

This is it.  The highest point of the entire Great Plains – Fishers Peak in southern Colorado – 9,633 ft.  It’s not geologically part of the Rockies, but instead is volcanic in origin, sits east of the Rockies and therefore is part of the Great Plains.

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The Great Plains – A Big Place, but not a “Megaregion”

America has been in the process of becoming more and more urbanized and suburbanized for a very long time.  Apparently, geographers think that trend will continue. The Regional Plan Association has identified eleven “Megaregions” in the United States that together have about 75% of the population of the country.  There’s lots to think about with this idea, and the map is fun to contemplate, but for the sake of this blog, just take a look and the  empty section where the Great Plains are.

Yes, I know, that means that there are far fewer economic opportunities there, but it also means it’s one of the last areas of the country where you can find some solitude, and see the country as it was.  In any of these “Megaregions,” if you were to go away and come back in 5 or 10 years, you wouldn’t even recognize it.  The Great Plains, by contrast, has a comforting stability in its sparseness and isolation.

Here is a link to the article where you can click on the map for a better look at it:  http://www.america2050.org/content/megaregions.html

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GPT – Photo of the Week

Fort Robinson State Park, Nebraska.

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GPT Photo of the Week

Nebraska – The Pine Ridge rises in the distance.

 

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GPT – Photo of the Week

The Fabulous Picketwire Canyon in Comanche National Grassland, Colorado

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GPT Photo of the Week

Sometimes rocks just, well, rock!  From small stones to huge boulders, they are the raw materials of the planet, and can be strikingly beautiful.  Rocks are, of course, not unique to the Great Plains, but sometimes in an open landscape, they can stand out and assert their presence, reminding us that while we and our civilizations come and go, some things will remain unmoved and unchanged.

I find this comforting, and yes, I like rock music too!

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Great Grizzlies!

As a follow up to the earlier post about The Revenant, where the historical (not Hollywood) Hugh Glass is mauled by a grizzly bear on the Great Plains, it occurred to me that some people might not know that the Great Plains was historically part of the habitat for the grizzly.  Today most people think of the grizzly residing in remote forested mountain areas, and that’s true enough, but it hasn’t always been that way.

Today, outside of Alaska and Canada, most grizzlies are in Montana or Wyoming, plus a patch or two in Idaho and Washington.  The total number is under 2,000.  Historically speaking, the big griz had a much wider territory to roam which included most of the West (minus the desert areas), as far east as Minnesota, and as far south as Mexico.  The total number in the lower 48 was likely more than 60,000.  In the Great Plains, not surprisingly, they tended not to stray too far from rivers.  Lewis and Clark encountered a number of them of their journey in the early 1800s, and although this particular encounter did not occur on the plains, I can never resist a quote from William Clark:

“In the evening we saw a Brown or Grisley beare on a sand beech, I went out with one man Geo Drewyer & Killed the bear, which was verry large and a turrible looking animal, which we found verry hard to kill we Shot ten Balls into him before we killed him, & 5 of those Balls through his lights This animal is the largest of the carnivorous kind I ever saw we had nothing that could way him, I think his weight may be stated at 500 pounds [227 kilograms]…. we had him skined and divided, the oile tried up & put in Kegs for use.”

Speaking of history, Hugh Glass saw the historic Great Plains, and therefore he encountered a historic grizzly bear.  You won’t find them on the Great Plains today, but then again, there’s this story from just this week:  A hunter, who was hunting pheasants on the plains just east of the Rocky Mountain front in Montana (and therefore on the Great Plains), encountered a grizzly coming out of the nearby willows that his dog had been combing.  It was a sow bear with two cubs.  The bear charged and the man shot the bear.  The bear eventually died of its wounds, but later, the cubs were nowhere to be found.  Perhaps those cubs will survive and once again make their home on the Great Plains.

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