Monday, August 14, 2017

Turn out the lights, the party's all over

Locals prepare for total eclipse of the sun

By Rob Carrigan,

On Monday, Aug. 21, everyone across America has a chance to see a total eclipse of the sun for the first time in our lifetime unless you are nearly 100. It has been that long since the last total solar eclipse darkened the United States from coast to coast, and it is not predicted to occur again for another 18 years.

Locally, you may have received quite a few invites.

“We are doing a campus wide eclipse event on Monday, if you were interested ... The maximum coverage occurs around 11:45 so that is when we will all be outside,” says Terry Bramschreiber, Ph.D., 9-12 Assistant Principal, Discovery Canyon Campus.

“We are giving glasses to all students and staff campus wide. PTO will be selling “moon pies” and other topic related treats. We will also be sending out some lessons for those teachers that want to learn and teach more about it. Additionally, all staff has eclipse T shirts,” he said.

“Victor Lowell Thomas Museum Offers Eclipse Safe Sun Glasses. Are you ready to watch the Solar Eclipse on August 21?” asks Ruth Zalewski, for the Victor Improvement Association/Victor Lowell Thomas Museum. Special sunglasses are required to safely view the eclipse, she advised.

“Colorado's Touchstone Energy Cooperative's 2017 Golf Classic is the perfect opportunity to mix business with pleasure. And it also is the day of the eclipse,” said Terri Hayes, executive director for the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce. “This shotgun start, best ball tournament with an all-inclusive golfer package includes a luncheon, auction and awards ceremony following the tournament. The morning is well-spent networking, enjoying the beautiful Colorado scenery and playing on one of the area's finest exclusive golf courses,” she said. The tournament is at Perry Park Country Club near Larkspur, and the Chamber is also selling glasses.

To celebrate this astronomical event, the Space Foundation Discovery Center, which is typically closed on Mondays, will open to the public from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 21 for a Solar Eclipse Party. Special solar viewing telescopes, viewing tubes and boxes will be available for guests to experience the eclipse with friends, family, neighbors and informative Space Foundation staff at the Discovery Center.

Space Foundation Vice President - Education Bryan DeBates said, “This is an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime event for many people. This type of eclipse is extremely rare and can interest and inspire those who don’t typically get interested in astronomy.

The Space Foundation Discovery Center is excited to host this 2017 Solar Eclipse Party for anyone who would like to join in this extraordinary experience.”

Colorado Department of Transportation is asking anyone who is planning to drive to Wyoming or Nebraska (both in the “totality” path of the eclipse) to be prepared for a lot of traffic, delays and headaches for this unique event.

Larimer County has set up a great way to stay in touch with traffic, emergency and weather alerts for the event. Just text the word “ECLIPSE” to 888777 and you will get all you need to know. In Colorado, you can also go to and in Wyoming, you can go to for real-time traffic updates.

Currently, predictions for attendance in Wyoming and Nebraska are very high. Some experts are predicting up to 600,000 more people cramming into Wyoming to witness this. That’s basically doubling the population of the state. And we know a lot of those folks are going to be coming from the south so all Colorado highways heading there (I-25, US 287, US 85, CO 52, etc.) are expected to be busy.

Since the eclipse is on a Monday, traffic is expected to be heavy through the whole weekend before but will probably be even worse coming back after the sun shines again.

CDOT is partnering with our local first responders and the Colorado State Patrol – as well as our partners at the Wyoming Department of Transportation – to provide some tips on making your eclipse trip something great to remember:

Pay attention, and don’t drive distracted. Drive defensively because there will be more motorists on the road, and some of them may be slowing down or may not be paying attention when the eclipse is occurring.

Ensure vehicles have plenty of fuel.

Don’t stop and pull off onto the side of the roads.
Don’t use the center median crossings on the interstates for turning around or parking. Those crossings are for authorized vehicles. Emergency vehicles need to keep these areas clear for response to emergency situations.

Don’t park on any highway shoulder or in any ditch area. That can not only be dangerous for you and other drivers, but a person’s car exhaust could start a grass fire.

Plan ahead and move to a safe and legal area prior to the eclipse so you can enjoy the experience.

Use eclipse glasses to safely view the eclipse. These glasses provide eye protection from the eclipse.Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and snacks. It is unknown how busy traffic will be, but with hotels and campsites sold out, we are expecting large amounts of traffic surrounding this momentous event.

This is also the first day for Colorado State University students and freshman orientation for Colorado University.

It been a long time but it seems so familar

You’re so vain, I bet you think this about you

By Rob Carrigan,

As many local skywatchers make plans to view the solar eclipse next Monday, I can’t help but think of, and identify with, the Carly Simon hit written ages ago, in 1972, and featuring Mick Jagger in its most popular version.

“Well I hear you went up to Saratoga and your horse naturally won. Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia, To see the total eclipse of the sun,” wrote Simon and songwriting partner Chun Keung Lam.

Many years ago, I ran the newspaper in the little town of Saratoga, Wyoming. Interestingly, the paper was the Saratoga Sun. It is where I came to realize that even the big national and international stories can have a profound impact here at home.

Because of a more complete eclipse in Wyoming, many folks from here and points south, plan to make sojourns up into Wind River reservation country where my old high school football coach resides in Shoshoni, Wyo., north of Saratoga. The resident Shoshoni tribe has close ties to Utes, (of Ute Pass) and Piute.

Native Americans however, are sort of divided about the eclipse. Take reports from Indian Country Today on the Navajos’ take.

“Generally in traditional Navajo in the culture you don’t watch eclipses. It’s something out of the ordinary, something that’s not in the regular order of things, and so people were taught to be very respectful. And that included staying inside, not eating, not drinking, not having sex, things like that,” said Nancy Maryboy, Cherokee-Navajo, president and executive director of the Indigenous Education Institute and a liaison with NASA. “And that has been pretty well followed on the Navajo Nation even up to today. And in some cases, up to a few years ago, they would let school out during an eclipse and the kids would go home, stay at home.”

For a 2012 event however, she noted some surprises among the buzz generated on the Internet, especially social media, about the solar eclipse then.

“Interestingly enough, a lot of younger people who are very hip, younger people were sending out messages on their Facebook not to – you know, that it was more traditional to stay in and not look at the eclipse. A lot of people were doing that. I found that very interesting,” Maryboy told Indian Country Today Media Network in an interview. “And then some of the traditional people, several of them that I knew decided it might be okay if you looked at it through dark glasses that NASA gave out. So basically everybody did it in the way that made the most sense to them.”

However, she added, “I would say that because of that traditional viewpoint probably a lot less people watched it on the Navajo nation than other tribal areas.”

The Cherokee, for instance, do not have such a taboo. Maryboy, of both heritages, said she was torn about whether to watch but that cloudy skies in Washington State, where she was at the time, made the decision for her.

At the Navajo National Monument, Melba Martin, an archeo-astronomer and Navajo who works with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), was scheduled to give an inside presentation for those who wanted to learn while observing the taboo. However, she said, only five people came. The most traditional Navajo observed the taboo in a separate room, sequestered, while the rangers allowed visitors into the park, where they set up shop with telescopes.

Martin went the nontraditional route, opting to watch through a filtered telescope.

“We managed to pass out the eclipse glasses to make sure everyone was safe, and check on the people who were viewing through the telescopes. We talked with them for a short time about the traditions, in a respectful way, and told them that was why they weren’t seeing many Navajos out,” she said of the outside observers. “They were very accepting, very interested in the culture. And so for about 2 hours we were out there before, during and after the eclipse.”

She called it a unique experience and said the balance was so well struck that she is now planning a similar event to observe the transit of Venus on June 5.

“So it was quite interesting what I experienced at Navajo National Monument. And I really think the park rangers at Navajo National Monument did a great job at observing their traditional way and allowing people into the park who were not Navajos to see the eclipse.”

The Wind River Indian Reservation is an enticing viewing location for the Aug. 21 Wind RiverEclipse. To make this dream a reality, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes have identified locations in which they prefer people to park and camp, and they have created a special eclipse permitting process.

A PDF document of the map and permitting details has been published by the WindRiver Reservation and the Tribal Game and Fish Department. If a traveler asks you, “How or where can I watch the eclipse on the Wind River Reservation,” show it to them, says information from the tribe.

“The Wind River Eclipse is almost upon us. After years of preparation across Wind River Country, WY, we are all ready for the sky to go dark on Aug. 21, and to welcome the travelers who will be coming from all over the world!,” says information from the county and the tribe.

“As a result of the hard work, hospitality, and important planning on the part of many people across the county, the week of Aug. 17—22 is rife with events. The Wind River Visitors Council has compiled all these events going on during the eclipse week across the county into a flyer handout for travelers to pick up at convenient locations. We have attached that black and white handout for you to use and share!” say Wyoming hospitality organizations.

Carly Simon over years has been reluctant to identify who her song is actually about. Speculation has included Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty, David Geffen, David Bowie, David Cassidy and Cat Stevens, and even James Taylor, who Simon was married to shortly before writing the song. She said it is definitely not about Taylor.

Two solar eclipses ("Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun") were visible from Nova Scotia in the early 1970s, on March 7, 1970, and July 10, 1972. Simon said she wrote the song in 1971, so she likely referenced the one from 1970.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Scenic reservoir trails used year round

Hidden Gems: Reservoirs above Palmer Lake

By Rob Carrigan,

One of the hidden local gems in the trail world of this area, the Palmer Lake Reservoir Trail begins at a trailhead down in the Glen, accessed by Old Carriage Road, and traverses steep terrain for about four miles, out and back, and features two reservoirs. It is often visited summer and winter by hikers, trail runners, snowshoers, mountain bikers, wildflower photographers and fishermen.

Fishing restrictions are in place and allowed only at the upper reservoir. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. It is actually patrolled somewhat by Palmer Lake Police (I saw an officer up there on an ATV a few weeks ago). And the trail offers access to many other trails that branch out into the forest and connect to other trails that reach into other counties.

Originally built by the railroads, the two reservoirs augmented the water used from Palmer Lake to fill steam engines making the grade over Palmer Divide.

The town of Palmer Lake’s water comes from two reservoirs in the mountains behind the town and from wells. Both reservoirs and Monument Creek, which flows out of them, are considered part of the town's watershed.

The lower reservoir is fenced off from the public, for the most part, but the upper reservoir has an open shoreline. The mountains behind the town have a matrix of trails connecting visitors and residents to canyons and ridges. Most trails are accessible to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Visitors are advised to bring a map or a local guide when exploring the trails, and should be aware of wildlife alerts and National Forest rules.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Convergence destination: Beetles seek the summit

Lady bugs love Herman

By Rob Carrigan,

Mount Herman’s summit is a convergence destination, it seems.
“On Saturday my son saw these Lady Bugs on a hike up Mount Herman. Any idea what is going on?” Asked reader Karen Green.
“The convergent lady beetle, Hippodamia convergens Guérin-Méneville, is among the most common lady beetle species throughout North America and is an important natural enemy of aphids, scales, thrips, and other soft-bodied insects. It will also feed on pollen and nectar from flowers when prey is scarce. This species can be found in habitats ranging from grasslands, forests, agricultural fields, gardens, and natural parks. It is one of the few natural enemies that are currently wild-collected from mass aggregations for distribution to the pest control industry, according to “Featured Creatures,” a University of Florida entomology publication.
Mountain-bound convergent ladybugs are not typically in swarms during these in-flight migrations. Occasionally, they will land on ground to consume pollens and nectars as a means to fatten up their bodies for survival during hibernation. However, once they find their desired high elevation summits they tend to swarm en masse and form colonies. Most of these mountain summit goals range between 6000’-8000’ elevation, but some might be as high as 10000’ elevation (or possibly higher) depending on current conditions.
It is during these periods of summit swarms that mountaineers most frequently notice the ladybugs. Where there is one ladybug there is usually hundreds if not thousands congregating nearby. Many ladybug dealers/collectors claim that some of these mountain colonies can contain as many as 500 gallons of ladybugs, with each gallon containing up to 72,000-80,000 ladybugs. The beetles remain on their high elevation homes throughout the Summer months. This timeframe represents the beginning of diapause, which is the nine-month period of hibernation process for convergent ladybugs. Many within the species will begin mating during this first stage of diapause, and larger colonies have greater chances for successful mating.

Surprising and rewarding: Local trail named for founder's uncle

Herman would have looked down, and been proud

One of the most surprising and rewarding local trails eventually overlooks the town of Monument, and is short, steep, and culminates with amazing views of both Pike's Peak to the southwest, and reportedly cities in Kansas, on a crystal-clear day. The summit is right at 9,100 feet altitude.

Mount Herman Trail is a 2.2 mile trail located near Monument and features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate (though it climbs nearly 900 feet quickly.) The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. It is accessed by traveling past Monument Rock, reaching the trailhead parking lot less than five miles up on Mount Herman Road.

It is kind of hard to keep track of who Herman was, of Mount Herman fame, considering it was named after the uncle of the founder of Monument. That founder changed his name, and probably never lived here.

When the town of Monument showed up originally on the drawing board, it was Charles Adams listed as the primary owner. In January of 1874, Charles Adams and Henry Limbach filed a plat statement of the town encompassing about 60 acres in the North half of the South east quarter. 108 lots were platted with Limbach owning 36 and Adams 72. Adams and Limbach, with others, would later file two more additions by 1879, and be involved with more in the 1880s.

Mount Herman, West of Monument, was named after one Herman Schwanbeck, who homesteaded right about where Village Inn in Monument is now. Herman appears to have been Charles Adams' uncle, (his father's brother) and Charles was both instrumental in the development of the town, and much of early Colorado. Charles Adams was born Karl Adams Schwanbeck in Germany in 1845.

Karl Schwanbeck, turned Charles Adams, was married to an English girl who did not like the German name of Schwanbeck, so had it changed to Charles Adams," according to Lucille Lavelett's history "Through the Years at Monument." Though founder Adams never lived in Monument, according to most reports, staying in the Manitou Springs area much of his life, in area that is still known today as Adam's Crossing.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide

In 2014, Colorado had the sixth highest youth suicide rate in the country. Suicide is the leading cause of death among youth ages 10-17 in Colorado. The number of youth suicides have increased significantly in El Paso County in recent years, the data indicates: 7 in 2014; 14 in 2015; 15 in 2016, and in the first four months of 2017, 11 were reported.
Suicide accounted for over 45 percent of all child fatalities among youth under age 18 in El Paso County that were reviewed by the El Paso County Child Fatality Review Team (CFRT) in 2016.
The figures above are compiled from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Colorado Child Fatality Prevention System, El Paso County Child Fatality Review Team.
“El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH) was awarded a three-year grant from Colorado State Innovative Model (SIM) funding. The overall goal of SIM is to increase access to integrated primary care and behavioral health services in coordinated community systems. EPCPH has three main objectives for this funding,” said Meghan Haynes, M.P.H, Teen Suicide Prevention Planner, El Paso County Public Health, at a presentation to media last week.

Those three objectives are identified as follows:
#1: Convene partners to create and implement communication and referral protocols to work across systems to coordinate support activities for youth at-risk for suicide.
This work began in July 2016; currently convening a workgroup to develop these protocols.
Wide variety of stakeholders involved in this effort.
#2: Strengthen partnerships with health systems to increase depression screening, referral, and follow up in the primary care setting for youth.
#3: Support 7 to 10 youth-serving agencies in adopting stigma reduction and resiliency training activities within their system (Youth Mental Health First Aid, Adverse Childhood Experience trainings, Sources of Strength, etc.)

The efforts yielded the following takeaways:
• No single intervention or prevention program can prevent all suicides.
• Suicide is most effectively prevented by a comprehensive approach through the implementation of programs across the prevention spectrum.
• Everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention.

Beginning in February of 2015 and ranging through April of 2017, Dr. Leon Kelly, M.D.,  Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, El Paso County Coroner’s Office, of the El Paso County Child Fatality Review Team tabulated the following information over a 27-month period.
40 Teens completed suicide: 2015: 14, 2016: 15, and through a reporting period into April 2017: 11. The Highest concentration in the data: 11 over 3.5 months in early 2017.
That compares to six in 2014. Kelly says the most common risk factors identified were: Family discord, Recent relocation, Exposure to suicide, and Access to firearms.
Suicide is a public health issue and complex. There are almost always multiple causes, says Janet Karnes, Executive Director, Suicide Prevention Partnership.

Suicide Warning Signs:
• Appearing depressed or sad most of the time. (Untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide.)
• Talking or writing about death or suicide.
• Withdrawing from family and friends.
• Feeling hopeless.
• Feeling helpless.
• Feeling strong anger or rage.
• Feeling trapped -- like there is no way out of a situation.
• Experiencing dramatic mood changes.
• Abusing drugs or alcohol.
• Exhibiting a change in personality.
• Acting impulsively.
• Losing interest in most activities.
• Experiencing a change in sleeping habits.
• Experiencing a change in eating habits.
• Losing interest in most activities.
• Performing poorly at work or in school.
• Giving away prized possessions.
• Writing a will.
• Feeling excessive guilt or shame.
• Acting recklessly.

Some resources for help are:
• Colorado Crisis Services is available to help with a mental health, substance use or emotional crisis, 24/7/365. Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255 to speak confidentially with a trained professional, or visit one of the 11 Walk-In Crisis Services Centers across the state.
• Walk in Crisis Center in Colorado Springs area: 115 S. Parkside Drive, Colorado Springs, C0 80910 or 6071 East Woodman Road, Suite 135, Colorado Springs, CO, 80923
Visit to learn more.
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273- (TALK) 8255

By Rob Carrigan,