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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tripping over Galena Summit


It’s remarkable that for decades our Forest Service has kept a historical sign posted on the winding Galena climb, which commemorates with ambiguous wording, early trapper Alexander Ross discovering this gateway to the Sawtooths in 1824. Certainly he ‘discovered’ the jagged summit for his fellow explorers, but I wonder what the Sheepeater Indian who zinged a grouse with an arrow up there on the same sunny day(as reported by Ross) would think about this discovery hoopla if he was able to gain a visionary glimpse into the future.

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Another challenge at the summit is at the elevation sign, as vandals have unhinged it several times. Although I’m mostly against government total awareness programs, this is a case where I’ve become sick of seeing this sign stolen so much, that it would be refreshing to see our highway department set a clever trap, by imbedding a small GPS unit into the sign, to catch some culprits.

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Further aspects of the pass I’m puzzled about are at the remodeled overlook parking lot. Whatever, happened to the landline the Forest Service was going to install there? Well, at least for now, our community has some dedicated ham radio enthusiasts to help patch this severe communication gap. Another harsh fact up there is that the restrooms are gone! On top of that, as pleasant as the new remodel appears cosmetically, it does not have sufficient barriers to prevent motorists from sliding off the edge.

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Back in the era, when Al Ross was writing his traveling memoirs, rugged mountain men probably would have empowered themselves to haul up excess railroad ties and spike them in as guardrails to ensure no one rolled off the rocky overlook. It would be nice if the Forest Service could find it in their budget to follow similar safety procedures.

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