Hermit Dam

8 Jul

My Take

DiVoran Lites


Our family, Ivan, Dora, DiVoran, andDavid moved to Westcliffe after Dad came home from WWII. We lived in the Wet Mountain Valley with the Sangre de Cristo Range to the west of us.




This is part of the 9.6-mile road to Hermit Dam. Nowadays it is considered one of the most dangerous roads in America and one of the ten highest in Colorado. The road becomes a trail before you get to the lake, so you must get out of your four-wheeled vehicle and walk. No horses are allowed on the road or on the trail. I have a bit of news about that. Tell you later.


Hermit Lake


Dad became involved withthe local men who hunted and fished in the mountains. He enjoyedhelpingstock the lake with Rainbow, Brown, Cutthroat, and Brook trout from a small private airplane. He also took tourists on tours up into the mountains, on horseback.

By the time he was eight, David was a better horseman than I, so he would ride Dixie, a skittish paint, and I’d ride Derby a more gentle soul. One time going back down, we got ahead of the parents and came to a fork in the trail. In that spot we were on flat ground, so we decided to gallop. David and Dixie went first and as always, Derby and I followed their hard pace. Then the trail forked and Dixie took the left side. Fully expecting my horse to follow I leaned left. This was one time, however,that my horse sense failed me. Derby served to the right and I flew off, thus receiving my first flying lesson. Thank the Lord I was not hurt. The parents were still lollygagging behind and never knew a thing about our shenanigans.

Another time I went swimming in a freezing cold alpine lake made by a beaver dam. When I got out I couldn’t stop shivering, but everybody thought I was pretty brave, so it was worth it.

One fine spring day we were in the mountains and mother made a camping stew. We always kidded her that she put everything in the pot including cans of sardines and peaches. This particular day, she found dandelions growing and stripped them of their leaves to cook apart from the stew. She had been a campfire girl and knew a lot about camping and nature. She would never pull a wildflower out by the roots because then they wouldn’t be able to grow again. As we sat down to eat, giant snowflakes fell, but it was only one of those spring storms and uskids enjoyed catching the cold flakes on our tongues.

When I grew up, I married Bill and we had two children. Bill got laid off from work at the Cape and we took a six-week camping trip out west with our children.

We went to Westcliffe so the kids could see the schools I’d gone to, and where I had lived with my family. While we were there, I urged Bill to go on up to Hermit Lake so they could all see where good times with my family took place. We didn’t know it required a four-wheelvehicle. I will let Bill tell you rest:


“This was the roughest road (if you could call it a road) I had ever traveled in any kind of vehicle.  Here we were in a 1958 Ford station wagon (adjusted for sea level operations), pulling a pop-up camper up that one-lane road to an altitude of almost 12,000 feet.  Once we started up that road, we had to keep going.  At some points,we were moving no faster thana slow walk, having to steer around large boulders.

“I was getting worried that we would not be able to find a place to turn aroundwhen after two hours we came to the end of the nine miles of road. Luckily there was a flat space just large enough that we could turn around. Since it was getting dark we decided to set up the camper and spend the night there. Even though it was summertime, at that altitude the night was cold. The next morning we cooked breakfast, packed up the camper and got ready to head back to Westcliffe.  Well,guess what?  The car wouldn’t start!

It seems we had developed tiny cracks in the spark plugwires.  Now, with the air at this high altitude being so thin, the spark was jumping from the spark plugwires to the block, and not to the plugs. I removed the wire from each plug, cleaned and dried it, wrapped electrical tape around it, and reinstalled it. That coupled with the rising afternoon temperature, seemed to do the trick. With the car running, we now embarked on our two-hour adventure back down the mountain to Westcliffe.  WOW– What a trip!  I sure don’t want to ever have to make a trip like that again.

As I remember it, the reason we didn’t walk on up to the lake that morning was that the clouds were covering the mountain below us and we could barely see the road to get down, so we wouldn’t have been able to see the lake which was higher than where we camped.”


Thanks, Bill, not only for writing your take on itbut for getting us out of every jam we’ve been in for most of our lives. I thank God for you.

For years I’ve thought my life was regular and uneventful, but when I look back now and see the things I was privileged to participate in I know I had many adventures that perhaps others had not had. I also thank God for my mother, father, and brother and for all the things we did together.

Here’s a YouTube link that shows the road to Hermit Dam as it is now.





Author, Poet and Artist


DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

One Response to “Hermit Dam”

  1. Onisha Ellis July 8, 2018 at 8:12 pm #

    You had an adventurous childhood! Your dad seems to have been able to turn his hand at anything. I enjoyed your story.


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