Friday, June 16, 2017

Walk with Intent

Last week when I posted some quick photos of our trip to Fort Collins, several people wondered about these things.
Today I'll tell you about them. 

At the end of Ryan's first year in CO, he was recruited to be part of the prospective graduate students' visit. This is three days of providing the next cohort of grad. students with information about the program, the university, Fort Collins itself, food, and beer. While he leapt at the chance to use the department credit card for entertainment and enjoy some free food and beer himself, he was also in charge of showing the prospective students some of the area's wonderful outdoor activities. He chose one of Fort Collins' 46 Natural Areas for a 9.6 mile hike. While the students seemed to prefer food and beer over a long hike, Ryan came to love the place.

Some of it was the hike, varied views, and quiet solitude, and some of it was the prospect of finding things. He spotted one of these buried in the trail, dug it out, and was surprised to find that it was a round lead ball. He found several more during that hike, took us on our next visit, and we've been hooked ever since.

Our best guess is that these are lead balls that were used in black powder rifles. Cylindrical pointed bullets began to be used around 1825, so these may have been used around that time. We haven't been able to find any historical facts, but have had fun speculating about people shooting at buffalo or target practice with their muzzle loaders. It's hard to explain, but there is just something about searching for an object that is partially hidden, rare, hard to find, and old, and quite gratifying if you can actually find one.

We've collected 91 of them over the past four years, and the photo at the top shows our best day so far with 31 of them from our latest visit. We count the "splatted" ones that actually hit something, and even shards. They look like stones, but as soon as you pick them up, you can tell that they're made of lead by their weight. Ryan is the winner with the most found, followed by John, Justin, and I think I've contributed four to our overall total. This could be due to the fact that I get frustrated when I don't find any and concentrate more on the views, wildlife, wildflowers, and paying attention so I don't step on a snake.

Every time we head out we talk about how we've surely found most of the lead balls we're going to find and maybe we'll have to use a metal detector some day. We haven't yet resorted to this because it would feel like cheating and we found more on this latest visit than ever before. For now, it's fun to walk with intent, and share our finds as a family.


  1. what a delightful story! your collection reminds me of all of the sea shells in my house from years of going to the beach. My most valued collection is sea glass because I find it rare on the east coast, at least where I am :) LOVE the last photo :)

  2. I'd be watching for the snakes too! Very fun adventure though...I like them all lined up like's a work of art!

  3. You had me wanting to walk along with you, right up until the "s" word. But, those views! Wow!

  4. How awesome is that? Around here Dale likes to look for arrow heads but I get frustrated because I have never found one!

  5. Just walking in a place that has blue skies, incredible view, wildflowers, and and wild animals, is amazing, but to find buried treasure as you walk, that's even better. IMO, a detector would take the fun and mystery out of search. Thank you sharing the story of the "stones".

  6. Oh, Bonny! Everything about your post is just awesome. Hiking in such a beautiful area! Fun family adventures! AND . . . finding treasure! Just perfect. (And, yeah. Plenty of snakes out there. Yikes!)

  7. Yikes is right about those snakes!! You know I am NOT fond of them and they are EVERYWHERE out there! I do love Colorado though. This is such a great post Bonny. What fun (I'd be like you - too frustrated and busy looking out for snakes and taking pictures). I agree a metal detector would spoil the fun.

  8. I do wonder about those splatted ones...

  9. Snakes!!!??? I would definitely be paying attention to my feet! the rest of the flora and fauna, though is beautiful!

  10. Minus the snakes, beautiful photos almost feel I am with you on your walk.

    1. I've always been told that the snakes are more afraid of me than I am of them, but I'm not sure that's true!


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