In the spring of 1889, Price and his young wife, Edith Areyilda Bogue, made their way up a cow path road that was barely wide enough for the carriage to pass, towards Sopris Creek. They had two horses, one pack mule, a carriage full of all of their earthly belongings, two shotguns, and a dog named Winston.
This was the last pass on their journey from Nebraska, where they wed in February that same year. Price was 27 and Edith just 19. Price was a short man, not much taller than 5’5” with sandy blonde hair and a sharp, distinct jaw. He was strong and weathered from farming, and already losing his hair, which he hid under his cowboy hat.
“I heard about this area from some ranchers that were using it to graze cattle,” Price explained to Edith. “Around these turns, it opens up into an expansive valley at the foothill of a mountain called Sopris. The mountain was named after the explorer who discovered it back in ‘60.”
Price knew the story of Captain Sopris well. He held him in high admiration because he was able to save the land that was misused and untamed by the Indians.
“Are there still savages here?” Edith asked nervously. She looked out over the ledge of the trail, which seemed directly beneath the wheels of their carriage. It went straight down beneath them, with rocks and sagebrush covering the hillside before the ravine funneled into a creek. She held onto the seat of the carriage so tight that her hands ached from the journey.
Edith stood almost two inches taller than Price. She was plump, with small eyes that she was constantly squinting making small creases between her brows. Her brown hair was tied tightly back in a bun, as it had been for most of her life. She was grew up Methodist and innocent as the morning dew, though her disposition would appear otherwise.
“I cannot lie to you,” said Price. He chose his words carefully so he didn’t scare his new wife. “Last year, a band of Utes came in from Utah under Chief Colorow and made a raid into Colorado. That is the last event I have heard about. They say that it was contrived, mainly to put on a show and scare the residents.”
Edith caught her breath and gripped the seat even tighter.
“There were no Indians where I grew up,” she said. “I don’t know anything about them, other than the stories I hear from travelers that came through. And the stories are grim.”
“We will be diligent. I have staked out our home to be nestled against a hill, so we’ll be able to see the entire valley from our front porch. If there are any intruders, we’ll see them coming from every direction and we’ll have time to prepare,” said Price. “But darling, I think your fears will disappear when you see it. It is truly a holy place, this is where God lives, and he will protect us because we are doing his work. We are saving this holy land from the savages.” He paused. “He will protect us,” he said again. “You must have faith.”
Edith’s own faith mirrored Price’s. Price placed his hand gently on Edith’s, which made her loosen her grip slightly. His voice was calm and soothing. He seemed so wise, she thought. His conviction and experience was comforting. She relaxed a bit, allowing herself to trust what he said.
“The Utes called this mountain Mother Mountain,” she said.
Price let out a breath and laughed slightly.
“How on earth do you know that?” he asked.
“You didn’t think I was going to disappear into the unknown with a stranger without knowing what I was getting into, did you?” A small smile formed in the corner of her mouth.
Price laughed. He squeezed the top of her hand with affection, which sent chills down Edith’s back. Edith had been saving that line for months, after carefully constructing it between her closest sister, Emaline, and herself. “You must learn to flirt or you’ll never survive!” Emaline would say. Edith felt proud and her nerves melted away.
As they peeked over the last curve on the trail, Mt. Sopris came into view. At 13,000 feet, the mountains showed snowy tops. It was both awe-inspiring and daunting. Edith gasped at the sight, a wretched feeling of insurmountability took over her. They descended down the last treacherous pass and into a valley where all of the sounds of distress from the horses absorbed into the air. The fields before them were covered from end to end with brown grass, scorched from the winter with patches of the last bits of snow holding on against the sun.
They finally stopped the carriage next to a clearing beside the hillside. Price had come before their wedding to stake out the location of their home. He knew exactly where to take them, what the view would be from their front porch, and how their house would sit facing the four corners of the valley.
“When I came across this spot in ‘87, the fields were covered in deep, vibrant blue flowers, starting right where we are standing now, all the way as far the land went without bending. It took my breath away, as if God had showed His face, flowers lingering beneath the sun, untouched, shining with their sweet scent filling the space between. I knew right then, that we are not alone in this world and that God too, was here watching us in our mission. I knew we were home,” said Price. “You will see it too one day very soon, when the field of blue flowers stretches from here to infinity, you too will see the light. And when you do, you will understand.”
He held onto Edith’s hand as they both stood facing the gaping mouth of the mountain that pierced the infinite sky, unreachable, illuminating. It took Edith’s breath away.
“The flowers were from wild alfalfa, a lush grass that we can turn to hay for horses and cattle. It means that this is land is fertile, hiding all the way up here, away from the troubles of the railway and the town. It means that we will prosper in its richness,” he said and paused for a long moment. The cold wind from the ends of winter brushed against their faces, chilling the tips of their ears. The only sounds in the valley were their breaths and the scurrying ground rats. “What do you think?”
Edith shook from her trance and looked over at Price. He was facing her, eager for her approval. She could tell that this was a great moment for him, the culmination of his life’s work. But all she could feel was the fear of what lingered beyond those empty trees and up those hills. He looked at her, hoping that the mountain had moved her as it did him. That was the first time Edith lied to her new husband.
“I think it’s glorious,” she said sweetly and squeezed his hand back. She swallowed the lump in her throat. It must never show, she thought. Then, she forced a smile.