Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ulysses S. Grant Peak - A Fiery Thirteener

U.S. Grant Peak

Colorado became the 38th state to join the Union on August 1, 1876. President Ulysses S. Grant issued the proclamation. Today, the massive U.S. Grant Peak forms a dramatic backdrop for glittering Ice Lake Basin. Mirrored in Island Lake, the rugged mountain reflects the personality of the man to whom it owes its name.

From unexceptional beginnings, General Grant moved up through the ranks during the Civil War. He eventually commanded all Union armies and accepted Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Virginia. Championed as a popular war hero, Grant easily won the presidency in 1868. His administration proved disappointing though, as his two terms were marred by scandals and substantial charges of corruption.

Late in life, Grant contracted throat cancer. Racing against time, he completed a two volume, tour de force of Personal Memoirs. Written in pencil on lined pads of writing paper, the work is considered one of the most resolute accounts of war in American Literature. Loyal friend, Mark Twain, published the memoirs which earned Grant's widow close to a half-million dollars.

Back in the northern San Juan Mountains near Silverton, the fiery thirteener, Ulysses S. Grant peak, promises unconditional surrender. The dangerous crag is composed of highly unstable, jagged-rock faces with steep, scree-ridden couloirs. Because there's only one safe route up the mountain, U.S. Grant is considered a brutal force of nature. Hopefully, I'll be able to return next summer and thoroughly explore the rocky battlefield.

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