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This bucolic meadow near the summit of Owl Creek Pass (10,114 feet) in Colorado served as the location for the famous shootout in the 1969 film “True Grit” starring John Wayne, and helped set the scene for this memorable exchange leading up to it:
[Ned Pepper, Mexican Bob, and the Parmalee brothers meet Rooster Cogburn – The Duke – blocking the road.]
Rooster: Where’s the girl, Ned?
Ned: She was in wonderful health when last I saw her. I can’t answer for her now.
Rooster: You’ll answer for her now! Where is she?
La Boeuf: [from far off, in outlaw camp] Rooster, make a run for it! I’ve got Mattie! Chaney too!
Ned: Well, Rooster, will you give us the road? I have business elsewhere.
Rooster: Farrell, you and your brother stand clear. I’ve got no interest in you today. Stand clear and you won’t get hurt.
Harold: Cock-a-doodle-doo! [other outlaws laugh]
Ned: What’s your intention, Rooster? You think one on four is a dog-fall?
Rooster: I mean to kill you in one minute, Ned, or see you hanged at Fort Smith at Judge Parker’s convenience. Which’ll it be?
Ned: I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!
Rooster: Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!
Now, over forty years later, the horses and men are long gone. The “one-eyed fat man” is nowhere to be found, and the film has become a treasured part of cinematic history. If you come to this beautiful and (now) very quiet spot in the San Juan mountains, you might just think you hear voices. Cow Creek gurgles nearby, and the occasional visitor might stop and look around before heading up to the pass. But most of the time you’ll have this place to yourself. A short distance away, Chimney Rock, Courthouse Mountain, and the rugged spires of Cimarron Ridge stand sentinel above you. It all seems of another time, yet timeless. In the sweet mountain air you’ll know that something good happened here once – indeed, happens every day. You’ll know what it feels to be human. And you’ll know just how good it feels to be alive – here, in Colorado – on God’s green earth.
Uncompahgre National Forest
The photo was made using a Canon EOS 50D digital body, EF 24mm f/1.4L lens, at f/14 for 1/6 second at 100 ISO.