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The irrigation tell: Snow on Longs Peak indicates water supply


“See the man in the mountain?” this old farm boy asks me.  I am at a party at his childhood home and I don’t know anybody.  So I stand outside looking at Long’s Peak, and he comes up and says that. “With his arms outstretched. Do you see?”

I can kind of see, maybe in that inverted pyramid patch of snow just beneath the top of the mountain.  But not really.  It’s a man like the man in the moon who doesn’t look like a man at all, to me.

“We used to watch the arms, and that’s how we knew how much irrigation water we had left for the year,” the farmer says. “The arms get shorter, and the water runs out.”

The Big Thompson Project created a system dams and diversions in the late 1940s. It brings water under the divide and averages our rainfall and snowpack.  So if there is a man in Long’s Peak, he’s defunct.

But still I can’t help but check for him every time I look West.

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