As temperatures climb in late March, the heavy snowpack on Colorado's Western Slope start its inexorable journey to the sea, carrying with it a heavy load of silt. This shot of the aptly named Muddy Creek was taken just above Paonia Reservoir. Just below the dam, these waters join the much clearer flows of Anthracite Creek to form the North Fork of the Gunnison River. Why are they so different? The Muddy drains some very erosive country, while the Anthracite tumbles through a land of hard rock.
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Paul Larmer is the Executive Director of High Country News, based in Paonia, Colorado.