Oh, The Expectations You'll Have!

Daydream with me for a moment. You’re standing on the shore of a pristine alpine lake. Glassy water reflects snow-capped peaks of a rugged mountain. A ghostly fog moves over the surface, swirling in a faint breeze. An intense morning sun inches over the horizon behind you, casting warming rays of soft, pink light onto cotton candy clouds. As if by some miracle, a large bull moose lumbers out of the thick forest. He pauses in the best possible spot, looks directly into the camera, waiting for you to capture this once-in-a-lifetime moment. Without hesitation, you click your shutter. The flawless scene captured without blown highlights, or crushed shadows. Satisfied with your masterstroke, you stroll effortlessly back to your car.

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved maps. Globes, atlases, origami-nightmares (a.k.a. gas station maps). An unwavering attachment to our 3D world, re-imagined onto a 2D piece of paper.

With modern technology it seems almost impossible to get lost. I can open my phone and tell it where I want to go, or punch in an address on my car’s onboard navigation.

Before cell phones were in everyone's pockets, or what my daughter calls “the dark ages”, a map was your best friend. Printed out directions for getting from this place or that. Portable, organized, and perfect for weekend trip, or cross-country expedition. I still keep a Colorado Gazetteer in my truck...in case my GPS signal disappears, which never, ever happens.

Best-Laid Plans

Mother Nature doesn’t always like my plans. Back in 2014, my family and I, were making our first epic road trip; Colorado to Montana. I had always wanted to visit Glacier National Park, and it was finally happening. I studied maps, pondered over possible campsites, marveled at breathtaking photographs. It was going to be the best road trip...ever.

The Ancient and Honorable Order of Squirrels

The floodgates have opened. Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, and the mad dash to escape to the mountains is in full force.

The Highways and Byways once again carry eager nature seekers into the Rocky Mountains. The search for empty camping spots, less traveled hiking trails, and endless RV escapades signal another season of outdoor bliss. The mountain pass traffic and maxed-out roadside campgrounds driving me to more secluded spots.

So, I chose one of the more popular local spots as my next hike.

Wait? What?

Yes, I’m surprised too. I will spend hours scouring maps and Google Earth hoping to find an undiscovered location. Sometimes, though, a particular destination is so unique, so special, I’ve got to see it.

Roadside Attraction

Jurassic Park is one of my favorite movies. Back in the summer of ’93, it broke all kinds of records during its theatrical release—and I was there opening weekend. I’m not a huge dinosaur fan, but I am a huge Steven Spielberg fan.I saw Jurassic Park four times in the theater—every weekend for a month. I know someone is thinking “what a huge waste of time!”. But, I really liked this movie, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I still remember how breathless I was after the opening scene. In a few short minutes, I knew I was watching a classic.

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Hiking takes time, effort, and some stamina. It’s not for everyone. But, for those who enjoy it, it’s addictive. I’ve not yet convince my daughter in the splendor of hiking. When she was a little thing—riding on my back—she loved it. I mean, how couldn’t she? It was a free ride, for several hours, with little to no effort involved. However, when she reached middle school age, her eagerness changed. I’d persuade her to suffer through one or two trips during the summer. About this time, we started asking her to “share the load” and carry her own pack. I think you can see where this is going. Once she reached high school…no dice. Hiking was boring. Hiking was not cool. Hiking meant the opposite of fun. Like I said, it’s not for everyone.

Add A Little Gray To Your Day

It’s finally happened. Springtime. I know winter gave up a long time ago, but I’ve been holding on; not ready to give up on the chance for more snow. But, now that the days are getting longer, the sunshine a little warmer, grass a little greener—I must admit—it feels good. However, this is Colorado, so you never know what the weather will be tomorrow … see, I still haven’t lost all hope for more snow.

Life-size Snow Globe

Do you like bad weather? Huh, I didn’t hear “Why yes! I love it!” replies. Understandably, most people will do whatever they can to avoid bad weather: watch the evening news, get alerts on their phone, or diagnosing the aches and pains in their eccentric neighbor’s knees—whatever works, right? I get it. It’s not something I’d seek out either. But, now and again, bad weather is a good thing. Bad weather generates amazing clouds for a setting sun. Bad weather gives us snow days from work or school (that’s always fun). Bad weather isn’t _bad_, only slightly inconvenient for a day or two.

Baby Mountains Are Mountains Too

I made a New Year’s Resolution to hike one hundred miles by the end of 2017. This goal of mine would double the amount of miles I hiked last year. All my logged miles took place between May and early November. So, starting four months sooner should make this goal a piece of cake.

I made a this bold commitment (after my Blackmer Loop Hike) with a nonchalant appraisal of a measly eight miles each month. Eight little miles. Well, it’s nearly the end of January, and I’ve only completed one hike. And, technically, I completed it before the new year even started. Ummm…I better get my butt in gear!

TRAIL TESTED: Leki Cristallo Trekking Poles

I’ve been hiking in and around Colorado—some other states too—for a while now. Hiking isn’t my day job, at least not yet, but it’s something I daydream about. I don’t believe I would take all this time to hike, camp and photograph, if I didn’t enjoy almost every minute of it. Can you “binge” hike? Kind of like watching every episode of “Stranger Things” on Netflix, but more healthy. That's something I should look into.

A Winter Hike Delight

The first day of winter—in the Northern Hemisphere at least—falls on December 21 or 22, and for me it’s a day of celebration. I love the cold and snow and the everything that the season brings. Colorado can get snow (in the mountains) as early as September. More often than not, in late October…unless you’re the fall/winter of 2016. This year, it’s been super warm—and downright hot at times. Kind of a bummer when you want it to snow.

Who Wants To Rake Leaves?

Every fall, procrastination slowly creeps into my weekends. Sure, it starts off harmless and inconsequential, but we all know the outcome. I’ve got a massive silver maple in my backyard, and every autumn, as the healthy green leaves slowly change to yellow, an epic battle starts once again—my chess match of calculated procrastination.

Lost And Found

Fall. Autumn. Harvest. Football. Everyone has a reason to celebrate the autumn season. While Colorado is lucky to actually have all four seasons: Harbinger of Flowers (spring), Sweaty Heat (summer), Ooohh and Aaaahh (autumn), Super-fun-time (winter)…autumn is definitely one of the best.

Not only does the temperatures become tolerable again, but we are rewarded—for surviving the summer heat—with the most beautiful display of colors. And, one of the best ways to enjoy these colors is on a hike.

On The Road Again

Motivation is a powerful thing. I’ve been in super-motivation mode all summer. My goal the whole summer (something I believed to be realistic and doable) was to hike every weekend. Well, I’m going to end up with a “participation” trophy this year, but I give myself an “A” for effort.

Even though I didn’t hit my mark, I still hiked more this summer than any other. That motivation stuff can be a powerful tool, and now I plan on prolonging this mindset into fall and winter. But, summer isn’t done with me yet. Even though the weather may be cooling down in Colorado, it’s still good and toasty in the mid-west. Which brings me to my next topic: humidity.

We Need To Have A Talk

I’m a bit of a neat-freak. The car, house, computer keyboard…they’re always clean. You’ve probably seen a few of us in your lifetime—we’re easy to spot. When I was a kid, I would lovingly clean my sneakers after each outing…with a toothbrush, and not always my toothbrush (sorry to any family members who might just be learning this). The point being, my stuff looked good! I took care of my belongings, they meant something to me. I’m still the same way, maybe not as over-the-top, but I like to keep my things in their original condition.

Check That One Off The List

Do you have a “bucket list”? I do and it’s kind of out-of-control. It started off as this sweet, innocent list of countries (Iceland, New Zealand, Norway) typical stuff. But, it has slowly been sucking up anything related to the outdoors: National Parks like the Grand Canyon and Olympic (and yes, I am very aware that I live relatively close to the Grand Canyon), or a monadnock (don’t worry, I had to look that one up too…my vocabulary is not that impressive) like Shiprock in New Mexico. Of course I have lots and lots of hikes/backpacking trips on my bucket list. I finally got to check Crater Lake off my list.

You Don't Look A Day Over One Hundred

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS) and what a achievement it has been. If you are not familiar with the NPS, they are responsible for management of all the National Parks —no surprise there—but they also manage a lot of our National Monuments (manmade - Statue of Liberty, and natural - Devil’s Tower) as well as other conservation and historical sites. The NPS has an enormous responsibility and it is one that is often overlooked.

A Walk in the Park

Do you have favorites? I know I do. I have lots of favorites: movie, color, spot on the couch—you get the idea. But, I tend to have multiple favorites, groups of favorites. For example, I love movies. I have many, many movies that are my “favorite”. But it goes farther than that. I have favorite directors and cinematographers and film composers. I have favorites within favorites. I can tell you are intrigued. More examples you say, ok…how about ice cream. Well, that’s a trick question, because vanilla is the best. And, just like my other examples, I have a “favorite” place to hike. It isn’t because it is the most epic, or least visited. A favorite just has to connect with you, and Cheyenne Mountain State Park is definitely a favorite.

Camp Robbers and Scary Rocks

Ok, full disclosure…I am not a master hiker. I’m just an average guy, who is a little soft around the middle, and has too much gray on his chin than I think I should have. I have a 9-to-5 job that keeps me behind a computer too much and I don’t always eat healthy-even thought I know I should be. I do not hike everyday and when I do go for a hike, I get tired.  Truth be told, I am sucking wind a lot. However, despite my “Average Joe” physique and my graying chin, I won’t let these things keep me from getting out on a hike. And all my hard work is starting to pay off.