Hikers’ Blog

John enjoying the panorama of Snowmass Canyon and the Elk Range

The Bisti Brigade

The countdown has begun. Only 24 hours (as of this writing) until the first wave launches for Farmington. If you join my peloton, we’ll travel by way of McClure Pass, Delta, and Montrose to Ridgway for lunch at the True Grit Café.  We depart Office Depot at 8:00 and meet our up-valley contingent at Carbondale City Market at 8:15. Some of our down-valley folks will be heading west from Rifle via Clifton to Hwys 50 and 550 to Ridgway. I expect the Glenwood group will arrive there by 11:00-11:15, in time for an early lunch. The True Grit Café opens at 11:00. It’s easy to find…right on the plaza (Hartwell Park).

After lunch, we’ll head west from Ridgway on CO 62 toward Telluride. There should be excellent leaf peeping up on Dallas Divide. We’ll stop for photo ops overlooking Ralph Lauren’s ranch. Then it’s on to Placerville, Sawpit and over Lizard Head Pass. More photo ops enroute, perhaps. Down Hwy 145 through Rico to Dolores, then take the Mancos Cutoff to…you guessed it…Mancos. At Mancos, we’ll pick up US 160 east toward Durango, but turn off at Hesperus toward Farmington via CO 140 and NM 170. At Farmington, turn east (left) on US 64, then right on Bypass 64 (Murray Dr.) to Broadway. Enroute we’ll cross the Bisti Hwy, where we’ll be heading Monday morning. Turn left on Broadway then right on Cortland Drive. Our hotel is just off Broadway, at 1951 Cortland. Aside from the scenery, I chose this scenic byway because there’s less traffic and far fewer traffic lights than the Million Dollar Highway through Ouray, Silverton and Durango.

Speaking of Monday morning, I plan to leave for the Bisti ~7:00 immediately after breakfast (assuming breakfast begins no later than 6:30). Best photos are under early morning light, so suck it up buttercup. It’s 36 miles on a paved road from Farmington to the turnoff to the Bisti. The road from there to the parking lot, though unpaved, appears to be well graded, and from satellite imagery I detected an RV in the parking lot. It should be passable for most, if not all, vehicles…as long as it doesn’t rain.

The Bisti will not be a forced march like many of our recent hikes. This will be a stroll…tiptoe through the hoodoos, if you like. For me, it will be a photo safari, with lots of stops between sites…and sights. Take a look at the link Deb posted on the Club’s Facebook page…251 pix. If that doesn’t whet your appetite, then perhaps this is not the outing for you. The map I posted on the website (the same one that’s in your printed map sets) was taken from several online sources. Because there are no trails, we’ll need to navigate with GPS to some of the more interesting features, like the “Stone Wings”. There’s no snack bar…or water, restrooms or any other “amenities”…here, so we’ll have a picnic lunch back in the parking lot before we leave for ABQ. That will also allow any stragglers to straggle in. Perhaps, if Bruce drives the Kopf’s RV here, we’ll have access to a toilet, at least.

Rio Grande Ramblers

The second wave will depart for ABQ Monday morning. Since no one has stepped up to lead the caravan, I’m going to make it as simple as possible:  If you want to caravan, depart No Name at 7:00 and follow the route I’ve laid out for you. This route allows for one or more hikes in an area called the “Orilla Verde Recreation Area”. Part of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, this area encompasses the lower portion of the Rio Grande Gorge, near Taos, beginning at the High Bridge and extending south 10 miles or so to Pilar. Along US 64 between Tres Piedras and the bridge, look for Earthship, a “biotecture” development on the left side of the highway. From Pilar, take NM 68 to Española, then US 285 to NM 599 to I-25 to Exit 231 and follow the directions to the hotel. Or you may leave at your leisure and drive by whatever route you choose to ABQ. However, even if you don’t plan to hike in Orilla Verde, this is a more scenic variant than the usual US 285 from Alamosa to Santa Fe. Boring!

Some of you may be tempted to stop in Taos, the town that no doubt inspired the expression “artsy-fartsy”. It’s only a 12-mile detour from my more direct route, but there’s construction on the main road through town, and it was heavily congested when I was there 2 weeks ago…on a Monday. Just saying…

See you in ABQ!



By the numbers
Here are all the particulars for Wednesday’s hikes. As per usual, clicking on the blue hyperlinks below will direct you to additional resources:

—————————–Sopris (E/W)      Thomas Lakes          Hay Park*
Meeting place         —————————Office Depot————————-
Departure time               5:30                          8:30                            8:30
Start Elevation       ——————————- 8650′——————————-
End Elevation                12953′                     10270′                         9700′
Elevation Gain          4400’/5000′                1620′                           1050′
Mileage (RT)                12.9/14+                       8.0                               8.0
Leader                                Moi                         Mike L                      Dennis F
* Hike to high point and return

Rendezvous with up-valley hikers at Carbondale City Market 15 min after GWS departure. From there, drive 1.4 mi south on 133 to Prince Creek Road and turn left.  Follow Prince Creek Road 6 mi to a fork near the top of the hill. Turn right at the fork toward Dinkle Lake and drive 2 mi to Thomas Lakes TH (on left). Hay Park Trail junction is ~1.5 mi up the Thomas Lakes Trail. For Sopris, hike past Thomas Lakes on a switchback trail. Above timberline the trail runs out, and from there it’s boulder hopping all the way to the eastern summit, crossing a false summit at 6 mi. To reach the western summit, descend 300′ from the eastern summit to the saddle (where the cornice used to be) and climb 300′ to the western summit. On return, descend the western summit and reclimb 300′ on the eastern summit. Easy peazy.



Where’s the fire, Part III

Even if you weren’t one of the fab 14 who hiked the Yule Pass trail on Wednesday, you may have heard via the grapevine that the vanguard of our baker’s dozen plus one encountered another wildfire just below the pass. Smoldering at the base of a grove of trees, it flared up whenever a gentle breeze fanned its flames. Because cell service is spotty/non-existent in the Crystal River Valley at Marble, Renee reported it to the Carbondale FD only after we reached Slo-Groovin’ BBQ. Thanks to cell phone technology, she could even give them precise GPS coordinates.

Other than that…and the excruciating 1-mile ultimate stairmaster at the outset…the day was unremarkable…unremarkable except for the azure blue skies and glorious scenery, that is. We even crossed Yule Creek without getting our feet wet, a “benefit” of the drought, no doubt. Yet there was still enough streamflow to provide a beautiful cascade pouring over tiger-striped bedrock 2 miles below the pass. Too bad Tom Neel wasn’t there. He really knows his schist. Had he seen it, he might have said “Isn’t that gneiss?” The water was so cold and crystal clear that if the day were any warmer, I might have been tempted to take a dip. “Might” is the operative word there.

But I’m sure most, if not all, of you tuned in to learn about the near future, not the recent past. Tomorrow (Labor Day) we will be heading in a different direction. Mount Thomas shares the same ridge with Red Table Mountain. Though accessible from above Ruedi, we will be taking the alternate route via Eagle in deference to our down-valley hikers. The trailhead is at 10343’ according to the Forest Service, about 350’ above Crooked Creek Pass just south of Sylvan Lake.  Net gain to Mount Thomas (11977’) is a little over 1600’ in 5 miles. But, of course, you know it’s never quite that simple. This is an undulating ridge, with one section that appears to climb 1000’ in little over a mile. That’s East Creek steep, but not Yule Creek steep.

But for you Killer Bees who’d like to spend Labor Day hiking “with” us, but aren’t as masochistic as the rest of us, I may have a solution for you. Powerline Road crosses our path just below the trailhead. It crisscrosses under a powerline, but mostly meanders through spruce & fir on a moderate grade. Hike this road in lieu of Mount Thomas and, yes, you will receive mileage credit. Then share our tailgate back where it all began.

FYI, us Ascenders (Q-Z) are on deck to provide tailgate refreshments. Let’s not let those Elemeno-Peas show us up Ascenders! Bring your ‘A’ game. Other critical data include Meeting Place (No Name), Departure Time (7:30), and fare ($8).

And now for the bad news. Upon hearing that our Monday hike was out of Eagle, I heard someone, “Oh good, we can go to Costco.” The bad news…they’re closed on Labor Day. Yes, I didn’t believe it either, but that’s what their website says. So I guess only one bird will die tomorrow.



Where’s the fire — The sequel

And like most sequels, you’ll probably say that it’s not as good as the first. But, hey, they can’t all be gems. Some of them are just stones…some are skippers, and some are sinkers/ stinkers.

This post is just to follow up on Monday’s hike description, and to preview Wednesday’s hike. Yes, there will be a Wednesday hike, and I think it will please quite a few of you. But first, Monday (Mt. Yeckel):

If you take a look at the map, you’ll notice that the first 4 miles follow an unpaved road, and the remaining 1+ mile to the summit is a good 2-track. Net gain for this segment is only 900′, so it’s suitable for most of our hikers. From the summit, however, if you follow Spruce Creek down to Woody Creek, you will drop 3100′ in about 6 miles…not a steep descent, but a descent nonetheless. If descending isn’t your bag, you’re welcome to return to the vehicles by the same route you reached the summit, on the road. Or, if you’re a real masochist, you can hike in the opposite (counterclockwise) direction, gaining 3100′ and losing 900′. I believe Gerry V is traveling, so I’m not expecting a lot of demand for this option. We have several people on the cusp of a major milestone, so I expect we’ll be sipping champagne over the next few weeks.

Having given a considerable amount of thought to our Wednesday hike options, I decided that the option likely to garner the most enthusiastic support is Yule Pass. Those of you who were rained out on Aug 3, and those of us who didn’t plan to hike it back then rain or shine, have a repechage…a do-over…in hopes that next Wednesday will be as sunny as the forecast calls for. And by hiking out and back from the Marble side, you can avoid that nasty shale slope on the far side of the pass. Weather…and energy…permitting, we may even attempt to reach Yule Lakes, although there’s no maintained trail. Yule Pass alone is about 11 miles round trip, and you’ll need to cross the creek both going and coming. But you can stash your water shoes after the first crossing and retrieve them on the way back.

After the Yule Pass hike, I plan to post your cumulative mileage totals through August. If you’re observant, you may have noticed that I’ve already posted all the maps for the rest of the season on the website. This was no slam dunk, given my computer woes. It was more of an alley-oop with Steve Sundermann providing the assist (map CD and CD-ROM drive, of which I had neither at the moment).



Where’s the fire?

I’ll bet you think this blog is all about the wildfires in our area. Well, you are (partly) right. And I’ll get there in a moment.

“Where’s the fire?” is a catchphrase rightly or wrongly attributed to that police officer who just pulled you over for going 65 in Glenwood Canyon. The meaning here is “What’s your hurry?” And that’s MY question to you. What’s your hurry when it comes to checking your hiking mileage? Remember, Farshideh and I are volunteers and, despite what you might have heard, we have lives outside the 100 Club. So we may not post mileages the instant they are recorded…or even the week they are recorded. Be patient…”good things come to those who wait”…an adage no doubt coined by the chronically late.

Here’s the dealio: We will TRY to post them weekly, with “try” the operative word. We will correct any discrepancies you find in your mileage data as soon as possible, but will only post those revisions on the same schedule as the rest of the data. I will resume putting “as of [the date]” the 2018 (or current year’s) spreadsheet was published on the website. If the link says “as of 8/18”, do not be surprised if your mileage from 8/20 is not included.

We currently are experiencing some artifacts in the larger 1991-2018 spreadsheet, which currently is offline. “Artifacts” is just a fancy euphemism for “bugs”. I’m busy debugging them now, if you will please cease and desist from de bugging of me about your miles.

Now back to de fires. That slutty Christine appears to have lied down. In fact, they’re not even posting daily updates about her on the InciWeb site. However, she does now have her own Facebook page.

The other fire that continues to wreak havoc with our hiking schedule is the Cabin Lake “incident”. It’s fortunate that we canceled the South Fork hike, because I only just learned that the South Fork trail is within the fire closure area, which is MUCH larger than the area directly impacted by the fire. It would have been a rude awakening to find a closure sign at the trailhead after driving 25 miles on rough roads to get there.

The closure also impacts the western approach to the Blair Mountain hike and butts up against the northern terminus of the hike itself. So, as of today, next Wednesday’s hike is yet to be determined. But it will be huge…the greatest hike you have ever seen…believe me.

So far, at least, our Monday hike, Mount Yeckel is not affected by any current fire and, given our recent drenching rains, it’s unlikely a new one will crop up between now and then…or between here and there.

So where IS there, you ask. It’s up Woody Creek Road past Lenado to the big hairpin across Woody Creek. This is our exit point and site of our tailgate. We’ll begin the hike up County Road 508 at its junction with CR 526. From there it’s about 4-mile walk to a two-track that leads to the top of Mount Yeckel. Cross the summit and down the east ridge to Sawmill Park where you reach the Spruce Creek trail (#1927). Take it downhill to Woody Creek and return to base via the Woody Creek trail (#1994).

And now for the rest of the story: Depart Office Depot at 7:30 and rendezvous with up-valley hikers at Old Snowmass Post Office (NOT Basalt P&R) at 8:00. The peloton will not stop there, but rather do a “fly-by”. So you up-valley folks should be vigilant and merge with Hwy 82 traffic when you see us flying by. But don’t fly too high, or a state trooper might ask YOU “Where’s the fire?”

To reach Woody Creek, turn left on Gerbaz Way just after you exit Snowmass Canyon. After several miles, Woody Creek Road bears left uphill just before you reach the tavern. Passengers please tip your drivers $8. The Elemeno-Peas (that would be a great name for a rock & roll band) are on deck for tailgate refreshments.



To quote Yogi Berra…

…or was it John Fogerty?  “It’s deja vu all over again.”  A dark cloud is hanging over our hiking season.  And that dark cloud (this week) is smoke from the Cabin Lake fire.  After a recent flare-up, that fire went from 50% containment to only 35%. That’s trending in the wrong direction.

Relevance? Our scheduled Monday hike, South Fork of the White River, is only a few miles upstream from the active fire front, and if last Monday taught us anything it’s that even a smoldering fire can spew out a lot of smoke.

So what’s a CHiC to do? Throw a change-up, that’s what, high and outside. After a brief meeting of the minds with our mistress of mileage, we’ve opted to replace the ill-fated South Fork hike with the always popular Lost Man Loop. It may not be totally smoke-free…not as long as it’s west of the Mississippi…but perhaps we can climb above it.

Lost Man offers a variety of options from relatively easy in-and-out hikes from either upper or lower trailhead to the full 9.5-mile top-down crossover route. Coincidentally, the latter offers the potential for a side trip to South Fork Pass…not related in any way (except for the name) to the hike we’ve eschewed in favor of Lost Man.

I wish I could give you all the vitals,  but my Mac has crashed for the 3rd time in a month,  after assurances by the techs that it was cured of its recent malaise.  And for this I rushed home from Monday’s tailgate.  It may be time to find a new shop…or a new Mac.  I think computers, like people, should have an “advanced directive”, so we’ll know when it’s time to put them out of OUR misery.

However, I’ll be publishing more on Lost Man by the weekend with as much information as I can cobble together from online sources. And for future reference, it is just as likely, if not more so, that the Blair Mountain hike (8/29) will be canceled, as well. Not only is it downwind from the Cabin Creek fire, but the fire itself is perilously close to one of two possible driving routes.

Aug 17 update:

We will be departing Office Depot at 7:30 with a secondary stop at the Basalt Park & Ride (rear lot) at 7:55 to rendezvous with up-valley hikers. The Lost Man Trail is east of Aspen below Independence Pass. The lower TH is 14 mi from Aspen across from the Lost Man CG. We’ll drop a vehicle or two here to serve as driver shuttles and then proceed with the rest of the vehicles to the upper TH, 4 mi farther east on 82.  The main group will be hiking the “loop” from top to bottom.  After we reach the lower TH, we’ll shuttle drivers back to the upper TH to retrieve their vehicles. Other options include hiking in-and-out from either the lower or upper TH.  Passengers, your fare will be $10.  Those of you in the first part of the alphabet (A-K) should bring the usual goodies for the tailgate, which we can hold at the CG across Hwy 82. Additional information can be found  by clicking on the bold blue hypertext above.

And let me be the first to say “Yippee!” for the rain we currently enjoy. Perhaps it will dampen the fires sufficiently to allow us to hike Blair Mountain in a couple of weeks. But first I’ll need to find a good access route, one of which is very close to the Cabin Lake fire closure. Stay tuned for further updates.



Christine vs. Josephine…the continuing saga

I don’t have much time, so I’ll be brief. If you were looking forward to the 200-mile round trip drive to Devils Causeway on Monday, I have some bad news for you. For a variety of reasons, this CHiC has decided to resurrect the Josephine Lake hike…one more time…in lieu of Devils Causeway. The fire has laid down, and smoke should not be an issue, unless there’s another flare-up. So, we will depart Office Depot at 7:30 on Monday and rendezvous with up-valley hikers at the Ruedi turnoff (Two Rivers Road) park & ride at 7:50. From there we will proceed to the Henderson Park TH (#1972). For you mileage wonks this is further bad news, because it will shorten the hike by almost a mile (9-10 miles RT). Not to worry, however, the elevation gain is virtually the same (2400’ in 4 miles to the lake overlook, 3000’ in 5 miles to Savage Mountain (12191’)). I’ll be returning from sea level, so it’s questionable how far I will go.

Tailgate refreshments will be provided by us Ascenders (Q-Z). One reason for the change of venue is that I need to return to GWS in time to rescue my Mac from the evil clutches of those geeks at Micro Solutions. I hope this time it’s fixed…for more than just 40 minutes.

A few words about Wednesday before I go:

Treasure Mountain towers above Crystal (4600’ in 5 miles or so). If that sounds daunting, there is the option to climb only as far as a beautiful tarn, reflecting the “Chimneys” and Bear Mountain. This is as far as I went last time. It’s 3100’ in 3 miles, which is to say both climbs are on the steep side. And there may be some bushwhacking. But our native guide, Rob Anderson, should get us there safely, save a few scratches. I say “native” because Rob and Manette have a house in Crystal, where we will hold the tailgate. As is customary for Wednesday hikes, everyone should bring food and drink, and the Andersons will provide the venue (house tours optional).

Rob would like a rough estimate of how many people to expect, so if you plan to go, please let me know ASAP, so I can forward the info on to Rob. I may or may not go myself, depending on other obligations (for which I have not yet prepared).

The rest of the story is that due to the long drive and arduous climb, we will leave Office Depot at 6:00, rendezvous with up-valley hikers at Carbondale City Market at 6:15, and head up 133 to Marble. East of Marble, the road to Crystal is very rough and should be driven only by high-clearance 4x4s. Can Subarus make it? Probably. SHOULD they try? Probably not, at least not if they value their vehicles.



 No Grimm’s fairy tale…

…though the outlook for hiking Josephine Lake tomorrow looks pretty grim. On the way back from Aspen yesterday, I could see from the billowing column of smoke above Basalt Mountain that the Lake Christine fire had jumped the ridge and was now decimating the forest on the north side of Basalt Mountain (see Fire map). To make matters worse, all the smoke was being driven by prevailing winds in an easterly direction…i.e., directly toward Josephine Lake. So we WILL NOT be hiking there tomorrow.

I propose instead to reinstate a hike that we cancelled earlier in the season, Middle Thompson Creek, which is closer to home and likely free of smoke…unless the wind shifts. But it has it’s own set of potential problems, which in a way could be considered benefits. If it rains, the road to Middle Thompson would become impassable. Yet, if it rains, it could dampen the fire currently raging on Basalt Mountain. With our luck, however, it would rain on Middle Thompson and completely miss Basalt Mountain.

In any event, weather permitting, we will hike Middle Thompson Creek tomorrow, departing Office Depot at 8:00 to rendezvous with up-valley hikers in Carbondale at 8:15. Rather than using the City Market parking lot, I suggest we line up along Main Street across from City Market to expedite our “escape” to the west. Those of you from Fourmile may choose to meet us at the intersection of Thompson Creek and Dry Park roads. But because parking is extremely tight at the trailhead, I strongly encourage you to form your carpools beforehand, so we won’t have 1-2 people per car, when 4-5 would be more appropriate. The peloton should be rolling past Dry Park around 8:25.

Tailgate refreshments will be provided by the letters L-P. Since 4WD is required (I hope to get up there later today to confirm conditions), the fare for passengers is $5. This just in…the road is in good shape, well graded and dry. So unless it rains tonight, we’re good to go.




Well, if you liked yesterday’s selection of hikes, you’re going to LOVE tomorrow’s selection. We have not one, not two, but three hikes to choose from ranging in difficulty from Lake Constantine (4 mi, 800′) to Tuhare Lakes (6 mi, 2000′) to Notch Mountain (5 mi, 2700′). Some of you may ask “Weren’t these same hikes on last year’s schedule?” Well, yes. Yes they were.

When I put together last year’s schedule I had originally planned to schedule these Wednesday hikes 2 weeks apart. But then in a moment of clarity/insanity, I thought “Why visit the same trailhead twice in 2 weeks, when you can schedule them on the same day?” My rationale was that I would schedule the same hikes in 2 consecutive years so anyone who hiked Tuhare Lakes last year could hike Notch Mountain this year…and vice versa. Of course, there’s no law that says you can’t hike the same one you did last year, if that’s your desire. Since they share the same trailhead…and the same trail for the first mile or so…we can all reconvene for the tailgate and swap lies about how the hike we chose was superior to the other one. “We saw mountain goats on Notch Mountain, neener neener.” “Oh yeah? Well so-and-so [name withheld to protect the clutzy] slipped off a rock and did a swan dive into Upper Tuhare Lake…brrrr!” Actually, no one did a swan dive into Upper Tuhare Lake, but who’s to say it couldn’t happen this year. Any volunteers?

OK, let’s get down to the nitty gritty…what you need to know. We depart No Name tomorrow at 7:00 sharp. There are vault toilets at the TH, so we won’t make an intermediate stop (the USFS visitor center doesn’t open until 8:00). The TH is located at the Halfmoon CG at the end of Tigiwon Road. The turnoff for Tigiwon Road is about 2 miles south of Minturn on the right. Though rough, the road is passable for most passenger vehicles. I believe I even took the Prius there once, though I wouldn’t do THAT again. This is a popular TH, so I strongly encourage drivers to carry a full load of passengers. Fare for passengers will be $10. Everyone should bring something for the tailgate.

Hope to see you there.


No drama

At least that’s what I’m hoping…a week without drama. Now wouldn’t that be nice.

I went up to Vail Pass on Wednesday to check out next Monday’s hike (Wilder Gulch). It’s a beautiful hike, relatively easy, and a piece of navigational cake…almost. Once you turn the corner into Wilder Gulch, you’ll be staring directly at your destination, Ptarmigan Hill. If you’re not up for the final hill climb, you can “declare victory” at Ptarmigan Pass. The tricky part upon returning is a critical right turn from the Wearyman Creek Road back onto the single-track Wilder Gulch trail that you previously ascended. Miss that turn, and your next stop could be Redcliff…and you’d almost certainly become the latest recipient of the “Jimmy”, first awarded to John Parker for his now infamous Redstone diversion. So don’t ‘Cliff out.

But for those of you seeking a more challenging adventure, I have good news for you. Another option on Monday is an 8-mile loop hike from Wilder Gulch, bushwhacking up to Wingle Ridge, traversing the ridge to Shrine Mountain, and descending via Shrine Pass Road (or parallel single-track, if we can find it). I would have preferred to scout the entire route, but my hiking partners were not up for it. However, I found a very promising willow-free route from Wilder Gulch toward the ridge that I hope to exploit. Join me, if you dare.

Those of you who hiked with us on Monday are aware of the bridge construction on I-70 between Wolcott & Edwards. Rumors of a wildfire in Wolcott were wildly exaggerated…at least there was no evidence of it on Wednesday. Nevertheless, I’d like to move up our departure time from 8:00 to 7:30 to allow time for construction delays and to beat the midday heat. At 11,000′, however, Vail Pass is likely to be at least 10 degrees cooler than Vail.

So, we’ll depart No Name at 7:30. Since there are restrooms on Vail Pass, I don’t plan to make a pit stop in Edwards. But if you’re endowed with a small bladder, I suggest you take advantage of the restrooms at No Name before we leave.

Passengers, please tip your drivers $10. A-K hikers, please provide your usual fine assortment of goodies for the tailgate.



Current events as if written by the Brothers Grimm:

Once upon a time, in a Land called CO, there lived two beautiful princesses, Christina and Josephina. Now Josephina had many suitors, and though she was just as comely, Christina had none, because she could be rather ill-tempered. Overcome with jealousy, in a fit of rage, Christina flung flaming darts toward the entrance to Josephina’s kingdom, setting it afire.

But the fire burned so intensely that it burned Christina’s castle to the ground, causing her great despair. Overcome with grief, she wept for 40 days and 40 nights. Josephina, herself now overcome with grief because there were no longer any suitors pitching her woo [coincidentally, Woo was a pitcher for the Anaheim Angels], wept and wept and wept until her tears and those of Christina filled the lakes that now bear their names. And no one lived happily ever after.

So, [Lake] Josephine’s suitors, no longer able to reach her through the smoke and flames…and police barricades…decided to turn their devotion toward a river call Piney, in a land called Vail.

I’ve GOT to get more sleep.

Translation: We will be hiking the Piney River on Monday, not Josephine Lake, weather permitting [I would gladly cancel it if only we could get some rain]. Piney River is north of Vail on Red Sandstone Road [rough, but passable for most vehicles…except my Prius]. We will depart No Name at 7:30 [not 8:00]. John Burg will be your leader.

This is a relatively easy hike, though the terrain is undulating [translation: up and down]. After about 5 miles [or less] the trail peters out, so don’t complain if you wonks don’t get as many miles as advertised. Just as in other advertising, we tend to lie a lot.

Due to the extra distance and rising fuel costs, you should tip your drivers $10. Tailgate refreshments will be provided by us Ascenders [Q-Z].



Crested Butte Logistics

For those of you who plan to hike to Crested Butte via East Maroon Pass or return via Yule Pass, there are logistical issues that you should address before committing to either or both hikes. Getting to the East Portal Trailhead is easy. You can leave a car there for the duration of the trip. But then you will need a shuttle vehicle to retrieve it afterward. Also, since you will be carrying only a daypack on July 30, you will need to make arrangements for one of the following options:

  1. Have someone else carry your overnight luggage to Crested Butte in their vehicles or
  2. Have someone else drive your vehicle (and luggage) to Crested Butte where it would be available for your use during the trip.

For East Maroon hikers, I will be available to provide shuttle service for up to four people from Gothic to Crested Butte. We can idenitify other shuttle drivers or you can arrange your own shuttle from Gothic. Remember, unless you have someone else drive your vehicle to Crested Butte, you will be reliant on others to provide chauffeur service in and around Crested Butte. But the Old Town Inn is easy walking distance to most CB restaurants.

On Friday, August 3, some of you may choose to hike from Paradise Basin (outside Crested Butte) to Marble (Anthracite Pass TH). This, too, requires a shuttle on both ends of the route…one from Crested Butte to Paradise Basin, and one from Marble to home. There are a couple of known or potential issues regarding this hike:

  1. There usually is a wet crossing of Yule Creek near the north end of the hike (lower than normal snowpack may make this crossing a dry-foot affair);
  2. The trail on the south side of Yule Pass has some exposure and loose scree, which may have been exacerbated since our last visit by erosion and inadequate (i.e., no) trail maintenance. I hope to scout this portion of the trail before Friday to inform prospective hikers.

So, the first thing I’d like to do is find out who might be interested in either or both of these hikes. Who can drive where (i.e., carpool to East Portal, provide shuttle service either on Monday and/or Friday), who can carry extra luggage, etc.  Once I have a list of likely participants, I may hand off the organizational helm to one or more of them, because I’ll have my hands full with other things.

This is definitely NOT the last you will hear from me on this topic.



There’s a new sheriff in town…

…and her name is Farshideh. After countless years at the helm…long before I arrived on the scene at least…Hal Sundin is stepping down as the Monitor of Mileage, the High Priest of Hikes, the Don of the Distance. In what might be considered a bloodless coup…if you discount the occasional paper cut…Hal has ceded the onerous responsibility of archiving each and every hiker’s mileage for each and every hike to our Maven of Microcomputers, Farshideh Jahani.  She has already begun logging this year’s mileage, and we will be beta testing a new system whereby your mileage will be available to you online. I know you’ll miss the personal treatment you’ve received in the past from Hal, but I have these three words of consolation: “Get over it!”

There’s another change to our “business as usual” approach. We are now asking you recorders to deliver your sign-in sheets directly to Farshideh (aka The Sheriff) or me (aka The Deputy), if we are on the hike. Otherwise, we ask that you (aka The Posse) scan them to a pdf file and email them to both Farshideh and me. Farshideh will tabulate them on a master spreadsheet, which you will be able to access through an as-yet-to-be-developed interface on our website. Farshideh is an IT specialist by profession, and I’m a bit of a spreadsheet geek, so between the two of us, we should be able to cobble something together. But be patient with us, as it may take a little while to work out the bugs. As I said, we’ll be beta testing it…on YOU.



Blocks of rooms have been reserved for the 100 Club at each of our three overnight trip destinations. However, the number of rooms is limited, so you should make your reservations as soon as possible to ensure yourself a room. In most cases, the hotels are otherwise fully booked, so the only rooms available may be through the 100 Club. Be sure to mention your affiliation with the 100 Club when you book to ensure that your get the group rate. Look for additional information by clicking the blue links for each hotel. After you make your reservations, contact Gerry Roehm at (303) 807-8535, mungo69@comcast.net (preferred) so he can advise you of any trip updates and help pair you up with other singles, if you like.

Moab, UT: May 21-25 [4 nights – May 21, 22, 23 & 24]
A block of 25 rooms is reserved for us at the BIG HORN LODGE for $119.95/night plus tax until April 21. If you do not make your reservations by the deadline, any remaining rooms will be released to the general public. Make your reservations directly by calling (435) 259-6171 or (800) 325-6171.

Crested Butte, CO: July 30-August 3 [4 nights – July 30 & 31, August 1 & 2]
A block of 24 rooms is being held for us at the OLD TOWN INN for $149/night plus tax. However, if you are an AARP/AAA member, you can book a room in our block for $137/night. Make your reservations directly by calling (970) 349-6184 or (888) 349-6184. Deadline for reservations is June 30.

Albuquerque, NM: October 1-5 [4 nights – October 1, 2, 3 & 4]
A block of 25 rooms is reserved for us at COMFORT SUITES NORTH ALBUQUERQUE BALLOON FIESTA PARK for $85/night single king or $94/night double queen, plus tax. These rooms will be held for us until September 10 or until they’re sold out, whichever comes first. If you do not make your reservations by the deadline, any remaining rooms will be released to the general public. Make your reservations directly by calling (505) 797-0850 (Group Code SF6RN7) or by clicking HERE.

If you would like to extend your visit to attend all or part of the Balloon Fiesta (Oct 6-14), you may be able to book extra night(s) at the same hotel, but the rates are much higher ($219/night). You may find less expensive lodging elsewhere in town. In any case, you’re responsible for making your own arrangements for lodging beyond October 4.

There also is an optional prequel to the trip, which departs Sunday, September 30. This group will overnight in Farmington, NM, in order to visit the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness on Monday. A block of 12 double queen rooms is reserved for us at the COMFORT SUITES in Farmington. Make your reservations no later than September 9 at (623) 209-7625 (Group Code QK4XN8) or by clicking  HERE.


And the last shall be first

After this year’s “challenge” to book lodging for every one of our overnight trips, the Hiking Committee decided to get a head start on next year. We held our first meeting earlier this week to nail down our road schedule for the 2018 season. I am happy to report that we were successful in that endeavor, not only in reaching consensus on our destinations, but also in arranging group accommodations (24-25 rooms…and in the same hotel no less) for each trip. But you’ll need to make your own individual reservations within each block of rooms, first-come-first-served.

Here’s a synopsis of that schedule:
Moab: May 21-25;
Crested Butte: July 30-August 3;
Albuquerque: October 1-5.

The rest of the schedule will be published on the website in January.

So let’s begin at the end…Albuquerque (we’ll call it ABQ for short). I have two good reasons for beginning at the end: the beginning…and the end…of that trip. I booked us 25 rooms in ABQ for the nights of October 1-4. Those dates were selected to dovetail with the International Balloon Fiesta (yes, it’s “Fiesta”, not “Festival”), which runs October 6-14. However, I didn’t book any rooms for Oct 5 or later. Here’s why: the cost of rooms that I booked at the Comfort Suites Balloon Fiesta Park skyrockets from $83/night to $219/night after Oct 4…but before taxes. I could have booked our entire group for 5 nights at $136/night plus tax, but not everyone may want to lay over for the Balloon Fiesta, and many would rather save the extra $$. And some of you may want to stay longer. Group rates are hard to find, if available at all, for the duration of the Fiesta. However, there are other hotels in ABQ that offer lower rates (because “Balloon Fiesta Park” is not part of their names). They are not as convenient to the Park, but there are buses to the Fiesta from several locations around town, so it doesn’t really matter where you stay. Why you should care: because those of you who would like to attend a portion of the Fiesta will need to make your own reservations for Oct 5 and beyond ASAP if you want to get them at a reasonable rate.

Why should you bother: because if you’ve never seen it before, the Balloon Fiesta is unlike anything else…including other ballooning events…you’ve ever seen. During mass ascensions (Sat-Sun), as many as 600 balloons take flight. And you’ll be down on the field amongst them as they inflate and launch. I’ve been to six Fiestas, including a dozen or more mass ascensions. Even my legally blind mother went to half of those. Despite her limited vision, the shapes and colors were dazzling. In the age of film photography, Kodak boasted that they sold more rolls of film there than at any other single event. I have no doubt…they stuck it to me a few times with their inflated event pricing. But in the digital age, that’s no longer an issue. Throughout the week, there are other events… balloon glows at dusk, special shapes rodeo, key grab, hound-and-hare, and other competitions. But, if you see nothing else, the mass ascensions are the main events.

Now let’s flashback to the beginning of the ABQ trip. Most of you no doubt will depart Monday morning with the peloton and drive to ABQ. There will be an optional en route hike for you mileage wonks. Or you can forgo the hike, sleep in and drive down at your leisure. However, for the keeners amongst us there is yet another option. But it will require you to leave a day earlier (Sunday) and drive to Farmington, NM. We would not hike on Sunday, but would take a more leisurely scenic route to Farmington. From there we would arise early Monday…but not too early…and drive to the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Badlands. After a hike of 7-10 miles or so through this 45,000-acre wilderness with its bizarre rock formations, we would continue on to ABQ and meet up with the rest of the group Monday afternoon. If you are interested in this one-day extension to the trip, let me know ASAP. It’s not a commitment on your part. I just need a ballpark estimate so I can reserve an appropriate number of rooms in Farmington.

And that brings us all the way back to the very beginning…Moab in May. Mike Larime booked us a block of rooms at the Bighorn Inn for $119.95/night plus tax, and you will need to make your own reservations within that block no later than April 21. After that date, any remaining rooms will be released. Be sure to mention the 100 Club when you book because the hotel is otherwise completely sold out. We will have hikes scheduled in Arches, Canyonlands, and elsewhere in the Moab area. This trip should be very popular, and there are only 25 rooms in our block, so don’t wait until the last minute or you may miss out…first-come-first-served, or as I like to say, “you snooze, you lose.”

The Crested Butte trip also should be popular, so for the same reason you may wish to book well ahead of the June 30 deadline. A block of 24 rooms has been reserved for us by Farshideh Jahani at the Old Town Inn in downtown Crested Butte. The group rate is $149/night plus tax, but you can ask for the lower AARP/AAA rate of $137/night when you book. Again, be sure to tell them you’re with the 100 Club.



October 6

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s….

Most of you who joined us on the Zion trip (and quite a few who didn’t) no doubt are aware of the phenomenal photos that Renee & Norm took from Angel’s Landing on Wednesday. Most people would have been happy simply to shoot the dramatic landscape from that lofty vantage point (and many of you did on Tuesday). But not Renee & Norm. Observing what they first believed to be a crow, then a vulture, they ultimately came to the inevitable (and correct) conclusion that this was the extremely rare California condor.

But while they were still marveling over this amazing discovery, they noticed that this largest of North American birds had a mate. And not only that, they were both spreading their wings, like a pair of anhinga after a fishing trip. But since condors don’t fish, we have to assume they were sun bathing. Gotta work on that tan…on their bald pates.

Their heads are bald so their feathers don’t get covered in blood and guts as they feed on carrion. Now this is a face only a mother could love, and his mother was a hand puppet. Most of these birds were hatched and raised in captivity, after all known wild birds were taken from the wild in an attempt to recover the species through a captive breeding program. To prevent hatchlings from imprinting on their human “parents”, they were fed using hand puppets resembling their birth parents. It’s one of the Fish & Wildlife Service’s greatest success stories, though they’re far from out of the woods.

Since carrion can also be roadkill, motor vehicle collisions is one of the causes of their decline, along with habitat loss. But they’re not the only carrion feeder to suffer such a fate. Bald eagles also have been killed by vehicles as the they feast on the roadkill du jour.  Our national bird eats dead stuff?!! And they’re dumpster divers and thieves too. Imagine one of those going through your windshield.

The condors Renee & Norm saw in Zion no doubt dispersed from a “hacking site” in the Vermillion Cliffs area, north of the Grand Canyon. I’ve seen condors in flight over the Grand Canyon before, but never on the ground…and never posing so provocatively as those in Renee & Norm’s photos. Thanks for sharing them with us.