Hikers’ Blog

More about Monday (aka tomorrow)…

Just got back from the Roan. The good news…it was 63 degrees up there at noon. More good news…it took less than 90 min from West Mall. The bad news…half that time was spent on JQS Road. Like childbirth (I’m told), you forget how painful it was until the next time you do it. Fortunately, I met only one car (on top) and one ATV (on JQS). I hope we’re as lucky tomorrow.

For those of you who’ve never been there…and those of you who’ve forgotten…the JQS Road is 4×4 only, NOT Subaru suitable. Otherwise the road is in pretty good shape…even the shortcut, which I plan to take tomorrow. If you plan to hike tomorrow, and you have a suitable vehicle, please come prepared to drive. I made it up JQS in high range, but geared down for the descent. Because it’s 4WD, the fare for you passengers will be $9.

I’m glad I scouted it, because I overshot the TH and had to backtrack 1/2 mile (that NEVER happens on hike day, does it). But I have it nailed down now. I did not hike the trail, but it is signed (hikers and horseback riders only). In fact, there are 2 trailheads at the same spot…as expected. We may hike down one and up the other or take the same route down and back. Regardless, I’ve ruled out the “loop” hike that requires hiking a dirt road for 6 miles. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound terribly appealing to me…reminiscent of Seven Hermits (I cringe just thinking about that one).  I plan to turn around at 5 miles and return via the same route we took down…except for the possible variation at the top.

The TH is in a lovely meadow which should provide a pleasant location for our tailgate. Besides we don’t want our beers getting bounced around on JQS before popping the tops on them. Bring your chairs…or sit in the grass…with the ticks. Those of you in the vanguard of the alphabet (A-K), please dazzle us with your culinary acumen…and beer. But, drivers, remember you still have to drive DOWN the JQS, so don’t get carried away.

I have a party in Carbondale at 6:00 tomorrow evening, so I’ll be bugging out by 3pm…assuming we’re all back by then.

Hope to see you at West Glenwood Mall for a 7:00 departure or Rifle City Market (NOT rest area) at 7:30.



More about mileage…

The results of the “beta test” are in. The conclusion:  I’d beta come up with something else. Because some/many/most of you had some difficulty in accessing the Excel file, I have another solution. Basically, it’s a pdf copy of the spreadsheet from which the cumulative mileage and miles-to-milestone data are taken. It is a 2-page, portrait-oriented table with annual mileages for years 2011 through 2018 (to date). Mileages prior to 2011 have been subtotaled on the left. Total mileage can be found two columns from the right, and miles-to-milestone is the farthest right column.

The original pdf file of 2018 mileage to date is still available, so you can compare your notes with ours and tell us where we’ve gone astray. Both files can be found at the bottom of the Hikers’ Corner page.

And a couple of words about Crested Butte…

Crested Butte is but 40 days away, and it’s not to early to start planning. For one, there is a vacancy at the Old Town Inn, (970) 349-6184 or (888) 349-6184, which will be available only through June 30. After that date it will be released to the public, so if you’re interested in reserving it, I suggest you act quickly.

Also, 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.