When Am I Being Helpful? When Am I Just Annoying?

Saturday, Sprocket and I climbed Uncompahgre Peak. It was a gorgeous fall day although I ran into five other groups of hikers on the trail—it was just a hopping place! (Seriously, how am I ever going to hike 14ers closer to Denver?!?)

All kidding aside, I want to talk about unprepared hikers. You know the ones I’m talking about…

This time, it was a pair of well coiffed, expensive (non-athletic) sunglass wearing people. Neither was wearing a pack and they had matching expensive looking polished walking sticks. Music was playing from someone’s phone and neither was wearing a jacket. Later in the parking lot I discovered they were driving a rental jeep.

The forecast for the day called for a strong chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon and the breeze on top of Uncompahgre had been more than a little bit chilly (it took me a mile or so of brisk downhill hiking to really warm back up).

Curious as to what these people were up to, I asked them where they were headed. I figured it would be presumptuous of me to assume that they were headed for the peak. The woman pointed up at the unmistakable hulk of Uncompahgre. “Are we about half way?” she asked.

Taking in the whole tableau, all that could come out of my mouth was a very emphatic, “No.” Her face fell and her hiking partner asked, “So how far are we?” I told them they were at best a quarter of the way (turns out they were closer to a third…but with only a quarter of the elevation accomplished).

They looked at each other and appeared to be ready to press on and I felt that I just had to say something. I pointed up at the innocent looking clouds that were beginning to gather. “There are thunderstorms predicted for this afternoon. Those clouds weren’t there an hour ago, please keep an eye out. You’ll be the highest point around up there and lightning isn’t something to mess with.”

They looked annoyed. I’d pretty much been a dream crusher, so I mostly understood. “Have fun but watch the weather,” I said, bidding them adieu. I hoped they would get tired before they tangoed with weather (although the weather seemed to stay nice for several hours more). I hoped they’d enjoy their day in the mountain with our without a summit.

Experienced hikers, how do you handle running into someone who might be getting in above their head? How about someone definitely above their head?

Inexperienced hikers, how can someone offer a bit of advice without being rude or ruining your day? Or is that possible?

I feel like I have a decent handle on the risks entailed in most of my outdoor activities. I get annoyed when those who have less experience try to tell me how dangerous something is. I wouldn’t tell Steph Davis that soloing the Diamond is a dumb idea. She knows how dangerous it is and makes her choice accordingly. So is it ever okay to say something to someone? Is it selfish that I don’t want to hear about someone I could have spoken to making a dumb choice on the trail?

I try to err on the side of polite, direct, and factual.

Me, In A Nutshell

I’ll have more photos and stories from our adventures this weekend but first, I just wanted to share a little glimpse into How We Roll.

Sprocket and I were in the Jeep between Animas Forks and California Pass on our way home. Radio reception came back just in time for Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” to come on the radio.

Since Sprocket doesn’t judge, and really, he likes to see me happy, I cranked the volume up and did a happy shimmy dance in the drivers seat.

I met a jeep coming the other way. The road was plenty wide enough for us both to continue moving, I just needed to go up a rocky section of road. I downshifted, still singing, with Sprocket’s head sticking out the window over my shoulder.

I didn’t really think anything of it, until I saw the rather amused faces of the other driver.

Oh well. That’s how we roll.

Sunday Sermon

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”






–Jack Kerouac

What A Month!

One month ago, I walked into a classroom and stood in front of the room for the first time. I’d had plenty of 1st Days as a student but this was the start of a new career and a new life in Ridgway. That afternoon, I found out I was getting divorced.

According to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, I should be set to have a heart attack any minute since a score of 300+ on their inventory leaves you with a 90% chance of an illness or “blowing up.” I took the inventory and scored over 400…

In contrast to getting sick or blowing up, however, I’ve done my best to readjust, reset, and begin again.

I bought land here in town and began to dream of what my house should have and how it might look. (Perhaps another stressor but I do love dreaming of a new home and scheming how to make it happen.)

I’ve climbed mountains: a 14er and a couple county highpoints plus made dreams and plans for so many more. I’ve hiked with friends and have plans on the calendar for a Joe’s Valley trip and at least one more friend hike in the next month.

I’ve began to settle into my rental and do some work on it in exchange for rent. (Follow my adventures in single gal renovation on Instagram and Twitter at #damselNOTindistress.) I’ve had a friend visit me for a change and there’s another one scheduled to arrive a week from tomorrow.

I’ve caught up with old friends on the phone and found myself active on Twitter and Instagram again. I have had more emails, Tweets, texts, Facebook messages, and phone calls of love and support than I would have ever imagined.

There have been evenings spent with lovely diverse Ridgway friends in their homes, in the park, on the river, and at Colorado Boy.

A film starring me and nine amazing friends debuted on YouTube. (Both the premiere with commentary and a version with just the gorgeous film are online now!)

It’s been hard: moving, a new job, divorce, friend making, and renovating all at the same time. I haven’t had much time to post here but I will get that scheduled in again soon.

But you know what? I’m smiling.

Sunday Sermon

“There’s a trick to the ‘graceful exit.’ It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over — and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out.”




— Ellen Goodman

Colorado 14er: Wilson Peak

For my birthday weekend peak I decided to take on Wilson Peak (14,017′) the third of the 14ers in the San Miguel range. In addition to being a 14er, Wilson Peak is the San Miguel county high point.

I got a bit of a late start on Saturday but fall promised a high likelihood of a thunderstorm free day so I hit the trail from the Rock of the Ages TH at 9am enjoying the last of the morning chill.

Wilson Peak from Rock of Ages Trail:

Lower Silver Pick Basin:

Selfie time!

Upper Silver Pick Basin:

Approaching Rock of Ages Saddle:

From left to right, Gladstone Peak, Mt. Wilson, and El Diente.

Wilson Peak summit:

This short snowy section turned several parties in front of me around. I found that when I took it slow and careful it was pretty much a piece of cake. The snow wasn’t slicked out by the big guided group in front of me; instead, they’d made really nice flat foot spots to pair with pretty sold hand holds the whole way across.

Final scramble towards the top:

Summit of Wilson Peak!

Looking down on Silver Pick Basin and the trail:

Hello Lizard Head, some day I will climb well enough to summit you…

It felt so good to be out on such a beautiful fall day! The day seemed so leisurely since I wasn’t getting chased out of the high country by lightning—fall hiking in the San Juans might just be the best!

Mileage: About 10mi RT
Elevation Gain: About 4000′
Time: 5.5 hours

Land Of One’s Own

Before we’d head for the Outdoor Retailer Show, F and I had put in an offer on a lot in Ridgway. As life circumstances changed, the question became do we forfeit our earnest money or does one of us purchase the land solo? After thinking about the question for a week, I decided to go for it.

Last Wednesday, it became official, my very own chunk of land in my most favorite town:

After signing paperwork, Sprocket and I headed over to the property with a bottle of prosecco to toast our future.

I’d say the views from here are pretty sweet. Who knows what the future holds but I do know, we’re a lucky pair.

Homeowner’s Tool Kit

Everyone needs to have some tools of their own. My grad school roommate’s father had bought her a simple tool kit from Sears plus a hammer and she became the de facto quick fix person in our house. Then I moved in with F who had All The Tools so my biggest concern was knowing where to find the right tool for the job and where to put it back.

Photo Per Erik Strandberg

At no point along the lines did I ever have to purchase my own tools. I don’t own a house now, although I’m looking forward to that in the not-so distant future, but I do live in one and I’m fairly self sufficient (YouTube how-to videos are the best!) and need to be able to do some things without borrowing tools.

I won’t be able to buy everything tomorrow but I do want to start budgeting to spend a little money on tools each month. So I turn to you all, dear readers, what tools do you use all the time?

The List, so far:

  1. Screwdriver (already have)
  2. Tape measure (already have)
  3. Utility knife and blades (already have)
  4. Cordless drill (I’m embarking on a pretty major drywall project so this is a requirement!)
  5. Hammer
  6. Pry-bar
  7. Dikes (Turns out that’s a portmanteau word for “diagonal cutters,” cool, huh?)