Snow! Finally!

I know this winter has been a weird or bad one for a lot of the country. Boston and a good chunk of the North East is buried. California’s wildfire season may start tomorrow considering their very low snowpack (with the Northwest not far behind). Even the south is getting hit with a winter storm right now.

Here in Colorado, we had no snow in town at 7,000′ and most of our south facing slopes up to almost 12,000′ were getting patchy. They were calling for some snow and although during my hike with Sprocket Saturday it looked like the snow might actually be coming it didn’t materialize before I went to bed that night.

I woke up Sunday morning to some wet, heavy snow falling. I had to go up to Ouray and when I returned, I shoveled about 3″ from my driveway and headed inside. It never seemed to snow hard but it snowed pretty constantly the rest of the day. I got a phone call as I was getting in bed that school would be delayed 2 hours the next morning. I shut off my alarm (Sprocket would be alarm enough with a delay!) and went to bed.

In the morning, I learned school was canceled. There were about 16″ of snow on the ground and it was time to get shoveling.

FSJ in the snow. February 2015

Shoveled driveway

Sprocket with snow on nose

Clinton Street

1977 Jeep Cherokee

I’m not quite sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I decided I wanted an “FSJ.” While we were living in Idaho, I briefly owned this green one but it needed a fair amount of work and Forrest and I sold it before I got a chance to even drive it. I never changed my mind about wanting one though and when an opportunity to bring this lovely beast home, I jumped at it.

1977 Jeep Cherokee, Ouray Lookout point

Like all older vehicles, there’s things that need to be fixed, but it drove all the way from Denver to Ridgway (while towing the TJ…) and then yesterday took Dave, Jillian, and I to Telluride and then to Ouray’s Lookout Point like a champ.

1977 Jeep Cherokee S

Sprocket approves of the giant dog sleeping (ahem… cargo…) area:

Sprocket in Cherokee

Sprocket In Cherokee

Since it’s a 1977, it has the sexy round headlights. Jeeps have round headlights.

Jeep Cherokee 1977

This lovely lady needs a name but I’m going to give it sometime to earn one.


P.S. Long time reader, Katie won the SKINourishment giveaway. Thank you so much to everyone for entering. If you didn’t win, I still encourage you to head over to SKINourishment and treat yourself today!

2014 In Review: By The Numbers

Because I’m a huge data nerd, for your pleasure, my 2014 fitness year in numbers.


I hiked 61 different times totalling 186 miles. The cool stats are all about peakbagging:


2014 was by far my best year ever in the peakbagging category. I had a total of 50 summits that I hiked 112.7 miles to reach gaining 34,856′. (I also attained 11 of those summits by car, Jeep or ATV with 0′ of gain each. Required 3,000′ purist I am not.)

This represented a 49.8% increase in peakbagging mileage, a 51% increase in elevation gained, and a 127% increase in peaks bagged.

Climbing summary 2003-2014

I climbed mountains in nine states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Utah, and Washington) plus one in Jordan.

Sprocket joined me for 31 of the 50 summits. I only did 12 of the 50 without either Sprocket or human company. I only had human company for 18 of the peaks.

I visited 18 county highpoints spread over five states (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon and Washington) bringing my lifetime total to 29. I’m hoping to start globbing together more counties in 2015! Two of these county highpoints were also Colorado 14ers: Wilson Peak and Uncompahgre, bringing my 14er total to 5 (plus unranked El Diente).

County Highpoint Map, end 2014


Running was, again, not my priority in 2014. I ran in one race (Rainier To Ruston) and totalled just 131 miles.


The last bit of 2014 was pretty dismal as far as working out was concerned and I can feel it. I have big goals for 2015 and I’m already kicking things into gear (I put in 31 miles on foot Christmas week!). I am already so pumped to write the 2015 edition of the report next year!

Fun, Fearless, Female, and … Feckless?: and #Casey Nocket

Last week, my friends Casey and Rebecca, helped bring to light the horrible story of Casey Nocket, aka Creepytings, and her vandalistic spree through our western National Parks. Casey’s post “Art” In The Parks, on his website Modern Hiker has an excellent summary of the whole issue (including updates on the case as they happen!) but in short a 21-year old named Casey Nocket using the Instagram handle “Creepytings” is a suspect in vandalism cases in eight National Parks and National Monuments; overall she has been implicated in vandalism in ten parks and monuments.

As disturbing as the Creepytings case has been, an article was published on, the online wing of the popular women’s magazine, entitled “Female Graffiti Artist Is The New Most-Hated Person On Instagram: And Possibly Your New Hero.”


My new hero?!?!

Cosmopolitan, often known as “Cosmo,” proclaims itself as “Fun, Fearless, Female.” Much of its content is relationship, sex, and dating related although each issue also includes content on the success of women and refers to challenges faced by women in the world. Normally, I consider Cosmo to be mostly a positive force for women. It focuses more on appearance than what appeals to me but I feel as if it also encourages women to embrace their sexuality not to mention really pursuing things in their lives and careers that drive them.


This article, however, completely blew that tradition out of the water. Helen Gurley Brown, who was responsible for this iteration of the magazine in the 1960s, would be mortified.

First, writer Lane Moore, referred to Casey and Rebecca’s as having “ratted her out on the Internet and to authorities.” Um, ratted out?

If I were willing to let that inflammatory phrase go (and I really wasn’t…I was disturbed that Cosmo would be sympathetically aligning themselves with Ms. Nocket), it got worse…

“…it’s hard to know where in the world Creepytings is right now, but wherever she is, she’s inspiring a lot of girls to break some rules.”


I’ll admit, I have a soft spot for Cosmo. Every few months I’ll buy a copy and enjoy it’s frivolousness. Moreover, one of my best teenage memories was the first time my parents let me take my friends on a two hour car trip. During spring break my sophomore year in high school, we were allowed to drive out to the ocean for a day. Along the way, we bought a bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs and our very first issue of Cosmo. I was a naïve, young sixteen year-old and I felt so so naughty reading about sex and dating in its pages.

I feel so let down that this magazine (or at least its online equivalent), would be telling me, or even worse that sixteen year-old girl I used to be, that I should be inspired by Creepytings is absolutely appalling.

So I tried to do something. I emailed asking for a retraction. I Tweeted at the author Lane Moore and at the main Cosmopolitan account. I tweeted at editor Amy Odell, Executive Features Editor Lori Fradkin, Senior Community Manager Elisa Benson, and finally the Sex and Relationship Editors Emma Barker and Frank Kobola (Moore is normally a Sex and Relationship writer for the website). I have had no response from anyone at Cosmo (although Moore does appear to have deleted a tweet regarding just “blocking” those who were mad about her article).

So what now? Well, I guess I should just let it go. It’s not really hurting anything. However, usually the comments section of a controversial piece is a really scary place. This time, it’s been really supportive preserving our parks and almost 100% of the commenters called out Cosmo for endorsing Ms. Nocket’s behavior.

I’m still hopeful the article can be made to go away, or even better, to be replaced with an appology and a celebration of women who support our National Parks.

I’ve embedded my tweets to the editorial staff below. Feel free to retweet them often:

Ajo, Arizona: New Cornelia Mine

After spending almost two weeks in the Yuma area, we needed to make a move! It’s still a little early to be headed anywhere north so we drove down to Ajo to spend some time catching up with old friends and exploring the desert.

We spent a lot of time in Ajo last year working, hiking, climbing mountains, jeeping, and exploring town.

Ajo was founded in 1847 by Tom Childs when he passed through the area en route to mining interests in Mexico. Childs and his party were intrigued by the ore they found. Child’s friend, Peter M. Brady, founded the Arizona Mining & Trading Company which mined surface ores in the area until a ship carrying a load to the smelter in Wales sank off the coast of Patagonia. With transportation costs leading to tiny profit margins, this disaster crippled the small mining company.

New Cornelia Mine from the slopes of Camelback Mountain
New Cornelia Mine from the slopes of Camelback Mountain

In 1900, the Cornelia Copper Company was formed by a group of St. Louis businessmen. The company was unable to find a method to concentrate ores on site—a requirement to compensate for added transportation costs from the remote location of the mine. The company reorganized under the name New Cornelia Mining Company after several disastrous experiments with copper processing.

In 1911, the Calumet and Arizona Mining Company took an option on 70% of the New Cornelia Mining Company stock. John Campbell Greenway headed the subsequent Calumet investigation into the Ajo area copper ore body. More than 25,000′ of drilling showed that there was a substantial copper ore body totaling approximately 30 million tons of ore. Calumet and Greenway exercised their option on the New Cornelia.

Photo NASA via Wikipedia

Calumet located a suitable water source just north of Ajo and was able to develop a practical way to process the ore. A pilot processing plant was completed in 1915 and a rail connection to Gila Bend was completed in 1916. The main processing plant capable of handling 5,000 tons of ore per day was completed in 1917.

Copper mineral "Ajoite," first identified in the New Cornelia mine.
Copper mineral “Ajoite,” first identified in the New Cornelia mine. Photo: Wikipedia

In 1917, steam shovels began operation at the New Cornelia, making it the first open pit mine in Arizona. By 1924, the mine had reached lower grade copper-sulfide but continued operation and a concentrator was built to handle the ore.

Calumet and Arizona merged with the Phelps Dodge company in 1931. Under Phelps Dodge, Ajo continued to develop as a company town. The finger print of Phelps Dodge can be seen in the “PD houses” and “PD garages” built to house workers at the New Cornelia. Sometime after taking over, Phelps Dodge built a smelter in Ajo to handle the ore and prepare it for shipment adding additional jobs in Ajo.

In 1982, as a result of declining copper prices, Phelps Dodge laid off most of their workers in Arizona and New Mexico. The New Cornelia reopened and then closed again as a result of a worker strike in 1983. The strike lasted for three years when Phelps Dodge decided it could not afford to add the necessary pollution control measures to the smelter and the mine closed permanently.


Azcarza, William. “Mine Tales: Remote Ajo yielded much valuable copper.” Arizona Daily Star. 18 November 2013. Web. 8 February 2014.
Azcarza, William. “High copper prices drove demand at Ajo mining district.” Arizona Daily Star. 25 November 2013. Web. 8 February 2014.
Wikipedia: “New Cornelia Mine”

Gila Gravity Canal

Our new favorite winter camping spot is on the “shores” of the Gila Gravity Canal. The Parker-Gila Project was authorized in 1928 as part of the Boulder Canyon Project Act (later known as Hoover Dam); when initial surveying began in 1934, the Gila River Valley project was separated from the Colorado Indian Reservation project (Parker Dam). Project construction on the Gila Project was approved in 1937 with the potential to develop over 500,000 acres of irrigation. After World War II, the scope of the project was reduced to 40,000 acres in the Yuma Mesa Division and 75,000 acres in the Wellton-Mohawk Division.


Water for the Wellton-Mohawk (orange area below) and the Yuma Mesa (grey) Irrigation and Drainage Districts as well as for the North Gila and Yuma Irrigation Districts comes from the Gila Project.


Gila Project

The Gila Project diverts water from the Colorado River at Imperial Dam (the All-American Canal is also diverted from the Colorado there). Imperial Dam was preceded by the Lagunas Diversion Dam built between 1905 and 1909. It is often called the “Swastika Dam” because each masonry pier is topped with a large nine inch swastika recessed into the concrete; the Bureau of Reclaimation even used the swastika on its flag during that period. Although this may seem odd today, the swastika was used throughout the world as a positive symbol of good luck and life.

Originally used to divert water to Yuma, Sommerton, and Winterhaven Laguna Dam is 5 miles downstream of the Imperial Dam. Since diversion now happens at Imperial Dam, Laguna is used to help control the flows out of Imperial Dam.

Laguna Diversion Dam

The diverted water first passes through the Gila Desilting Basin before entering the twenty-one mile long main Gila Gravity Canal. The Canal skirts the Laguna Mountains passing through two tunnels on the northwestern side before wrapping around the southern flanks of the mountains. Tunnels 1 and 2 were completed in 1938: Tunnel 1 is 1,740 feet long and Tunnel 2 is 4,125 feet long. When the Canal reaches the Gila River, it passes below the Gila through the Gila Siphon, completed in 1939. The Fortuna Wash Siphon was completed in 1940.

Gila River Siphon
Gila River Siphon

Downstream of the Gila Siphon, some of the water is channeled into the Wellton-Mohawk Canal while the rest of the water flows to the eastern end of the South Gila Valley where it is lifted 52 feet by the Yuma Mesa Pumping Plant to Canals A & B that direct water around Yuma Mesa. the Wellton-Mohawk Canal water reaches its fields with the help of three pump lifts.

Construction of the main canal was hindered in the mid-1940s by labor shortages. The war effort actually encouraged the government to keep progressing on the Gila Project because irrigation was needed to control dust near the Yuma Army Air Field (now Yuma Marine Corps Air Station). A total of 8,500 acres was rushed into alfalfa production to protect airplane engines. The final phase of construction on the Gila Project distribution system was completed in 1957.

Today, the Gila Project provides irrigation water for 100,000 acres in Yuma County as well as providing domestic water for the City of Yuma. Agriculture in Yuma is a big business with an gross economic return of over $3 billion (more than 1/3 of Arizona’s total agriculture). Thanks to water from the Colorado River, Yuma is even able to call itself winter vegetable capital of the world!