Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park...

Is gorge-ious. 

Geologists claim the steady assault of river water vs. rock created this wonder. 

Personally, I believe it's the handy work of ancient aliens engaged in an early Civilian Conservation Corp water project. 

Whatever the reality is, this preserved area is a sleeping beauty where wildlife seems to outnumber Homo Sapiens. 

The BC of the G is a park for everyone. 
It features hard yakka hikes that cleave the gorge's gut down to the source of all that erosion. I still have throbbing knees from one of those so-called trails.
For the less masochistic there's gentle strolls along the scrubby oaks and the rim. You can even drive the scenic road and occasionally peer over the sides. 

Fun Factoid: In 1901 Abraham Lincoln Fellows (great name) and William Torrence floated 33 miles of the river in 9 days-on a rubber mattress! 

Enjoy the photos. Please visit this way cool place before it gets on humanity's radar. It's worth the detour.

PS. I didn't fall (literally) for the old "take one step back to make the photo better" line from another wilderness photographer. 

Cheers from rainy Colorado,

I'm still hoping for a weather break in order to backpack the Maroon Bells Wilderness. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Meet Barley...

 My traveling companion and shelter when I'm not hiking a trail, on a bicycle or in a bar. 

The photos are old. Isn't  this "Throw Back Monday"? Barley has a new look too. He had his popped topped in 2013. Now, even a six-footer can stand tall in Barley. 

Check out all those amenities! 

Plenty of space in the Great Room to frolic with Fido, my trusty, loyal and obedient pug.

Full court basketball court.

Master bedroom equipped with state of the art lighting.

Kitchen area capable of anything from scrabbled eggs to roasts. Drop in for a fresh cuppa coffee or a cold IPA when you are in the neighborhood. I never run dry, even in Utah. 

Barley is truly a Van about Town!

Jonathan and I are now waiting out a Noah's Ark forecast before we venture into the Maroon Bells Wilderness for a multi day hike. 

Later on, we'll risk it all in Montrose, Colorado en route to the Horsefly Brewery for Happy Hour.

No one said retirement was easy.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Weminuche Wilderness

Is three-quarters the size of Rhode Island. (There are Walmarts bigger than Rhode Island too).

 Nevertheless, this massive piece of WOW is Colorado's largest protected area. There's 500 miles of trails, numerous Continental Divide crossings and an average altitude of 10,000 lung gasping feet. It's home to elk, weasels, neighborly mountain goats, wild flowers and way too many deer flies. (I killed thousands but still they kept coming). 

Jonathan and I covered over 50 miles of it, and never made a dent in seeing the big picture. We went over the Great Divide so many times we weren't sure if we were drinking water splashing toward the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans. (They both tasted the same too BTW.) 

I left there feeling mentally and physically refreshed despite the thumping on my knees from hauling sustenance, shelter and one book for six days.

Thank You President Lyndon Baines Johnson for signing the Wilderness Act of 1964 into law. (Another invention besides jazz, baseball and National Parks we Americans can be proud of).
To sum up its gist, here it is: 

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

Ain't that great?

So...go out there and explore LBJ's legacy. 


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ice Lake and Basin...

It's Saturday,  a Jew's day of rest. I'll go easy on the text and allow the eye candy to do the tawking. (NYC speak for talking). 

OK. I did manage to slip in a shameless marketing scheme for my book. It hasn't worked.

Enjoy the photos, 
Good Shabbas to all,

PS. If you want more info on this hike just email me @

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mount Sneffels...

Is an amazing 14,150 foot peak with a strange name. No worries, once on top nothing but the grandeur seems to matter. This is my favorite 14er and I've been up 49 of the state's 54.

This will also be my final resting place when I'm in the "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" phase. I've given explicit directions to my nephews on how to divvy up the gray stuff. They will be my official urn pall-bearers. It'll be easy, I'll be dehydrated then. 

One-third facing east to see the rising sun. 
Two-thirds facing west for these awwww inspiring views. 
Keith and Justin promised to carry a measuring cup to get it right. 

If you decide to pay me a visit, a splash of Odell's IPA would be appreciated. A fella can get mighty thirsty at altitude.

As you can see from the third photo, the mountain requires a blood sacrifice as a show of respect. It's a small price to pay for a perfect morning like this. 
Although there were no nude women to point out the way to the summit!

Cheers from The Switzerland of Colorado. AKA Ouray,

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mount Sopris...

Stands tall in the lower Roaring Fork Valley near Carbondale, Colorado. Although only weighing in at 12,966 feet (a pipsqueak compared to Colorado's numerous 14,000ers) it's an impressive peak.

I set out to hike it, with cooperative skies, light winds and an early start. Everything was honky dory until my descent. I followed some sporadic cairns that led me into another drainage. I checked my map. It showed a route down along West Sopris Creek, which would eventually lead to an exit. All was not lost! Bonus miles! 

I followed game trails and at times no trails. Down, down down I went until I saw a Black Lab and a pile of clothes nearby. I quickly surmised the garments didn't belong to the dog. 

"Hello!" I called out. I didn't want to surprise anyone.

It was just like Adam meeting Eve for the first time, only different.
I was wearing shorts and a tank top. She wasn't even sporting a fig leaf.

"Uh sorry. I kind of got off track from Sopris, could you please point the trail out to me?"
I made a monumental effort to make total eye contact. (Mostly).

"Sure. Follow that trail downhill and it'll take you to the trailhead." She wasn't even blushing!

I thanked her and awkwardly apologized again.

Her answer? "The pleasure was mine!"
You gotta love it!

Jeff with clothes on from Ouray, Colorado

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bobcat Ridge Natural Area...

In 2000, a 10,600 acre camper caused fire ripped through an area south and west of Fort Collins, Colorado. 

The conflagration left behind a scorched land and stands of ghost trees.

On my 11 mile hike, I saw wild flowers, grasses and aspens taking root. Rabbits bound around and crows cawed overhead. A family of coyotes yipped but went unseen. 

The seemingly stark hillsides are now a place of solitude and introspection. When the animals aren't saying something, a steady breeze provides the background music.

Many years from now a Ponderosa Pine/Douglas Fir plant community will be calling the shots here. Be patient, it'll happen, but not in our lifetime.

I give the city of Fort Collins two thumbs up for preserving this work in progress for future generations. 

Mother Nature hates a void and she's always looking for work.


Speaking about works in progress: "A Wandering, Wondering Jew" blog now has an email subscription if you are keen on my musings or photos or both.

Find it right below the blog title.
It seems legit and doesn't ask for passwords.

Don't miss the action!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Some days you win...

some days you lose and some days you get rained (and lightning) out.

The Sub-Eleven Foot Expedition Team plus one tall Irishman had all intentions of hiking across Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend.

 With the sobering thoughts of a nearby fatality lightning strike the previous day, we left Bear Lake parking lot. The weather forecast was sketchy to scary at best. We were making good time and above tree line near Flattop Mountain, when we decided to turn back. The clouds were quickly turning from snowy white to filthy laundry gray. They appeared thick too. Our window of safety had slammed shut. 

A smart hiker knows the mountains will be there another day. They are more patient than humans. I'm disappointed but it was the right decision. I was so looking forward to my dinner of dehydrated Pad Thai! 

BTW. A few hours later, a second person was struck and killed by lightning in RMNP.

Mother Nature is beautiful if it doesn't kill you. 

Be safe out there,

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Now on a lighter note:

Announcing the resurrection of the "Sub-Eleven Foot Expedition Team." 
Good buddy Nelson and I don't measure up to eleven feet combined. Hence the name.

There's a vicious rumor out there, we are intolerant of height unchallenged people. Not so!
Doug McGraw will be joining us at his nose bleed altitude of 6'4" on our forty mile, four day transit of Rocky Mountain National Park.

I'm sure the long and short will all get along fine. Just so Doug doesn't pet us on our heads in passing.

My tour of Colorado will continue with a Weminuche Wilderness hike and a Maroon Bells Wilderness five passes trip.

Please join me in my future posts. Check in at your convenience. If you like what this blog is all about, please pass it along. 

I am working to try to make it one of the more interesting, entertaining and at times informative travel blogs out there.


Three years ago...

today, a careless driver smashed me and my bicycle like a Ping Pong ball at 50 MPH. 

I woke up in a ditch with First Responders tending to my many wounds. Later on at the ER,  the Doc told me I had sustained eleven broken vertebrae and one broken sternum. I had road rash everywhere and a piece of my nose went missing. (I knew I had a large proboscis but this wasn't the way I wanted to reduce it).

During the lengthly healing process in Fort Collins, Colorado many friends and former colleagues came by to see me. I called these visits, "welfare checks." 

One notable guest was Randy Mirowski. He's my former Captain, Chief and fire service teacher. He's a devout Christian and a friend for life.

Here's what this pious man told me, "Jeffy! You survived the accident for a reason. The good Lord knows you have a message to convey. There's a plan for you."

So...what's my message?

An apple a day, keeps the doctor away. Nope, a cliche our parents told us.

Buy a camper van, and be the person who lives down by the river in it. Well, it's working for me so far, but probably not for everyone.

Here it is: Every time you get on a bicycle, please, don a properly fitting helmet. The one and only reason my skull wasn't smushed like a watermelon in a Gallagher comedy skit was the use of a helmet. This simple safety device saved me.

Please don't ride a bicycle without one.

The good life we all yearn for can be snuffed out in one final blink of an eye.


Butler Wash...

An oldie but goodie...

just west of exciting (yawn) Bluff, Utah is a treasure trove of ruins and ancient art work.

All you have to do is find a single tract dirt road leading to a dead end and beat your way through the wash. Careful, the brush has a tendency to bite, scratch and hinder forward progress.

Then head up a canyon and more than likely you will make an archeological discovery. 

At Procession Panel, I came across this old fashioned pornography. To paraphrase, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart.
"I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material but I know it when I see it."

Cheers from windy Flagstaff, AZ. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Boulder, Colorado...

Where the locals only partake in four events. 

They are either: 

A) Working out.

B) Walking their dog.

C) Working out with their dog.

or D) Enjoying a Happy Hour (sometimes with their dog).

No one seems to work. I guess a small percentage do. How else can the drinks and dinner materialize during HH?

This is a city of uber athletes. People look at me and think, "he moves along well for a fat guy." If you aren't trail running, you are considered a sloth. 

Anyway, it's a fun, eccentric and atypical place to hang out. It's always a feel good time here.

Live from Boulder,

Sunday, July 6, 2014

My brother Mike.

I know what you are thinking. "I never knew Jeff had a twin brother." 
Nope, Mike is my older brother. He's my mentor, my advisor and my hero all rolled into one. 
He's also one of the most generous humans on the planet. The only way to beat him to the check is to slide the wait-person a credit card while he's distracted by his first cocktail.

A long time ago, an ex-girlfriend and I met up with the family. I warned her, "Mike is a lot nicer than me." After she engaged him in conversation for a short time. She tugged on my shirt, leaned in and said, "You are right. He is nicer!"

I am a very lucky man to share the same Mom as he. 

I'm back in Colorado now after a whirlwind trip to NYC. Who's up for Big Beers at Old Chicago in Fort Collins, on Tuesday night?