Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Jewish High Holy Days are...

approaching. Every so often, someone will ask me if I'll attend a Temple service. 

This will send my thoughts way back to the times I was under the care and feeding of Sid and Clara Sambur. For those two Old World Jews, High Holy Days Temple service was mandatory, not optional. 

My brothers and I would sit (in uncomfortable suits) watching and listening as the adults prayed and swayed in a display of humility before God. Every so often, the Rabbi would present a sermon to the Congregation. To be honest, I never got the message. I fidgeted and wanted to be outside in the open air. The one part of the Service I loved was the blowing of the Shofar. (A musical instrument contrived from a ram's horn). The shrill notes were  the sound of Jewish blues to me. 

When my Mom passed at an early age for the two of us, I was unleashed to pursue or not to pursue Organized Religions. I chose not to. Don't get me wrong. I feel and associate with being Jewish as much as a Hassidic Rabbi does. 

I just happen to attend a Temple without four walls and a roof. Please gaze at these photos from the Ice Lakes Basin in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. If this isn't getting closer to God, then I'm clueless to the concept. 

I can't speak for everyone, but this kind of religion works for me. A lot less guilt too! 
BTW: Those baggy black shorts and cut-off cotton shirt feel much better than wearing a suit and tie. 

Cheers from Ouray, Colorado.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Red Cloud Peak (14,034 feet)...

The hard (and stupid) way.

I have a confession. I'm lazy. When presented with a choice between Girly-man easy and Ironman tough, I'd choose the wimpy way all the time. I don't even feel Jewish guilt over my decision. It's my way of pacing myself and avoiding injuries.

So..with my usual glance at a map and 14'er guidebook, I set off on a well-trod path. 
At a little over a mile, I saw a few midget sized cairns leading across Silver Creek. I read somewhere there was an alternative, simpler and more scenic route to the top. I reckoned this was that trail. Well, I had the right idea, but the wrong mountain. That pretty way was on nearby Handies Peak!!  A Senior moments strikes again. 

The trail went from prominent to obscure up the South Folk drainage. At the base of a 1,400 foot scree field, the piles of cairns played themselves out. Hmmm. I think I can, I think I can. I started crabbing my way up the slope. Sometimes it was one foot forward, a two foot slide back.

Once, I made the mistake of looking between my shaky legs. It was so steep. How steep, Jeff?  It was so steep, that a drop of switz (sweat) went straight down toward the abyss. Returning the way I came wasn't an option. Going up is safer than allowing gravity to force you down. I kept crabbing up on all fours.

At a saddle, I saw this sign. See the photo. 

Sometimes, I just get lucky. 

I made it to Red Cloud and took the easy way back. 

Cheers and don't have senior moments when you are hiking 14'ers. 
Happy Hour in Durango, Colorado


Sunday, August 23, 2015

So Many Colorado Wilderness Areas

So little time. 

With the chill of Autumn arriving way to fast for this blogging Cold Weenie, Jenny (the Wandering, Wondering Jew in training) and I saw firsthand a few of Colorado's Wild Places. 

We spent three nights in Crested Butte where the town's slogan should be, "You don't have to be a young stoner to live here, but it helps." From this village of HIGH, we drove and hiked higher. We managed to gain some altitude in the Ragged and the Maroon Bells Wilderness. On one jaunt, we ascended "Oh Be Joyful" Creek. A very correct name for the scenery surrounding us.

As far as the Maroon Bells goes, the atmosphere was downright tepid on top of Frigid Air Pass, (12,451 feet). 

On another day, we joined forces with Paul and Robin for a hike to 12,088 Cataract Lake. It's true, you meet the nicest people in the mountains of Colorado.

This blogger is now one beat and beat up dude after my scree filled ascent to Red Cloud Peak. 
But that's another blog.

It's almost Happy Hour in Lake City, Colorado 
Yes there are fungus among us too.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Of Old Maps and Men...

and the Continental Divide Trail in Colorado. (Remember High Country in this Cannabis Friendly state can have a few meanings.) 

The other day when I topped out on Cottonwood Pass (12,161') with Barley, I was astride the Continental Divide. For those who don't understand the concept of the Great Water Split; here it is. If you spill an IPA brew on the sunrise side, it will flow toward the Arkansas River and even further downstream into the Gulf of Mexico. Waste a good beer on the sunset side, and it will percolate to the Colorado River. That liquid won't make it to its old delta, every drop is appropriated by three very thirsty lower basin southwestern states. 

Back to the story: I stopped long enough on the pass to appreciate the view. I noticed a trail leading south. Just as I was about to explore what it was all about, a thunderclap and a bolt of electricity chased me back inside my van. I checked an ancient map I had of the area and it showed no trails in the vicinity. Later, when I camped with my buddy and ex-forester Paul,  he told me what's it all about.

"People were putting in social trails adjacent to the actual Continental Divide. The routes got pretty banged down along the ridge line. The U.S. Forest Service finally decided to make it part of the official CDT. You can follow it forever." 
Well, maybe not forever but at least to Columbus, New Mexico. 

I chased three or four miles of the trail the next day. I shifted to and fro from one side of the Divide to the other. The views were all grand above tree-line spectacular. 

For once, rogue social trails turned out to be a good thing. See for yourself. That sage grouse was the only hiking companion I had that day. I enjoyed his company. 

Good night from Gunnison, Colorado.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Now somewhere back in Colorado...

Yes, Wyoming has many scenic attractions, but let's not forget that Colorado is no chopped liver either. (No Jew wants to be compared to chopped liver. Hence the expression, "What am I? Chopped liver?" 

After provisioning up with the necessities: fuel, IPA's, coffee, bread for PB&J's, cheese, eggs and lots of fruit and veggies, I aimed Barley west toward the mountains. As usual (for this summer) my plans for the next few weeks are loosely structured. I made a few reservations for campsites and have a notion of route of travel. 

My first stop was Buena Vista and Eddyline Brewery. Here in the Arkansas River Valley the adjacent Collegiate Peaks go "Air Jordan" from the flats below. 

No summer in Colorado is complete without a scramble to the top of a 14'er. That's Centennial State slang for a peak over 14,000 feet. In the Heart of the Rockies, we have 54 to choose from. Today, I chose 14,196' Mount Yale. They don't call them the Collegiate Peaks for nada. 

Speaking about colleges! Colorado's crowds will be heading back to school soon. Campsites and seats in brewpub's will be more plentiful. Hiking will go back to being a silent sport. There will be less road rage. It's all good and I'm looking forward to it. 

In the last picture: that's good buddies Paul and Robin. They are my neighbors at Taylor Reservoir. 

I'm a lucky guy. I even have Happy Hour company. 

From cloudy Colorado,

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Roamin' in Wyoming...

There's a draw to the 10th largest state in the Union with a population less than a New York City Borough. I'm talking about the Cowboy State with their newest tourist slogan, "Forever West." 
There's probably more antelope, deer, moose and elk than people there. For me, that's a good thing. 

Me, Barley the Van and Jenny (she's a Wandering, Wondering Jew in training) struck out north from the Front Range of Colorado. (There's 5.3 million Coloradoans. The secret is out.)
Our game plan was simple; hike, Happy Hour, sight see and camp in quieter, less traveled surroundings. We got our wish.
After summiting Medicine Bow Peak, we paid a visit to two Wilderness areas. We hardly brushed other bipeds along our way. Nothing but scenery, our thoughts and silence (when I wasn't babbling). 

Jenny took all her new experiences in stride. She actually enjoyed campfire Happy Hours and U.S. Forest Service campgrounds. She's a real tough, adaptable Jewess. 

Goodnight from Buena Vista, Colorado 

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Visit to Pleasantville, Colorado...

How often does one show up in a town where bicycles, front doors, cars and garages go unlocked? Have you ever been to a place where neighborhood canines wander around, poke their paws through dog doors to pay another hound a visit? A community where Stoners mix with English as a second language Hispanics, like hops in an IPA? A Burg where neighbors chat a few minutes, and Wallah! (meaning I swear to God in Arabic) an impromptu pot-luck dinner and Happy Hour evolves shortly thereafter? 

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hanging out in this Colorado Paradise on Earth. Don't bother Googling the whereabouts of Pleasantville. It's not on the map. It's named Carbondale. 

In the last photo, that's me with my gracious hosts Martha and Jim Jim. Martha will soon be the future Mayor of Carbondale. She'll get my vote! 

Pay this place a visit, you won't have a care in the world and your smile will be sincere.

Another travel tip from http://jeffsambur.blogspot.com/


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Nothing Meek about Mount...


When Nelson (the other half of the Sub-Eleven Foot Expedition Team) suggested hiking a peak in RMNP,  I replied, "I'm in." I didn't need to know anything more than that. I always pay attention to my older, wiser and more patient brother from another mother. 

Our plan was to hike from the Goblin Forest campsite along the Longs Peak trail to the Loft route to 13,911' Mount Meeker. First, we had to perform our pre-hike ritual honed after a decade's worth of expeditions.

Nelson: "Jeff, I haven't been hiking much lately. We'll get as far as we can go. Is that OK?" 
Me: "Yep. You call the shots. I think you will do fine." 

With this tradition completed we set off on a breeze-free cloudy morning. We took breaks, shot photos and kibitzed. (Told stories). 
The heavy breathing began after Chasm Lake. We moved up a prominent couloir wedged between Meeker and Longs Peak. At times the climbing was aptly described by Nelson as "can't make a mistake" ascending. We scouted routes, made suggestions and like Lewis and Clark, "We proceeded on." 

We attained the flat saddle called the Loft. Here, Nelson had to start the second part of the ritual "I've been up on Meeker three times. You go ahead and summit it. I'll take a break here and get up as far as I can." 
"OK. You are doing great. I'll see you at the top." That's my part of the ritual. 

Sure enough, there was Nelson grinning and gaining the top a few minutes after me.

This is what I know about my Woody Allen look-a-like buddy/brother. He's a plugger. He doesn't give up easily. He's way tougher than he looks. He's hiked to the Mount Everest Basecamp, survived two avalanches, summited more peaks (in the winter) than I care to do and was a ferry boat captain somewhere in Asia. 
His adventure resume makes mine look puny and insignificant. 

He's also incredibly humble about his achievements. Here's his photos. He is generous enough to allow me to share them with you.
I am a lucky Dude to know him. 

This guy knows how to really work a camera.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Backpack Trip

Long overdue. 

When I turned 60 half a year ago, Courtney Sambur (my nephew Keith's wonderful spouse) handed me a surprise present. It was a note. It said something like this: 
"I, Courtney Sambur will give Keith Sambur a one-night Kitchen Pass to backpack with Uncle Jeff this summer." 
For me it was a priceless gift.

Its been over a decade since my nephews joined me for a ramble in Colorado's Great Outdoors. At that time, Justin was waiting to attend Colorado State University for his advanced degree. Keith just received his law degree. It was tweener time for the two of them. His most generous parents (brother Mike and sister-in-law Robin) sent them west for two weeks of U.J Boot Camp. 
We hiked everyday on a whirlwind tour of Colorado's pretty places. Most of the time we donned massive backpacks. On off days it was mere day packs. We were in constant motion. I was always hiking in front, pushing the pace. I taunted them mercilessly. "If this is too much of a strain on you guys. I can drop you off at the mall. You can spend the days shopping. Would you like that?" From below I could hear them cursing me. 
Hey! It was two against one. 

At our finish line in Aspen, Colorado (they had to return to NYC the next day), the boys had noon time beers to celebrate. They toasted each other. "We survived Uncle Jeff!"

The bottom line: Robin phoned me when the kids deplaned. "Jeffy! The boys look great! They look so healthy!" 
They both lost ten pounds of weight in that fortnight. If you really are serious about a weight loss program hang with me.

Back to the present. Keith and I had a great time tramping 18 miles from Estes Park, Colorado to Grand Lake, Colorado. Maybe one day, Justin can rejoin us. I would love that. 

In the last photo, that's a Pine Marten. It's the first one I ever saw in my life. I spotted another a few days later. Go figure! 

Stay in motion, it's good for you.