Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Announcing The Release of My New Book on The History of Hiking

I’m very excited to announce the release of my brand new book on the rich history of hiking! Ramble On: A History of Hiking is the first broad historical overview of hiking in one volume. Among the variety of topics discussed about the early years of hiking, the book also includes anecdotal stories of trail development in some of our oldest and most iconic national parks, such as Yellowstone and Glacier National Park. To give you a better idea of what the book encompasses, I've copied the introduction to the book (below), which is now available on Amazon.

Ramble On:

How did hiking evolve from the upper-class European sport of alpinism and the publication of an English travel guide into an activity that now has millions of participants all over the world? Who built the thousands of miles of trails that now crisscross America? What did early hikers wear, and what were some of the key inventions and innovations that led to our modern array of hiking gear and apparel? How was information about hiking, trails and gear disseminated in the early years? And what were some of the reasons why people hiked, and how have those changed over time?

Ramble On, a general history on the sport of hiking (also known as rambling, tramping, walking, hillwalking, backpacking or trekking), attempts to answers these questions, as well as many others. This book chronicles hiking’s roots in alpinism and mountaineering, the societal trends that fostered its growth, some of the early hikers from the nineteenth century, the first trails built specifically for recreational hiking, the formation of the first hiking clubs, as well as the evolution of hiking gear and apparel.

When I first considered writing this book two years ago I wasn’t really sure how much relevant information I would be able to find, or how compelling of a story could be written about the history of hiking. I feared that I wouldn’t have enough material to write a full book. However, after diving into the project I soon realized that hiking actually has a very rich and compelling history, and has been profoundly influenced by a series of events that had nothing to do with hiking. I was continuously amazed by how much hiking has been molded by societal trends, as well as national and international events. The story of hiking took me in many directions that I never would’ve considered, from Romanticism and Transcendentalism, to the Industrial Revolution and the labor movement, to the rise of automobiles, environmentalism, club culture, and even art, to name just a few.

However, what intrigued me the most were the anecdotal stories of trail development in some of our oldest and most iconic national parks, as well as the peculiar and quirky traditions of some of the early hiking clubs. One of the most compelling stories was the apparel women were forced to wear during the Victorian Era, and the danger those fashion standards posed to women who dared to venture into the mountains.

This book also takes a look at some of the issues that currently impact hikers and trails, such as overcrowding and social media, and takes a peek into the future on how some of these trends could unfold. I also explain some of the solutions public land managers are currently considering, and offer a few suggestions myself.

My hope is that you will you come away with a better understanding of what it took to make hiking one of the most popular activities in the world, and what we need to do to preserve our trails and the spirit of hiking for future generations to come.

To order your copy now, please click here. Thank you very much!

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Colorado Parks and Wildlife leads state effort to compile comprehensive outdoor recreation plan

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has released a draft 2019 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) for public review and comment. As outdoor recreation participation booms in Colorado, the plan lays out top priorities to address the state’s needs for conservation and outdoor recreation over the next five years.

Increasing popularity for outdoor spaces plus a growing understanding of how important outdoor recreation is to Colorado’s economy, quality of life, and health make it essential that all Coloradans work collaboratively to conserve Colorado’s outdoor playground.

The draft SCORP includes new studies looking at outdoor recreation participation, including barriers and motivations, and management issues.

“According to the new information collected, 92 percent of Coloradans recreate outdoors at least once every few weeks,” said Dr. Mike Quartuch, human dimensions specialist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Almost 70 percent of Coloradans recreate outdoors one or more times per week,” Dr. Quartuch said. Coloradans’ favorite outdoor recreation activities are walking and hiking, while about a third enjoy picnicking, camping and fishing.

When asked about barriers to participating in outdoor recreation, Coloradans cited time constraints, crowding and traffic. When asked about future investments for where they live, Coloradans are interested in more walking trails and paths, nature and wildlife viewing areas and picnic areas with shelters that can accommodate small groups. When considering statewide priorities, people find long-term planning and management, operations and maintenance of existing facilities, and trails to be the most important.

“In 2014, our SCORP reported that outdoor recreation contributed $34.5 billion to Colorado’s economy. We anticipate this new report will show extensive growth in this powerhouse industry,” said Bob Broscheid, director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Every report that comes out about this industry makes it one of the largest sectors in Colorado’s economy, greater than construction, finance, and manufacturing. The impacts ripple across both urban and rural communities and benefit our daily lives.”

Since the last statewide study for Colorado five years ago, the contribution of outdoor recreation continues to demonstrate its might both at home and nationally. The most recent Outdoor Industry Association report finds that the outdoor recreation sector contributes $887 billion in consumer spending nationwide.

Over the next twenty years, the state’s population is projected to grow by around 100,000 people every year. As a result, the acres of outdoor recreation lands per capita in Colorado will drop by about 20 percent. This means more crowding and pressure on the state’s outdoor resources, including outdoor recreation infrastructure and wildlife habitat.

“We are at a critical juncture in determining the future of conservation of the places we love and the demand for recreation opportunities. Our outdoor spaces, recreation opportunities and wildlife are defining characteristics of Colorado,” Broscheid stated. “We cannot look at these as separate from one another. Conservation and outdoor recreation are intertwined. It is up to each of us to play an active role in caring for and maintaining these valuable assets. Our way of life depends on it.”

To address these challenges, the draft SCORP identifies four top priorities:

1. Enhance sustainable access and opportunity to enjoy the outdoors
2. Promote stewardship of natural, cultural and recreational resources
3. Conserve lands, waters and wildlife
4. Ensure adequate funding to sustain Colorado’s outdoors for the future

The 2019 SCORP was prepared with extensive input from Colorado leaders in outdoor recreation, including members of the Colorado Outdoor Partnership. "For over a year, outdoor recreation interests met with conservation groups, sportsmen, outdoor educators, government and others to consider pressing issues and identify the top priorities for the future of Colorado's outdoors," said Allison Kincaid, Executive Director of Colorado Parks and Recreation Association. "This plan is Colorado's plan. It was developed through a collaborative process and will require strong partnerships to ensure its success."

With broad input, this plan provides the framework to strategically allocate Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars - combined with investments from other federal, state, local and private funding programs - and support collaborations between outdoor recreation providers that promote both recreational enjoyment and thoughtful conservation of Colorado’s special places.

The public has until October 22nd to review the draft 2019 SCORP and provide comments to CPW. For more information, or to comment on the plan visit:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, September 28, 2018

Annual Elk Fest in Estes Park This Weekend

To celebrate the annual elk rut and learn about the "wapiti," the Native American name for elk, the city of Estes Park hosts the annual Elk Fest, Sept. 29-30.

Elk Fest offers visitors a chance to view elk during the rutting season in the wild, as well as expand their knowledge of elk and its habitat.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife will have a booth to promote the message of how to view wildlife responsibility, will have a kids craft table, general showcases on elk and hunting information from CPW’s hunter outreach program.

Held in Bond Park, located in downtown Estes Park, the free festival will offer:

• Bugling competitions
• Education areas
• Seminars
• Music by the Elktones
• Mountain Man Rendezvous
• Native American storytelling and music
• Guided elk viewing tours
• Vendors that offer art from oils and pastels, hand made elk-ivory jewelry, scrimshawed antler knives, elk antler lamps and chandeliers, elk hide pillows, silver and gold jewelry and elk antlers.

Schedule of Events

Saturday, Sept. 29

• 8:30 a.m. - Rut Run 5k
• 10 a.m. - All Vendors Open
• 10 a.m. -3 p.m. Kids Corral w/ fun activities and crafts
• 10:30-10:50 a.m. - "Elk of Estes Park" film in Town Hall
• 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. - Native American Storytelling
• 12:15-1 p.m. - Bugling Contest
• 1-1:20 p.m. - "Elk of Estes Park" film in Town Hall
• 1:30-3 p.m. - Live Music from Amplified Souls
• 3-5 p.m. - Native American Music, Dancing & Storytelling
• 8 p.m.-12 a.m. - Elk Fest Afterparty at Hunters Chophouse

Sunday, Sept. 30

• 10 a.m. - All Vendors Open
• 10 a.m.-3 p.m. - Kids Corral w/ fun activities and crafts
• 10:30-10:50 a.m. - "Elk of Estes Park" film in Town Hall
• 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - Live Music from Cowboy Brad
• 12:45-1:45 p.m. - Rocky Mountain Raptors, educational performance
• 2-4 p.m. - Native American Music, Dancing & Storytelling
• 2:30-2:50 p.m. - "Elk of Estes Park" film in Town Hall

You can visit the Elk Fest web page for more information by clicking here. For information on lodging during your visit, please click here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, September 24, 2018

Two Elk Poaching Incidents In Rocky Mountain National Park

On Sunday morning park visitors reported a dead bull elk next to Trail Ridge Road, near the Ute Crossing Trail south of Forest Canyon Overlook in Rocky Mountain National Park. Park rangers investigated and discovered the large bull elk had been poached during the night of Friday, September 21, or early morning Saturday, September 22.

On Wednesday morning September 12, park rangers discovered a large bull elk had been poached on Trail Ridge Road near Milner Pass. This occurred during the night of Tuesday, September 11, or early morning September 12. This bull’s head had been severed and the carcass remained.

Both cases are under investigation. Park rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park urge anyone with information on these incidents or other incidents related to wildlife poaching in the park to call or text the National Park Service Investigative Services Bureau at 888-653-0009 or call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-332-4155. Persons providing information that leads to an arrest may receive a reward. If you have information that could help investigators, or if you were in the locations listed above please contact us. You do not have to tell us who you are, but please tell us what you know.

The group of elk near Milner Pass in particular had frequented that area. Park rangers are asking for any photographs taken of bull elk near Milner Pass. Please email those to or post on the park’s Facebook page at RockyNPS.

Rocky Mountain National Park’s wildlife is a resource for all to enjoy and protect. Both of these elk were magnificent large bulls. Tens of thousands of park visitors have viewed and photographed these bulls. The individual(s) involved with these egregious poaching incidents have robbed park visitors from this experience and killed two strong bull elk during the rutting season. Please help the park protect wildlife by reporting any suspicious activity.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Celebrate National Public Lands Day with Free Admission and Special Events at National Parks

On September 22, join in the nation’s biggest celebration of the great outdoors on National Public Lands Day! All national parks will have free admission and many will host volunteer service projects open to all.

"Every year, Americans come together on National Public Lands Day to demonstrate their love of national parks," said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith. "Activities hosted by parks across the nation will promote environmental stewardship and encourage the use of public lands for education, recreation, and good health."

Marking its 25th anniversary this year, National Public Lands Day is the nation's largest single-day environmental volunteer effort. More than 200,000 people are expected to participate in volunteer service events designed to improve the health of public lands and encourage shared stewardship.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan K. Zinke will celebrate the day by working alongside groups of military veterans and youth to paint several historic structures at Grand Canyon National Park. The volunteer project to restore the cabins is an example of the $11.6 billion in deferred maintenance needs in the National Park System. Secretary Zinke will also meet with national park partners and congressional representatives to discuss legislative efforts to address the maintenance backlog.

Grand Canyon is just one of 100 national parks and 2,600 federal public land sites hosting National Public Lands Day events. In other national parks, volunteers will rehabilitate campgrounds, improve trails, restore native habitats, repair bluebird boxes, clean beaches, and refurbish historic buildings, among other projects. Check for more information and a list of sites.

Volunteer efforts on days such as National Public Lands Day demonstrate the willingness of people to give back to the land for the benefit of parks. Volunteers assisting on work projects on National Public Lands Day will receive a voucher that can be redeemed for free entrance to any national park on a date of their choosing.

National Public Land Day celebrations also include recreational and educational activities, such as hikes, bike rides, paddle trips, bird watching excursions, and water quality testing. To encourage everyone to join the fun, it is an entrance fee-free day for national parks and most other federal public lands and state parks.

The National Environmental Education Foundation coordinates National Public Lands Day in partnership with seven federal agencies as well as nonprofit organizations and state, regional, and local governments. The federal partners are the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.

All National Public Lands Day events are free, and open to people of all ages and abilities. To learn more, register an event, or find an event near you, visit


Monday, September 17, 2018

Colorado Parks and Wildlife announces discovery of unique cutthroat trout in southwest Colorado

Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists have discovered a unique genetic lineage of the Colorado River cutthroat trout in southwest Colorado that was thought to be extinct. The agency will continue to evaluate the findings and collaborate with agency partners to protect and manage populations of this native trout.

The discovery was officially recognized earlier this year thanks to advanced genetic testing techniques that can look into the basic components of an organism’s DNA, the building blocks of life. This exciting find demonstrates the value of applying state-of-the-art genetic science to decades of native cutthroat conservation management and understanding.

“Anyone who just looked at these fish would have a difficult time telling them apart from any other cutthroat; but this is a significant find,” said Jim White, aquatic biologist for CPW in Durango. “Now we will work to determine if we can propagate these fish in our hatcheries and reintroduce them into the wild in their historic habitat. It’s a great conservation effort and a great conservation story.”

Eight small populations of these trout have been found in streams of the San Juan River Basin within the San Juan National Forest and on private property. The populations are in isolated habitats and sustained through natural reproduction. U.S. Forest Service staff and landowners have been cooperative in CPW’s efforts; they will also be instrumental in further cutthroat conservation efforts.

In August, north of Durango, crews from CPW and the U.S. Forest Service hiked into two small, remote creeks affected by the 416 Fire and removed 58 fish. Ash flows from the fire could have severely impacted these small populations.

Cutthroat trout originated in the Pacific Ocean and are one of the most diverse fish species in North America with 14 different subspecies. Three related subspecies are found in Colorado: Colorado River cutthroat trout found west of the Continental Divide; Greenback cutthroat trout in the South Platte River Basin; and the Rio Grande cutthroat trout in the San Luis Valley. A fourth, the yellowfin cutthroat trout native to the Arkansas River Basin, went extinct in the early 1900s. Cutthroats from each of these areas have specific and distinctive genetic markers. CPW propagates the three remaining subspecies, and actively manages their conservation and recovery throughout the state.

White and other biologists ‒ including Kevin Rogers, a CPW cutthroat researcher based in Steamboat Springs, and Mike Japhet, a retired Durango CPW aquatic biologist ‒ have been surveying remote creeks in southwest Colorado for more than 30 years looking for isolated populations of cutthroat trout. They found some populations in remote locations long before advanced genetic testing was available. The biologists understood that isolated populations might carry unique genetic traits and adaptations, so they made sure to preserve collected samples for genetic testing later. Significant advances in genetic testing technology over the last 10 years were instrumental in finding the distinct genetic markers that identify the San Juan lineage trout as being unique.

In 1874, naturalist Charles E. Aiken collected and preserved samples of fish found in the San Juan River near Pagosa Springs. Two trout were deposited in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. These samples were forgotten until 2012 when a team of researchers from the University of Colorado was hired by the Greenback Trout Recovery Team to study old trout specimens housed in the nation’s oldest museums. When the researchers tested tissue from those two specimens they found genetic markers unique to the San Juan River Basin. Armed with the knowledge of these genetic “fingerprints”, CPW researchers and biologists set out to test all the cutthroat trout populations they could find in the basin in search of any relic populations.

“We always ask ourselves, ‘What if we could go back to the days before pioneer settlement and wide-spread non-native fish stocking to see what we had here?’” White said. “Careful work over the years by biologists, finding those old specimens in the museum and the genetic testing gave us the chance, essentially, to go back in time. Now we have the opportunity to conserve this native trout in southwest Colorado.”

Developing a brood stock of these trout so that they can be reintroduced into San Juan River headwaters streams will be a key conservation strategy for increasing their distribution into suitable habitat and help their long-term stability. Protecting the fish from disease, other non-native fish, habitat loss and over-harvest are important factors that will be considered in a conservation plan that will be developed over the next few years. While that might seem like a long time, the discovery of this fish goes back more than 100 years.

Over the decades, CPW has worked with many partners throughout the state to find and conserve distinct cutthroat populations. Many of these efforts were conducted with assistance from the U.S. Forest Service, conservation groups and private property owners. CPW also works on projects with both the Colorado River Cutthroat Trout and Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout conservation teams.

All native cutthroats have been adversely affected by a variety of issues, including reduced stream flows, competition with other trout species, changes in water quality and other riparian-habitat alterations. Consequently, the various types of native cutthroats are only found in isolated headwaters streams. To ensure continued conservation of Colorado’s cutthroats, CPW stocks only the native species in high lakes and headwater streams. That stocking practice started in the mid-1990s.

CPW has also conserved cutthroats in headwaters streams by working with the U.S. Forest Service to build barriers to prevent upstream migration of non-native trout, removing non-native trout and subsequently stocking them with native trout. The conservation group, Trout Unlimited, has provided valuable assistance with many of these projects.

John Alves, Durango-based senior aquatic biologist for CPW’s Southwest Region, said the discovery shows the dedication of CPW aquatic biologists.

“These fish were discovered because of our curiosity and our concern for native species,” Alves said. “We’re driven by scientific inquiry that’s based on hard work and diligence. This is a major discovery for Colorado and it shows the critical importance of continuing our research and conservation work.”


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Decision Reached on Fall River Entrance Improvements In Rocky Mountain National Park

The Director of the Intermountain Region, National Park Service, has signed a decision document that will enable Rocky Mountain National Park to implement improvements to the Fall River Entrance Station, including the addition of a fast-pass lane for use by pass-holding visitors as well as employees and emergency vehicles. The Fall River Entrance is one of two major entrance stations on the east side of the park and is located on U.S. Highway 34, just inside the park boundary.

In addition to the new fast-pass lane, the selected alternative reconfigures the existing entrance and exit lanes, replaces all existing buildings with newly constructed ones having updated equipment and systems for ventilation and technology, improves the accessibility of all entrance facilities, and adds new parking spaces and pedestrian paths. The park will also develop an interpretive wayside exhibit at Sheep Lakes Overlook to depict the developmental history of the Fall River Entrance Station Area. Keeping the current configuration of existing buildings will minimize impacts on the Fall River Entrance Historic District.

An Environmental Assessment for the Fall River Entrance Improvements was prepared in June 2018, to examine alternative actions and environmental impacts associated with improving the entrance station area. Initial public scoping for the project occurred in the summer of 2017, including a public meeting held in August. It will be several years until the construction begins.