I recently earned a Masters in Biography & Creative Non-fiction at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. I am also a Film Independent Screenwriting Lab fellow.
Between November 2014 and March 2015, I walked 3,000 km down the length of New Zealand with my Dad and produced a new media project about the experience. I wrote weekly articles and produced a 16-part web series. The project also included regular newsletters, written and visual content for sponsors, and a bit of freelance work on the side.
There is wet panting outside my tent. Paws run through the sand, pounding against the earth like a fluttering heart. I hold my breath; my core tightening and tendons coiling, ready to escape the sleeping bag. And do what? I haven’t thought that far ahead. The animal snaps its mouth shut and sniffs. It sounds like it’s right beside me.
I quietly dig around for my headlamp, then shine the light underneath the fly, searching for paws.
The sound of sand shifting underfoot as it pads away. Gone. It must have been a dog. Perhaps a loose pet from a neighboring campsite. Another stampede of soft feet and the same smacking breath. It’s back and this time it brought friends.
“Not everything is face shots and high fives,” says Jeff Davis, though something in his voice tells me there have been plenty of both. “It’s also lots of endless hours, looking at weather models, early mornings and late nights.”
Davis is a forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center(CAIC) and for the last three winters, he has worked in the San Juan Mountains evaluating avalanche danger and providing daily forecasts. Backcountry users should be as familiar with the CAIC as surfers are the tide report. The state government agency produces backcountry avalanche forecasts for 10 zones throughout Colorado, as well as separate reports for highway maintenance.
There is a ghost town clustered around a narrow road in the Ortiz Mountains of New Mexico known almost exclusively for two things: A John Travolta movie and the best green chile cheeseburger in the state.
This is not a claim to be taken lightly. The green chile cheeseburger is to New Mexico as pork ribs and brisket are to Texas. In fact, it is so important the state tourism department designated an official Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail. No, I’m not joking. And yes, I went on a cheeseburger road trip.
The fading scars of the 2002 Missionary Ridge Fire were an ever-present reminder that it could happen again. All it would take was one long drought, one wayward spark. Sixteen years later, winter never came. Southwest Colorado suffered one of its driest winters on record and locals knew it wasn’t a matter of “if,” but rather “when” Durango’s next big fire would ignite. It happened on June 1st, 2018, approximately ten miles north of town in the bedroom community of Hermosa.
In the ounce-counting realm of ultralight backpacking, it’s a race to the bottom where the lightest pack wins. Not that backpacking is a competitive sport. But if it was, Pete Vogt AKA “Five Pound Pete,” would leave his competition in the dust. As his trail name implies, Vogt hiked the Colorado Trail with a five pound backpacking kit. With food and water, his entire pack weighed just twelve pounds.
In a grainy black and white video, a furtive figure casts his gaze from side to side. It’s nighttime. Moths flitter in front of the camera and Sombra’s eyes glow like two full moons. The video is high contrast and pixelated, like footage of a fugitive caught on a security camera. Unaware he’s being filmed, Sombra holds his head up, alert to opportunity and danger. Both may find him in the Chiricahua Mountains of southern Arizona.
When former Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., introduced an act to expand wilderness areas in the San Juan Mountains, political battles over remote landscapes in the American West weren’t often the subject of national news. That, of course, was before the largest reduction of federally protected land in U.S. history. The recent reduction of Bears Ears National Monument pushed the conversation to center stage. Since then, debates over public lands have become intensely ideological and partisan.
There was a warning etched into the rusted metal door. The spidery letters looked as if they’d been hastily scrawled before the unknown victim fled his attackers. It read:
Summer seemed a rapidly fading memory. Each step, hour, and day brought us nearer the 45th parallel, the mid-way point between the Equator and the South Pole. Sunrise was a long time coming in the mornings and sunset was never too far away. The nighttime chill lasted well into the morning, and on a cloudy day it stayed cool.
New Zealand has over 950 huts in its remote backcountry. What a number for a landmass only a hair larger than the state of Colorado! Kiwis began constructing huts in the late 1800s for sheep musterers, miners, and loggers…
- Ice Play, Durango Magazine, Winter 2012/13
- A cycling, tramping mecca – The Durango Herald, March 19. 2015
- Artist realizes dream, opens Gem Village gallery – The Durango Herald, December 2, 2013
- Pagosa players dodge plague in ‘One Flea Spare’ – The Durango Herald, October 24, 2013
- Things are tough all over – The Durango Herald, August 19, 2013
- Pagosa gallery honors printmaking – The Durango Herald, August 7, 2013
- On a quest for laughs – The Durango Herald, June 17, 2013
- Ouray’s Wright Opera House series offers music old and new – The Durango Herald, June 4, 2013
- What would you do? – The Durango Herald, May 13, 2013
- Drawing inspiration – The Durango Herald, April 22, 2013
- Fort Lewis to host Ignacio film festival – The Durango Herald, April 15, 2013
- Get your Irish on – The Durango Herald, December 10, 2012
- ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ on the air – The Durango Herald, December 3, 2012
- Art is everywhere – The Durango Herald, November 22, 2012
- Fort Lewis College art students ready to go pro – The Durango Herald, November 22, 2012
- Durango artists has an eye for men in her latest paintings – The Durango Herald, November 5, 2012
- Catch the acting bug – The Durango Herald, October 18, 2012
- Strong acting drives ‘A Steady Rain’ in Pagosa – The Durango Herald, October 15, 2012
- Leader of the pack – The Durango Herald, September 27, 2012
- Fall can’t stop festival season – The Durango Herald, September 20, 2012
- OLIO offers combination of food and art in Mancos – The Durango Herald, September 10, 2012
- Folks kick up their heels on Reservoir Hill – The Durango Herald, September 3, 2012
- Old bikes, new life – The Durango Herald, August 16, 2012
- Water, water … nowhere? – The Durango Herald, August 13, 2012
- Read more…