Talking Wild with Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Looking Down at Crater Lake During Her Trek on the PCT

Cheryl Looking Down at Crater Lake During Her Trek on the PCT

I consider a movie to be good when I find myself thinking about it the next day. My barometer is the same for a book although with most good reads I find myself thinking about them while I’m reading them as well as in the days or weeks after I finish them. That’s been the case with Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed, a superbly crafted memoir that dazzles your senses every step of the way. Her story moved me so much that I plan to read it again, something I never do. Although why wouldn’t I? From beginning to end, I was gripped by this powerful tale of transformation, this raw account of one woman’s life-changing journey both literally and figuratively. Plus, as I learned in Wild, Cheryl often reads books more than once, so I’m eager to crack hers second time around.

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Embracing Colorado Wilderness with Over the Hill Outfitters

The Great Colorado Outdoors:  Where Life is Best Viewed from a Horse

The Great Colorado Outdoors: Where Life is Best Experienced from a Horse

Spring has finally sprung—full-on—here in Colorado and despite the fact that it snowed about ten days ago, this week the thermometer has been registering summertime temps. Roadways over the highest mountain passes are being plowed for passage and outfitters of all sorts are preparing for the influx of summer visitors. There’s still some snow to be cleared from the steep mountain trails, however, with the warmth of our southwestern Colorado sun, all our glorious wilderness will soon be open to locals and vacationers alike.

My fellow ski instructor buddies have taken up their summer posts as guides, landscapers or in my case, as a full-time writer, to name a few. Mother nature and all of us fortunate enough to live in this beautiful country are transitioning nicely into summer. At the end of ski season, I sat down with Dennis Huis, a top ski instructor at Telluride Ski & Snowboard School, to hear about his flip side, the job he’s been doing every summer for about as long as he’s been in ski school world.

Dennis talks about his work as a guide on pack trips with Over the Hill Outfitters in Durango, Colorado in my Travel Fun interview below. Click on the play button  to listen to what he has to say about life on the trail. People from all over the world learn about the true definition of “getting away from it all” on these five-day horse trips into the Weminuche Wilderness, the largest wilderness area in Colorado which encompasses a significant part of the rugged San Juan Mountains, some of the most spectacular peaks in the United States.

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America the Beautiful and Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

In honor of Election Day, I thought I’d write about what’s really great about America—aside from our great democratic process. I could list a lot, but here I’d like to report on our breathtaking scenery, our magnificent vistas. There’s so much of it from sea to shining sea and most definitely here in the Rocky Mountain West. It was indeed from atop Pikes Peak, the 14,115-foot mountain in Colorado’s Front Range, just ten miles from Colorado Springs, that thirty-six-year-old English professor Katherine Lee Bates found inspiration for the poem “Pikes Peak” in 1893. This work would eventually be modified a few times over to become “America the Beautiful,” our National Hymn.

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Bike Race Spectating, Colorado Touring, Book Promoting, Travel Adventures Galore Oh My

Taking a Break from Book Promoting Along the Barriers at the Vail Time Trial of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Taking a Break from Book Promoting Along the Barriers at the Vail Time Trial of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge

“Have you decided what you’d like to order?” the server of Spencer’s, the signature restaurant of Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge, asked me.

“I’ll have the snake,” I said.

When he looked at me in a bewildered manner, I realized my words weren’t matching my thoughts and then I corrected my order. “Oh, I meant to say steak.  Yes, steak. I’m sorry, I’m just so weary.”

“No problem,” he replied and seemingly just minutes later I was served one of the most succulent steaks ever. I gobbled it down along with a heap of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, fresh green beans and a big gulp of red wine. I felt exhausted and much in need of sustenance and this unassuming restaurant delivered.

My Travel Memoir/Love Story that Features France and Highlights Colorado

My Travel Memoir/Love Story that Features France and Highlights Colorado

I had been on the road a few days by the time I reached Breckenridge and realized that following a major sporting event, especially one that changes locales daily required a lot of hustling about, but then adding a book promo tour to it was like doubling town. I had been busy much of the summer promoting my new book, A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France, although I saved the biggest push for the end when I’d scheduled a number of events and publicity opportunities in conjunction with the USA Pro Challenge, a major bike race which was marking its third year in Colorado. It seemed like a good fit, so why not give it a go? My core audience seems to be made up of outdoor enthusiasts and discriminating travelers, just the kind of people you find showing up for this big cycling event, especially in Aspen, Beaver Creek and Vail.

I set out in Misty, my old 1993 Subaru with over 250,000 miles to her credit, late Sunday, August 18, for Redstone, Colorado, a delightful little mountain town just under an hour from Aspen. From Telluride, the drive ranks as one of the finest in Colorado, punctuated by bucolic farmland scenery in and around Paonia and dramatic mountain vistas up and over McClure Pass. I arrived at the warm and cozy Redstone Inn to find its bar and restaurant bustling with Sunday evening diners. more »

Lovely Leadville

Leadville, Colorado

Leadville, Colorado

Biking Fun In and Around Leadville

Biking Fun In and Around Leadville

Delaware Hotel:  The Grande Dame of Leadville

Delaware Hotel: The Grande Dame of Leadville

While I’m enjoying some time with my parents in the Adirondacks, I’ve been marveling at the Facebook posts from friends and contacts in Colorado—an avalanche of images documenting the recent snowstorm across the Rockies. The first big snow always creates a stir, mostly since this indicates that ski season is only a handful of storms away.

From my viewpoint here in upstate New York alongside a glorious lake that I took a dip in just the other day (not intentionally mind you, but that’s another story), I shiver at the idea of snow. Yet when I think twice, the thought of it does excite me—even from afar—mostly because I do love to ski and also because there’s nothing like a crisp, white snowfall to top off an autumnal scene. The trees have barely begun to change in Colorado, so these sugar-coated panoramas will only intensify within the upcoming weeks.

To me, fall, a terrific season for hiking, biking and touring, may best be savored in a quaint town steeped in history, surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty. This describes a good number of destinations in Colorado, however, here I’m focusing on Leadville, an old mountain town I visited last summer and enjoyed immensely.

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Read and Listen to What I Say About A Tour of the Heart

A Tour of the Heart book cover

A Tour of the Heart book cover

I’ve been pounding the pavement this past week, promoting my book, A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France. It’s been great getting out there chatting with people at promotions I’ve done in conjunction with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge—it’s always nice to connect with like minded people that enjoy to read. The beautiful cover of this travel memoir/love story draws people in right away and then I take it from there. I tell some people a lot about my book; others just a little—whatever it takes for them to determine if this is a read for them. I’ve done readings, signings and press interviews and have even distributed flyers and postcards the old fashioned way. To me, it has all been important and best of all, it has afforded me the opportunity to chat with people that love cycling, France, Colorado, food and wine, adventure, romance and other components of my story.

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The Bike Culture of Crested Butte

ski hill

Sailing Down the Ski Hill in Crested Butte

Fat tires, skinny tires, town cruisers, sleek road bikes, bouncy mountain bikes—you name it, everywhere you turn in this freewheeling mountain town in the summer, you see a cyclist, a bike, a bike part or a bike path popping into view. I’ve been to many mountain towns across the Rockies, yet never have I observed so many bike doings as here in Crested Butte, Colorado. A bike mecca for sure, perhaps largely due to its glorious network of trails (many single track) and the fact that mountain biking took off here in the 1970s after some locals began retrofitting old Schwinns with gears and took to the hills. Since then, the bike culture has done nothing but grow to the point that people of all ages and ability levels can’t help joining in on the fun when they land in this stunning mountain town.

This morning I went out for a little power hike on the ski mountain. Did I feel out of place not being on two wheels? Not at all. Instead, I enjoyed hoofing about at my own pace and observing the biking activities both up close and from afar. From the bike wash station to the easy bike loading setup at the gondola, I realized Crested Butte is a mountain resort destination that takes cycling seriously. I meandered up my own single track that accommodated two-way hikers and uphill bikers, a sinuous path bordered by fields of wildflowers, where I could take in the full expanse of CB’s alpine setting and still boost my heart rate and break a little sweat.

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More Mountainfilm 2013 Highlights: High & Hallowed and Running Blind

High & Hallowed:  Everest 1963

High & Hallowed: Everest 1963

Mountaineering and remarkable physical achievements have been a big part of  Mountainfilm, a world renowned festival in Telluride, Colorado, since its origin in 1979. In addition to watching films that raise social awareness, I love taking in adventure films that thrill and inspire me on many levels. This year was no different and the two that stood out for me the most were “High & Hallowed:  Everest 1963” and “Running Blind,” both of which made their world premiere at the festival.

High & Hallowed,” a visually stunning film, juxtaposes the first American summiting of Mt. Everest in 1963 with a recent attempt. Filmmakers David Morton and Jake Norton skillfully tell the story of Everest past and present by marrying old footage with new. It’s also the tale of the West Ridge route, an Everest ascent that has only been achieved once back in 1963 by Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld, two members of the original American team. Jim Whittaker was the first to plant the American flag on Everest on the already then-established South Col route, yet even more remarkably, Hornbein and Unsoeld followed up on the same expedition with the West Ridge ascent. Some consider this to have been an even more astounding feat than putting a man on the moon; all acknowledge this as having been one of the most daring climbs in history. And it hasn’t been successfully repeated since.

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    This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Maribeth Clemente. This blog sometimes accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content. The owner of this blog is sometimes compensated to provide opinion on products, services, Web sites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for certain posts or advertisements, she always gives her honest opinions, findings, beliefs or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger's own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.
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