Monthly Archives: March 2012

Landscape: Homestake Peak

I’ve got a new favorite peak here in Colorado: Homestake Peak. Elevation: 13,209 feet. I gawked at it a bunch this summer as I drove up and down Highway 24 between Minturn and Leadville. It’s visible on the west side of Hwy 24 just a bit south of the Tennessee Pass summit. I like the look of a nice, pyramid peak. And this one has a long, gradual ridge leading to its summit.

I finally got to get closer to Homestake Peak on my recent visit to the 10th Mountain Hut, but we only stayed in the hut for a night and didn’t get out for a long ski day. The entire ski-skin in to the hut, we faced Homestake, and I could see it in my shoulder every time I looked behind me on our ski out (photo above, at right).

The ski conditions have been sketchy at best this season, but I’d still like to get out before the spring’s over, ski up the east ridge, and see what the world looks like from the top.

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Literature: Reading for Pleasure

“The man who hasn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” –Mark Twain

I’ve been in Norman, Oklahoma for the past few days talking about books and adventure at a high school of 2,400 students. Some of these students–about 150 of them–are lucky enough to take an elective class called “Reading for Pleasure.” When I first heard about it, I wondered if there was any other kind of reading. I mean–I thought all reading was for pleasure! Reading for Pain? Sounds horrible. But then I remembered back to those days of assigned reading. Those days when I had to read because someone was telling me what to read. And even now–those articles I have to read for meetings, or whatever. Yes–there is something other than reading for pleasure. I must have forgotten about it after reading a few good books of my own choosing.

The “Reading for Pleasure” students get to walk into a classroom each day and read what they want to read, at their own pace. I’m jealous. They give presentations about their books at the end of the semester, but most of the time, they just get to read. I talked to the teacher who designed this course and promotes reading for pleasure. Her room was absolutely full of books, and I asked her what she’d recommend for young adult readers. She gave me a long list and another handout including titles and authors high school students picked as their favorites. I’ll name a few of them here; many of them are either National Book Award Winners or winners of the Prinz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.

Reading for pleasure recommendations, from the “Reading for Pleasure” guru at Norman North High School:

Adventure:
Hurricane Song, Paul Volponi
Peak, Roland Smith
Touching Spirit Bear, Ben Mikaelsen

Humor:
Carter Finally Gets It, Brent Crawford
Son of the Mob, Gordon Korman
Spanking Shakespeare, Jake Wizner

Just Good Books:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Mary Pearson
If I Stay, Gayle Forman
Looking for Alaska, John Green
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
Runner, Carl Deuker
The Tiger’s Wife, Téa Obreht
Wish You Were Dead, Todd Strasser

Photo credit: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Life: Hut Trip–10th Mountain Division Hut

Following the blue diamonds to any one of Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division Huts is a treat. I’ve only been on one hut trip so far this winter–to the hut that’s actually named… the 10th Mountain Division Hut. The trailhead for this hut is north of Leadville on Highway 24, off a side road midway between Leadville and Ski Cooper. The approach to this hut starts out totally flat. It weaves through a marshy area, and then the incline ramps up slightly. The gradual incline remains steady through a nice meadow, and then the last little bit qualifies as the only real climb. I went for an overnight trip with a fantastic group of people, and I’ve found out on other hut trips that, despite the always-spectacular surroundings, it’s those on the trip who make it memorable.

In perfectly sunny conditions, we shoveled off the deck and went inside to check out the interior.

At the 10th Mountain Division Hut, we had to get two fires started. The wood stove in the large living room area became the one we all gathered around in the evening, telling stories, laughing, playing cards.

And the stove in the kitchen was the one we gathered around for mealtime bonding. We hauled in a ton of food and good drinks, so nobody on this trip went hungry.

The sleeping quarters were cozy, hostel-type accommodations. We all spread out our sleeping bags to claim our spaces.

And, seriously? Even the outhouse at this place was cute. If it weren’t an outhouse, I would have wanted to stay here and live in this cool little structure!

The weather remained clear all night, and the next morning we had a great view of our surroundings, including the lovely Homestake Peak.

With snow conditions in such a sorry state, we didn’t go off on any ski ventures aside from a short exploratory skin-about before dinner. But our ski out was nearly as leisurely as our ski in, and we all left feeling refreshed from the cold, mountain air.