Monday, August 31, 2015

Hope Rising

Stand Tall

Dear God,

Please open his heart to hope and life again. Release him from his shame and self-hatred, let him see the powerful and innate courage he holds inside to be willing to change.

Help him release a past he remembers only filled with sharp pain, deep anger and constant disappointment. Open his eyes again to the things he loves and the remarkable man he is and always has been.

Remind him of the mountains and the snow he loves. Help him know how much we all love him and miss him.

You are running this show, God, not me. Open my ears to know what to do and say. Its been a long time. You answered all our prayers.

Dont let me screw this up.....I am shaking with anticipation and insomnia prevails, yet inside I feel the warm light of hope, healing and love for my brother will shine through the darkness. Please let him see it, feel it and take comfort in knowing he is loved and not judged. Let his ears be open and his heart willing and calm....

We all want our brother, son, grandson, nephew, cousin Steve back. Only you can do that. And I have absolutely no doubt you me what to do today, God.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

I Want to Wonder

Dear Scatman,

You are about to begin your quest for your third crown. All day, I have been thinking about what I want to say in this send off letter to you. I could go many ways with it, but I decided to let my heart do the talking (like that is a big shocker) because that is the language you understand. And that is why I am your biggest fan. You hear the hearts of others and you listen to your own. You are a dreamer and an explorer with a touch of nomadic fire that has not been extinguished by naysayers or perceived societal expectations.

But, before I dive in, let it be known:

I don't speak in hashtags. Any time and effort muddling through all the utter bullshit behind the pound sign is "wasting my life." Not even going to pay attention to them.

I will never look at your Instagram, your Flickr, your [insert whatever thing is now cool to use here].

I am going to block you on Facebook so I don't see the posts from this hike. (I will soon FINALLY conquer my on and off again usage by reclaiming my old brain, axing the addiction to "sharing" life and walk away from THAT waste of time once and for all.) But until then....sigh.

I fully recognize that you are a master of clever, daily social media usage and it has brought many sponsorships, connections, opened many doors and has landed you some really cool gear AND bikes, but I honestly do not really care.

Uh, what a bitch. Who would say that?

I say it because I care more about this journey you are about to undertake and learning how it will change you, inspire you and make you the man you want to become. I WANT to wonder what you are experiencing and I WANT to hear it on the phone in your funny Boston accent when you get service along the way. I want to hear the elation, the exhaustion, the confidence, the uncertainty, the highs and the lows in the tone of your human voice. I want to see the expressions on your face when I join you for parts of Colorado, Montana and Canada and hear the words that come to your lips when you become one of the few human beings who have completed the AT, the PCT and the CDT on foot. To pollute something of that magnitude by an inundation of postings, arm's length selfies, clever captions and pictures is a shame.

Scatman, you are one of the most true, loyal and courageous people I have ever met. You are also extremely logical, smart and organized. Follow your wanderlust, bask in the bliss of this adventure, take some chances out there, listen to the stories the cashiers and waitresses will tell you about their hikes, skinny dip in the coldest river in Montana, make snow angels in the San Juans and embrace the pain you will feel at some point everyday.

Then tell me about it in words. Not posts. I see those every day to the point they mean next to nothing anymore....

I want to see your eyes sparkle. I want to hear of your awakenings, your growth, your struggles, your boredom, your triumphs, your pain, and mostly what your heart has to say about it all.

Go get this, Craig. I want to see that third crown sitting on your mess of grey hair at Waterton.

I want you to do on your feet what I did not do on my bike last year. I do not want your heart to have to experience that ache. So, on the days that you are tired and hungry and it rained all night and it just straight fucking blows out there, think about all the stories I want to hear when you finish....and get your skinny butt moving north!

Be safe, strong and slightly crazy on your journey from Crazy Cook to Waterton. This is yours.

-Your biggest fan

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


I have been watching my AZT 750 record being dismantled by Alice Drobna, whom I have never met and only briefly saw just north of Rawlins this past summer on the Tour Divide. She is cruising through my very favorite part of Arizona right now. She looks to be camped in Washington Park and will be pushing up to the Mogollon Rim tomorrow. Word is the Highline Trail is in much better shape, but that doesn't matter. Every mile of the Arizona Trail is tough. Damn tough.

And, oh how I am smiling.

Smiling to see this Oregon girl getting it done.

Smiling because as I watch her dot move, I can see every tree, turn, rock and viewpoint she is passing. These memories I can recall in vivid and precise detail. I remember my thoughts, the smells, the sounds. the aches, the hunger and the true joy and peace I felt everyday no matter how hard it was.

Smiling because I will never have to wonder or talk about or use anyone else's experience to guess what it would be like.

Smiling at the memory of the lifelong friends I met in the miles she just covered today and the miles she is going to cover tomorrow.

Smiling because I now have another bikepacking hero besides Jefe.

Go, Alice, Go. Get up the Rim!!

Saturday, March 7, 2015


Everyday here gives me a better perspective on the word "Meh...". I feel so lucky and so gracious to breathe this air, be a part of these mountains and, in conversation, never have to silently be screaming this:

Today's time on the Venge helped me realize how spoiled (gracious) to have this as a backyard:


So, today, the spectacular sunshine, coupled with a pedal through these kings that towered above me, elicited a tongue-in-cheek redefinition of "meh."

                                                    Anything that is non-San Juan mountains.

For today anyway...... *Grin*

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Silverton Whiteout 2015


Used loosely, the term describes the course for the inagural Silverton Whiteout Fatbike Race. I navigated my way over Coal Bank and Molas Pass about three weeks ago on a Thursday afternoon to scout the course. It was about 1pm or so, 25F and covered with the white stuff we (now) only hear about falling from the sky in the eastern part of the country.

Yes, our winter has been stolen. Please return it. Please?

Anyhow, the first preride included the ski area climb and some sketchball (and inherently fun) singletrack through the trees. The course had to be changed for the race, but a fun eleven mile loop was concocted on the remaining snow and six of us made the trip to one of my top 5 favorite towns in Colorado. Team Epic Steel and The Front Range Fattys both turned in fourth place finishes and a bunch of smiles and jokes.

No big tributes or deep meaning in this race. It kind of felt like playing outside during recess at school with an awesome bunch of friends. Yeah. That's pretty much the vibe in this part of the world.

One of the preride days....

The BPR Founding Fathers..MAD RESPECT for the plaid and the Ti...and yes, that case went to the top of Shrine Hill....

Shrine Hill three weeks ago...
Pre launch.... (photo credit due here and a few others)
Front Range Fatty CEO's

Yep. Serious business. Can they race without a USAC license and a hundred hashtags??
Four friends forged some Epic Steel

Some epic faces.... 
And an Epic Smile for ten hours...
A good one to add to your calendar for 2016.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Do Not Wonder What If. Be the One Who is Not Scared.


Fear Kills

Be the dreamer and not the critical cynic. Wake Up. Live YOUR life and listen to YOUR heart.

Just for 2015:

It is hereby ok to feel inspired and moved by powerful ideas and words. You dont have to reason them away. Put on your grey sweat pants, run to the top of the stairs and punch the air.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Rogue Panda

You need a framebag. 

To carry your groceries home.

To haul your beer to the bonfire.

So it can bulge with burritos when you leave Silverton/Buena Vista. Because you will inevitably decide to do the CTR someday...(cough, cough, ahem.....MB)

To empty all over the living room floor as you stress over whether or not to take 3 bandaids or 4 on the TD.

To mail home when you get to the South Rim.

To look really cool.

To make people wonder what the hell people haul around on bikes.

To haul the bottle, not just the flask.

To load with rocks and send your significant other uphill to the store.

To support the little guy from Rogue Panda

Unique, simple and intelligent. I used his framebag and handlebar bag last summer. Nick is very clever and pays close attention to detail. Very small additions/adjustments set his bags apart in the bikepacking world and simplicity and affordability for those who want to haul groceries and beer. 

Everyone has their own personal "what works for me" preferences. The bags I used: they worked. Well. I used another very well-known brand of seatbag that, honestly, I felt like burning at one of my bivvy spots. Capacity sucked. design made it a pain to access things quickly and it didn't compress very well. It was a gift from a dear friend, for which I am very gracious, but my next seatbag will be Rogue Panda made.

He has a great deal on framebags going. Send him a picture of your bike. It arrives in the mail and it fits perfectly. 

You need a framebag.

Custom framebag for my full suspension used on the 2014 AZT 750.
Handlebar bag that took a ride to Canada from Mexico this summer

I like simple and intelligent. I like things that can withstand the abuse of a long journey or the weight of a case of beer headed to the woods. I like giving my money to the little guy. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Jill. Explained.

For all those who just sit back and scratch their heads and wonder what the hell I am thinking/doing/saying/feeling and what could possibly be coming next. For those who share my DNA. For those who love me, hate me, judge me, criticize me, support me, gain inspiration from me, get a good laugh out of me, resent me or are generally indifferent and bored by me. For those who have dated me or befriended me with or without success. For those who have struggled to or truly do understand me.

I think, possibly,  after three decades, I may have finally opened the cereal box containing the magical decoder ring to myself:

For those who like pictures:

"Blame it or praise it, there is no denying the wild horse in us"
                                                                            -Virginia Woolf

For those who like words:

I am stunned that someone was able to pull the words (that I have been searching for and unable to say) directly out of my soul and put them in print. I aspire to write like this.

Tender of Heart and Wild of Spirit

"I believe that to feel so intensely is, paradoxically, what sets us free. To experience the ecstatic joys and the bitter lows and everything in between is to live from the heart."
                                                                                                                 -Zoe Quiney

Head itchy?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Day One of the Rest and the Best of My Life

January 2, 2015.

These mountains are again my home.

I have grown tired of floudering around wondering where home is (Denver? Missoula?Eugene?Flagstaff?).

For 26 months and 2 days, the time since I ceased being a resident, I have asked myself so many times which place felt right. Yeah....I never could come up with a satisfying answer. I tried to force each place feel like home. I became one helluva actor. I thought I could love each of these places, but I never was able to shake that empty, barren, unfulfilled feeling.

Sometimes this feeling came to me in a whisper and sometimes it grasped my throat and slammed me up against the wall. I closed my eyes and silently longed for something more. Trying to explain this longing to people close to me was a mixed bag of results. Some truly identified and conversations would flow into the wee hours of the morning. Some identified but are far too scared to change what they have grown into believing or have been told is "comfortable." They actually had more interest in their phone/the weather/[fill in the blank]. My sense of longing increased exponentially after these trainwreck attempts. Some had already found their home and had satiated that deep longing. These conversations fostered hope for my own journey within my soul.

But throughout this time the question I kept asking myself was why I ever left? I came up with many excuses and reasons but they all boiled down to one word:


And we all know what happened to FEAR on New Years Eve:

I asked myself on the last day of 2014:

Why do I ride my bike without fear but fear being in a place where jobs and housing are not abundant?

Why do I fear living in a small town where people are happy and healthy and socially and intellectually engaging?

Why do I fear a place whose mountains bring light into my eyes and soul?

I am not scared to bite off more than I can chew, go big and fall flat on my face/ass on two wheels or two feet or four hooves, so why do I let fear jumble my thoughts and reasoning and send me on a wild search for a home? Especially since my heart knew where home was the first time I drove into the San Juan and La Plata mountains 10 years ago.

I suppose the answers to those questions are an entanglement of relationships, jobs, money, goals, perceived lifestyles, houses, and blah, blah, blah.

Perhaps the best answer came from my brother, Brian. We sat down with a fifth of Crown one rainy night and talked until 4am when I was home in Oregon just before Christmas. He is not a phone talker or a texter and the last ten years have been quick, time-limited phone calls and visits. He is not eloquent with words about emotions and feelings, but he is true, genuine and deep. He is honest and compassionate with his actions, He is also intimidatingly intelligent and talented. If you need it fixed or figured out, he is going to be the one who will do it. He has the heart of a child that is quite refreshing. He gets giddy over Christmas lights and will ramble on about them like I do my bike. He National-Lampooned 20 acres with lights, powered largely by a windmill and a solar panel. And I think my best Christmas gift ever was watching him giggle as he turned them on and off with his cell phone from the couch.

His answer was this:

"You need to master the art of not giving a fuck. Do what you need to do."

And it is that simple. My heart tells me what I need to do. Somehow, in a whirlwind of expectations, worries, stressors, goals reached and unreached, failed relationships, money, traffic, exhaustion, lack of intellectual challenges and a hundred other pieces of debris from this storm, my ears grew deaf to the voice of my heart. Coupled with my horrible, destructive habit of expecting instead of accepting, I lost my smile and my silliness.

I took a picture of myself in the mirror at my low point, just before the 4am Crown-induced sibling solving of all the world's problems:

This is the fake smile of stress, exhaustion and too much "giving a fuck."

Now compare it to my year in Durango:

That smile is real. That silliness is envigorating and contagious. That is Jill.

So is Durango the answer to everything?


Durango is home.

My home.

And the people with whom I am meant to chase down dreams, adventures and all of the beauty waiting to be discovered in these mountains already live here or will find their way here someday. Because this is where Jill lives and who Jill is. The old woman in the mirror is someone I never want to look at again.

Friday, January 2, 2015

One Last Letter...

Hey Mom,

I must tell you of my first day in this strange, new place. By the way, where are you?

I figured you were out riding your bike so when a bearded guy with kinda long hair carrying chest waders and a shotgun let the tailgate down on the truck, I jumped up into the bed and into the porta-kennel. The morning was cold and foggy but my legs are strong and young again. I shook with excitement as I saw him load the decoys.

I scratched the bottom of the kennel with excitement and spun around a couple of times as he opened the door but I waited for the command to release. The power in my back legs shot the kennel backwards as I jumped out of the truck. My nose led me in circles and I never felt fatigue or fell down. My old mossy oak neoprene vest fit around my shoulders and belly and all the lipomas were gone.

I sat as tall and straight like you told me and I could see all the ducks circle above. I couldn't help but wiggle because soon I was going to get to swim out and bring them back. But I held steady like you taught me. You would have been proud too, as I left all the decoys alone when he was setting them out.

Boom! Boom! I heard the gun and saw two mallards fall into Lake Lowell. But I waited like you taught me. I wanted to do my best. I heard my name and then did my best cannonball into the water. I brought them both back with only a little help with hand signals on the second one that got trapped in the bushes. I remembered the wagon wheel drill when he signaled I turned to the left on a left-hand back. (Instead of to the right. That was always hard for me, but I got it!)

We hunted all day, Mom, and I didn't lose any birds. I love bringing birds back. I held on softly and sat quietly at his left knee until he asked for them. I was careful not to put toothmarks in the ducks.

I loved my day. I get to go again tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next day.....all I want. I can go all day and not get tired, All I think about is getting those ducks. I love it here. My legs work again and they are strong. Nothing hurts and I never get tired or thirsty. I feel like I am four years old.

I had the best steak dinner ever and curled up on the couch in front of the fireplace where he pet my ears until I fell asleep.

I wonder when you and I get to go hunting again? The bearded man said in about 70 years. So I will see you then. I will know where all the birds are and I will practice all the things I know to do so I can bring back all the ducks for you someday. I only really care about making you proud by bringing back ducks.

I miss you here, but I am happy and young again and I get to go hunting everyday. Everyday. Mom.
Cool, huh?

I love you,


Jesus is a lot better shot than you, so use the next 70 years to practice up and I will be waiting by the fire on the couch!


APRIL 30, 2001-JANUARY 1, 2015

Your soul is full of nothing but love and your heart knows nothing but loyalty and kindness...You never had to know pain. I love you and you will always be with me on every 14er, duck hunt, hike, ride and nap in the grass until I see you again......Be good, little girl.