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Forking My Life

Every mountaineer, in graduating from a novice to an adept, must master the art of routefinding. Not every path leads to the summit. Often many paths will, though each comes with its own unique challenges and experiences. Finding the best way—and best can be subjective—requires exploration, flexibility and the willingness to backtrack in order to ultimately progress.

A career is like climbing a mountain. There are infinite trails that lead to the summit of retirement, an overlapping web with many twists, turns and junctions. What to do, then, when the track you’re following loses its luster? When you start thinking back to a decision, years ago, that led you to take the right fork when now you’re more interested in the left?

I don’t want this to sound like I have any regrets. I don’t. With a rare exception, I’ve absolutely loved every job I’ve ever held. I wouldn’t change a damn thing about my career to this point, which somehow already spans 12 years since graduating college. (Don’t blink, kids.) I got to experience a real thriving daily newspaper newsroom before they were gutted throughout the 2010s. I created Jeffco Open Space’s digital marketing suite from scratch—the Panorama monthly e-newsletter was my baby, and it’s still in use today with many of the original elements. I helped “make the Colorado Mountain Club cool again” as one of its first marketing hires, rebranding the outdoor nonprofit to cater to younger demographics. When I joined in 2013 the CMC’s Trailblazers section for young adults had only a handful of active members; today a Trailblazers happy hour can fill an entire brewery. 

I had the privilege of living in Durango (*swoon*) for a year as social media manager for Zuke’s dog treats, where I grew the Instagram following from 22,000 to 41,000 and immersed myself in a wonderful community of adventure dogs and their equally rad owners. In my first director-level gig as digital marketing director for Fire & Flavor grilling products, under my direction the company’s e-commerce sales exploded from $53,000 in 2017 to $270,000 in 2018. Finally, when I returned to the Colorado Mountain Club as publisher of CMC Press, I saved the struggling guidebook department from financial ruin and doubled year-over-year Q1 book sales (in the middle of a pandemic). All along the way I kept up with a freelance writing side-hustle, earning bylines in 5280 magazine, Outside and more.

None of this is meant to sound braggy—my intent was to show that I was good at what I did and mostly happy doing it. I’m choosing a new path not because I hit a dead end or found myself with a dearth of future options. I’m going a different way simply because my interests and goals have changed.

As of December 2020, I’ve resigned from CMC Press and enrolled in a software engineering bootcamp through Flatiron School. I’m beyond excited to begin the next phase of my career as a developer. After stints in the declining industries of print journalism and publishing, I struggle to put into words how refreshing it is to enter a field that’s doing the exact opposite. Tech, especially along the Front Range, has been exploding for a while now, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

This isn’t entirely out of left field for those who’ve known me a long time. I grew up as a PC gamer and partially built my own rig as a teenager. I taught myself basic HTML in middle school to create a personal website before platforms like WordPress existed. In college, I was pretty evenly torn between a major in English or Computer Science. I ended up going with English mostly because I figured out I could get a 4.0 if instructors just let me write papers all the time. Not the best decision long-term, but again, one that I wouldn’t change, even with the benefit of hindsight.

I personally know four people who have graduated from coding bootcamps in the last five years. I talked with each of them, either over lunch or text, before committing to my decision. The overwhelming takeaway? All four wished they’d done it sooner. They’re thriving in roles that they love, with endless possibilities for advancement. One went as far as calling it the best decision he’s ever made. 

Flatiron School’s published and audited graduate surveys also assuaged my fears. They show a 93% job placement rate, with most new graduates getting hired within two months. I won’t lie—the average entry-level starting salary of $75,000 factored into the equation, too. That’s more than I’ve made in any role to date, including the director-level positions.

(ASIDE: The outdoor industry faces a significant challenge in coming years as the voices shouting for fair and competitive wages grow louder. But, that’s a blog post for another time. Pay your people.)

I’m now nearing the end of my second week as a Flatiron School student. The month between turning in my resignation and starting the bootcamp was admittedly full of anxiety and apprehension. Had I made the right decision, for the right reasons? I was leaving a career at which I demonstrably excelled—would I even be good at programming? As a creative writer at heart, I worried if my brain was capable of the complex math-like logic required to code.

Turns out, all that self-doubt was for nothing. By the end of the third day, I was bursting with excitement about the road ahead. The people in my cohort are inspiring and amazing. The instructors are engaging, brilliant and helpful. The structure of the program seems to fit my learning style perfectly, with teacher-led lessons on specific topics combined with self-paced study. It’s learning à la carte. Most importantly, the subject matter is even more interesting than I’d hoped. I find myself thinking and dreaming in code, and I get a surge of adrenaline whenever I open a new lab to try to solve. So far, it’s work that doesn’t feel much like work. That’s the dream, right?

I’m sure there will be many downturns on the emotional rollercoaster over the next four months, but I know that if I keep my nose to the grindstone I’ll graduate in April with a wealth of new career possibilities and significantly elevated earning potential. My path in journalism, marketing and publishing was fulfilling in part because of how winding it was—there’s a tangible power in keeping an open mind, learning new skills and exploring unique challenges. I honestly hope it’s the same in tech. 

Who knows where this new trail will lead? Will I focus on apps, websites or other software? Will I work in aerospace or renewable energy or wildlife conservation? Create my own company? Will I return to the CMC and finally update cmc.org so that it no longer looks and functions like it’s stuck in 1997? I hope I have the chance to do any and all of those things. For now, I’m just glad bootcamps like Flatiron School exist to afford mid-career changers like me such wide-ranging opportunities. 

Finally, I have to acknowledge a bit of privilege. None of this would be possible without the support of my wife, Liz, who graciously agreed to suffer through 4-6 months as a single-income household while I’m in school. More than financial aid, just knowing I have an enthusiastic, loving, supportive cheerleader in my corner makes everything easier. She’s my constant amidst swirling change. When I come out on the other side of this program, it will mean a better life for both of us. I can’t wait to make it worth her while.

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The Winter 14ers “Game”: 2018-19 Kickoff

It happens every week during the shoulder seasons on 14ers-related websites and social media groups. Some poor, unsuspecting soul will ask for beta on a winter 14er climb coming up in November or share a glory shot from their claimed winter 14er summit in April. They barely have a chance to refresh their page before the legions of frosty veterans are vying to see who can scream “BUT IT’S NOT REALLY WINTER” the loudest.

With calendar winter beginning today, Friday, Dec. 21, it’s the perfect time to give a brief rundown of what exactly counts as a winter 14er, strictly speaking, and why anyone even cares.

First, the basics. The window used by most mountaineers who pursue winter 14er summits begins on the winter solstice in mid-December and ends on the spring equinox in mid-March. The exact day and time of these events varies from year to year. For 2018-2019, calendar winter will run from 3:23 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21 until 3:58 p.m. Wednesday, March 20.

If you want to check that little box on your 14ers.com peak list that says Calendar Winter Ascent, you shouldn’t leave your vehicle for a hike until one minute after the winter solstice, and you should return to your vehicle at least one minute before the spring equinox. If you climb Mt. Elbert on March 20, but get back to your car at 4 p.m., some would argue it doesn’t count. You can also only drive as far as your on-highway vehicle will take you. The winter trailhead for many peaks is a moving target, depending on road closures due to snowfall and other factors such as mining operations. Get as close to the summer trailhead as your lifted Toyota Tacoma legally allows, but ATVs and snowmobiles are considered cheating.

Why? Because the first couple guys who summited all the 14ers in winter said so.

Though Carl Blaurock and Bill Ervin became the world’s first 14er finishers way back in 1923, it wasn’t until 1992 that Tom Mereness accomplished the same feat within the confines of calendar winter. His contemporary Jim Bock followed in 1997, and together they laid the groundwork for the winter 14er list. Obviously anyone is free to climb in whatever style they choose — peakbagging is an intensely personal pursuit — but the parameters they set are widely accepted in the Colorado hiking community.

Aron Ralston (yes, that Aron Ralston, of 127 Hours fame) upped the ante in 2005, when he completed the original list of 58 winter 14ers and added North Massive as a 59th summit. Ralston also climbed every peak solo, an almost incomprehensible feat of stamina. The decision behind counting North Massive, and why the answer to “how many 14ers are there in Colorado?” can range from 53 to 72, is a discussion for another day. The important factor here is that subsequent winter climbers have generally followed Ralston’s precedent, and the most common winter 14er list now includes 59 peaks.

No rules exist against “trench poaching,” which refers to the act of targeting peaks that were recently attempted by other climbers. Utilizing an existing snowshoe trench or ski track requires only a fraction of the effort of breaking your own trail. Making a habit of trench poaching, however, is a surefire way to earn a reputation within the small faction of dedicated winter mountaineers.

In recent years, that fringe community is growing precipitously. This is due to several factors: Colorado’s population growth, an increasing nationwide interest in outdoor recreation, a trend of dry winters, and information sharing on websites and social media. (This includes jerks like me with blogs like this.) The 2011(ish) addition of a 14ers.com tracking tool for Calendar Winter Ascents, known colloquially as “snowflakes” because of the badge that displays on your user profile, also coincided with the well-publicized journey of the fourth winter 14er finisher, Steve Gladbach. (If you haven’t read Steve’s canon of trip reports and forum posts, set aside half a day over the upcoming holiday weekend and treat yourself. He is sorely missed.)

The result is that, as of the end of the 2017-18 season, approximately 14 men and one woman have completed the winter 14er list. This includes Andrew Hamilton, who became the first to summit all 59 in a single season last year. (He included North Massive as an homage to those who came before, but stated his public belief that the list of 58 is best.) Another four people are within striking distance of finishing this year, and at least eight others are more than halfway done.

That’s it. Those are the guidelines. Do you have to follow them? No, not really. Some people use meteorological winter instead of calendar winter as their window, which is December 1 through March 1. Others count anything that has winter conditions (read: snow, cold and wind) as a winter summit, regardless of date. Many of the rules laid out above are hotly debated. It’s up to each individual to define their own goals and ethics. But, the fact stands that if you want to join the exclusive club established by Mereness, Bock, Ralston and Gladbach, you have to play by their rules.

Source 1 (Steve Gladbach)

Source 2 (Steve Gladbach)

Source 3 (14ers.com/Andrew Hamilton)

Related Content

5 Winter 14ers for Beginners

10 Things You Need to Know for Hiking in the Snow

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5 Winter 14ers for Beginners

Often the most difficult aspect of committing to a big endeavor, such as climbing a 14,000-foot mountain in winter, is knowing where to start. It’s a common misconception for summer hikers that winter is off limits, a no-man’s-land of arctic temperatures, sheer ice faces and hourly avalanches. That’s simply not true. I previously wrote a basic overview for exploring the alpine in the so-called offseason, and now I’ll attempt to answer another oft-repeated question: Which peak(s) to try first?

As a disclaimer, none of these routes offer guaranteed safety. It’s imperative for anyone venturing into the winter backcountry to have at least a basic understanding and awareness of avalanche terrain. The stakes are also exponentially higher. More care needs to be given to gear selection, route knowledge, emergency preparedness and other safety precautions. A forced night out in the summer could be uncomfortable. A forced night out in the winter could be fatal.

I chose the following five mountains based on access, minimal avalanche danger, ease of routefinding and general popularity. Many others are doable as relatively safe winter daytrips. These are simply the lowest-hanging fruit.

IMG_5821

1. Quandary Peak

Winter Trailhead: Quandary (same as summer)
Winter Route: East Ridge (same as summer)
Winter Mileage: 7 miles
Winter Elevation Gain: 3,500’

When asked what’s the easiest 14er to attempt in the summer, an argument could be made for several different mountains. When the same question is asked for the winter months, there really is only one best answer. It’s Quandary Peak.

Quandary’s standard trailhead is right off Highway 9, which is consistently plowed. No extra effort is needed to reach the summer starting point. It’s also the most popular winter 14er, meaning there likely will be an established snow trench unless you’re climbing immediately after a major storm. Snowshoes are still recommended, but the need to break your own trail is rare. Staying on the ridge nearly negates avalanche danger except in extreme conditions, though venturing out onto the East Face can put you in harm’s way.

In short, if you hug the ridgeline, carry a bit of extra gear, have a good forecast, enjoy minor suffering and go in moderate or better avalanche conditions, Quandary isn’t much more challenging in winter than summer.

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2. Mt. Bierstadt

Winter Trailhead: Roughly 1.75 miles below Guanella Pass at the Guanella Pass Campground (Georgetown side)
Winter Route: West Slopes (same as summer)
Winter Mileage: 10.5 miles
Winter Elevation Gain: 3,800’

The only thing more difficult about Mt. Bierstadt in the winter is about three miles of road walking. The west-facing slopes harboring the summer route are often blown clear by intense winter winds, with lengthy segments of the trail exposed above treeline. Some avalanche danger is possible during part of the approach up the road, as well as while gaining the upper shoulder at around 12,000 feet. In most conditions, a safe line is apparent.

Many people try to save themselves a couple hundred feet of elevation gain by leaving the road early and making a beeline for Bierstadt without visiting the summit of Guanella Pass. I generally advise against this, as it takes you through a soul-sucking patch of willows. In my experience, it’s easier to stick to the road and suck up the minimal extra gain.

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3. Mt. Elbert

Winter Trailhead: South Mt. Elbert
Winter Route: East Ridge
Winter Mileage: 12.5 miles
Winter Elevation Gain: 4,900’

See the other side of famous Mt. Elbert. The hardest route statistically on this list also comes with perhaps the lowest avalanche danger. Mt. Elbert’s broad and gentle East Ridge seldom gets steep enough to allow a slide. Like many winter routes, it starts with a two-mile stroll along a closed 4WD road before joining the South Mount Elbert Trail. In some seasons, especially early on, all or part of this road can be driven.

Prepare your mind for the upper portions of this hike. It includes several heartbreaking false summits. Combined with the incessant wind that almost always berates Colorado’s highest peak in the winter, this is as much an exercise in mental fortitude as it is physical endurance.

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4. Mt. Sherman

Winter Trailhead: About 2.5 miles short of the standard summer 4WD gate
Winter Route: South Slopes
Winter Mileage: 8.5 miles
Winter Elevation Gain: 3,100’ to 3,500′, depending on parking area

Be careful on this popular winter peak. Avalanche-safe lines abound, but the danger is insidious. Venturing even a hundred feet in the wrong direction could put you in a slide area. Along with Quandary and Bierstadt, this is probably the most attempted winter route, due to its short length. I personally know at least three parties that have gotten caught in slides on this mountain. Avalanche terrain awareness and careful decision making are essential.

The starting point for this hike varies considerably. I’ve logged four attempts in winter and began from a different staging area each time. In general, plan to start about a mile below the Leavick site. Anything closer is a bonus. Walk the road to just before the summer 4WD gate, then veer right. The terrain here can be confusing and deceptive. Select a cautious line and make your way toward the obvious shallow gully to the right of the Mt. Sherman summit, targeting the broad plateau between Sherman and White Ridge.

It’s important to take this alternate route and not attempt to stay on the standard trail. Gaining the Sheridan-Sherman saddle on the summer path comes with considerable avalanche risk, including a large and reliable cornice.

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5. Pikes Peak

Winter Trailhead: Crags Campground
Standard Winter Route: Northwest Slopes
Winter Mileage: 14 miles
Winter Elevation Gain: 4,300’

It would be hard for 14 miles to feel much shorter. This gentle route maintains an easy grade most of the way, with only a few steep sections. The popularity of the Crags area as a dayhike also means that a trench is a nearly permanent fixture. The upper portion of the hike, above Devil’s Playground, parallels the summit road. Because Pikes stands largely alone, it’s often subjected to blasting winds. Large sections of the wide, obvious trail above treeline were visible every time I’ve done this peak with snow.

In contrast with Mt. Evans, the road up Pikes Peak remains open year-round, weather permitting. It’s hard to express the sheer joy that’s felt while eating a donut and drinking hot chocolate in the confines of a brick shelter after seven miles hiking uphill in a subzero wind chill. It’s also hard to express the willpower that’s necessary to leave that shelter for the seven-mile hike down.

Controlled Forms in React

Controlled form inputs are a core React concept that can be confusing for programmers new to the framework. Along with quirks like props and hooks, it’s one of the few nuances a web developer needs to understand before bringing even a basic React app to life.

Why do we need controlled components in the first place? Mutable state in React is typically kept in the state property of components and can only be changed using setState() or the useState() hook. HTML form elements such as <input> or <select>, however, also hold internal state—they track and save the information a user is entering. A controlled component is our way around this Catch-22.

Simply put, a controlled form ties its input values to a component’s state. When a user enters information, it also updates the state. The internal state of the form inputs and the higher-level component state are no longer different; they’re the same, a single source of truth. It’s one of those things that’s much easier to grasp when you see it in action, so let’s break down some code!

Get started by creating a simple LoginForm.js component with a form and inputs for username and password.

import React from 'react'

export default function LoginForm() {

    return (
        <form className="login-form">
            <input name="username" type="text" />
            <input name="password" type="password" />
            <input type="submit" value="Submit" />
        </form>
    )
}

Next, since this is a functional component, let’s bring in state using the useState hook. You’ll need to establish pieces of empty state for each input. In this case, that’s username and password. (Note: Don’t forget to import useState.)

import React, { useState } from 'react'

export default function LoginForm() {

    const [formData, setFormData] = useState({
        username: '',
        password: ''
    })

    return (
        <form className="login-form">
            <input name="username" type="text" />
            <input name="password" type="password" />
            <input type="submit" value="Submit" />
        </form>
    )
}

You can name the state whatever you like. I like formData for the symmetry with vanilla JavaScript, but use whatever convention makes the most sense to you. The next step is to add a value attribute to each input, assigned to the corresponding piece of state. In easier terms, just put value={formData.username} on the username input and value={formData.password} on the password input. This will initialize the form with blank fields, as they’re pulling their data from the empty strings defined in state.

import React, { useState } from 'react'

export default function LoginForm() {

    const [formData, setFormData] = useState({
        username: '',
        password: ''
    })

    return (
        <form className="login-form">
            <input 
                name="username" 
                type="text" 
                value={formData.username}
            />
            <input 
                name="password" 
                type="password" 
                value={formData.password}
            />
            <input type="submit" value="Submit" />
        </form>
    )
} 

If you have your server running, you’ll notice something a little problematic. You can’t actually type anything in the form inputs! That’s because we’re trying to mutate state in a way that React doesn’t allow. To get around this, we have to add an onChange function to the inputs. It will track changes and mutate state on the fly as a user is entering information.

Let’s start by creating a handleChange function above the return statement. This should seem familiar if you’ve already used functions like handleSubmit or handleClick in vanilla JavaScript. The handleChange function accomplishes only one thing—it sets the state of formData as a user inputs information. Since we’re handling multiple inputs at once with this same function, we’ll want to use event.target to extrapolate and assign the data as well as the …formData spread operator to ensure the other pieces of state remain in place while you’re manipulating the various inputs.

import React, { useState } from 'react'

export default function LoginForm() {

    const [formData, setFormData] = useState({
        username: '',
        password: ''
    })

    const handleChange = (event) => {
        setFormData({
            ...formData,
            [event.target.name]: event.target.value
        })
    }

    return (
        <form className="login-form">
            <input 
                name="username" 
                type="text" 
                value={formData.username} 
                onChange={handleChange} 
            />
            <input 
                name="password" 
                type="password" 
                value={formData.password} 
                onChange={handleChange} 
            />
            <input type="submit" value="Submit" />
        </form>
    )
}

Now, if you open your DevTools and watch this component’s state, you’ll see it initialized with empty strings. As a user types information into the inputs—their username and password—you’ll notice the state updating in real time. Mission accomplished! That’s a controlled form. React will now stop yelling at you in bright red text in your console.

There’s only one thing we’re missing: a handleSubmit function. This tutorial will end here, as what you’ll want to do with that data will vary depending on your project. It’s worth noting that, if you handle the formData state as I did above, the formData object is ready as-is to be sent to a backend for a POST or PATCH request. Here’s what the final code for this login form would look like:

import React, { useState } from 'react'

export default function LoginForm() {

    const [formData, setFormData] = useState({
        username: '',
        password: ''
    })

    const handleChange = (event) => {
        setFormData({
            ...formData,
            [event.target.name]: event.target.value
        })
    }

    const handleSubmit = (event) => {
        event.preventDefault()
        console.log("Your move, dear reader.")
    }

    return (
        <form className="login-form" onSubmit={handleSubmit}>
            <input 
                name="username" 
                type="text" 
                value={formData.username} 
                onChange={handleChange} 
            />
            <input 
                name="password" 
                type="password" 
                value={formData.password} 
                onChange={handleChange} 
            />
            <input type="submit" value="Submit" />
        </form>
    )
}

Thanks for reading! Happy coding.

Refactoring a Class Component to a Functional Component in React, with Hooks

Hooks were introduced a little more than two years ago, when Facebook released React 16.8 in February 2019. Many software engineering students still learn React workflows using class components before shifting over to hooks, and the transition can be a little confusing.

Here’s what an incredibly barebones class component with state and a fetch call might look like.

Class Component

import './App.css';
import React, {Component} from 'react'
import CardContainer from "./components/CardContainer"

class App extends Component {

  state = {
    jokes: []
  }

  componentDidMount = () => {
    fetch('http://localhost:3000/jokes')
      .then(response => response.json())
      .then(jokes => this.setState({jokes}))
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <div className="content-container">
        <CardContainer jokes={this.state.jokes} />
      </div>
    );
  }
}

export default App;

The very same result can be achieved using a functional component, with two of React’s most prominent hooks: useEffect() and useState(). The main differences from a surface-level standpoint are:

  1. “class App extends Component{}” becomes “function App(){}”.
  2. You don’t need to wrap the return statement in a render function.
  3. You no longer need to use “this.” syntax, such as this.state or this.myFunction.
  4. useState replaces state = {} and this.setState().
  5. useEffect replaces componentDidMount, with one huge caveat: do not forget the dependency array!
  6. useEffect and useState must be imported, while you can drop the Component import.

Functional Component

import './App.css';
import React, { useState, useEffect } from 'react'
import CardContainer from "./components/CardContainer"

function App(){

  const [jokes, setJokes] = useState({})

  useEffect(() => {
    fetch('http://localhost:3000/jokes')
    .then(response => response.json())
    .then(jokes => setJokes(jokes))
  },[])

  return (
    <div className="content-container">
        <CardContainer jokes={jokes} setJokes={setJokes}/>
    </div>
  );
}

export default App;

If using useEffect for a fetch call, do not forget that empty dependency array. Leaving it out will result in an infinite loop that hits the API thousands of times in mere minutes. The dependency array allows you to specify conditions which, when met, tells useEffect to execute a re-render. By providing an empty array, you’re telling useEffect to run only once upon mounting, similar to the functionality of componentDidMount. I’ve bolded it below for emphasis, as forgetting this step is one of the most common errors fledgling React programmers make. This DEV blog post by Max Rozen offers more detail about useEffect and its dependencies, if you choose to go further down the rabbithole.

 useEffect(() => {
    fetch('http://localhost:3000/jokes')
    .then(response => response.json())
    .then(jokes => setJokes(jokes))
  },[])

The useState hook, in essence, increases readability and decreases potential confusion. You can pass state down using a variable name of your own choosing—in this case, jokes is assigned an array of joke objects. You can change this state directly using the associated setJokes function, which operates the same as this.setState.

I hope this simple example helps a future React student understand the differences between a class component and a functional component, as well as increases their familiarity with their two new best friends: useEffect and useState! Happy coding.

A Beginner’s Guide to JavaScript Event Delegation

Don’t Repeat Yourself.

DRY.

It’s one of the most common mantras repeated to, and by, newbie programmers. Refactoring code to minimize repetition has many tangible benefits. It makes code easier to read, understand and revise. It reduces load times and creates faster apps. Most importantly for bootcamp students, it solidifies conceptual understanding and helps a portfolio piece stand out to potential employers.

Event delegation is often a great way to start refactoring novice JavaScript code. This allows you to place a single EventListener on a parent element that does the work of a few, or dozens, or even hundreds of EventListeners. It makes code so DRY you might as well move to Moab and start a sandpaper business.

I created the world’s simplest social media website to provide an example. Below you’ll find the HTML for a single post from an anonymous user who ate some delicious tacos for lunch. Readers can react with a Like, a Dislike or a Laugh by clicking on one of three emoji buttons, each with its own ID. All three buttons are held within a div container.

HTML

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
    <meta charset="UTF-8">
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge">
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
    <title>Event Delegation</title>
    <script src="index.js" defer></script>
</head>
<body>
    <p class="post">I ate tacos for lunch today.</p>
    <div id="button-container">
        <button id="like-button">👍</button>
        <button id="dislike-button">👎</button>
        <button id="laugh-button">🤣</button>
    </div>
</body>
</html>

This renders on the DOM like so:

We want a counter to add ‘+1’ to each button every time it’s clicked. To start, the most logical solution might be adding an EventListener on each button element:

JavaScript (pre-delegation)

const $likeButton = document.querySelector('#like-button');
const $dislikeButton = document.querySelector('#dislike-button');
const $laughButton = document.querySelector('#laugh-button');

let dislikesCounter = 0;
let likesCounter = 0;
let laughsCounter = 0;

$likeButton.addEventListener('click', () => {
    $likeButton.innerText = `👍 ${likesCounter += 1}`;
})

$dislikeButton.addEventListener('click', () => {
    $dislikeButton.innerText = `👎 ${dislikesCounter += 1}`;
})

$laughButton.addEventListener('click', () => {
    $laughButton.innerText = `🤣 ${laughsCounter += 1}`;
})

Now, when we click one of the buttons, it’ll increase that button’s counter.

Hey, it works! But what if we can do the same job with only a single EventListener? That’s the power and beauty of event delegation.

(Note: A basic understanding of event propagation—the capture phase, the target phase and the bubble phase—is beneficial, though not strictly necessary to follow along. I recommend this blog by Dmitri Pavlutin for a more in-depth explanation of what’s happening under the hood.)

Instead of each individual button, let’s select the button-container div and add an EventListener higher up on the DOM tree. Passing in event as an argument allows you to access all sorts of attributes through the event.target property. We can select each button based on its innerText, textContent, className, attribute type, and so on, by chaining it together with syntax such as event.target.className or event.target.textContent. Since each button in our example is already assigned an ID, let’s use that to select them. Console.log(event.target.id) shows what’s being targeted and why.

document.querySelector('#button-container').addEventListener('click', (event) => {
    console.log(event.target.id);
})

Clicking each of the buttons will return the assigned button ID from the HTML document in the console.

Since we can grab the button IDs through this higher-level EventListener, all that’s left to do is iterate through them and add actions based on the return values of event.target. It’s the same logic as before, just using a loop, if/else statements or a switch statement.

JavaScript (with delegation)

let likesCounter = 0;
let dislikesCounter = 0;
let laughsCounter = 0;

document.querySelector('#button-container').addEventListener('click', (event) => {
    switch (event.target.id) {
        case 'like-button': 
            event.target.innerText = `👍 ${likesCounter += 1}`;
            break;
        case 'dislike-button':
            event.target.innerText = `👎 ${dislikesCounter += 1}`;
            break;
        case 'laugh-button':
            event.target.innerText = `🤣 ${laughsCounter += 1}`;
    }
})

This works the same as the pre-delegation JavaScript, but with three fewer lines of code and a single EventListener instead of three. That might not seem like a huge deal with such a simple example, but imagine using this concept to replace 100 EventListeners instead of a handful.

To conclude with a real-world case study, for my Flatiron School Mod 3 project I built a website that allows users to log their ascents of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains. From an index with 58 mountain cards (one for each peak), a user can click on a card to visit a show page for each summit and leave a comment about recent hiking conditions. I initially accomplished this redirect by using a forEach loop on the array of mountain objects to add an EventListener to every individual card.

By using event delegation, however, I was able to replace those 58 EventListeners with the below five lines of code. Clicking each card—either on the surrounding span or on the actual H3 text—takes a logged-in user to the selected mountain show page via query params and allows them to leave a comment.

document.querySelector('#summits-container').addEventListener('click', (event) => {
    if (event.target.tagName == "SPAN" || event.target.tagName == "H3") {
        window.location.href = `/mountain.html?mountain=${event.target.id}&user_id=${id}`;
    }
})

That’s event delegation! It’s one of the cooler and most helpful concepts I’ve learned so far in 10 weeks of coding school. Happy refactoring.

Buyer’s Guide: Snowshoes for Mountaineering

Let’s not sugarcoat it. Snowshoeing can be a pleasurable pastime when the powder isn’t that deep or you’re following an established track. (Which, ironically, often means flotation isn’t even necessary.) When snowshoes are actually needed, it would be difficult to describe one’s relationship with the four-pound torture devices as anything less than abusive.

Breaking trail in untracked snow is about as enjoyable as slamming your hand in a car door, except you repeat it a few thousand times over a multi-hour outing. It’s tiring. It’s awkward. Your hip flexors hate you. You look like a big nerd. If you want to venture anywhere other than the most popular trails in winter, however, mountaineering snowshoes are a necessary evil.

Luckily for us, gear designers seem to understand how much snowshoeing sucks. Manufacturers in recent years have made incredible advancements in flotation technology. Nowadays, it’s more like just crushing your pinky instead of your entire hand. The negative effect is that the market has become saturated with dozens of different offerings, and it’s difficult for the uninitiated to understand what to purchase.

For the purposes of this guide, I’ve refrained from mentioning other less conniption-inducing flotation options. I doubt you’ll find anyone arguing that a backcountry ski setup isn’t worlds better than even the most advanced snowshoes, but skis require additional skill and at least six times the entry-level investment. Mountaineering snowshoes are also more versatile on steep, rocky alpine terrain. If you have $200, a pair of sturdy legs and an ample supply of self-loathing, they’ll take you anywhere you want to go.

Here are the factors to consider if you’re in the market for a new pair of mountaineering snowshoes:

Cost

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you can’t skimp on price. Sure, you can get a great deal at Costco or Walmart or wherever, but those models will break at the first opportunity and provide a maximum misery factor: insecure bindings, poor traction, heavy weight. Plan to spend $200-300 for a pair from an established name brand. Not only will you appreciate the enhanced features, they’ll also last a decade or more.

Traction

Buy a pair with steel crampons, for durability and traction on both snow and ice. They should also have teeth running along the side edges for stability on uneven terrain. This is perhaps the most crucial feature of a mountaineering snowshoe. If your footing slips even a little, especially on steep slopes, you’re going to have a bad time. An added bonus is that snowshoes with aggressive traction can be used fluidly on slopes up to about 30 degrees, without the hassle of stopping to swap into traditional crampons or MICROspikes.

Length

This will depend entirely on your stature. If you’re a heavier person, you’ll need bigger snowshoes to stay afloat. That said, for longer days and vertical ascents, gear weight is at a premium. The MSR Evo line is fantastic in that you can get a shorter snowshoe — 22-25 inches — with removable 6-inch tails for deep powder days. I’m a 6’0” and 185-pound adult male, and I’ve never once regretted owning 22-inch snowshoes. Consider also that these loathful beasts will spend a significant amount of time riding on your back as you’re traversing dry, wind-swept or hard-packed terrain. The 30+ inch varieties might as well be five-pound windsails, if they fit on your pack at all.

Heel Lift

Snowshoeing is hard. Snowshoeing on high-angle terrain is harder. The idea behind a heel lift is to remove some of the awkward strain on your calves, and it’s far from just a novelty. Used appropriately, a heel lift can turn a steep straight-up sufferfest into a relative pleasure cruise. It basically cuts the required work of snowshoeing uphill in half. Plenty of great snowshoes exist without heel lifts, but if you plan to regularly do more than 1,000 feet of vertical, spring for a pair with this amazing and underrated feature.

Bindings

The snowshoes, obviously, have to stay on your feet. You should be able to comfortably wear them for hours without any slippage, including on steep and uneven ground. You’ll also be putting them on and taking them off all the freakin’ time, so make sure you can easily manipulate the straps. You should be able secure or remove a pair in 30-60 seconds, while wearing gloves. Each company has a different take on bindings. Play around with what works for you and your winter boots. Flexible straps that lay flat are a nice bonus for when you have to carry your snowshoes on your pack.

Durability

You can’t go wrong with higher-end models from any the major brands carried at dedicated gear shops. Look for an aluminum or plastic frame to ensure the snowshoes don’t shatter the first time you fall through trap-door snow and make friends with a rock. I’ve spent eight years abusing my MSR Evo Tours, which are pictured above and sadly discontinued. They’re showing no signs of wearing out despite frequent encounters with rocks, dirt and pavement.

8 Tips for Winter Hiking with Your Dog

Dogs are descendants of wolves, and wolves are synonymous with snow. It’s hard to imagine canis lupus stalking prey without a backdrop of silent winter white.

While some domestic dogs still share many traits with the mighty timberwolf, others are less equipped to handle the elements. I doubt a Bichon Frise finding much enjoyment in getting dumped out of its luxurious leather purse into a pile of powder snow.

Fortunately, in this Golden Age of Adventure Dogs, many companies make products that help even the most domestic of breeds romp around in the cold. Here are some tips to keep your best friend safe and comfortable this winter, whether you’re summiting mountains, snowshoeing through a meadow or walking around the city block.

Protect Those Paws

The toughness of dog footpads varies wildly. Many pups can traverse sharp talus for hours without issue, while others would be bleeding and sore on the same terrain. The same is true of snow and ice, but even sled dogs need vigilant monitoring and occasional paw protection.

Dog booties are almost required gear in winter. Even if your pup doesn’t normally need them, they’re essential for extra-cold days or in an emergency. Get your dog comfortable wearing them at home before hitting the trail, or you might not make it very far. Also remember to check them regularly for proper fit and to ensure snow isn’t sneaking in and freezing around the top opening.

I’m lucky to have a dog that doesn’t need booties too often. I do, however, lather her paws with musher’s wax. When applied thoroughly and liberally, it keeps ice from accumulating on a dog’s fur or between their toes. Balled, clinging snow is a major source of discomfort. Musher’s wax is a strong deterrent to this problem. Two bonus tips: coat the lower legs up the joint as well as between the toes, and don’t apply it right before getting into the car. (Unless waxy pawprints all over your upholstery is your idea of a good time.)

Even with booties and wax, make a habit of regularly checking your dog’s paws, clearing them of ice buildup and observing for any signs of pain or discomfort.

FullSizeRender[2]

Have a Plan B

Forecasting winter weather and snow conditions is an inexact science, especially in the mountains. Countless times, I’ve driven two hours to a trailhead in Colorado’s high country only to find temperatures 15 degrees colder or winds three times as strong as predicted.

Dogs are living, breathing beings, prone to good days and bad days. One weekend they might plow through snowdrifts for hours with nary a shiver, and the next they might be picking up their paws and whining before you even get out of the parking lot.

Play it safe. Especially if you’re traveling an hour or more from the car, there’s simply too much that can go wrong in the relentless winter elements to justify pushing your luck. Mistakes in the summer can be a mild inconvenience. Mistakes in the winter can result in major injury, or even death.

Have a backup plan — something shorter, lower, drier, more protected. Sometimes this means scrapping an adventure altogether. Cuddling on the couch and crying into a mug of hot chocolate while watching All Dogs Go to Heaven is preferable to visiting the vet to treat frostbitten paws. Know your dog, observe them carefully and always be willing to turn around if it’s in their best interest.

Keep the Liquid Flowing

No matter how much fun it looks like your dog is having doing it, eating snow isn’t an adequate method of hydration. Snow is mostly air, and getting the necessary liquid would require consuming many mouthfuls. The effort a body has to go through to melt snow saps too much energy and warmth for it to be an effective source of fluids.

Natural streams and lakes are likely solid ice through the winter, as water has the unfortunate habit of freezing when exposed to temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Carry plenty of extra water for your dog, as well as yourself, inside your pack and wrapped in an insulating sleeve or your extra clothing layers.

Buy a Go-To Dog Jacket

Dozens and dozens of options exist from many different brands. For winter use, look for a jacket with a shell outer layer or synthetic insulation. (Or, preferably, both.) Hard or soft shell material repels moisture, and synthetic insulation stays warm even when it gets wet. This is important for when your dog is creating World War I-style trenches through neck-deep snow at breakneck speed. Dog jackets are great for warmth, obviously, but they also cut the wind and protect a pup’s belly from clinging snow. With the exception of dogs explicitly bred for frigid conditions, they’re a pretty necessary piece of winter equipment. My border collie, even with her thick undercoat, sports a Ruffwear Powderhound on nearly every snow excursion.

F49A1FFD-8746-457E-AF36-C96E94F4AB74

Choose Treats Carefully

As with human food, some dog treats can become so hard in cold weather that they’re extremely difficult to eat. This might require a bit of trial and error depending on your preferred brands, but identify treats that stay soft and easy to chew even as the temperature dips well below freezing. SuperFood Blend, Power Bones and PureNZ Cords, all from Zuke’s, do the trick for me.

Another tip is to carry your dog’s treat pouch on your person, instead of in a backpack. By storing it in one of your jacket or pants pockets, your body heat keeps the treats from becoming too rigid to chew. This is highly recommended for most human food, as well, unless you enjoy chipping a tooth on your Snickers bar.

Carry an Insulated Pad, Bed or Blanket

No one wants to sit on cold snow for too long. Humans have the luxury of squatting on their backpack or tree stumps or whatever else is convenient for avoiding direct contact with the ground, but dogs don’t usually have such options. Bring along a blanket or foam pad for your pooch to rest on during breaks. Several companies even make lightweight, packable, insulated dog beds. You want your pup to have a warm, comfortable spot to rest, or they might be an icicle before you getting moving again.

Train Them to Ignore Skiers and Snowboarders

Like with mountain bikes in the summer, dogs should be trained to ignore and stay out of the way of riders. Something about skis sets off the herding instinct in many breeds. It’s a scary, fast, foreign method of travel to which many dogs aren’t accustomed, and a frightened pooch can get loud and defensive. I’ve witnessed quite a few wipe outs as a skier rounds a corner only to meet a startled, barking dog. Ski edges are also sharp and moving fast, and they can cause a nasty laceration to an onrushing pup. Use treats and conditioning to ensure your dog is comfortable with skiers and snowboarders, or keep them on a leash in areas popular with those pursuits.

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Be Wary of Lakes, Streams and Avalanche Terrain

Dogs don’t understand hazards in the same was as humans. A partially frozen lake, to them, is just more ground to romp on. Keep a vigilant mental account of your surroundings at all times and have your dog on a leash or under strict voice control in areas that could potentially be dangerous. Don’t let them on a frozen surface unless you’re 100 percent sure it’s safe. Even then, it’s probably best to avoid the ice if at all possible.

The difference between being in the clear and in an avalanche runout zone can be as little as a few meters. Many off-leash dogs wander. Take an avalanche course, know how to travel safely in wintery mountain terrain and keep your pup close when warranted.

Hiking in the snow, with dogs that love it and humans that are prepared, can be exponentially more rewarding than summer trails. If you’re lucky enough to have a powderhound, I hope these tips help you enjoy the backcountry with more comfort and peace of mind.

The Pros and Cons of Adopting a Mountain Mutt

You can hardly hike a trail in the Front Range without spotting one. One-third heeler, one-quarter lab, one-fifth aussie and pure unfiltered joy, the mountain mutt is a Colorado staple.

The Denver metro area alone has dozens of rescue organizations and shelters dedicated to plucking these pariahs from areas they’re unwanted — reservations, slums, former households, kill shelters — and finding them forever homes in a state where dogs are perhaps more in demand than anywhere else. If you’re searching for a new four-legged hiking buddy, consider forgoing the $1,500 purebred Liechtensteinian Coarse-Haired Manatee Shepherd Dog. Your local shelter is brimming with wonderful mixed-breeds (and some pure, too) awaiting a lifetime of love and adventure.

It’s not all sunshine and butterflies. Like anything in life, there are pros and cons to adopting a mountain mutt. Here are a few, in honor of my own pup’s Gotcha Day:

FullSizeRender
A mountain mutt in her element.

PRO: Trails Will Become 1,000 Times More Fun

I’ll stop short of saying a mountain mutt is the best hiking partner ever. The world is full of some pretty awesome people. Sometimes those people are busy, however, and you still want to escape the city for a while. A mountain mutt will be your constant companion, whether it’s a morning run in the foothills or a week-long backpacking trip deep in the wilderness. You’ll always have a tail-wagging, tongue-lolling, bright-eyed pup padding along at your side. The things they do will be the constant source of smiles and laughter. After adopting a mountain mutt, it’s like the trails previously viewed in grainy black-and-white transition to full high-definition color.

CON: Embarrassing Car Magnets Will Tempt You

“Who Rescued Who?”

“Rescue Mom”

“I ❤ My Rescue Mutt”

We’ve all seen them. At best we regarded them with indifference, at worst we rolled our eyes and made snide comments about their excessive lameness to our friends. Yet there you are, a week after adopting a dog, standing in front of the magnet display at your local pet store. Maybe they’re not so bad, you tell yourself. Maybe they’re actually pretty damn cool. Roughly $15 later, you’ve purchased all three and the only remaining debate is in which order they should go on your back windshield.

PRO: You’ll Save a Ton of Money vs. a Breeder

Two caveats. First, you shouldn’t adopt a dog just because you can’t afford one from a breeder. Responsible pet ownership requires at least a modicum of financial security. You’re also welcoming a new family member for a decade or more, if you’re lucky. The initial price tag shouldn’t play much of a part in such a huge commitment. (It’s a bargain, any way you look at it.) Second, I have nothing against pure breeds or people who own them. I grew up with black labs and Rottweilers and understand the allure of “that’s what I’ve always had” and wanting a healthy dog with quirks and traits to which you’re accustomed.

That said, a typical adoption fee is $150-300. A breeder probably charges four times as much. Is $1,000 really worth the difference between a German Shepherd from Trump Family Farms and a shepherd-mix that looks and acts almost exactly the same? You can even put the savings toward (gasp!) training, toys and other essentials, dog sports or outdoor gear. The latter might be frustrating, though, because…

CON: Dog Gear Won’t Fit

Apparently almost every major manufacturer of outdoor gear for dogs uses the same labrador retriever as a size/fit model. The wildly varying builds of rescue mutts present a challenge. My dog Zia, for example, fits in gear — sometimes even comfortably — ranging from extra small to medium from the same brand. A 40-pound border-collie mix, rocking the same jacket as a pug and the same pack as a labradoodle. It’s a constant game of trial-and-error and unending adjustments. With the array of options out there, at least you’re guaranteed to find something that works. Eventually.

PRO: They’re Hardy and Resilient

Many rescue animals have suffered some form of hardship. Maybe it was days or months or even years on the street. Maybe it was getting picked up as a newborn from the side of the road and riding 500 miles with other yelping puppies for the privilege of being poked and prodded by a strange veterinarian before an adoption event. Maybe it was receiving an off-brand toy from the dollar store instead of a KONG. The horror.

The past remains a mystery for most rescue animals. Regardless what they’ve endured, mountain mutts typically return love and kindness a hundred fold. Who knows, maybe it’s the first affection they’ve ever experienced. Once built back up, it’s hard to tear these pups down. Mental and physical toughness are key traits of any good hiking partner. Mountain mutts have these attributes in spades.

CON: More Difficult to Become Instafamous

Your aussie/collie mix might be able to summit Mt. Everest faster than Kilian Jornet, but the fame is hard to come by unless you own a Wolfdog, golden retriever or some sort of Heeler pack. Those breeds admittedly do look darn cute a quarter-mile from the trailhead parking lot during their magic-hour shoots. You and your weird-looking mountain mutt will trot right on by these spectacles on your way to a 14-mile summit hike, gladly trading those 5,000 likes for a rewarding day exploring the outdoors.

FullSizeRender
Probably got about 12 likes.

PRO: You’ll Savor the Experiences

Ego fuels many outdoor sports. People want to go farther, faster and over more difficult terrain than their peers. The beauty of the setting and the deep sense of place that draw many of us to the mountains in the first place are often lost while checking boxes off a list or striving to beat your rival’s ascent time.

Sharing the outdoors with a mountain mutt slows everything back down. Priorities shift. You can still aspire to complete the 14ers or lead 5.12 or whatever else, but it’s no longer the singular goal. Just as enjoyable are long ambles with little objective other than garnering inspiration and fulfillment from the landscape, watching your pup splash around in a creek as you fill your lungs with wintry mountain air and your eyes with life-affirming panoramas.

CON: You’ll Want to Volunteer, but Can’t

If you get on the waitlist now, your great-grandchildren have a 40-percent chance of volunteering for your favorite shelter or rescue organization. The supply of willful help far exceeds the demand in the Front Range. Don’t fret. Though the rescue through which you adopted your dog might not be accepting applications, there are plenty of smaller and newer organizations that do need your assistance. A little research will turn up a dozen rescues in desperate need of support. Let go of your loyalties, keep an open mind, exercise your Google-fu and you’ll be a hero to needy canines in no time.

PRO: You’re Literally Saving a Life

Again, I’m not against pure breeds, especially when they are performing the working tasks for which they were designed. It’s difficult, however, to understand the purposeful creation of household pets when there are thousands of rescues already on this earth in need of loving homes. Mixes can be nearly identical in appearance and personality to purebred dogs. It’s easy to find exactly what you’re looking for in a market as saturated with rescue organizations as Colorado.

The adopt-or-die scenario is admittedly rare in the Front Range, given the high demand for dogs and the surprising number of no-kill shelters. If I hadn’t taken Zia home, someone else would have that very same day. She was in no danger. That’s true of many mutts awaiting adoption in Colorado.

Even given this pet-friendly climate, however, nearly 50 animals are euthanized every day in shelters across our state, according to Colorado Public Radio.

What’s also true is that every dog adopted from one of Denver’s wonderful and humane rescues opens a vacancy for another dog who might be facing grimmer odds elsewhere. A puppy that would have a dozen suitors in Colorado but none in their kill shelter in rural New Mexico has to make it here, first. Space is limited.

Though this list was evenly split and largely tongue-in-cheek, the pros for adopting a mountain mutt far outweigh the cons. It’s like comparing Capitol Hill to Mt. Elbert. Go out there and create your own Gotcha Day. I promise, you won’t regret it.

IMG_6097

The 13 Types of People You’ll Meet on a Colorado 14er

The allure of a 14er summit beckons to people from all walks of life. To some it’s simply a thing to do during summer break, to others it’s the realization of an enduring dream. Colorado’s mountains are tools used to achieve personal fulfillment, escape the doldrums of urban life, seize untapped vitality or feed a fragile ego. Whatever brings them to the base of the mountain, most 14er hikers fall into one — or a combination — of the following categories.

1. The Fundraiser

Whether it’s for an incurable disease, natural disaster relief or their cat Bojangles’ memorial 5K, The Fundraiser can’t take a step without shaking you down for money. Literally — each stride on the trail earns a nickel pledged from their benefactors. The Fundraiser’s pack is overflowing with color-printed summit signs designed in Microsoft Paint, and you’ll probably recognize them from the local news feature they earned after four months of harassing a reporter on Twitter. You can rest easy, at least, knowing your money is making a real difference in the world. All the proceeds go toward financing The Fundraiser’s next awareness-raising trip to Nepal. Wait, what?

Probably Overheard Saying: “I’m the first 1/8th-Cherokee male between the age of 16 and 27 to climb all the 14ers that start with an ‘S’ to raise awareness for babies born without hair.”

2. The Laissez-Faire Dog Owner

Ranger is the world’s best dog. Everyone loves him, even the child he just barreled over, the pika he just crunched and the leash-aggressive husky he just spooked. How could you be upset at such a cute face? He’s even wearing a cool backpack! The Laissez-Faire Dog Owner spent hours training Ranger to play dead, but didn’t see much point in working on off-leash control. Ranger always comes back, eventually, so what if he’s trailing a wake of resentment and destruction? It’s your problem if he ate your summit sandwich. You shouldn’t have put it down in the first place. Don’t trouble them to pick up their dog’s poop, either. The bags are way too smelly and gross to carry the quarter-mile back to the trailhead.

Probably Overheard Saying: “He’s friendly!”

3. The White Goodman

Only one thing matters: Absolute domination. Of the mountain, of other hikers, of crippling and deep-rooted insecurity. Like Ben Stiller’s character in Dodgeball, The White Goodman is misguided and probably a little dim. The summit is merely a secondary objective. Priority is passing everyone in sight while taking care not to make any social contact other than a mutter of “got ’em” as they whisk past. Everything in life is a competition, and a pleasant hike on a bluebird morning is no exception. They are easily recognizable due to their painted-on Under Armour baselayer and habit of constantly looking over their shoulder. On the summit, they are the ones broadcasting their ascent time or peak list loudly to no one in particular.

Probably Overheard Saying: “Suck failure, freaks.”

4. The Reluctant Significant Other

The Reluctant Significant Other didn’t sign up for this. They didn’t sign up for any of it. Why waste a perfectly good Sunday on a 14er when they could be drinking bottomless mimosas at brunch or watching NFL football? Their loved one wanted to hike, however, and bonding time is important. Each step is a further descent into hell. Everything hurts. Danger lurks beyond every bend: raging avalanches, hungry mountain lions, the beckoning abyss. Nevermind that they’re on a groomed Class 1 trail with 200 other people in the middle of summer. They voice their displeasure often and want nothing more than to turn around, but the White Goodman they met on Tinder just elbowed a toddler out of the way 200 feet up the trail. Left with no choice, The Reluctant Significant Other trudges onward to certain death.

Probably Overheard Saying: “I’m going to die and I didn’t even set my fantasy football lineup.”

5. The Nature Knight

If the Kingdom of Nature Knights had a flag, it would be a singular color: khaki. Staples of the uniform include a floppy wide-brimmed hat, a button-down shirt with mesh in bizarre places, binoculars, a nature journal and a giant beige chip on their shoulder. Forget that you’re on public land two miles from a paved highway within an hour of Denver. Your presence is ruining their wilderness experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re staying on trail, picking up after your dog and carrying out all your trash — something you’re doing is wrong, and you deserve to get yelled at for it. Well-meaning and helpful conversations have no place in the Kingdom of Nature Knights. The goal isn’t to spread knowledge. It’s to feel superior. If they lack the courage to discuss their disdain in person, you can find their anti-social rants every Monday on a 14ers-related Internet forum.

Probably Overheard Saying: “I spent four hours on a volunteer trail crew in 2013, what have YOU done?”

6. The Head-Scratcher

He takes many forms. He could be barefoot hippy, a foreign tourist in slacks and a V-neck, a lone pre-teen in skate shoes or a mustachioed man in a leather vest and motorcycle boots who apparently dropped out of a portal from Sturgis. In whichever way he appears, he’s going to turn your head. Questions overwhelm you. How did he get here? Where is his gear? Who is he with? Why did he choose a 14er? Should I say something? Before you have the chance to satiate your curiosity, he’ll smile warmly, nod a polite greeting and continue his journey toward enlightenment.

Probably Overheard Saying: “Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.”

7. The Vicarious Parent

She’s accomplished a lot in her 40 years. She finished 12th in a trail marathon, came close (twice!) to summiting Mt. Rainier and once climbed 5.10b in the rock gym. The highlight, of course, was producing three beautiful children — all of whom are going to make Ricardo Cassin look like a total bitch. Despite not yet hitting puberty, little Reinhold, Arlene and Alex Honnold Jr. (no relation) have climbed more peaks than you could ever dream. The entire gaggle is brightly decked out in top-of-the-line gear they’ll outgrow in a couple months, complete with those adorable child-sized glacier glasses. As you’re passing this wandering circus, the Vicarious Parent will proudly tell you all about the family’s future goals as Alex Honnold Jr. sobs into a block of talus.

Probably Overheard Saying: “Climbing Capitol isn’t that big of a deal, Reinhold did it when he was 5.”

8. The Eagle Scout

No, they’re not training for Everest. No, they’re not on an overnight trip. It’s simply unsafe to enter the wilderness without The 49 Essentials shoved into an 80-pound pack. The Eagle Scout is carrying tents and sleeping bags for everyone on the mountain, just in case, as well as enough gadgets to be properly considered a cyborg. The annual fees on their personal locator beacons, tracking software and GPS apps cost more than a mortgage. They rock a helmet on Class 2 and never leave the house without a week’s worth of food. The Eagle Scout is totally prepared for anything the wilds might throw at them, unless the batteries die on one of their devices.

Probably Overheard Saying: “Hold on, I haven’t sent an OK message for like 10 minutes.”

9. The Internet Celebrity

Oh, you haven’t heard of them? They have, like, more than 800 followers on Instagram, bro. A DSLR camera set to “Auto” swings from their neck and an iPhone that’s at storage capacity from free editing apps sits holstered on their hip. More advanced versions can be spotted with a drone and a helmet-mounted GoPro. Hiding behind a facade of energetic passion, they’re on a quest to #neverstopexploring while #inspiring others with #mountainstoke and #coloradotography as they #travel the world in constant search of #validation from strangers. Most of the scenery is observed through a viewfinder rather than the human eye. The trail and the wildlife and the personal challenge of summiting are neat and all, but the real accomplishment is breaking 100 likes Facebook. Set that saturation slider to 100 and rake in the Internet affirmation, homie.

Probably Overheard Saying: “Let’s pop off our tops.”

10. The Smug Cloud

What you’re doing is lame, it sucks, and you should be ashamed. Any grandpa can walk up a 14er, but you’re not rad unless you run it in less than 1:17:04. That’s The Smug Cloud’s personal best, for the record, and they’d beat it if you’d get your sorry ass out of the way. Whatever their chosen sport — paragliding, mountain biking, trail running, rock climbing — the most enjoyable part of the hobby is being better than you. Sure, they could practice their passion on any number of other trails or mountains, but that’s not as satisfying to the ego as Mt. Bierstadt. The worst type of Smug Cloud, ironically, is the longtime peakbagger. They completed the 14ers in 2006 and their profile on Lists of John reads longer than War & Peace. Instead of dispensing advice and serving as mentors, however, they retreat to insular cliques and look down their noses at all who come after.

Probably Overheard Saying: “Back in my day, on 14erWorld…”

11. The Bucket Lister

The Bucket Lister just wants to get this over with. It’s criminal to be a Centennial State native and not climb at least one 14er, and an ascent to a rugged Colorado mountaintop can yield decades worth of stories for a visiting flatlander. It’s time to dig out that threadbare bookbag from high school, load it full of plastic water bottles and earn a story to tell at happy hours until the end of time. The Bucket Lister’s uniform is usually a cotton sweatshirt emblazoned with a university logo, basketball shorts or yoga pants, old running shoes and aviator sunglasses. Most of the previous evening was spent creating a cardboard sign reading “Mt. Quandry, 14,762 feet” that’s destined to remain as litter on the summit alongside a rock with a Sharpie autograph. Though seemingly ill prepared, most Bucket Listers are fit and competent. In fact, many of them go on to become one of the other archetypes.

Probably Overheard Saying: “How much longer to the summit?”

12. The (Self-Proclaimed) Expert

They’ve caught the bug. What started as doing a 14er or two for fun has turned into a life-altering quest to conquer them all. They’ve tackled their first Class 3 route, knocked out most of the Front Range and are considering a Very Difficult-rated mountain next weekend. They know just enough to be dangerous. With a peak list now in the teens, they’re ready and willing to unload advice on anyone within earshot. You can spot them most often lounging on summits or at trailheads wearing brand-new gear from head to toe, regaling resting hikers with tales of their daring ascents up Mt. Princeton and Redcloud/Sunshine. They are a factory of Ed Viesturs and John Muir quotes, as well as admonishments about building storms for anyone still ascending after 10:30 a.m.

Probably Overheard Saying: “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.”

13. The One We All Think We Are

The One We All Think We Are is a certified badass. Like The Head-Scratcher, they come in many forms: retired grandparents, world-class mountaineers and average joes. The unifying knot is that they climb 14ers, whether it’s their first or 300th, purely for personal enjoyment. They aren’t measuring against anything or anyone but themselves. Their online presence, if it exists at all, serves merely to share information and discuss adventures with family and friends. They might have strong ambitions or goals, and that’s OK, because they’re humble and helpful and respectful toward everyone else on the peak. Mountains are viewed in balanced perspective. Their dogs are leashed or well trained, they practice Leave No Trace and they know the rules of the trail. They give advice when asked and offer encouragement instead of deprecating laughter or lectures. This is the category in which we all place ourselves. Which one are you, really?

Probably Overheard Saying: Nothing. They’re listening to you, instead.

Igniting a Life Outdoors: A Jacket, WornWear, and Rebirth

Like a first love, it opened a world of possibilities.

I was 23 and a recent transplant to Boston when it found me on the glossy back page of an outdoor magazine. I was newly severed from the Rocky Mountains, for which I’d only just begun to develop an affinity, displaced into a world of brick and nonexistent social grace in pursuit of other capricious dreams.

Though I’d only dipped my toe before departing the West, mountaineering had seized my soul. The $199 Igniter jacket gracing the shoulders of some Eddie Bauer/First Ascent guide, probably Ed Viesturs or Dave Hahn, represented a connection to a captivating world I barely understood. No sooner had I put down the magazine than I e-mailed my mom to let her know what I wanted for Christmas.

The Igniter was one of the first real pieces of gear I owned, and certainly the first centered on mountaineering. I rocked it proudly around Boston as if every peacoat-clad businessperson in Copley Square would think I was a real, honest-to-goodness mountaineer, regardless if I only had three summer 14ers to my credit.

My favorite jacket returned with me to Colorado a few months later. I cycled through packs, shells, midlayers, boots and countless other pieces of gear as I dialed in my kit, but the Igniter survived every cut. My faithful puffy followed me to the tops of Mt. Rainier, dozens of winter 14ers, my inaugural frozen waterfalls and 18,500-foot Orizaba.

Of course I didn’t realize it until recently, but that beloved synthetic the color of an azure alpine lake performed the rare miracle of igniting (ba-dum, tshhh) an idea and subsequently seeing it through to reality. It not only inspired dreams, it accompanied me as they came true.

My Igniter succumbed, as things often do, to the inevitable arrows of time. The main zipper was weak and often pulled apart. One of the hand pockets lost its zipper altogether, and the other had a hole the size of a half-dollar ripped just beneath it. Part of the sleeve near the left shoulder suffered a gnarly snag that exposed large swaths of insulation. The jacket was still mostly functional, but by then it was five years old. The market was flooded with sexy alternatives. The role of synthetic belay puffy transferred first to a Rab, and later to an Arc’teryx.

I could never quite bring myself to get rid of the Igniter, as I did so easily with many other jackets. It hung forgotten in my gear closet, a tangible reminder of humbler days. There it remained as I finished the 14ers, ascended dream mountains, earned a full-time gig in the outdoor industry, signed on as an Arc’teryx Denver ambassador, accepted a contract to write an ice-climbing guidebook and once had like three whole people comment on one of my blog posts.

As my outdoor resume grew alongside my outerwear collection, I fell victim to the insidious trap awaiting anyone who stays in a hobby long enough to become a subject-matter expert. I lost touch with my roots. It became increasingly difficult to relate to mountaineering newcomers as I remained focused on my own goals and the insular group of veterans with whom I’d cut my teeth. Worse, gone was the magic that used to set my heart aflutter whenever my eyes first touched a lofty summit. Practicality and minutiae won out over the initial boundless promise of the American West.

Patagonia created a program called WornWear a few years ago, and they had representatives at the recent SIA Snow Show in downtown Denver. They offered to fix any piece of gear, within reason, for the benevolent cost of free.

I found my faithful Igniter where I’d left it, lonely and sandwiched between a twice-as-expensive synthetic belay jacket and my top-of-the-line down puffy. I shrugged it on with the familiarity of an old catcher’s mitt, reveling in the forgotten memories of each stain, stitch and tear. Within in hour of dropping it at the Patagonia booth, both ruined zippers functioned better than new. The rep also gave me the materials to mend the remaining injuries on my own. Like a phoenix from the ashes, my old jacket was reborn.

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I wore it a few days later during a snowshoe outing in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Looking down at the mottled splash of blue recalled dozens of fond memories: relaxing at Ingraham Flats on my virgin trip to Mt. Rainier, a winter camp shared with a now departed friend, watching sunrise from 16,500 feet on Orizaba, hooting and hollering after my first pitch of ice and opening a long-anticipated Christmas present that brought me nearer to the distant mountains calling me home.

We were all neophytes once, dreamers with pockets full of airy ideas and empty of common sense. I envied those newcomers. I missed the feelings of reverence for the mountains that bubbled in my 23-year-old belly.

The outdoor community, sadly, often turns into the very rat race we’re seeking to escape. In some form, we all crave recognition, acclaim, sponsorship, likes, follows, free gear, blog hits, paychecks and so on. It is and always has been a constant cycle of one-upsmanship. The choice to remove ourselves and truly experience the centering power of wild places is a conscious one.

Reconnecting with a threadbare old jacket was an unexpected lesson. A reminder to look up, to stop and fill your lungs with the healing air of a frost-nipped morning, to follow your whimsical dreams and to allow yourself to enjoy the bountiful gifts of the present. That’s what brought me to the mountains. Long after any of my meager accomplishments are forgotten, that’s what will keep me here.

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