B oulder author and blogger James Dziezynski has written about the outdoors for nearly 20 years. He decided to write a book about it, penning "Best Summit Hikes in Colorado" in 2007 detailing, well, you guessed it, the best summit hikes in the state.
He traveled throughout the state with his two border collies, Fremont and Mystic, in an 18-year-old Honda Accord making detailed notes and taking photos. Now, Dziezynski has released a second edition of the book, which includes better maps and design, as well as a few new peaks to check out.
We sat down with Dziezynski to chat.
What prompted you to write the book in the first place, and then to publish a second edition five years later?
Originally the book I was thinking of writing was going to be about all the obscure and secret mountains in Colorado. My publisher liked the idea but wanted to add in some of the classic peaks in Colorado. From a personal point of view, we had lots of guidebooks for 14ers and regions, but we didn't have one book that was a comprehensive guide of good mountains across the state. Instead of complaining about other hiking guides, I put my pen where my mouth is. I decided to write my own.
The first edition sold over 10,000 copies. We reworked all the design and the maps, so we improved the visual quality of the book. It's a much clearer looking back. We added about 20 new peaks.
Did you complete every single summit hike yourself while writing the first edition?
One of the issues I had with the previous books was they weren't a comprehensive collection of every possible route. You could tell that some of those trailheads hadn't been driven to by the authors, or they hadn't done those hikes. When I set out to write my book, it was really important that it was authentic. Starting in 2006, I did every hike and every trail in the book. It was a pretty ridiculous summer.
What's your personal favorite summit hike?
My favorite mountain is probably Storm King Peak, which is out in the San Juans, about a six or seven hour drive from here. It's really cool because not only is it a really good scramble, it's a mountain that's really remote. It feels like you're in real wilderness. When you're up on top you can't see any roads.
You mention in the book's preface that it would be so much easier to sleep in on a Saturday rather than hike. Why do you get out of bed in the mornings to climb 14ers?
I'm sure a lot of people would be on the same page with me in that getting out into the backcountry satisfies multiple needs or multiple desires. It's a nice escape from day-to-day life. Beyond the setting and atmosphere and smells and sensations, there's something to being in a situation where suddenly what you're doing -- it's simplified. That doesn't mean it's simple, but your decisions hold a little more weight, you have to be a little more alert. You switch gears from "Can I balance my checkbook?" to "What do those clouds mean?"
This past summer I got up my 700th Colorado mountain. Sometimes it feels like I know nothing about being in the mountains despite having logged a lot of time in the backcountry. It's that really feeling of being somewhere that is a little more significant, a little more in touch with the natural world.
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.