Happy Birthday NPS!

Great Sand Dunes NP

Today is a special day. It’s a special day because today marks a very important milestone for something that I’m very passionate about. Today is the 99th birthday of the National Park Service! On this day in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Organic Act which created

President Woodrow Wilson
President Woodrow Wilson

the National Park Service as a federal bureau within the Department of the Interior. As you may know, there were already national parks and monuments that were designated before the creation of the NPS, however these lands were managed individually, or in some cases, by the United States Army, each with varying degrees of success.

In 1911, Senator Reed Smoot of Utah and Representative John E. Raker of California began the groundwork for establishing a service to oversee the management of all the Federal land holdings designated as parks or monuments. Organizations such as the Sierra Club and the American Civic Association, as well as activists, lobbyists, and legislators including Stephen Mather and Horace Albright got involved to support the creation of such a service. Bills were submitted and with the support of lawmakers the Organic Act was presented to President Wilson. (Side note on Mather and Albright: do those names sound familiar? They were the first and second directors of the NPS!)

So what language was in the bill? Well, in a nutshell, the bill was pretty straightforward. The new National Park Service was established “…to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” Pretty much nailed it right there, wouldn’t ya say??? (Fun fact, the bill also established an annual salary of $4,500 for the NPS director. Dolla dolla, bills y’all!)

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How did I get here?

If you’re gonna be following my adventures, I suppose I should take the time to tell you how I got here (cue: Talking Heads, “Once In A Lifetime”). In my previous post I told you that I grew up on a farm. It’s funny now because many of my friends never pegged me as a farm boy.

“Wait, so you had like… cows and stuff???”


“Did you ride horses?”

>Sure did.

“Well, what about Wranglers and Stetson hats? Did you have giant belt buckles?”

>Yes and yes. I only wore my rodeo buckle for special occasions.

“Okay, but did you have an outhouse? Running water and electricity???”

>Really??? I grew up on a farm, not Little House On The Prairie.

I guess I don’t really project the “farm boy” vibe today, I don’t wear boots or cowboy hats. You’ll typically find me in Levi’s, sneakers, and a t-shirt. I listen to hip hop and spend way too much time making up my mind when I’m standing in the craft beer aisle at the liquor store. But growing up we had tractors and quads, horses, cows, and sheep, and lots of open land. Our nearest neighbor was a half mile away and we drove more dusty dirt roads than asphalt. In terms of modern day entertainment, we didn’t really have any. Sure we had over the air TV, but we were too far out in the sticks for cable or internet, and my dad refused to spend money on a gaming system. Besides, we had too much work to do on the farm for TV and Nintendo.

Me and my steer, Schroder at the Ski-Hi Stampede.

Growing up, I may have pined for my friend’s new Sega, or marveled at the sight of cable TV when we visited family in town, but looking back at it now I’m kinda glad we didn’t have any of that stuff; not having it taught me how to entertain myself. In fact, I worry that’s something that future generations may not be able to do. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and I think it’s a great resource, but I can’t help but shake my head when I visit a national park and see a kid immersed in an iPad or a smartphone. Look up, dummy! There’s beautiful stuff all around you!!! Anyway, I digress… back to my early days.

In elementary school I begged my mom to sign me up for Cub Scouts. I remember going to my first scout meeting all giddy and excited, wondering how many badges I would earn that year. I learned how to woodwork, how to fix a bike, what goes into no-bake cookies, and how to recite the Scout’s Oath.

The years past and I climbed the scouting ranks. I remember trading my Cub uniform for Webelos, then again for Boy Scouts. I’d say that the Scouts played the biggest role in fostering my adventuring spirit. We went on tons of expeditions: backpacking with llamas through the La Garita Wilderness, an extended stay near Lake Isabel, the Winter Jamboree in Wolf Creek, snow caving up Cumbres Pass, and countless others. A lot of things I learned in Boy Scouts I still use today; whether its how to build a fire, read a map, or tie knots, chances are if it’s a skill you’d use in the wilderness it’s something I learned in scouts. Say what you will about the Scouts, but there’s no denying that I learned a wealth of information from my days in the organization.

I made it all the way to Second Class before I decided I was too cool for school and stopped going, but I kinda wish now that I had gone all the way to Eagle. Damn that teen angst, I really thought I knew it all back then! Clearly I didn’t, but don’t all teenagers think they have it figured out by age 17???

High school blew by and before long it was time for college. Following in the foot steps of my dad and sister, I elected to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder; I was to be a Buff. Living in Boulder only cemented my desire to spend as much time as possible outside. I mean how can you pass up the endless hiking trails right in your backyard when you live in Boulder??? I explored Chautauqua between classes, climbed Mount Sanitas and Royal Arch on the weekends, and rode my bike to Boulder Falls when I needed an escape. WalkerRanch2All these experiences lead me to where I am today: a guy with an insatiable appetite for adventure and the outdoors. Each time I head out on the trail I get inspired: whether its trying to capture the perfect landscape photo, how to improve my campsite, what peak I’m gonna bag next or what alpine lake I’m gonna check off the list. Each new adventure begets the next. Living in Colorado there are endless opportunities when it comes to enjoying the outdoors and I have every intention of not missing a single opportunity that presents itself to me. I have a goal to hike every trail in Colorado, it’s a lofty goal no doubt, and who knows if I’ll actually ever attain it, but damn it I’m gonna try!



Hello world!

Today’s assignment: write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post.

Well, here it is, my very own blog. I’ve never actually owned a blog before, so this is new territory for me. But, I’ve been receiving quite a bit of requests for a place where I can share my adventures and my photography. So here it is!

I’m still learning how to work this site and customize my blog, but I’ll get there eventually. Currently my adventures have been dominating my time, but I’m hoping to devote enough time to make this site somewhat respectable.

Anyway… who am I and why am I here?

Well I already kinda told you about the second part to that question, I’m here to share my photography. But there’s more to that, because anyone can buy a camera and go out and take pictures and simply post them to Facebook, and I’ve gone that route, believe me. But I want to share more than just a picture. I want to share my adventure, give you a glimpse into the places I’m going, share with you awesome places in the great outdoors, maybe occasionally post some history nuggets, and hopefully leave you with a greater appreciation for this earth we call home.

I grew up in very rural area, on a farm to be exact. Growing up we didn’t have internet, we didn’t have cell phones, or Nintendos, or computers, and we had a grand total of five TV channels! But we did have wide open spaces and plenty of countryside to explore. That’s where I got my start as such an adventurer, it all began with hopping on my bike and pedaling wherever the dirt road took me. My parents were firm believers that children should spent most of their time outdoors and that it was a day wasted if we didn’t come home with grass stains on our pants and mud on our shoes (even if my mom yelled at us for tracking it in the house. Sorry Ma!)

I’ve held onto that attitude as I grew older, I traded my Huffy for a tent and some hiking boots and off I went. The great outdoors is our greatest resource, and I plan to explore it as much as I possibly can. So stick around, I hope to be able to show you just how kick-ass this world really is.