Chacos column: The doyenne of the trail

I’ve always loved guys, especially smart ones with a personality and good looks. But as I get older, I’m attracted to strong, self-assured women even more than Chris Hemsworth and Jason Momoa combined. According to the Cambridge dictionary, the women I’m drawn to have a fancy French name, too. They are called doyenne, and she is the oldest, most experienced, and often most respected woman involved in a particular type of work.

I stumble upon a group of doyennes in the wild while my dog Jenny is taking me out for a Friday morning hike on a popular trail. Tunes pump out of my earbuds and I’m singing to songs my kids say the actual musician does a better job at executing than me. I assure my sarcastic offspring that in a previous life I was most likely the lead singer in a very edgy rock band. I loudly butcher the lyrics anyway because I’m alone and Jenny doesn’t mind my voice. Her tail is wagging as we meander through the woods.

I turn the corner, look up, and collide with a gaggle of older women. Startled at seeing such a large sea of silver this far from the trailhead, I step aside to catch my breath and let them pass. They laugh and talk excitedly with one another. They’re happy and don’t seem out of breath at all.

I smile, the big goofy kind to match their energy. I’m ready to put them behind me when one of the women stops to ask me a question.

I’m usually not interested in chatting to anyone other than Jenny when I’m hiking but I quickly get wrapped up in the group’s positive spirit and succumb to them wholly. We talk for a short time, and when I finally get back to the parking lot, I can confirm three things.

1.    Connections are key.

I am told about 60 women make up this weekly hiking group. I counted ten on this particular Friday, still an impressive turnout because I can rattle off a fistful of excuses why I’d rather hike alone any day of the week.

The group assured me that as I get older, I will want to connect with others because I will have the time and desire to do so. They acknowledged that right now it’s okay to crave being alone. It gives one time to digest and sort through ideas and process feelings. 

I tell myself time alone is crucial for my family’s well-being. Instead of audibly processing the details of my day at the dinner table, I can give space and attention to my loved ones who have their own needs I want to support. At times though, maybe it’s best to be with a group of wise women instead?

2.    Strong, self-assured women are intoxicating.

Overall, older women have more life experience than me, are emotionally more stable than my younger friends, are grounding to be around, and can offer a perspective my peers don’t yet possess. With only minutes together, I was able to feel the trust these women have in themselves and sense their authenticity. I want to be around women that fuel my curiosity and help me build up confidence in myself. As I drive away, I think finding a group like this could be in my near future.

3.    Jenny is my doyenne of the trail.

I remind myself that I often hike with my companion, Jenny, and I think we have a healthy relationship. My dog likes all the music I spin, especially when I play the Hamilton musical soundtrack and switch to Eminem’s rap without warning. Jenny also enjoys every trail I choose and doesn’t mind when I switch my cadence every quarter mile. Jenny listens to my rantings, looks at me intently, and wouldn’t dream of interrupting me, ever. Jenny is easygoing.

To this day, I haven’t found a man nor woman that could match Jenny’s unwavering support, especially when we’re on a hike. I doubt age, good looks, or the wisdom of a few women on a recent Friday morning could sway my opinion. But I may find myself joining a weekly women’s group for a more interactive and balanced relationship, just in case I’ve been wrong all this time.

Andrea Chacos can be reached at

Doctor’s Tip: How to lower risk for cancer of the pancreas

The pancreas is a large gland located behind the stomach. It secretes insulin, necessary for blood sugar control, directly into the blood stream. It also secretes digestive juices into the small intestine. About 64,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2023 and 50,550 are expected to die from it this year.

There is no way to screen for pancreatic cancer. It’s difficult to diagnose early and treat successfully. Few patients diagnosed with it survive more than a year. Therefore, it’s particularly important to do what you can to prevent it.

Following are tips to help prevent pancreatic cancer, primarily taken from Dr. Michael Greger’s book “How Not to Die” and his website

· Don’t smoke — about 20% of cases of pancreatic cancer are related to smoking.

· Maintain ideal body weight, since obesity is a risk factor. Check your height and weight and google your BMI to find out if you’re overweight.

· Avoid heavy drinking, which is another risk factor. Having more than one drink a day for women and two for men is considered unhealthy — one drink being defined as four ounces of wine, 12 oz of beer, or one oz of hard alcohol.

· Avoid fat from animal products. Dr. Greger notes that older studies have had conflicting results, but a more recent NIH-AARP study showed that “the consumption of fat from all animal sources was significantly associated with pancreatic cancer risk, but no correlation was found with consumption of plant fats.” This means that meat including poultry, seafood, eggs, and all dairy products including cheese and yogurt should be avoided to help reduce risk. Instead, get the fat you need from nuts, seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flax, chia, hemp), olives and avocados.

· To avoid pancreatic cancer, it’s particularly important that you avoid chicken. In a study of 30,000 poultry workers, their risk of pancreatic cancer was found to be nine times the risk in the general population. This is thought to be due to cancer-causing poultry viruses that can be transmitted to humans. Regarding eating chicken, a large European study found a 72% increase in pancreatic cancer for every 50 grams of chicken eaten daily (50 grams is about 1/4th of a chicken breast).

· Eat 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons of turmeric daily, which in the lab has been shown to reverse early cancerous changes in pancreatic cells. Larger doses of turmeric taken daily have been shown to be as effective as chemotherapy in delaying progression of pancreatic cancer.

· Avoid food with a high glycemic index (that raises blood sugar rapidly), such as sugary beverages and “junk food.” In his book “Fast Food Genocide,” Dr. Joel Fuhrman notes that these ultra- processed foods are linked to several types of cancer, including pancreatic.

· Avoid processed meat, such as sausage, lunch meat, bacon and ham. Dr. Fuhrman notes that “increased consumption of processed meat, and meats cooked with typical fast food cooking techniques, correlates positively with the likelihood of developing… pancreatic… cancer.” Carcinogens such as heterocyclic amines are formed when muscle meat “including beef, pork, fish, and poultry” is cooked at high temperatures, such as pan frying and grilling.

· Eat cruciferous vegetables daily such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Bok choy, and brussels sprouts, which have potent cancer-fighting properties. Dr. Fuhrman cites a study showing that one or more servings of cabbage a week reduced risk of pancreatic cancer by 38%.

Another risk factor for developing pancreatic cancer is family history. So, if you have that risk factor it’s particularly important that you pay attention to the other ones. Of course, following these tips are not a guarantee, but it will stack the deck in your favor.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment or email

Guest column: Holy Cross Energy engages more statewide dialogue on rate structure

Since our founding in 1939, Holy Cross Energy (HCE) has provided safe, affordable and reliable electric service to our members. HCE has provided the electricity itself and the means of delivering it to you via our electric grid. Our rates have reflected the costs of the electricity and grid in a single per-kWh energy charge. All the while, HCE has continued to have rates that are among the lowest in Colorado, and thanks to recent investments in new wind and solar projects, HCE is on track to provide greater than 90% clean electricity to its members beginning in early 2024.

Earlier this year, the HCE Board of Directors approved a new rate structure that would have allocated costs more accurately across different types of members, increased our financial sustainability, enabled greater adoption of new technologies and kept our rates competitive with other Colorado utilities while raising our overall revenue by just 2% in 2024.

HCE took public comments on the proposed rate structure for nearly three months, including at a well-attended public meeting with our Board of Directors last May. We heard concerns from low-income HCE members that the demand charge would increase their monthly bills, and we heard concerns from HCE members with rooftop solar that the new structure would reduce the value of their investment, one that is currently heavily subsidized by HCE members who don’t have rooftop solar. In addition, we heard from solar installers that the proposed rate structure would damage their businesses and slow the growth of clean energy. We also received threats of a lawsuit from the Colorado Solar and Storage Association.

Subsequently, in response to a request by the Colorado Energy Office on behalf of Governor Polis, the HCE Board voted in May to pause the proposed rate structure changes, and last week, the Board voted to rescind it altogether. We did so to further enable dialogue and collaboration on a statewide net-metering policy that will meet our needs while also meeting the needs of our members.

We are pleased that the State of Colorado has initiated a more comprehensive and necessary statewide dialogue on net-metering policy in a clean energy future, and we look forward to participating with our friends in the solar industry, consumer advocates, environmental interests, and our fellow electric utilities.

HCE remains committed to leading the responsible transition to a clean energy future in an equitable and inclusive way that can inspire others to act similarly. This means listening to our members and communities when they express concerns, engaging in rational discussion and debate to find common ground, and working together to find solutions that can take us forward on our shared Journey to 100% clean energy. We look forward to working with you on this challenge, and we invite you to join us to help plan our next steps, together.

Bryan Hannegan is President and CEO of Holy Cross Energy, based in Glenwood Springs and serving parts of Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin and Gunnison counties.

Superintendent column: Roaring Fork School District students’ path to success

Over 6,000 children in the Roaring Fork Schools are finishing the seventh week of school this Friday. They have settled into daily routines and schedules, they know what to expect in terms of assignments and classroom standards, and many have even explored the valley on experiential education field trips and adventures.

Five hundred of our students are in their final year with the school district; our seniors are envisioning post-graduation career plans and some have begun college applications. Those students who were new to us in August (over 700 preschool-kindergartners) have overcome new school nervousness, and now hurry into our elementary schools each day ready to greet their friends and get to work.

Student athletes are halfway through the fall season, setting goals towards regional and state competitions. Student clubs have launched and activities are planned — including high school homecoming celebrations in the next few weeks. 

Our dedicated staff have also settled into routines. They know all their students’ names, strengths and challenges. They know who needs additional academic or behavioral support. They are monitoring student progress and tracking growth. They are circling up with colleagues on teams and committees to make sure students have the resources they need to be successful.

Our operational and support staff continue to do essential and often unnoticed work to ensure our systems, buildings, buses and food services are running smoothly. Student and family support staff are building relationships and connecting families to community resources to ensure they have basic needs covered.

Roaring Fork Schools also receive generous support from local organizations who partner with us to provide students access to resources and programming we otherwise couldn’t sustain at our small schools. And, at every single school, parent volunteers offer time, expertise and enthusiasm to make sure classroom teachers are supported, schools have strong parent partnership and student activities are rich with resources and human capital. 

The success of our 6,000 students depends on a complex network of student engagement, parental support, community collaboration, staff professionalism and dedication. Our network is strong; recent school performance data from the Colorado Department of Education indicates that every Roaring Fork school sustained or improved performance over the last 12 months. Most of our students are growing academically equal to or more than similar peers across the state.

But, we continue to have tenacious and very real challenges.

Achievement gaps between our Latinx and white students are exceedingly large; our schools do not deliver similar academic outcomes for emerging bilingual students as compared to native English speakers, or for students of color as compared to their white peers. All of our students need to be supported to increase academic achievement and growth; and it is essential we strengthen support for our majority Latinx and emerging bilingual students whose growth and achievement is far behind their peers. We know one of the most important factors for student success is investing in talented, experienced staff. But the Roaring Fork Schools struggle to recruit and retain teachers and staff as the cost of living in the valley continues to rise. 

For these reasons, our strategic priorities this year are to increase equity in student achievement, focusing on strengthening high quality instruction and school culture; and recruitment and retention, focusing on creative strategies to support and sustain staff who reflect the diversity of our students and communities. An additional priority this year is the continuation of our decade-long community-based strategic planning process. The time has come for the Roaring Fork Schools to develop a new five-year strategic plan in collaboration with our community. Focus group and community input sessions are underway with additional opportunities for community involvement over the next few months. 

This school year, we are also carefully implementing and monitoring new initiatives. We have launched the Colorado Healthy School Meals for All Program, delivering breakfast and lunch to all students at no cost, expanding meal services significantly. Our early childhood education programs are rolling out the Universal Preschool Program (UPK) which provides preschool tuition benefits to all 4 year olds and some 3 year olds. And, our 23/24 school year initiatives related to strengthening attendance and school safety reflect our priorities around student achievement and safe, welcoming school cultures. We may only be in the second month of school, but our students, staff, partners and families are very hard at work.

None of this work would be possible without our talented educators, essential support staff, engaged families, collaborative partners, and our diverse, dedicated and hard-working students. They hold us accountable, challenge us to do better, and inspire us to come together to support the growth, achievement and future of our children and communities. We look forward to the work ahead this school year and to setting the course for the next five. 

Dr. Anna Cole is the Acting Superintendent of the Roaring Fork Schools. She is also the RFSD Chief of Student & Family Services.

Guest column: Fixing limited availability of hospital and nursing home options

A hospice needs a home of its own. What does a home for Hospice have to do with a subdivision application?

First, a brief history of Hospice of the Valley is in order. In 2008, the regional hospice of the Colorado Rivers and Roaring Fork Valleys closed its doors leaving no hospice care available in our area. It was Markey Butler who acted to fill the vacancy with the founding of Hospice of the Valley. Not long after, we acted on the opportunity to join Vail Home Health to create our long-time identity, HomeCare and Hospice of the Valley.

The agency continued to grow through the years, as did our older demographic. The scattered service of over 6,000 square miles, covering the residents of Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin, and portions of Gunnison counties became problematic. Given the geography, and hiring and retention issues, the ability to continue to provide the compassionate and dignified care we were committed to for our patients was becoming unsustainable. Unfortunately, as the operation continued to increase in both scope and cost, the reimbursement for these programs decreased. During a Board and Staff retreat in the fall of 2021, after an examination of the facts at hand, it was clear that the current business model was unsustainable. Even worse was the realization that the HomeCare portion of the model had been draining resources from the hospice portion of the organization, which we all agreed was our primary mission. In a subsequent Board meeting, we slowly moved away from the Home Care line of business.

During the COVID pandemic, most patients were able to remain home with family and caregivers and received the support of Home Care and Hospice of the Valley. However, there was also an increased demand for support for patients with severe symptom management needs requiring care in hospitals and nursing homes. Unfortunately, because of COVID restrictions, many patients passed away in isolation. In addition, post-pandemic caregiver burnout, combined with limited facility staff, made it more difficult for patients to access general inpatient hospice care that allows families to take a well-deserved break from their demanding routines. The limited availability of hospital and nursing home options continues to make this respite care a worsening problem.

All of this points to the obvious solution of a free-standing Hospice House to complete our continuum of dignified, compassionate, end-of-life care for our community.

We have been searching for six years to find an appropriate location and began discussions with Robert Macgregor several years ago. He has graciously provided a site within his proposed Flying M Ranch PUD subdivision, well under market value. The PUD itself is approximately 34 acres, 5 ½ miles south of Glenwood Springs near Riverside School, along the Roaring Fork River across from Westbank. It provides a mix of housing aimed at families with moderate income.

The proposal passed the Garfield County Planning Commission by a 7 to 1 margin and will be presented to the County Commissioners on Oct. 2.

In conclusion, we are the only licensed and certified, non-profit, community-based agency providing hospice services from Vail Pass to Parachute and up to Aspen while continuing to receive a 10/10 rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services. We are proud to offer unparalleled personal care, expert symptom, and pain management, along with comprehensive emotional, spiritual, and bereavement support.

Peter Guy is the board chair Hospice of the Valley.

Doctor’s Tip: How to prevent cancer of the esophagus

The esophagus is the tube-like structure that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. About 18,000 new cases of esophageal cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. annually, resulting in some 15,000 deaths. Once diagnosed, the prognosis is grim: the five-year survival rate is only 20 percent, with most people dying within the first year.

There are two types of esophageal cancer: Squamous cell carcinoma makes up 90 percent of cases in Eastern and Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s column is about adenocarcinoma, that makes up most of the cases in the U.S. and Northern and Western Europe. Risk factors for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus include age (50-70); obesity; tobacco; and particularly chronic GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, a.k.a. acid reflux).

According to Dr. Michael Greger in “How Not to Die,” the incidence of esophageal cancer in America has increased six-fold over the past three decades, primarily due to an increase in GERD. It’s interesting that 28% of Americans suffer from acid reflux at least weekly, whereas in Asia only 5% of the population is affected. The difference is not genetic, because when Asians move here and eat the typical meat, dairy-based, and processed food American diet they suffer the same rate of GERD as the rest of us. The difference is in what they eat in their native countries.

The most consistent factor associated with esophageal cancer is the consumption of meat and fat. A few minutes after eating a fatty meal, the sphincter muscle between the lower end of the esophagus and stomach relaxes, allowing acid to backflow into the esophagus, where it doesn’t belong. This reflux of stomach acid often causes a burning sensation in the chest (“heartburn”). Over the years, the chronic irritation and inflammation from acid reflux leads to Barrett’s esophagus, which is a pre-cancerous abnormality of the lower esophagus. Eventually, cancer can ensure. (Scarring of the lower esophagus can also occur, resulting in difficulty swallowing food).

Fiber—which is found in plant but not animal products—decreases reflux and reduces risk of esophageal cancer by at least a third. Fiber also prevents constipation. Increased abdominal pressure due to straining to have a bowel movement can cause a hiatal hernia, where part of the stomach is pushed up through the diaphragm, which separates the chest and abdominal cavities. Hiatal hernias are often the cause of cancer-causing acid reflux. Furthermore, fiber also binds to and “flushes out” cancer-causing environmental toxins.

Plant foods not only contain fiber, but they also contain antioxidants and other cancer-killing micronutrients. Dr. Greger notes that “the most protective foods for esophageal cancer are red, orange, and dark-green leafy vegetables, berries, apples, and citrus fruits.” In a randomized study, patients with mild to moderate precancerous esophageal lesions were given large quantities of powdered strawberries daily for six months, and progression of disease was reversed in 80% of participants; in 50% the disease totally resolved.

Bottom line: To avoid this often-fatal cancer, maintain ideal body weight, don’t use tobacco, eat a high fiber diet, and eat intensely-colored fruits and vegetables (“eat the rainbow”). If food gets stuck when you swallow it, or if you have more than occasional heartburn, don’t just pop acid-reducing pills like Prilosec, but see your primary care provider. An upper endoscopy by a gastroenterologist can determine if you have pre-cancerous Barrett’s esophagitis. In many patients with mild to moderate reflux, the problem resolves with healthier eating; avoiding aspirin, ibuprofen, and other irritating anti-inflammatory agents; raising the head of the bed on 4-6-inch blocks (or use of a foam wedge); avoiding alcohol and caffeine; and waiting at least two hours between eating and going to bed.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment or email

Carsten column: Vitamin B12 and our pet companions

Vitamin B12 plays a critical role in the metabolism of every cell in the body. It is converted into co-factors that aid the function of specific enzymes involved in DNA synthesis and regulation, lipid and protein metabolism and cell energy production. This translates into important roles in formation of red blood cells, function of the brain and nerves and gastrointestinal health.

Organs or tissues with a high rate of cell turnover like the bone marrow and gastrointestinal tract especially need vitamin B12. Deficiencies can be seen as anemia, digestive disorders like chronic diarrhea, weight loss, poor appetite and neurological problems ranging from minor behavior changes to severe degenerative issues.

Cobalamins are a group of structurally similar compounds that are collectively referred to as vitamin B12. However, biochemical terminology restricts the name, vitamin B12 to a specific form of cobalamin known as cyanocobalamin. It is a water soluble compound that is not stored in the body and can only be synthesized by microorganisms in the colon. Vitamin B12 is found only in animal sources like meat, fish, and eggs unless the food is fortified (supplemented) with vitamin B12.

Even though it was isolated almost 60 years ago, vitamin B12 metabolism is not completely understood. It is a complex, multi-step process. Ironically, even though vitamin B12 is produced by microorganisms in the colon, it is not absorbed into the body in the colon. This means it has to be ingested with food.

There is a complex process for absorption in the body. Initially any free (not bound to protein) vitamin B12 in food is bound by a cobalamin-binding protein found in saliva. As more vitamin B12 is released from food under the influence of digestive processes in the stomach this free vitamin B12 is also bound to the cobalamin-binding protein. In the duodenum (upper small intestine) digestive enzymes release the vitamin B12 from the cobalamin-binding protein. Once released, vitamin B12 is then bound to intrinsic factor from the exocrine pancreas. The exocrine pancreas is the part of the pancreas that produces digestive enzymes and other factors that are secreted into the intestine during the digestive process. Intrinsic factor is a transport protein that allows for absorption of vitamin B12 in the ileum (end of the small intestines). Once absorbed, vitamin B12 is transported to the liver.

With this brief overview it is easy to see potential problems with ensuring that there are adequate levels of this important vitamin in the body. For example, if the pancreas cannot produce enough intrinsic factor, vitamin B12 cannot be properly absorbed. The exocrine pancreas is the major source of intrinsic factor in dogs and the only source in cats. This means that proper function of the pancreas is essential for vitamin B12 absorption. Intrinsic factor is species specific so that the use of bovine pancreatic enzyme extracts are not sufficient to restore vitamin B12 absorption. In addition, if the ileum is diseased or has significant enough reduction in ability to absorb vitamin B12, deficiency can occur. Assuming adequate vitamin B12 in the diet, other potential contributors to poor vitamin B12 absorption include chronic pancreatitis, parasitic infections, inflammatory bowel issues and age.

Measurement of blood levels of vitamin B12 is readily available and can be valuable in a range of health conditions or concerns including chronic digestive problems, weight loss and exocrine pancreas insufficiency (EPI). Supplementation can be done orally with vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) or by injection. Oral supplementation may not be as effective for certain problems as the injection is. For example, dogs or cats with disease of the ileum may not be able to absorb adequate amounts of vitamin B12.

If you have questions about vitamin B12 and your pet companion, contact your veterinarian.

Ron Carsten, DVM, PhD, CVA, CCRT was one of the first veterinarians in Colorado to use the integrative approach, has lectured widely to veterinarians and has been a pioneer in the therapeutic use of food concentrates to manage clinical problems. He is also the founder of Colorado Animal Rescue (CARE). In addition to his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, he holds a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology and is a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist and Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist. He practices integrative veterinary medicine in Glenwood Springs. Dr. Carsten is the 2022 Colorado Veterinary Medical Association Distinguished Service Award recipient.

Vidakovich column: Running races on the horizon

With all of the upcoming fitness events dotting the fall calendar in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys, it’s not anywhere near the time to start thinking about tossing those running, walking and hiking shoes into the back of the closet.

Along with getting some exercise during the best time of year to be outside in western Colorado, your participation in any of these five kilometer runs (or walks) will go a long way toward helping local charitable organizations benefit people and animals in need.

This coming Saturday, Sept. 23, there are two destinations hosting fundraisers. The second annual Strides for Giving 5k Run/Walk will take place at Centennial Park in Rifle. Registration begins at 9 a.m. with the race starting time slated for 10am. Registration cost is $40 and can be completed online at The Strides for Giving 5k raises funds to help provide meals during the holiday season for families in need from New Castle to Parachute.

Also on Sept. 23, Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel will be hosting the Vitality 5k. Raising money for Parkinson Disease awareness and treatment is the focus of this event. There is no registration fee. A donation of your choice will gladly and gratefully be accepted. For more information, go to

Running for — not from — the animals at Silt’s Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation will be the order of the day on Saturday, Oct. 14. The Schneegas Wildlife Foundation has been the home for the rehabilitation and release of injured and orphaned creatures of the wild for almost five decades. The Run for Their Lives 5k begins and ends at the Stoney Ridge Ball Field in Silt. For this race, $25 will get you registered starting at 8 a.m., with the race set to begin at 9 a.m. To guarantee a t-shirt, you must register by Oct. 1 at the website, or by calling Nanci Limbach at 970-896-6895. As well as helping our four-legged friends, the Foundation also provides educational programs for schools, clubs and businesses.

On Sunday, Oct. 29, Glenwood’s second oldest race, the Sequoia Glen 5k will make its 33rd appearance on the local racing circuit. Second only to the Strawberry Shortcut in tenure, the $20 entry fee for Sequoia Glen will go to several local animal shelters, including CARE, the Journey Home Shelter in Rifle, Lucky Day Animal Rescue in Aspen, and the remarkable Ursula at the Valley Dog Rescue in Carbondale. For Sequoia Glen, there is race day only registration that will begin at 9 a.m. at the start line just west of the Two Rivers Community School in west Glenwood. The out and back run (more like up and down) will begin at 10 a.m. sharp, taking runners and walkers on a scenic tour up Mitchell Creek Road and above the Glenwood Fish Hatchery before turning around and whistling back down the mountain. Halloween attire is highly encouraged, but not mandatory.

Rumor has it that the Glenwood Turkey Trot will be back on Thanksgiving Day at the Glenwood Community Center. As many of you already know, there are also opportunities on Thanksgiving Day to run off a few calories before the big feast in other towns around the area. Basalt, Carbondale, and Rifle will host 5k runs that day as well as the one in Glenwood. Get in touch with Tiffany Lindenberg at the community center for more information on the GS Turkey Trot.

Finally, there’s a quaint little run that takes place the day after Thanksgiving each year at Anytime Fitness just south of Glenwood off Colorado Highway 82. The Burn the Turkey 5k is an out and back course on the Rio Grande Trail, and the folks at Anytime Fitness do a great job of putting things together. In the past, there has been no entry fee, just a donation of non-perishable food of your choice. A nice t-shirt, a few taco certificates, and some good company are the reward for getting up from the couch the day after Turkey Day and getting some much needed exercise.

If you haven’t already, get off your keister right now and start training, there are a lot of great causes you could help out by showing up at some of these events. The number one cause you can benefit is yourself. It’s never too early, or late, to start getting in shape. Now is the time.

Get moving, and see you on the roads and trails.

Glenwood Springs native Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer, teacher and youth sports coach. His column appears on occasion in the Post Independent and at

Writers on the Range: Report from Burning Man 2023

After a quiet year of preparation and premature eulogies, Burning Man roared into the news this August. There were unplanned fires, protesters and three hurricane-fueled rainstorms that turned the Nevada desert into a sea of mud.

Before it even got going, the event known for its whimsical art, leave-no-trace ethos and sharing economy began with a brief disruption by climate activists blocking its entrance. The 10 protesters from the Seven Circles Alliance chained themselves to a trailer in the middle of Highway 447 and put up handmade signs proclaiming “Abolish Capitalism,” “Burners Unite” and “Ban Private Jets.”

In other pre-event excitement, I saw an SUV and attached trailer burst into flames due to some bad choices in gasoline storage. Then a campmate of mine fell off one of those electric, one-wheel skateboards, breaking several ribs and other bones.

Within minutes, Josh, who had come from Mexico, was picked up by a playa ambulance. Within hours he was flown to Reno for a better diagnosis and surgery. And within days, repaired Josh was back with one steel plate and six screws. Mere seconds after returning, he was back at work with his one good arm.

This was his first time at Burning Man, but like me, he was there to help get its basic structures ready to welcome this year’s 73,000 people, all coming to the middle of nowhere in Nevada.

In my 26 years of helping out and writing about Burning Man, I’ve talked about its art that you’d see nowhere else: a clown committing a felony, clothing-optional celebrators, flaming objects and soul-crushing dust storms. It still is all that times 10, but this year it added several days of mud to the mythology.

You may think you know mud, but there is no mud like the playa mud of the Black Rock Desert, some 100 miles northeast of Reno. Once it was part of Lake Lahontan, which was more than 500 feet deep about 14,000 years ago. After its water evaporated, a deep layer of silt got left behind, and now even a small amount of rain can turn that silt into a mud bog.

Around midnight on August 20, Hurricane Hilary sent a lot of rain our way, and by morning the water was ankle-deep outside my trailer. The sun did not shine for 36 hours, roads were closed and nobody could get in or out.

As people finally emerged from their shelters, looking relieved, the sound of squelching filled the air. Playa mud is mean. It aspires to be quicksand, but it is not quite as cinematic or deep enough. It can only eat shoes and tires. The best way to get around on foot seemed to be bare feet protected by plastic bags.

What is the opposite of sticky? Slippery. The mud, angered by not being able to eat shoes, turned slick and big splashes could be heard. A flop in warm mud might sound like a pleasant spa experience until you realize there is not enough water in Nevada to get it off. And a flop can leave bruises.

Playa mud also does not want you to drive. Either your wheel wells fill up with a chocolatey donut of collected mud or you spin holes axle-deep. In either case you will be laughed at first and rescued much later.

This happens even in the summer when wet mud lurks under a dry, cracked surface, daring you to cross it. I took the dare one July and sat there for a long day until someone more experienced pulled me to solid land. Lesson learned, mud respected.

Astute Burning Man historians will also remember the great rainstorm of 2014, though this year was different. This downpour lasted much longer and put a stop to everyone’s setup schedule as hundreds of postholes sat waiting for their posts.

Finally, the sun did shine and people rejoiced on their islands. They shared food and drink. Animals crawled up on shore, traded their fins for legs, stood upright and continued their journeys. The playa mud had exacted its price and let humans roam free to return to their off-playa lives.

Weeks after the great splashing, it had all become an embellished myth with wild exaggeration and heroic stories to be shared. Some will claim it was epic.

Dennis Hinkamp is a contributor to Writers on the Range,, an independent nonprofit dedicated to spurring lively conversation about the West. He lives and writes in Utah.

Nuisance species can outcompete and displace native species

Nuisance species are detrimental to watersheds and to the native species within them. During eras of human expansion, settlers and homesteaders often brought crops, plants, trees and fish species with them from their places of origin. Species were introduced into new landscapes without any consideration of the environmental repercussions. Many of these non-native species thrived in their new environments and established themselves in their new landscapes, often outcompeting and displacing native species.

Non-natives species are defined as populations of species that are living outside of their naturally occurring range. Most commonly, these species were introduced by humans for recreational, food consumption, or nostalgic purposes. Generally, they were not introduced with any malice, just lake of forethought or ignorance of the unintended consequences.

Nuisance and invasive species are often introduced, but an introduced species isn’t always nuisance or invasive. An introduced species is a non-native species that has economic, recreational, or biological value whose benefits outweigh any harm to native populations or ecosystems. Introduced fish species such as rainbow and brown trout are larger than native cutthroat trout, making them popular target species for recreational angling.

An invasive species is a non-native nuisance species that outcompetes, harms, displaces, or creates undesirable conditions for native populations. Nuisance species are invasives that require active suppression, often at great expense, due to their potential for ecosystem and biological harm.

Colorado’s early history of limited management and lack of regulation for nuisance species has allowed many non-native species to establish themselves. Concentrations of these species are found alongside areas of high human use. Species have been introduced since the 19th century, many populations of non-natives are long established and wide ranging. At this point many are impractical to remove.

Non-natives often persist because they have no natural predators, they may have the ability to outcompete natives, and are often easily transferable. Transfers can occur from something as simple as a seed attaching to your hiking shoe at one location, then detaching during your next hike at a different location. Aquatic organisms can attach to gear or boats and be transported unknowingly to new bodies of water. Intentional introduction of species also occurs, such as people dumping home fish tanks or bait buckets into bodies of water. The introduced plants and fish can propagate and potentially take over the ecosystem.

Invasives can be larger in size, have higher food consumption drives, superior mobility, or advanced morphologies that give them a competitive edge. Non-native species can also have wider tolerance ranges for temperature, drought, or other environmental parameters. Having a wider tolerance also gives them a long-term advantage in adapting to a changing climate.

Introduced species can also be vectors of disease. When they are introduced into a new environment, they can bring disease with them. Native and established populations may be exposed to new diseases that they have historically never encountered and do not have the ability to fight off.

Every ecosystem has a limited number of resources, non-native species can consume resources historically used exclusively by native species. For example, in an aquatic environment such as a lake, an invasive mussel species can interrupt the lower trophic levels by consuming oxygen and nutrients, leaving nothing for native organisms. Invasive plant species, such as tamarisk may consume up to 200 gallons of water per day, removing scarce resources with no benefit to native ecosystems or local economies.

Human transfers of non-native species occur both unwittingly and deliberately. Most often introduction occurs unintentionally, as with tiny mussels attached to boat hulls, propellers or in live wells. Unfortunately, some bad actors deliberately move fish and other species between bodies of water for personal benefit without permission from aquatic managers.

Education, outreach, regulation, and enforcement are key to altering the behavior of people who illegally transport and introduce nuisance species. Nuisance species cause severe ecological impacts by competing with and displacing native species. Removal of nuisance species is very costly and labor intensive. The best approach for managing nuisance species is to prevent species from being introduced in the first place.