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Watch: Glenwood Springs Community Garden celebrates 10 years

The Glenwood Springs Community Garden manager Karen Garrison talks sustainable gardening, sharing food – and hard work at the nonprofit’s 10th anniversary celebration Tuesday, August 20.



Striking a Conversation: Mental Health For All Ages

As part of its annual Longevity Project, the Post Independent is embarking on an enterprise series titled “Striking a Conversation: Mental Health for All Ages.”

The goal is to not just look at problems affecting our communities, but discuss possible solutions. 

Last year’s Longevity Project examined issues associated with the aging demographic in Garfield County, life expectancy rates and how to stay active and productive after retirement.

This year, the project is diving into the broader issue of mental health across the age spectrum as a cornerstone of living a long, productive life.

“Throughout conversations in the past year, mental health keeps coming up as an issue,” Post Independent Publisher Jerry Raehal said. “From rising suicide rates to homelessness, to how we treat each other at work and at home, mental health is a topic that is often overlooked as stigmatized.”

An increase in the number of suicides in Garfield County has been a growing concern for many years; even more so in the past year as the upward trend continues.

Garfield County public health officials were alarmed last summer when there was a sudden spike of six suicide deaths in July alone.

According to Mason Hohstadt, who chairs the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Garfield County, by the conclusion of 2018 the county coroner’s office had investigated 19 suicide deaths.

Suicide Crisis and Mental Health Help Resources

Hope Center crisis line: 970-925-5858

Mind Springs crisis line: 844-493-8255

Aspenstrong.org: mental health services

Mantherapy.org: For men only

Colorado Crisis Services: 844-493-8255 or text TALK to 38255

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

2019 Longevity Project Events

Part of the Longevity project is a series of micro-events starting August 20 that will culminate on Sept. 17 with our main event featuring speaker and humorist Frank King, who also goes by the name, “the mental health comedian.”

Frank King

FREE micro-events
August 20 – Issues Facing Young Children
August 27 – Topic TBD
September 3 – Topic TBD
September 10 – Topic TBD
Location: Glenwood Library upstairs breakout room.
Time: 5:30PM to 7:00PM.

Main event
September 17, doors open at 5PM
Local panel speakers at 6PM
Keynote speaker, Frank King at 7PM
Buy tickets for the main event here

About Frank King 
Frank King, aka The Mental Health Comedian, is a Suicide Prevention and Post-vention Public Speaker and Trainer who turned a lifelong battle with depression into a keynote worth spreading. After writing for the Tonight Show for 20-plus years and performing corporate comedy, Frank’s attention…His mission is to end the stigma surrounding mental health by sharing his insights with anyone and everyone who will listen in an effort to “start the conversation.” Frank has thought about killing himself more times than he can count. Like many of us, depression and suicide run in his family. He addresses his own trials and tribulations using a tool people from all walks of life can relate to, humor. With his TED Talk A Matter of Life or Death” he openly addresses topics considered taboo in today’s society.

All ticket sales to King’s event will be donated to nonprofits focused on mental health or abuse issues in Garfield County.

2019 Longevity Project Stories


Longevity Part I: Breaking down early childhood bullying

During the course of her 20-year career as an educator, Audrey Hazleton has had plenty of difficult phone calls with parents.

“It’s just as hard to get a phone call that your child has hurt someone as it is that your child has been hurt,” said Hazleton, the Glenwood Springs Elementary School principal. “In fact, it might be even harder to get the call that your child hurt somebody.

“It’s really hard to hear that your child hasn’t been kind to another child. It goes really deep.”

At the elementary school level, professionals like Hazleton find themselves explaining to parents the difference between a child acting “mean” and one who is participating in full-fledged bullying.

“That’s really important in parent education is helping parents understand the difference, so that we can help parents help their kids,” Hazleton said.

Continue reading here.

Mental health professionals speak to adverse effects of too much screen time

Mental health care professionals cannot stress enough the importance of limiting the amount of time children spend staring at electronic device screens.

“It has a profound impact,” Mountain Family Health Centers marriage and family therapist and addiction counselor Oyen Hoffman said. “There is a whole part of their brain that will not develop if they have too much screen time.”

According to Hoffman, the creative part of a child’s brain suffers dramatically from too much time spent on tablets, watching TV and playing video games. Specifically, in young children between the ages of 3 and 12, too much screen time can equate to a child’s inability to self soothe, problem solve and deal with boredom.

Continue reading here.

Shutterstock illustration

Longevity Part 2: Positive mental wellness through teen years key to healthy life later on

An obvious or even subtle mood swing, withdrawing from a favorite social activity, or isolating oneself from a close group of friends or family could be all it takes to prompt the simple question.

Are you doing OK?

It’s a query Lily McCann-Klausz says she thinks about more after her involvement in the latest YouthZone mural project in Glenwood Springs.

The mural was designed to depict a young person’s journey from negative to positive mental health.

“A lot of people today are struggling with a mental health issue, especially teens. But it’s difficult to reach out,” McCann-Klausz, a junior at Rifle High School, said. “Often, you know something’s going on, but it’s so personal that it’s hard to talk about it.”

Continue reading here.


Anxiety vs Depression: Understanding the difference

Can you distinguish between anxiety and depression? Although some symptoms can often overlap, it’s important to get understand the difference between the two in order to treat them correctly.

Suicide Rates in Garfield County

Since 2015 in Garfield County, 58 people died by suicide, according to Garfield County Public Health. Additionally, 27 percent of those 58 people suffered from anxiety, 47 percent were diagnosed with depression, and half told someone they were considering suicide.

Seeking professional help

Mountain Family Health’s Oyen Hoffman explains how behavioral help professionals can assist in a moment of crisis, and what that first session looks like.

Teens: A clear head is a cool head

Roaring Fork School District prevention specialist Sonja Linman talks about substance abuse among teens and building a culture focused on wellness instead of drinking.

Anxiety and Depression in Children

Oyen Hoffman of Mountain Family Health Centers talks about the symptoms of anxiety and depression in children.

Read More: 2018 Longevity Project Stories

Longevity Part I: Breaking down early childhood bullying


“Striking a Conversation: Mental Health for All Ages”

Presented by Renew Senior Communities and Connect For Health Colorado

About the Longevity Project:

Annually, the Post Independent takes a deep dive on a health issue with a mixture of reporting and events. The topic of this year’s Longevity Series is “Striking a Conversation: Mental Health for All Ages.” Through this process, the PI via a four-part series will examine mental health issues and solutions for different age ranges, including: youth, teens to young adult, middle age, and seniors.

In addition to reporting, the PI and the Longevity sponsors will be conducting several “micro-events” addressing specific age ranges, as well as a final event  the evening of Sept. 17 in which mental health comedian Frank King will present on his path and ways to strike a conversation about mental health.

During the course of her 20-year career as an educator, Audrey Hazleton has had plenty of difficult phone calls with parents.

“It’s just as hard to get a phone call that your child has hurt someone as it is that your child has been hurt,” said Hazleton, the Glenwood Springs Elementary School principal. “In fact, it might be even harder to get the call that your child hurt somebody.

“It’s really hard to hear that your child hasn’t been kind to another child. It goes really deep.”

At the elementary school level, professionals like Hazleton find themselves explaining to parents the difference between a child acting “mean” and one who is participating in full-fledged bullying.

“That’s really important in parent education is helping parents understand the difference, so that we can help parents help their kids,” Hazleton said.

A young child who gets bullied may end up suffering from severe mental distress ranging from feeling alone to depression and more — both in the moment or later in life. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines bullying as any unwanted aggressive behavior that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance.

“Bullying is ongoing, it doesn’t stop … and it’s targeted,” Hazleton said.

“Where being mean is kids …  learning how to handle and deal with conflict, and they have moments when they’re not kind. They are learning to be kind.”

Boys do not necessarily bully more than girls and both do so in their own way according to Marriage and Family Therapist Oyen Hoffman with Mountain Family Health Centers.

“Girls can be very mean and cruel in the way they bully,” Hoffman said. “Boys can be more physical.”

A necessary learning curve takes shape when a child goes from playing at home to a classroom full of kids; such a transition can serve as an educational experience for parents, too.

“When a kid’s at home by himself or with his sibling, they can play and it’s no big deal,” said Behavioral Health Director Dr. Gary Schreiner, also with Mountain Family Health Centers. “But, when you put that kid in with a classroom of 30 kids, that’s a very different environment, and parents sometimes have a hard time understanding that.”

Long-term Effects

In severe cases, repeated adolescent bullying may lead to the development of post traumatic stress disorder.

“It’s a very, very serious problem,” Hoffman said.

Also an addiction counselor, Hoffman explained how shame more so than guilt manifests within bullied children. Guilt focuses on what a person has done wrong whereas shame makes individuals feel wrong about being themselves.

“They could live a life of low self-esteem and of shame just resulting from childhood bullying,” Hoffman said. “For a kid that has been bullied it looks like an ongoing, pervasive sense of stress regarding how other people view them or how well they feel like they are accepted in society.”

Pervasive and personal, bullying’s mental and physical effects may include: low self-esteem, symptoms of depression and anxiety, sleeplessness, bad dreams, gastrointestinal problems and other chronic illnesses as a result of a depressed immune system.

A bully may undergo just as much trauma as those he or she bullies, too.

“They are probably not natural bullies. There is something going on in their life that is causing them to act out,” Hoffman said. “Either they are getting abused at home, neglected or who knows what is going on in the bully’s life, but they can end up with moral and spiritual wounds thinking about what they did in their past.”

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Prevention in Schools

Whenever health care professionals or educators discuss bullying, they always bring up isolation.

“At all of our Roaring Fork Schools, the goal is that we establish a culture of strong relationships where kids and teachers know each other well,” Hazleton said. “We know that is the number one preventative to bullying because typically that happens when kids feel isolated or separated from a group.”

The activity known as “crew,” which Glenwood Springs Elementary children practice 30 minutes daily, features team building exercises and provides kids with an adult crew leader.

The academic routine features anti-bullying curriculum, zeroes in on social-emotional learning and works to create stronger relationships among children, parents and their crew leader.

“We do want our kids to look out for each other,” Sopris Elementary School Counselor Megan Rentz said. “We want them to build meaningful relationships with each other. They don’t always have to get along, but they need the skills and support to get through it.”

Rentz said during crew time, children sit in a circle for an icebreaker activity to start their day. Depending on the social and emotional topic, the crew leader will read a quote or story for children to reflect upon. The regimented curriculum gives children a voice and new perspectives.

“It’s a safety net for kids and for families to have that point person,” Hazleton explained of a crew leader, who oftentimes doubles as the child’s homeroom teacher in elementary schools. “Crew is a lot of learning about developing empathy and developing an understanding of reading the clues of when another child might be hurting.”

While crew takes aim at minimizing isolation, another educational tool known as restorative practices expands upon on one of crew’s other missions – fostering the development of empathy.

“The idea behind restorative practices is that when something happens or a problem occurs or someone causes harm to someone else that there is a process for understanding and repairing the harm that’s been done,” Hazleton said.

Although restorative practices include consequences, the method also helps children understand how their actions affected their peers by having to hear from them directly.

“The process needs to be broader than, ‘You did this and that happens to you,’ because that has shown not to work in schools,” Hazleton said. “When kids have to own their behavior and talk to perhaps the people that they have offended and repair it, they’ll learn from that and are less likely to do it again.”

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Understanding the Signs

Bullied children do not always readily come forward to discuss their experience, which makes intervention and help equally difficult for parents to offer.

In younger children, parents should look for agitation, anger and increased temper tantrums.

“Any kind of radical change in behavior,” Hoffman said. “It’s really important for parents to engage and talk with their kids and make sure their kids are talking to them about what they are experiencing in school.”

How a child should handle bullying varies. However, according to Hoffman, the answer generally lies within the child’s instincts.

“As a parent I would want my child to trust his or her own instincts as to how to best deal with the problem,” Hoffman said. “Not trying to solve every problem for your child is important and allowing your child some space to come up with their own solutions is going to build their self-esteem and help them deal with bullies right now in their life and later in their life.”

Shutterstock image

While bullying at school can lead to low self-esteem in a child, a good home life can minimize the repeated, aggressive and unwanted behavior’s negative effects.

“Self-esteem comes primarily from home,” Hoffman said. “So if they get a really good home life where mom and dad are involved and active in their life, the bullies are going to be less impactful.” 

By the numbers
National Alliance on Mental Illness

Watch: Anxiety and Depression in Children

Oyen Hoffman of Mountain Family Health Centers talks about the symptoms of anxiety and depression in children.


Watch: Making a splash at the new Glenwood Hot Springs Resort water attractions

The largest mineral hot springs pool in the world is adding more soak-filled fun options to visitors of all ages with a whole new area on the west end of the property, featuring new attractions available at no additional cost to all pool ticket holders and lodge guests.

The “Sopris Splash Zone” replaced the old water slides and miniature golf course area, and now features mini water slides, a zero-depth entry pool, a shaded seating area, and a replica of another well-known Glenwood Springs attraction, the Hanging Lake falls.

Also part of the new area is the whitewater tube ride “Shoshone Chutes,” which is definitely a hit — although its unavoidable long line, probably not so much.

And coming soon, the “Grand Fountain” is expected to spray water during the day and put on a light show by night.


On Wednesday, July 31, we spent the afternoon at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, taking a tour of the property, including the Spa of the Rockies, Lodge, and their new water attractions.


Watch: Carbondale Mountain Fair 2019

Saturday, July 27

Friday, July 26

Men’s wood splitting competition

Happening now at Carbondale Mountain Fair: men’s wood splitting competition

Posted by Glenwood Springs Post Independent on Saturday, July 27, 2019

Friday Drum Circle

We are live from day one of this year’s Carbondale Mountain Fair! Are you coming?

Posted by Glenwood Springs Post Independent on Friday, July 26, 2019

Carbondale Mountain Fair celebrates community, creativity, homecomings

There wasn’t exactly a rainbow to mark the opening of the 48th Mountain Fair in Carbondale, but the sun did peek through the clouds despite rainstorms throughout the Valley.

The theme for this year is the Rainbow Connection, but the absence of rain in Carbondale’s Sopris Park Friday afternoon was appreciated.

“We are so blessed here. It is torrentially raining everywhere but here. The magic of Mountain Fair is already upon us,” Friday emcee Katrina Byars said to mark the beginning of the festivities.

Actually, the festivities had already started — the famous drum circle kicked off 20 minutes early, then began again after a blessing from Ute elder Roland McCook.

“The atmosphere here, and the way you feel here, reminds me of when my people gather for celebrations.” McCook said. “The feeling of togetherness, family, everything here is the way we feel when we give our celebrations,” McCook said.

Video: Highlights Mountain Fair Day 1

Mountain Fair is a beloved tradition for locals, especially on Friday night.

“We meet people we knew in the ’80s. When they come back to visit, they like to come to Mountain Fair because they know everybody is in town,” Kyra Whalen said.

Whalen said she moved to Carbondale in 1978, and didn’t attend Mountain Fair for the first few years. But since she started, she hasn’t stopped participating.

Over the years, some things have changed, she said. There are more local bands, and more activities geared toward children.

“I think it’s just a great place where everybody comes, sits down, drinks and visits, sees everybody else’s kids and grandkids. I don’t think it’s changed that much, we still have everything that brought us here,” Whalen said.

One person who returns to Carbondale each year for the Mountain Fair is Tammy Mathias, who makes sure here mother, Earlene, participates in the drum circle.

“It’s a really, really big deal. It’s one of the neatest things in the whole valley,” Mathias said.

Mountain Fair this year is particularly important to Mathias, who now lives in Golden, because it would have been her parent’s 62nd wedding anniversary.

“It’s a special time to remember my dad,” Mathias said. Jack Mathias, a longtime Carbondale resident, died in June 2017.

Along with the music, drinks, drum circles, acrobats, bounce castles and dunk tanks, Mountain Fair also has an impressive selection of tools and artwork by local and regional artisans.

Some sell flowers, butterflies, beetle wings and porcupine quills encased in resin and hung on earrings and necklaces.

Many painters and potters sell their work, and all around the park are tents selling wood carved utensils, birdhouses and baskets, hand-forged cutlery and homemade brooms, leather holsters and cactus terrariums in hanging fishbowls.

In addition to the Rainbow Connection theme, supporting LGBTQ community, this year’s Mountain Fair also recognized the late Thomas Lawley, fair director from 1985 to 2002, who died earlier this year.

Bill Dunn of Carbondale also believes Mountain Fair is the best event that happens all year.

“It’s such a pleasant place to be on a weekend. The music is good, the people are happy, and there’s no trouble,” Dunn said.

“Everyone is nice, and polite, and relaxed, for the most part. And the ones that aren’t you just ignore,” he added.

“This is the place to be. Because there is just no other place quite like this place, so this has got to be the place to be,” McCook said in his opening blessing.

Before he returned to his place in the drum circle, McCook asked for a moment of silence for those who inhabited the valley in years past; both native peoples and as pioneers who settled in the region.

“You can hear the drums, and the mountains have been lacking those drums for all these years. To hear those drums echoing off those mountains, the mountains themselves listening to you laugh and giggle, just as my people did when they were here many years ago,” McCook said.


Watch: Eight Tuesdays left to enjoy Glenwood’s Downtown Market & Music Series

Until September 17, Glenwood Springs residents and visitors can enjoy local vendors and live music every Tuesday at Glenwood’s Downtown Market & Music Series, in Centennial Park.

From jewelry to fresh produce and baked goods, the market features a variety of local Roaring Fork Valley farmers, artisans and musicians throughout the summer.

Highlights from Tuesday, July 23

Music Series Schedule

• July 30 – Larry & Patti Herd
• Aug. 6 – The Deltaz
• Aug. 13 – Steve Cole & Roberta Lewis
• Aug. 20 – The Ferlies
• Aug. 27 – Vid Weatherwax
• Sept. 3 – Bryan Savage
• Sept. 10 – Mike Waters
• Sept. 17 – Painters Stage

¡Postindependent.com ahora disponible en español!

Para major informar a la comunidad de Garfield County, ahora puedes leer todas las noticias de Postindependent.com en español.


Computadora de escritorio: a la derecha de la parte alta en su computadora de escritorio, tenemos el botón de Spanish. Cuando hace clic, todas las noticias aparecen en español. Para volver a la pagina en inglés, seleccione English.

Teléfono móvil y tablet: Seleccione Spanish en el menú a la izquierda de la parte alta de nuestro sitio. Cuando hace clic, todas las noticias aparecen en español. Para volver a la pagina en inglés, seleccione English.


Reconocemos que este servicio de traducción automática no es perfecto, pero esperamos que pueda convertirse en una herramienta útil para los miembros de nuestra comunidad que hablan español.

¡Gracias por leer PostIndependent.com!

Watch: A day at the 2019 Aspen Ideas Festival

Photo essay:

The annual event is held mostly on the Aspen Meadows campus, with some special sessions taking place at other venues around town. Here, Jeffrey Rosen, Bret Stephens and Chris Buskirs speak at the music venue Belly Up during the session “What Is Conservatism?”
Natuza Olen / Post Independent
On Wednesday, June 26, attendees formed a long line to guarantee a seat at the Benedict Music Tent for one of the most anticipated events of the festival, the “Afternoon of Conversations,” that this year featured the rapper and author Common and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Natuza Olen / Post Independent
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke to hundreds of people present at the event, and many more watching the livestream online. Interviewer Cass Sunstein, a professor at Harvard, discussed some hot topics with Zuckerberg, including Facebook’s privacy policies, content moderation practices, and Russian bots.
Natuza Olen / Post Independent-GPI-070319


A glimpse of a day at the 2019 Aspen Ideas Festival

Colorado man shares advice for hiking with dogs after 14er journey with golden retriever

Read more:

“Climbing Colorado’s 14ers with Sawyer” by Josh Aho. 352 pages and more than 600 photos.
$49.95 at 14erCanine.com

FRISCO — Capitol Peak is the lone Colorado 14er Joshua Aho of Greeley has yet to hike. He says he never will because the best friend, who he hiked the dozens of other 14,000-foot Colorado mountains with, is no longer here.

That best buddy is a golden retriever named Sawyer, who died five years ago at 14 years and 28 days old. But before Sawyer died, he and Aho summited such precarious 14ers as the Maroon Bells and Crestone Needle. Along their decade-plus quest to hike every 14er in the state, Aho said Sawyer taught him the greatest life lesson in trust. It was the kind of lesson he never could have learned from a human, only a dog.

“When we’re with people, climbing with them,” Aho said, “we can kind of lie to each other a little bit and be like, ‘Hey, man you trust me. I trust you.’ Meanwhile, both of you are terrified and are faking it through the day. But with an animal, it doesn’t work that way. They know whether or not they trust you, and they are not going to let themselves do something that they don’t trust. If they sense I don’t trust this person, they just won’t let it happen. And that’s something I saw with Sawyer: how much he trusted me. Which really was something I appreciated because it allowed us to be so much more successful.”

Aho had only climbed one 14er in his young, 20-something life before he adopted Sawyer. It was the iconic Long’s Peak, the 14,259-foot summit of which he could see from his then-home in Loveland. Aho climbed the peak like so many do on their first foray: in old, beat-up basketball shoes, an old college backpack and plastic water bottles. The experience left his human hiking partner and friend without any urge to hike again. But for Aho, it lit a fuse for adventure at a time in his life when he desperately needed it.

Sawyer came along soon after, in June 2000, when Aho’s mother saw an advertisement for a golden retriever in the Thrifty Nickel classifieds publication. It turned into the greatest decision Aho ever made in his life. Just a few weeks later, Aho was gifted a book for his birthday dubbed “Grand Slam: Colorado Fourteeners,” by Roger Edrinn. In the moment, Aho became convinced not only that he would hike all of the mountains in the book but that he would do it with his beloved “Soy” — short for Sawyer — by his side.

Once Aho got out on the Rocky Mountain trails with Sawyer in 2001, he found out Sawyer would be the one up ahead, ready for the next bend in the journey.

“As far as who was the leader, I got to tip my hat, Sawyer was,” Aho said. “He and I were basically at the same skill level. … He was always leading, looking back at me, ‘You amateur, can we hurry?’”

At the outset of their quest to climb Colorado’s 14ers together, Aho soon realized it would take some trial and error to dial into an ideal system for the man and dog duo. Aho said he soon learned it wasn’t optimal for him to pack a small, plastic bowl in his pocket for Sawyer, one that would dig into his thigh throughout hikes. He eventually pivoted to a collapsible bowl for Sawyer, one that he could easily squirt water into from his Camelbak.

In terms of how much water Aho brought for Sawyer — and how much he recommends hikers bring for their dogs — he said to find how much water you individually need, and pack twice that plus a little more.

“If you’re going to be responsible, you’re going to carry their water, food, an extra pair of their dog shoes, because they lose some, occasionally,” Aho said. “You’ve got to bring a doggie first aid kit. Might have to bring a little short rope to attach to a harness. Bring a leash. Just so many little things. You know, a dog might lose a shoe but, unlike people, they’re not going to immediately stop and retrieve it and bring it to you.”

Aho said the harness was crucial for Sawyer in helping Aho to more safely and efficiently lift Sawyer up or lower Sawyer down while the retriever jumped to and from steep terrain. The more 14er hikes in myriad weather conditions that Aho and Sawyer went on, the more Aho learned such seemingly random things as Doggles — or dog goggles — were crucual to have, just in case.

“Those are pretty good to have in the winter because a lot of ice crystals blow around and get into a dog’s eyes,” Aho said.

One he and Sawyer got their system dialed in, the duo tackled one 14,000-foot mountain after another. Then, about three years into their quest, in summer 2003, the duo began getting into bigger Class III and IV climbs. That’s when Aho began to research information on how to tackle the peaks with a dog, but he found scant advice. It wasn’t until a few years later, in 2007, when Aho decided he’d write a book about his journey with Sawyer. Whatever precarious mountain they approached during that time, Aho always had the same game plan.

“The attitude was, ‘We are going to take this a step at a time and be careful,’” Aho said. “‘But if we get into something that is just outside of our safety realm, our comfort level, we’re either going to have to retreat, find another way, or call it quits for the day.’”

There were times Aho and Sawyer called it quits, such as the five times they started the remote Little Bear Peak in the Sangre de Cristo Range. Thinking back to some of those rugged mountains, Aho is especially proud of conquering Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Bells, some of the first Class IV-type mountains they attempted. When they got back to the bottom of the Maroon Bells, the spot by the lake where all the tourists convene, Sawyer, in his dog shoes, was the hero of the day.

Then there was the time the duo hiked Crestone Needle. This was one of the times Aho said the duo’s trust was put to the test, as Sawyer refused to scale the mountain via the traditional Class III gully to the south and west. Rather, he led Aho up the Class IV terrain straight up the Needle.

“I was never able to confirm it,” Aho said, “but that may have been the first time a dog did that route on Crestone Needle.”

And it was on Sunlight Peak in the Needle Mountains where Aho, again, was impressed by Sawyer’s trust. It happened when Sawyer was preparing to jump down from a cliff. Though an experienced mountaineer had helped the duo out and was there for Sawyer to jump into his arms, the dog refused to leap until Aho presented himself as an option.

“That was far into our quest, nine years in, 2009,” Aho said. “I only then realized, ‘He really does love me and trust me that much.’ And that that’s maybe the biggest reason we did what we did.”