The Last Shall Be First

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I knew it a week before the climb. But I didn’t tell the others until the night before. What I knew is that since we had settled on a smaller mountain, then we could get everyone to the top. Everyone—even those who told me they didn’t care to summit Wheeler—who were content to hang back, […]

Atalaya Mountain

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Rising from the high desert plateau just north of Santa Fe, Atalaya Mountain culminates in a 9,121-foot peak that looks down on both New Mexico’s capitol and the rugged Rio Grande River Valley. The Atalaya Trail, which starts on the north perimeter of the city near St. John’s College, climbs over 1500 feet in under three […]

A Change of Plans

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How do you prepare folks for their first peak climb? Turns out I’m not the person to ask. Seems I’m a better teacher than I am a coach. That’s what I told our Finishers hikers about a week ago when I confessed I had not prepared them for the trip up Wheeler. And I thought […]

Parnell, Texas

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Parnell, Texas—it’s a ghost town now—a collection of old concrete foundations, dilapidated lumber, some sheets of corrugated tin that once served as roofs, all barely visible above the tall weeds. It was April of 2006, and my buddy Clark and I were taking a final mountain-bike ride down the lower portion of the Caprock Canyon […]

The Wheeler Challenge

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We’re calling it The Wheeler Challenge, an attempt by our Finishers group to climb New Mexico’s highest peak. So at 5:00 a.m. MDT, August 25, when we strap on camelbacks and headlamps at the Taos Ski Valley trailhead, my adrenaline will be in overdrive. One, because I love peaks—the views, the discovery, the challenge. And […]

Finishers: Lucky To Be Here

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Why is Finishers successful? I will do a workshop in a couple of weeks when I’ll be expected to answer that question. My first response is to be cautious. We don’t know yet how well it’s working. The fast growth is promising, but we’ll know we’re successful when the data say we are—when students involved […]

The Finishers

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They call themselves Finishers: A group of Amarillo College students who are changing their worlds, and mine. It started a year and a half ago. For some time I had been visiting with colleagues about a dream I had to form a student support group—students helping students reach those elusive academic goals. We talked, analyzed, […]


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Am visiting my youngest child this morning—in his own town, in his own house, with his own family—and it has me thinking. About times with my dad when I was Jeremy’s age. We’d sit out by the pool in Phoenix in the early morning, Dad with his coffee and me, well I never developed the […]