The Shambhala Mountain Center – what is that thing anyway?

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Nov 192009

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If you’ve driven deep into the Poudre Canyon, whether for hiking, climbing, paddling or plain old-fashioned sightseeing, you’ve likely passed a single, unassuming sign for the Shambala Mountain Center – the Buddhist temple nestled in our beloved Northern Colorado mountains.

If you’re like me, you’ve been too distracted by the promise of landing a rainbow trout or finally sending that boulder problem to spend the day seeking spiritual wisdom.

Faced with heavy snow Saturday, we abandoned our plans to climb on the canyon’s 420 boulders, packed a dirtbag lunch of pancakes and bananas and set off on our own quest for enlightenment.

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The center itself rests at the top of a steep, winding dirt road reminiscent of the rocky paths leading to the gurus of old comics. Whatever mystique was granted to the approach by the rough road and dizzying drops to the side, however, was lost when we reached the center’s gravel parking lot.

Packed with cars (a disproportionate number of which were Subarus) sporting “Hike Naked” and “Envision Whirled Peas” bumper stickers, the lot seemed to belong more to a farmers’ market or Corepower Yoga center than to a temple of ultimate enlightenment. Needless to say, I was skeptical.

It’s here that I should clarify that I know very little at all about Buddhism or even spirituality in general. Other than a short, marijuana-fueled love affair with the Tao Te Ching, my education on all things relating to eastern spirituality has centered around  fortune cookies and kung-fu movies.

My initial disappointment with the Shambala Mountain Center, then, was less like a literature professor’s disdain for Dan Brown and more like a monster truck enthusiast’s discomfort at a performance of “No Exit”.

As we hiked the snowy trail to the Stupa itself my discontent continued to fester. Where were the spinning prayer wheels I’d seen in all those climbing videos from the Himalaya? Where were the long haired, wild-eyed wise men? All the sights the trail offered at first were cheap buildings, rented trailers and a gift store and bookshop.

I was all but ready to turn around and spit when we reached the Stupa. Some five or six stories tall, the temple is brightly painted and decorated with countless gold lead covered statues, the building –– the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya ­­–– more than lived up to even the most outlandish of my expectations.IMGP1262 008

In accord with what we were told is a Buddhist practice of reverence, we circumambulated the church before entering. Once through the building’s large wooden doors, we were greeted not by a chorus of chanting monks (my secret hope), but by a single room centered around a twenty-foot statue of Siddhattha himself.

While we dusted the snow off our coats and Steve, apparently unaware of the glares coming from the other visitors, took countless flash photographs, we managed to overhear the last of the tour.

Though the details of the construction and history of the Stupa are fascinating, I’ll leave those to the experts – an account of the building’s history can be found here.

In talking to those in the Stupa and around the mountain center in general, I learned that many live year-round at the center (the reason for the cheap trailers), practicing archery, yoga and other traditional Buddhist arts pursuing their own paths to enlightenment.

Seeing the blissful calm in the faces of the center’s residents, I found it hard to resent what had seemed to me to be the shoddier aspects of the center. It occurred to me then that these cheap buildings were part of the very nature and idea of this place. Their very cheapness seemed to say that the day-to-day activities that they housed needed no frills or reverence. That those activities, like the buildings themselves, were peripheral — scattered around a magnificent, ornamented center.

Photo Cred: Stephen Benton

Driving Directions from CSU:

  • Head north on Shields St.
  • Turn west at CO-14/US-287 N
  • Follow CO-14/ US-287 N and take a slight left at Co Rd 74E/Red Feather Lakes Rd.
  • Turn left at Co Rd 68C
  • Turn left, destination will be on the right

Directions courtesy of Google Maps

FREE! CSU Outdoor Club shows new ski movie "Flakes" tonight in LSC

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Nov 182009


Our friends at the CSU Outdoor Club will be showing PowderWhore‘s new ski film, “Flakes” at the LSC  theater tonight at 8pm. The event is FREE, but the club will be taking donations in support of the Larimer County Search and Rescue Team. Before the film begins the club will hold a gear swap where anyone is welcome to bring old (or extra) gear they’d like to trade.

Click here for a preview of the film, or here for another, more energetic preview from Black Diamond.

Welcome to Your Feat

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Nov 162009
Wouldn't we all rather be here?

Wouldn't we all rather be here?

As outdoorsy folks, we want to connect with all of you other outdoorsy folks at CSU. We want to share stories with you, and we want you to share stories with us. Now, while you’re sitting in class wishing you were outside, you can check out this blog to get some ideas of where to go.
            Your Feat will serve as a forum for all of us who love to be outside. Several times a week we will bring you everything from personal accounts, to snow reports, book reviews and information you need to get out, including a calendar of local outdoor events. We also want you to share with us. Look to us as your guide to what’s outside, and let us know where to go and where you’ve gone.
            That’s what we have to offer ­­–– but what we here at Your Feat want to know is what do you want to know? When you go out, whether for an afternoon hike or a week-long epic, tell us about it. If you don’t want to go out, tell us where you want us explore.

Good read: Eiger Dreams

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Nov 152009

Until I read Jon Krakauer’s Eiger Dreams, I could honestly say that I had no desire to attempt ice climbing. I like waterfalls, but I never would have considered visiting one in the winter to scale up it. After reading the book though, I am a little curious about the sport and about mountaineering in general.
The book is a compilation of twelve articles on mountaineering written by Krakauer. Of all the arms of mountaineering presented in this book, ice climbing has stuck with me the most for some odd reason.
Krakauer outlines the sport of climbing in these articles, covering everything from ice climbing to climbing legends to canyoneering. The book conveys the stories of climbing in detail and made me want to try it out. Even though it sounded kind of miserable at times, I still felt inspired.
This kind of odd inspiration seems to be the point of Krakauer’s book. In the introduction he says, “Even so, by the end of this book I think the reader will have a better sense not only of why climbers climb, but why they tend to be so goddamn obsessive about it.”
Most people have probably read Krakauer’s Into the Wild and some may have read Into Thin Air or Under the Banner of Heaven  but if you’re looking for a quick read about Krakauer’s personal experiences and climbing knowledge (which is extensive), I recommend picking up Eiger Dreams over Thanksgiving.
If you are as inspired as I am by these stories, rent some gear and get out!

Strawberry Park cold, lukewarm, and hot springs

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Nov 152009


Strawberry Park Hot Springs

Strawberry Park Hot Springs

With cloudy October skies hanging overhead I got into the first pool at Strawberry Park Hot Springs with my fleece hat on. This first pool didn’t warm me up like I wanted it to. It was lukewarm, like old bath water. But moving down the hill, I found just what I wanted, a hot pool to warm me up and get rid of my midterm headache.
Only ten other people sat scattered around the six pools and I relaxed into this newfound quiet. This was definitely the coolest (or hottest?) place I’ve been in a while. All the pools are gravel-bottomed and as you move around to each, you’ll find you have quite the variety in temperatures. When you get too hot, you can hop over the rock wall into a pool full of shockingly cold river water. It took me three attempts to get more than ankle deep in this frigid water! Ever been swimming in Crater Lake in Oregon? This water is colder.
Strawberry Park is a well-kept secret (at least it was to me) in the hills east of Steamboat. The drive from Steamboat is about 20 minutes and the last two miles of the road are unpaved. It gets a little sketchy sometimes, so make sure you have the right car or are prepared to park at the bottom and hike a bit.
The entrance fee is only ten bucks, a great thing for a college student! If your satisfying job in food service or retail has earned you serious cash, you can get a massage or wiatsu, which is a unique form of water therapy.
Joe Stepan, the manager of the hot springs, says it is reported that the hot springs were used by the Ute Indians before the 1880’s. The 40 acres of land were homesteaded by a family and bought by the City of Steamboat in the 1930s. Steamboat owned the park for 50 years until it became too much of a liability and was bought by the current owner, Don Johnson.
Before the 1980s, the park was nothing but the river running down the hill with makeshift pools made by visitors, a local told me. Indeed, Stepan confirms, the facilities were landscaped and the access road improved by the current owner.
The park is definitely not makeshift pools anymore. The pools are separated by low rock walls and the park is landscaped for comfortable barefoot walking (except for one crazy-sharp rock I got embedded in my heel…they must have missed that one!) There are two covered shelters and nice wooden pool chairs that proved to be perfect for dozing in the sun.
The best part about the weekend in Steamboat? It was snowing in Fort Collins and sunny and steamy at Strawberry Park!

Driving directions from CSU:

  • Take Prospect to Overland, turn north on Overland
  • Continue north until you run into Highway 287
  • Turn west on Highway 287
  • Continue on Highway 287 until Highway 14, turn west on Highway 14
  • Follow Highway 14 to Walden
  • Turn left at 7th St./ CO 14 W
  • Take the 1st left onto Co-125/ CO 14 W/ Main St.
  • Turn right at Co14 (follows signs for Steamboat Springs)
  • Turn right at US 40W
  • Turn right at 3rd St.
  • Turn righ at Fish Creek Falls Rd.
  • Turn left at Amethyst Rd

Directions courtesy of Google Maps

Get into gear

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Nov 152009

In the upcoming months, we’re going to lead you through the Fort Collins area (and beyond) by foot, car and watercraft. We want you to know where to get all the gear you need to follow in our footsteps. Not only that, we want you to know where you can try out specific gear for the weekend before you spend your hard-earned paycheck on it. Here’s a list of gear you might need this winter that you can rent in Fort Collins on a college kid’s budget. Check in with us in the Spring for watercraft rental prices. Get into gear, get out and have fun CSU!


REI: 4025 S. College Ave. Fort Collins, (970) 223-0123
*prices are for one day rentals

1,2,3 person: $20 for members, $25 for non-members
4-person: $25/31
6-person: $30/37

Sleeping Bags and sleeping pads:
Summer bag: $16/20
Winger bag: $16/20
Junior Bag: $12/15
Extra foam pad: ??
REI Sleeping Pad: $7/9

External Frame: $12/15.
Internal Frame:$12/15 .

Camping Stoves:
2 burner :$8/10
1 burner: $6/8

Trekking poles: $4/6
Ice Axes: $7/9
Climbing helmet: $7/9
Rock Climbing Shoes: $12/15
Snowshoes: $15/18

The Mountain Shop: 172 N College Ave # D, Fort Collins, (970) 493-5720
*prices for one day rentals

Snowshoes: $10
Nordic Ski Package (skis, boots and bindings): $12
Telemark Ski Package: $30
Alpine Terrain Ski Package: $30

Out of Town…what is this?

 Out of Town  Comments Off on Out of Town…what is this?
Nov 152009

The Out of Town section of this blog will serve as a forum for all of us to share our outdoors experiences that reach beyond northern Colorado. We don’t have any of these for you yet, but will next week. If you have any stories to share about recent out of town adventures, submit them here. Check back soon to see what we’re up to out of town!

Rams top Grizzlies in exhibition finale

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Nov 082009
Authors: Kyle Grabowski

The CSU women’s basketball team finished their exhibition season 2-0 after defeating the Adams State Grizzlies 84-67 on Friday night.

Sophomore Kim Mestdagh led the Rams with a career-high 30 points on 64 percent shooting. Mestdagh also paced the defensive unit with seven steals in what head coach Kristen Holt called an “overall awesome game.”

Adams State star Vera Jo Bustos opened the contest with a three pointer and scored 14 of her team’s first 20 points, finishing the game with 27.

“No one was happy,” said junior Bonnie Barbee when asked about Bustos’ hot start. “We knew she could shoot.”

As the action progressed and CSU’s defense settled in, Bustos had a hard time getting the ball and appeared frustrated at times, scoring only two points in the final 13 minutes of the first half.

With the game tied at 39, the Rams opened the second half with a three-pointer by Mestdagh, followed by a layup from Zoi Simmons en route to a 12-0 run. The players felt re-energized coming out of the half, which Barbee attributed to the time to “rest and get in the flow of the game.”

The Rams never looked back from there and went on to lead by as many as 17.

CSU played much of the game with only six active players due to injury.

“It is what it is, and there’s not much you can do about it,” Holt said of her lack of reserves, “But we responded well. We’re gonna need to be at full strength for Montana.”

The Rams will face the Montana Grizzlies this Friday for their regular season opener inside Moby Arena. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Women’s basketball beat reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Despite poor free throw shooting, men’s basketball tops Western State

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Nov 082009
Authors: Stephen Meyers

After its 64-50 win over Western State Saturday, ending the preseason with a 2-0 record, CSU still has to improve in one of basketball’s fundamentals: free throw shooting.

The Rams only converted 48.6 percent (18 of 37) of their shots from the charity stripe this weekend.

“My mom is going to kill me,” head coach Tim Miles said.

Miles said his mother was mad at him after the first exhibition game, a 74-65 victory over Regis, in which the team shot 68 percent (17-25) from the free throw line. “Free throws are mental. It’s catchy. One guy misses, and the next guy misses,” Miles said.

Forward Andy Ogide and guards Harvey Perry and Dorian Green were the only three players to shoot more than 50 percent from the line Saturday. Ogide (five of nine), Perry (five of seven) and Green (two of two), were the Rams’ top three scorers.

Green led all players with 16 points, Perry finished with 14 in his first appearance of the season and Ogide chipped in 13.

The Rams used lock-down defense in the second half to stifle the Mountaineers after only holding a one-point lead at halftime. CSU held Western State without a field goal for the first 5:28 of the second half to push their lead to 13.

“We came out of the half and did a much better job than we did against Regis,” Miles said. “That was key.”

The Rams never looked back after building up its lead early in the second half, never letting it slip below 12. Their lead swelled to as big as 24 with 4:45 to play.

“I told them we needed to come out hard in the first minutes and build a lead,” Miles said. “They did just that.”

The Rams flexed their muscles and athleticism over the D-II Mountaineers to out-rebound Western State 43-25, including 19-3 on the offensive glass.

Freshman Pierce Hornung snatched 12 rebounds to lead the Rams.

“He has a great nose for the ball,” Miles said of Hornung.

Perry also grabbed 11 rebounds for a double-double.

CSU forced 11 steals, coming from seven different players.

Saturday was the final tune up before the regular season, which begins Friday in Eugene, Ore. at the Basketball Travelers Tip-Off Tournament.

The Rams open against UC-Davis and will also play Winston-Salem and Oregon in the three-day event.

Men’s basketball beat reporter Stephen Meyers can be reached at

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Reaching milestones

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Nov 082009
Authors: Keith Robertson

In the same week head coach Tom Hilbert celebrated his 500th win, the CSU volleyball team accomplished another history book-inking stat.

The CSU Rams won their 700th match as a program Saturday, in a straight set win over San Diego State.

The new notch appropriately came off the hands of redshirt freshman Megan Plourde, who had one of her best matches of the season. Plourde finished with game-highs in blocks and kills with four and 10, respectively.

Her final smack down, to give the Rams a 25-20 victory in the third set, was an exclamation mark on how well this team is playing under pressure and how young talent is becoming experienced and consistent.

“Every time our team gets in these competitive tough end-game sets, I like it,” Hilbert said. “I like it because it’s good experience. It toughens them up, and we’re used to winning those. And I’m glad to see us do it.”

There was plenty to be glad about after this match. The big time and big-number win, a continued leg-up in the conference, was the 12th straight win inside Moby Arena and the emergence of a dominant squad that can consistently produce under when under the gun.

But there was also an excess of service and attacking errors. The Rams tied SDSU in both areas with eight and 17, respectively, and the give-away points put CSU in trouble throughout the match.

“We had a lot of give-away points,” Hilbert said. “But we competed at the right times.”

After CSU got an early lead in the first set, the Aztecs came back and made it interesting.

The Rams put together two four-point scoring runs, but never took more than a five-point lead. SDSU forced six ties throughout the set and out-blocked CSU by two, but a heavy dose of setter Evan Sanders won over the set.

Sanders landed three of four quick-tip kills in the first set, all of which adding to the impressive .394 kill percentage the team had.

“It was weird being able to attack,” Sanders said. “I just try to do what I can with all the passes I’m given. I just try to keep pressure on the other team. I mean if they stop me, I’m going to keep doing it.”

The six-foot setter finished the game with four kills, 40 assists and one block but was most effective when the Rams really needed her during the second set. The Rams came out flat in set deuce and after six lead changes found themselves down 22-19. Hilbert took a time out and the Rams won six of the seven final points, behind Sanders’ five jump serves.

Impressive as the sophomore was, a freshman was also able to act like charity and make a difference.

Plourde, looked lost in the first half of the second. She closed out the set with only one kill and three errors, good for a -.333 percentage.

However, Plourde focused in the final set, going six-for-eight, including the final kill when San Diego State was spitting down CSU’s neck.

“Megan had a great turn-around though from game two,” Hilbert said. “She struggled in game two and came back and played outstanding in game three.”

The final set looked as if it were over early as the Rams were up 23-13, but the Aztecs wouldn’t go quietly into afternoon. SDSU put together a five-point run and forced a CSU time out before getting another run of three, bringing their total to 20 at match point before CSU could finish off the match.

“Even though it got close, we stayed really competitive, and we were composed, and we were able to finish it,” Plourde said.

The Rams have made some serious steps this season, all of them in the right direction. But with five matches left, including road games at BYU and Utah, the Rams understand that this isn’t the time to get complacent.

“We just want to improve every single set,” said junior outside hitter Dani Minch. “We’ve wanted to get better at our game and I think that we’ve done a good job. We don’t want to plateau at any time, we want to keep working hard.”

Expect Minch to keep working hard this week as she is, “out for blood” against Utah, where the Rams play Thursday and BYU, whom they get Saturday night. Both games can be heard on 90.5 KCSU-FM.

Volleyball beat reporter Keith Robertson can be reached at

 Posted by at 5:00 pm