Life and times in Colorado high country

Author M. John Fayhee at Spruce Tree tonight

What is the largest lake in Colorado? What does aspenized mean? Coloradans or Coloradoans? These are a few of the questions a Colorado author asked. And after some heavy research and years of Colorado fact compiling, M. John Fayhee’s clever mountain companion has the answers.

But wait, let us not forget a second publication, one that invites a reader into an unknown world of Fayhee and his stories of kith and kin.

“The Colorado Mountain Companion: A Potpourri of Useful Miscellany from the Highest Parts of the Highest State” and “Smoke Signals: Wayward Journeys through the Old Heart of the New West,” are on this evening’s agenda.

Fayhee will be at Spruce Tree Coffeehouse at 5 p.m. to reveal his new publications, give a few readings and hobnob with the crowd.

“The Four Corners is like its own cultural island,” Fayhee says. “I’d be lying if I said I had a finger on the cultural pulse down there (Cortez). I look forward to interacting with the people.”

Fayhee has made his Colorado homes in Grand and Summit counties, Denver, and has hiked the Colorado Trail and the Colorado section of the Continental Divide.

He has several books to his credit. Most associate with Colorado life and the High Country which makes him a good candidate to reveal interesting state data, most likely to provoke arguments among strangers and friends.

Fayhee said the idea for the Colorado Companion “actually began in a bar in Bisbee, Ariz.,” with a guy who struck up a casual conversation that ultimately turned into a one-up game of who’s facts are correct.

“We argued about the highest elevated town in Colorado,” says Fayhee. “This has actually happened to me many times before.”

He goes on to say the debates aren’t always the same but one thing is consistent; people are confident in their knowledge.

“I lived in the high country for a quarter of a century so I’ve gained a broad body of Colorado knowledge,” Fayhee explains. “That was the tipping point for the Colorado Companion.”

Fayhee spent a number of years reviewing mass amounts of data regarding fourteeners, rivers, trails, skiing, coldest towns, avalanches, bear attacks and more.

“It’s reasonable factual information,” Fayhee said. “It’s not organized. It’s modeled after my interest in encyclopedias and their formats.”

Smoke Signals consists of his columns that first ran in the Mountain Gazette also titled, Smoke Signals. The stories in the book are expanded versions of their counterparts.

They range in content from math conscience convicts to the death of a canoe to animal linguistics. This will be Fayhee’s second visit to Spruce Tree.

“I will probably get a more diverse sort of crowd than normal,” Fayhee said. “I’ll have two different books to present so there will be people more interested in one or the other.”

Fayhee has been the editor of the Mountain Gazette for 12 years and has contributed work to High Country News, Backpacker magazine and Summit Daily.

His previous published works include “Along the Arizona Trail,” “Up At Altitude: A Celebration of Life in the High Country,” “Mexico’s Copper Canyon” and several others.

For more information about Fayhee or his published work, visit

John Fayhee wrote “The Colorado Mountain Companion.” Enlargephoto

Courtesy Photo

John Fayhee wrote “The Colorado Mountain Companion.”