Meet the Crew
Chris Szczech, Owner and CME Head Guide
I grew up in Syracuse, NY and learned to love the outdoors as a youngster with my family and in the Boy Scouts. After graduating in 1990 from SUNY Geneseo with a BA in English, I soon entered the United States Marine Corps as an Infantry Officer. After serving in the military, I became a high school English teacher and taught for 15 years. Since 2006 I’ve has been leading trips on the Colorado Trail. I enjoy hiking, running, rock climbing and backcountry skiing; but really consider myself an avid soccer / volleyball dad and a lucky husband! Current certifications include Emergency Medical Technician and Outdoor Emergency Care certifications. For over twenty-five years my experience has been in leading groups of people and managing risks in the backcountry.
Jeanne Szczech, Owner and CME Guide
I am the youngest of seven children and was born and raised in NY. All of my summers were spent in the Catskill Mountains: exploring, hiking, fishing and swimming in our pond. I graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a B.A. in English and then from Lehigh University with a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. Chris and I married in 1992 and subsequently moved to San Clemente, CA where I taught elementary school in Oceanside for seven years. Eventually, I became a mortgage broker and opened Arete Mortgage – where I spend most of my time when I’m not working with CME. We chose to move to Colorado for the open space, big mountains, blue bird skies, and the great outdoors. Things that make me smile: my husband, our girls, our dogs, yoga, hiking, rafting, running, music, cooking, relaxing in the hot tub, a vodka and tonic… I can go on and on.
Molly Oswald, CME Guide
My love for the Colorado Trail began in 2009 when I thru-hiked the CT with my family. A native of Colorado, I grew up in Durango and met Chris when I was his student at Durango High School. I attended CSU in Fort Collins and studied abroad in Chile for a year. I am fluent in Spanish and enjoy traveling the world to speak it. Besides my obvious love of hiking and backpacking, I also enjoys telemark skiing, art, salsa dancing and infusing (and taste-testing!) liqueurs in the kitchen.
Jeannie Ott Harsha, CME Guide
I was raised in southwest Colorado with the La Plata Mountains in sight out of my kitchen window. My parents often sent all seven energetic children off into this mountain playground, making the high country a special place early on in my life. My work and careers include being a National Park Service backcountry ranger, naturalist and archaeologist at Navajo NM, Mesa Verde, and in the North Cascades. I was the program assistant for Nature Bridge, an outdoor educational camp in Yosemite National Park. I am currently an elementary school teacher in the Sierra foothills. My two young adult children have the high lonesome bug--discovering summits along the Front Range and in the Tetons-- so I think I raised them right! I look forward to enjoying the beauty and challenges of the Colorado Trail with you!
Cindy Dunbar, CME Guide
I’m originally from Prescott, Arizona but was drawn to the Southwest Mountains of Colorado soon after college. I’m currently “mostly retired” and spend the majority of my free time in the backcountry; hiking, biking and backcountry skiing. I’m an ardent advocate for and supporter of the Colorado Trail Foundation and have spent many a trail workday leaning on a Pulaski gazing off into the incredible beauty of the Colorado high country vistas. The mountains, hiking and camaraderie keep bringing me back year after year. I’d love to share this beauty with you in an unforgettable and fun adventure with CME.
Mark Ott, CME Guide
I have lived my entire life in Southwest Colorado, and have been climbing mountains since I could walk! I'm a retired science teacher, and live with my wife in the La Plata mountains in a home that we built ourselves. I’m currently attempting to climb all 700 of the 13,000 foot peaks in the state. My small but remarkably strong dog Ranger has been on 100 peaks with me this year. It sure is nice living in this corner of mountain heaven!
Dave Peters & Jodie Peterson, CME Guides
After we retired from our "real jobs" as an equine veterinarian (Jodie) and a physical therapist (Dave), we now spend as much time as possible in the mountains and deserts of the Four Corners area. We have adopted and maintain the “Cataract Ridge” segment of the Colorado Trail, and also build trails for the non-profit group “Trails 2000” in Durango. Besides guiding for CME since 2004, we work a variety of outside jobs such as sleigh-driving, woodworking, and “anything really, as long as it’s fun!” Additionally, we are the unofficial seamstress and knife sharpener for the Treks. Whether hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, skiing or maintaining trails, Jodie and Dave can usually be found in the remote reaches of the Rocky Mountains or the deserts of the Southwest.
Dennis Huis, CME Guide
I started out with degrees in wildlife biology and environmental engineering. After my formal education finished, I guided backpacking trips and spent a year as county naturalist in Michigan. After that, I put my education to use and made my family happy by spending eighteen years in the paper industry as an engineer and manager. Finally, enough was enough of industry life. My wife Joanna and I quit our careers and spent almost two years traveling North America, living in a tent and learning the land. We eventually grew roots in Durango and Telluride, Colorado, which is where we’ve lived for over twenty years. Since then, I’ve been working at Telluride Ski resort as a staff trainer/instructor, running horse-packing trips into the wilderness, and of course guiding on the CT. I also own my own small business in Durango during the summer months.
Evan Curry, CME Guide
I hail from the paved concrete jungles of the great state of New Jersey, which is where I became an Eagle Scout and developed a passion for anything outside. After double- majoring in History and Skiing at Saint Michael's College, Burlington, Vermont I made a westward migration to Durango, where he has thrived since 2011. I’m currently enjoying guiding the trail, working in the outdoor industry, cooking, bartending and generally enjoying the Durango life!
There will not be a trek that we do where we won’t hold our hearts up to the loss of a good friend and guide, Colin Sutton. May you rest in peace.US Forest Service Permitted Outfitter and Guide Service
Colorado Mountain Expeditions (CME) is a permitted guide service that offers supported hiking on the Colorado Trail. They must file an operating plan and annual itinerary with the Forest Service offices. CME has authorized United States Forest Service permits to operate in the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests as well as the Weminuche Wilderness. The Colorado Trail Foundation is also permitted by the US Forest Service to operate supported trekking programs on the entire length of the Colorado Trail between Denver and Durango, CO that covers seven National Forests.
We have many written testimonials from past customers who have been very happy with their Colorado hiking vacation. If you would like us to send you a copy of these testimonials we would be happy to do so. Our headquarters is located in Durango, Co., which is a small town of 18,000 people. Word of mouth is our best advertising. If we were doing a bad job, we would get run out of town.