Grand County hikers discover companionship on the trail | SkyHiNews.com

Grand County hikers discover companionship on the trail

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Courtesy photo
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Few experiences can put you in-the-moment more than a good hike.

Hiking takes you away from the stresses of everyday life and focuses on the changes of season, the sounds of the wild, or simply the path in front of you.

Usually, a natural treasure translates into the journey’s goal ” a beautiful alpine lake, a cascading waterfall, an inspiring view.

For four years now, Patricia Berman has been sharing her hiking experiences with others through the group Grand Outdoors.

It’s a Grand County hiking group she founded to bring outdoors enthusiasts together.

The idea emerged from the lack of a consistent hiking partner. “I wasn’t running into people I could hike with,” she said.

Now, as many as 50 people, mostly retired, are on Berman’s hiking e-mail list, and a core group of six to eight experienced hikers with a maximum of 12 usually participate throughout the summer. They meet on Tuesdays.

“We’re a group that likes to hike somewhere between eight to 10 miles,” Berman said, “generally with not over 3,000 feet of elevation gain.”

Along with her own 43-years of area knowledge, Berman uses local author Deborah Carr’s book “Hiking Grand County Colorado” for choosing trails.

The avid hiker keeps most hikes in Grand County’s backyard. “I don’t see any reason to drive anywhere else,” she said. “We’ve got everything we want here in terms of hikes.”

For example, one of the group’s favorite hikes is up to Bowen Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

“The first time we did that in ’05, what stood out for me was getting up to an area where you can look out to the Three Lakes and an incredible view of Longs peak, which is on the west side of Longs Peak, and it’s very unusual to see it from that side.

And Bowen lake itself, you get to a point where you can look at it from above, then drop 500 feet. It sits down in a bowl, and it’s just so beautiful ” that whole hike is.”

Another favorite is the group’s season-finale hike the first Tuesday after Labor Day when they tackle Mount Stanley at the top of Berthoud Pass.

“The tundra is so beautiful with its changing fall colors of reds and golds,” Berman said.

One year the group lingered so long on the tundra that none of them wanted to leave, she continued. “It was a very special hike that year.”

Fellow hiking member and friend Marty Tod of Tabernash says Berman is a “walking encyclopedia” when it comes to identifying names of wildflowers.

Already this year, they’ve found wild orchids and blooms of Arrowhead balsamroot.

“It’s like finding old friends,” Tod said, and relearning their identity is like “learning a language over again that you don’t get to use all winter.”

But it’s not only the mysteries of flora that reward Tod on her hikes, “It’s the places we go, and the people that show up,” she said. “There are just really cool people, and you get really close to people when you’re hiking with them all day.”

And for Berman?

“Hiking gives me a real sense of peace and quiet,” she said. “I know my wildflowers, and I just really enjoy seeing them every year.”

And at trail’s end, it’s common to find group members sharing watermelon, or even truffles made by a local baker in the group. Twice a year, the group meets for a friendly Fraser Valley barbecue.

“It’s a great group of people and a lot of fun,” Berman said.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.


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