Rau: A mental hike back to the ‘Tuesday Group’
Grand County Trails
Trails have long been a mainstay of the Grand County culture and economy and a huge draw for people both vacationing and looking for a new place to live either full-time or part-time or to retire to. Old roads like the Boulder Wagon Road and the Berthoud Pass Wagon Road were an instrumental part of the original settling of Grand County and parts of these today have been revitalized as trails into the Fraser Valley.
The original settlers used railroads and wagon roads that gave way to our modern road system – basically Highway 40 and the Moffatt Tunnel and rail line. Several years ago, we celebrated the 100 year anniversary of the first Winter Carnival west of the Mississippi and took six brave souls over the path originally taken by Carl Howelson and Angel Schmidt in 1911 who got off the train at Corona Station on the Continental Divide and skied to Hot Sulphur Springs. These reenactment skiers were joined at the YMCA by another 150 Nordic skiers for a spectacular ski over Cottonwood Pass. What a start to a fabulous celebration!
This was possible only because of the old railroad grade now being used as a trail both winter and summer and connections made into old logging roads. Other old well-worn trails remain and many new connections have been made over the years. As lands have been traded or sold, some of these old traditional trails have been questioned and even fought for to keep them open. The old hiking groups can tell you stories that open up these old worlds and show a different way of life in the not too distant past.
Many old-time locals can think back to the “Tuesday Group “ as it was known in the 1970s and ’80s. This was a mish-mash of people just getting out for a walk, chatting along the way, looking at the flowers, lunching and some actually hiking for short distances. Jean Miller remembers carrying children on her back and most groups being very social. With the likes of Mary Singlaub and others, they covered longer distances as the children got older and didn’t need so much watching.
In the ’80s there was an influx of new people in the valley and all got together on Tuesdays from word of mouth. Most of these people were what you call journey hikers – they had varying objectives and were most interested in the things they saw or did in their journey. Some were there for the social journey, some for the flowers or rivers or just a walk in the woods. Often there were up to 20 people at a time.
Lynda Parker remembers that during the late ’90s or early 2000s, a group split off to do more serious hiking – 10-20 miles with a destination in mind. These destination hikers wanted to get somewhere – climb a peak, cross a pass, follow a river to the lake where it started. These smaller groups of up to 10 called themselves High Rockies Hikers and hiked two, sometimes three, times a week.
Jean remembers that Lou Tyler liked figuring out the distances, elevation gain, profiles, trailhead, and what time to meet so he was considered “hike leader.” Sometimes they even camped overnight before climbing 14-ers. They hiked about every hike in Deborah Carr’s book “Hiking Grand County”. They hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park on both sides and even crossed from Estes Park over the Flattops to the west side down Green Mountain Trail or North Inlet Trail.
With regulars like Bud Crawford and Marion Barry and others, High Rockies Hikers maintained the High Lonesome Trail for many years for stretches like Devil’s Thumb Park to Monarch Lake or, later, just the portion to Junco Lake. The group also placed signs for the Continental Divide Trail from the Jones Pass area over to East Troublesome Divide and all of East Grand County.
These important maintenance and trail-hosting functions of trail groups have been hugely important over the years. The users were helping to take care of what they were using. But people got older and less able and some like Gene Ackley moved away. I know I have missed many names and apologize in advance but who knew so many people were involved.
Meanwhile another group was forming – the Grand County Wilderness group, in about 1994. More about them, the Red Hats, Grand Outdoors and the Friday group in the weeks to come. And the best give-back of all – National Public Lands Day on Sept. 26 and Adopt-a-Trail program.
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Middle Park sophomore Dane Jansen led the Panthers at the Colorado 3A Region 1 Cross Country meet Friday at VIX Park in New Castle, capping off an impressive season for the young group of runners.