As I research the book, “Base Camp Denver: 101 Hikes Along the Front Range,” I find the work is doing the opposite of killing me! In addition to the health benefits of regular hiking, I’m enjoying a great awakening. It would be nice to say I’m revisiting my favorite 101 out of 303 places with pen in hand, but this isn’t the case. Though I’ve hiked my Colorado backyard quite a bit over the decades, I’ve tended to walk the same trails over and over. And these didn’t add up to 101.
I started from scratch for “Base Camp Denver.” Scouring maps, I made a list of good day hikes within an hour or two of Larimer Square. And I hit a snag: “273” didn’t line up with the book title. A couple things were evident: (1) it was time to get busy, and (2) time to whittle down.
Also time to enjoy, for lack of a better word, the collateral.
By this I mean “additional but subordinate; secondary.” It’s an inadequate term because the collateral is secondary only to getting 101 hikes into a book. It’s not just collateral trails, but also topics, people, and stories. Two examples:
Collateral Hike: Cadillac Crag
The stunning El Dorado Canyon, 9 miles southwest of Boulder, is a must-have for the book. As I walked two of the standard trails and picked one for the book, my eyes kept drifting to the cliffs which have been rock climber’s mecca since the inception of the sport. “I want to go THERE,” I told myself, even though I have no interest in rock climbing. Who says hikers can’t use climbers’ access trails? This thought stayed in mind long enough to propel me out of bed early one Saturday morning, to return to El Dorado Canyon and hike Cadillac Crag along with the geared-up dudes and dudettes.
This spiral staircase of a trail gains 1,300 feet in one mile, and won’t be in the book, but it sure is a blast! When I got to trail’s end I did some freelancing up red dirt and scree to arrive at a private notch in the crag, where I sat and read a book for a spell in the sunshine. What a great way to spend Saturday morning!
Collateral Person: Adolph Coors
Some weeks ago, while en route to a hike near Golden, I drove past the Mount Galbraith trailhead. This is a fairly new one; not in a lot of books or on all maps. My chosen hike turned out bland, so I whittled it off the list. On the way back I pulled into Mount Galbraith. A mile later I walked out of a gulch and up a grassy hillside, and the behemoth Coors Brewery came into view. You can’t miss it; it’s gigantic. And I finally wondered, “Who was the dude who started THAT?”
A pretty incredible dude. Adolph Kuhrs was orphaned at age 15 while working as an apprentice at a brewery in Germany. A few years later, in 1868, he stowed away on a ship to the USA as an undocumented immigrant. He moved to Denver, worked as a gardener, saved his pennies, and got control of a bottling business. With passion for brewing re-invigorated, he and a partner converted a tannery in Golden City to a brewery. Damn was that tannery beer good! And when prohibition hit in 1916, and lasted 17 years, did Kuhrs quit? No way. Using his customary ingenuity and adaptability, Adolph diversified into industry-leading malted milk, near-beer, chemicals, and other products including porcelain. The porcelain business survives to this day. In fact, Coors quarried clay for its porcelain on 75 acres of the Mount Galbraith Park I was walking on.
Mount Galbraith is a great hike! It’s going to be in the book.