Denver’s Front Range: The Collateral

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.

Eldorado Canyon’s West Ridge, from Fowler Trail
Photo by Pete KJ

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!

Coors Brewery from Mount Galbraith Trail, with Denver beyond
Photo by Pete KJ

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.

Pete KJ

Pete KJ

Pete KJ began explorations at age three in the wooded ravine that was his backyard in Seattle. He also began a lifelong writing habit. Backyard expanded as Pete stomped all over the Cascades and Olympics as a youth, and headed onward to the Pyrenees, Alps, Himalayas, and Andes. Peace Corps service in Africa cemented his deep desire to always be out in the world, and when he finally sat in a cubicle as a chemical engineer, it was in places like Puerto Rico and India. Long absent from cubicle, he moved on to raise kids, travel the world with them, and write about it (and also write three novels). Career brought Pete to Colorado in the 1990s, its gravity and beauty pulled him back. Pete's "Base Camp Denver: 101 Hikes in Colorado's Front Range" will be published in April, 2019 by Imbrifex Books.

4 thoughts to “Denver’s Front Range: The Collateral”

  1. I can’t wait for this book! One, because I get to design it, and two, because it’s my stompin’ grounds! You can bet I’ll be using this book, too. Very excited. Hurry up Pete!

    1. (Gasp) Okay, Sue. Hiked Lily Mountain (near Longs Peak) with my kids today. That one’s gonna be in it.

      –Pete KJ

  2. We are all looking forward to seeing this book in print.

    There is going to be an epic launch party in Denver when this book is launched. I have a bunch of friends, associates and relatives in the area.


  3. Looks like awfully tall rock steps for dogs with those little legs! What are those beagles?


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