Dear Friends


Hail to a hiker

Congratulations to an indomitable woman named Gudy Gaskill, who decided 25 years ago that volunteers could - and would - build a 470-mile trail around Colorado's mountaintops. There was help from then-Gov. Richard Lamm and the Forest Service, but what really drew people from ages 14 to 80 was Gudy herself and her passion for the outdoors. That zest for the high country, plus Gudy's determination and organizational skills, were celebrated at a 25th anniversary party of the Colorado Trail Foundation, a nonprofit group, in Golden, Colo., last summer.

One of those reminiscing was Lynn Mattingly, who now runs Minnesota Creek Bed and Breakfast here in Paonia, Colo. Lynn came by to tell us about the event, recalling how she got involved by working first as a trail crew leader and then as a cook. Lynn says she learned to enjoy hard physical work at high altitudes with people who became "immediate friends."

"I'll never see a trail the same way again," she says. As for Gudy, though she has officially retired as president and member of the foundation's board of directors, no one believes she will end her intense involvement. Gudy promises to lead Elderhostel crews and direct some educational courses next summer.

The foundation has produced a cookbook dedicated to Gudy, which sells for $15 plus $3 shipping, and there is also a Gudy Gaskill Endowment Fund dedicated to maintaining the Colorado Trail. The trail takes hikers, people on horseback and bicyclists - though no bikers can go through designated wilderness - from Denver to the Durango area, skirting 14,000-foot-high peaks along the way. Hundreds of people now pride themselves on having traveled the entire route. For more information, contact the Colorado Trail Foundation, 710 10th St., Suite 210, Golden, CO 80401-1022 or consult the Web at


Bob Morris, a Delta, Colo., reader, tells us the wolf we pictured downing what we called a deer was more probably downing an antelope; Rob Edward, who provided the photo, says an antelope it was. Forest ecologist T.J. Hanson of Aloha, Ore., says writer Craig Childs should get his Douglas-fir facts right. The trees don't live to 1,000 years old, he tells us; few even make it to 500, and "fitting a four-door sedan into the trunk of a Douglas-fir is also incorrect - unless Childs is talking about a car he bought at Toys-R-Us."

He also takes us to task for leaving the hyphen out of "Douglas fir." We gather that the hyphen makes it clear that Douglas fir is not a true fir (it's related to the hemlock), and yet our production bible, the Associated Press Stylebook, and our house dictionary, Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, both insist that no hyphen is needed. How's a poor proofreader to make up her mind?

A small world

When New Yorker Dave Marston rafted the Colorado River through Canyonlands National Park last summer, a rapid called Big Drop claimed his paddle while bouncing him out of his rubber duckie. The 27-year-old day trader was fine, but the paddle - his parents' - took off down the river, never to be seen again. Or so we thought, until Canyonlands River Ranger Marc Yeston found it up a side canyon, buried in mud. Yeston, who'd been chasing a radio-collared bighorn sheep, retrieved the paddle and thanks to the Paonia, Colo., address on its handle, hand-delivered it here.

The West is a small world: Yeston and his wife, Karyl, a ranger at Arches National Park, are subscribers to High Country News, and during their Good Samaritan mission the couple dropped off a contribution to the paper's Research Fund.

We also chatted that day with subscribers Dave and Esther Bradley of Tucson, Ariz. Until 1991, he ran a bar called The Portal in nearby Somerset, a former company town built for coal miners. Dave recalled how 18-year-old Caroline Kennedy and a Kennedy-clan cousin came through on motorcycles during the summer of 1977. "I carded her," Bradley recalls, "but I kept who she was mum. She was a sweet girl."

* Betsy Marston for the staff

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