Hey, you, take a hike

Durango-area writers contribute to Colorado Mountain Club book

The view down into Durango from near the high point on the Smelter Mountain Trail offers an interlude for hikers. Enlarge photo

Photo courtesy of Jeff Eisele/CMC

The view down into Durango from near the high point on the Smelter Mountain Trail offers an interlude for hikers.

Take a hike.

But’s it’s nice to know where you’re going – right?

The San Juan Group of the Colorado Mountain Club can help you in that department.

Local volunteers with the Colorado Mountain Club teamed up to create The Best Durango Hikes, one of the series of Colorado Mountain Club pack guides.

The guidebook, with topographic maps, photographs and detailed directions, is hot off the presses and available now throughout the Durango area.

The San Juan Group contributors to the project and editor Jeff Eisele will gather at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Maria’s Bookshop in downtown Durango for a meet the writers session.

“These San Juan Mountains are so beautiful,” said John Bregar of Durango, who contributed to the project.

“If we can encourage ... hikers and visitors who are fit enough to get out and see these places, then hopefully this book helps them do that.”

He said editor and project director Eisele encouraged a variety of regional hikes.

Bregar handled two hiking extremes when he wrote the descriptions of the hikes to Ice Lakes Basin and Smelter Mountain.

“Those are very different experiences,” said Bregar, who’s active in the Colorado Mountain Club and Seniors Outdoors!

“Smelter ... gives you a great view of Durango. It’s not the most pristine hike, but there’s a great view, and it’s right there,” he said of the close-by hike.

The Ice Lakes Basin hike out of Silverton is at the other extreme as one of the most spectacular high alpine hikes in the San Juans.

“That particular hike ... has been written in other books. But it’s such a special place, it deserved to be (in this guidebook).

Bregar also provided several photographs for the local Colorado Mountain Club project.

Eisele, the weekend editor at The Durango Herald, coordinated the project and edited the descriptive accounts of the 20 selected hikes in the book.

“The hardest thing to do was ... picking 20 hikes. How do you just pick 20 hikes around here,” Eisele said.

The group culled the initial list of nominees.

At one final brainstorming session at Eisele’s house, the selections were made.

“That was a long meeting. There was some passionate debate about the hikes,” Eisele said.

Eventually, there were 20.

They include Ice Lakes and Smelter. There are also climbs to local mountain landmarks and treks through cliff dwellings and ancient ruins.

There are some peak-scrambling options, as well.

The hikes include many time-honored Durango institutions like Animas Mountain, the Colorado Trail (to Gudy’s Rest) and the Crater Lake Trail atop Coalbank Pass.

Also described are the famed trails to Engineer Mountain.

The Columbine Lake Trail and the Potato Lake Trail earn mention in the book along with the desert trail of the Sand Canyon Loop.

Kennebec, Castle Rock and Cascade Creek are in the collection.

Different hiking volunteers composed the descriptive accounts of the various hikes.

“The two hikes I wrote about are fairly easy hikes ... more family-oriented hikes,” said Bernadette Tuthill, who covered Sand Canyon and the West Mancos Loop.

She said she and her family have been hiking in Sand Canyon since they moved to the area.

“When we have company, we always take them to Sand Canyon ... that is a special place,” Tuthill said.

She said the hiking book would not have been possible without the leadership and direction of Eisele.

“Jeff was a tremendous help. He ... hiked with me for my sections. And the editing ... he really worked with me,” she said.

“These are people who have passion for hiking and climbing,” Eisele wrote in the book’s introduction.

“Southwest Colorado is their home. They know its trails, and they’re eager to share their knowledge and experience so that others can enjoy – and protect – these trails,” Eisele wrote.

“That passion for hiking and sharing the experience ... that would apply to the (contributors), and, in general, to the members of the Colorado Mountain Club,” Eisele said this week.

Eisele has been involved with two guide publications with CMC.

He paid special tribute to the San Juan Group volunteers who assisted with the latest publication.

The are, in alphabetical order, Ken Beegles, Rob Blair, Dorothy Bregar, John Bregar, Diana Donnelly, Dianne Donovan, Mike Frisoni, Joe Griffith, Sandy Hoagland, Kerry Honsinger, Tom Hooten, Laszlo Szuecs, Bernadette Tuthill, Chip Tuthill and Debra Van Winegarden. Péter Bodig also was recognized for his planning contributions to the local hiking text.

Like all the books in the Colorado Mountain Club Pack Guide series, The Best Durango Hikes was a volunteer project.

“The writers and photographers get their names in print,” reads the book’s introduction.

“The San Juan Group gets a small royalty from each book sold. But the contributors receive no personal compensation.”

The guidebook includes explanations of the difficulty ratings for the hikes and warnings about weather, safety and backcountry travel.

Supporting the Colorado Mountain Club philosophy, the distilled list known as “The Ten Essentials.” is included.

“Since 1912, the CMC has promoted wilderness safety awareness and .. the list known as ‘The Ten Essentials,’” according to the guidebook.

Those key 10 elements are detailed: insulation, hydration, nutrition, emergency shelter, fire, sun protection, navigation, illumination, first-aid kit and emergency tools/supplies.

“Above all, enjoy yourself and help protect this pristine environment. It’s fragile and easily damaged by human encroachment. Help preserve it now and for future generations by practicing Leave No Trace principles,” Eisele wrote.

Now, go take a hike.

dstrode@ durangoherald.com

The intersection of Engineer and Pass Creek trails is marked by signage. Enlarge photo

Photo courtesy of Jeff Eisele/CMC

The intersection of Engineer and Pass Creek trails is marked by signage.

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Hesperus Mountain strikes a majestic image.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$ Enlarge photo

Photo courtesy of Mike Frisoni/CMC

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Hesperus Mountain strikes a majestic image.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$

The hike to Upper Ice Lake is one of the region’s most popular hikes. It is detailed along with 19 other hikes in the new hiking guide book. Enlarge photo

Photo courtesy of John Bregar/CMC

The hike to Upper Ice Lake is one of the region’s most popular hikes. It is detailed along with 19 other hikes in the new hiking guide book.

The guidebook features a pictorial cover. Enlarge photo

The guidebook features a pictorial cover.