Sisterhood in the mountains |

Sisterhood in the mountains

April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kelley Cox

A few years ago, Ginny Morris and the Wednesday Wanderers women’s outdoor club were hiking Moab when they saw a wondrous site.

“There were about 34 ladies ” one of the biggest groups we’ve had,” Morris recalled. “We were hiking over this big expanse of slick rock and we were spread out. You could see the whole group over a mile or more. Everyone had different rain gear on ” it was very colorful.”

A storm moved in, sparking a show in Culvert Canyon the women will never forget.

“It started to rain, lightning even, and all of sudden there were waterfalls everywhere. It was so beautiful,” Morris said. “We found an overhang to wait under and just watched the desert storm. To catch a desert storm ” you don’t have a chance to do that very often, unless you live there. It was very special.”

For 32 years, the Wednesday Wanderers have met to cross-country ski, snowshoe and hike in the Roaring Fork Valley and around the West.

“We’ve been up McClure Pass, hikes in Glenwood Canyon, Grand Mesa, the Flat Tops, up Frying Pan Road, in Aspen and Independence Pass,” Morris said. “We’ve had some overnight hut trips and gone to Moab in the spring. We’ve really done quite a bit.”

The group started out with four women, including Morris, 67, and has grown to about 50 outdoor enthusiasts. The age range is around 40 to 80, however Morris said anyone is welcome to join the treks.

“A lot of them only come once a year, and there’s also a more ambitious group that goes on longer trips,” Morris said. “But everyone’s as thrilled as if it’s the first time.”

Morris said Wednesday Wanderers aren’t all about the exercise. Camaraderie plays a big role in the group that’s three decades strong.

And still going strong.

“It’s always been more than about hiking,” she said. “It’s a support group, a therapy group.”

The Swimmin’ Women can relate.

For the last 20 or so years, the spunky group of 14 ladies, ages 69 to 87, have met on Mondays and Fridays to swim at the Hot Springs Pool.

They talk about life in and around Glenwood Springs.

They dote on their grandkids.

And they provide a shoulder to lean on ” especially when life gets tough.

“I’m the only one with a husband,” said Emma Blanc, 86. “We’ve lost a lot of husbands, and we’ve helped each other a lot. A lot of us have known each other forever.”

Blanc has known Swimmin’ Women member Amelia Trentaz far too many years to count. Of course, the two are sisters ” if that means anything.

“I moved here 12 years ago from Aspen and they took me in,” Trentaz said.

Back then, Trentaz wasn’t much of a swimmer.

“She was scared to death,” Blanc recalled, with a chuckle. “She used to hang on to the edge.”

Not all the Swimmin’ Women took to the water like mermaids.

“I taught a lot of them how to swim ” some were petrified,” said Agnes Grange, 77. “And the best was to watch them go under and come back up laughing.”

Freida Jackson, 82, thanks Grange for introducing her to the water world.

“Agnes taught me when I was 64, that’s when I started coming,” she said. “And I’ve enjoyed it ever since.”

Mildred Brockway didn’t have as much of a learning curve.

“I was born in Glenwood Springs and I learned to swim here,” she said. “During World War II, we had to know how to swim to graduate high school.”

But that doesn’t mean the 76-year-old doesn’t fit in with the group.

“We’re just so lucky to be a group,” she said. “It’s the greatest group in Glenwood. We’re the Swimmin’ Women Social Club.”

The McGyvers are undoubtedly a social bunch.

They enjoy camping with their daughters, hosting porch parties, and hot tubbing ” every once in a full moon.

Rumor has it The McGyvers’ name derives from a member who locked herself in the bathroom of a local drinking establishment one night. The trapped McGyver, as the story goes, constructed a makeshift key out of a spring from the soap dispenser and a paper clip, escaping a little flustered ” yet unharmed.

Hence the name, spelled slightly different than the ’80s action TV show starring Richard Dean Anderson as Angus MacGyver. No word on why they left the “a” out of their moniker.

That’s one of the stories members like to laugh about when remembering McGyver mishaps. But they also take their friendship seriously.

“We have been ‘together’ for the past 11 years and I really feel like these women have been my lifeline,” McGyver Deb Cain said. “Yes, I have a husband and children, a mom and dad, and biological siblings, nieces, nephews, etc., but nothing can come close to the bond I feel with these wonderful women.”

An elementary school counselor, Cain doesn’t have trouble putting into words how she feels about the women in her group.

“They have been there for me through good times and bad ” the worst being when my 14-year-old son died in October 2005,” she said. “I honestly have no idea of how I would have made it through those horrid days and months without their support.”

Cain likens her friendship with other McGyvers to glue.

It’s the bond that keeps her from falling apart as grief takes hold.

And it’s the strength that bands the group together.

“They have been my emotional strength. We have all been through so much in our lives,” she said. “So many sorrows and so many joys ” cancer, divorce, death, births, graduations, marriages, new homes, new jobs ” and we are there for each other through it all, whether it’s a phone call, card in the mail, e-mail, hug or shoulder to lean on.”

That’s what friends are for.

Contact April Clark: 945-8515, ext. 16601

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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