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These women feel the burn

Joelle MilholmGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson
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MAIN ELK CREEK – Taking in the serenity of a quiet Thursday morning, a group of friends visited Hadley Gulch Trail.No strangers to this trail, eight women and four dogs began their ascent.”This is one of our favorites,” New Castle’s Shirley Williams said, ushering her dogs along the dirt path.Tucked in the hills and rocks along Main Elk Creek outside of New Castle, members of the Burning Mountain Woman Hiking Group are in their element – together and hiking in the great outdoors.The group, which holds around 25 members, has been hiking different trails throughout the valley for two years. Each Thursday, summer, winter, fall or spring, it doesn’t matter, they are out there. Large amounts of snow won’t stop them, either – the women will strap snowshoes on their feet and keep on trucking.Climbing farther and farther up the trail, gaps between sections began to form, but small conversations remain as steady as the water flowing through the Main Elk Creek.

“We mostly just talk a lot and solve each other’s problems,” said BMWHG member Jan Romero after the group finished walking in the Hogback Hustle 5K on July 14.Some kept a brisk pace, while others took time to admire raspberries growing on the side of the trail or watch the dogs splash around in the water.”It’s not just a hike, but a botany lesson and biology lesson,” said another member, Janine High, who’s a vet tech at New Castle Veterinary Clinic in New Castle.The group started when Beverly Bishop invited some of her friends to go hiking in Canyon Creek. Bishop, who lives in California, but has stayed in Canyon Creek for a month and a half each summer for the past 30 years, was joined by 11 other hikers who enjoyed the adventure of winding up through Bureau of Land Management land climaxing at a waterfall.

Then Bishop and some of the other women decided hiking together should be a frequent occurrence.”Someone commented that they only do this kind of activity when I am in town,” said Bishop. “That’s when the idea formed.”And so the Burning Mountain Woman Hiking Group was born.”These are wonderful independent women with careers and professions that give them the flexibility to set their own schedules, so they picked a date for the next hike and they were off,” Bishop said.The group has also taken off, acquiring more members and friends along the way. Trish Baertsch, who works at the Glenwood Springs Golf Club and completed almost 60 hikes, said she would much rather be with the group than play a round of golf.



“If I have a few free hours, I want to be out here, where there aren’t very many rules,” she said. “The only rules are take water and watch where you are going.”From No Name, to Grizzly Creek to an upcoming trip to Maroon Bells, BMWHG has hiked all over the valley.Individually, each hiker tracks her hikes to see where each measures up on the BMWHG chart. A different animal is designated for each set of 10 hikes and it starts with one to 10 hikes equaling a chippy and 10-20 being a crazy ground squirrel. It ranges from 71-80 being a mallard, 131-140 is an antelope and culminates at the moose, which marks 201-210 hikes.Tori Palmer, veterinarian and owner of the New Castle Veterinary Clinic, is ranked very high in the group with almost 100 hikes, making her a peregrine falcon.”I am sure that some day we may out-hike the moose,” Palmer said.The group has seen some wildlife including turkey vultures, deer and snakes, but its trips have lacked any huge surprises. On a hiking trip, that’s usually a good thing. It leaves more time to relax, get some exercise and make friends.”I just love this group of gals and we are all so different,” Baertsch said. “I only really knew two of them before, but not many of the others. I meet them all through this group.”


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