This is my forty-fourth fall living in Colorado. Forty-four years of aspen gaspin’ drives and hikes through the golden glow of quaking aspen. Yet I have to say this year’s hike may be the most memorable. Once you hike a trail you can stake a claim to it! I’m glad I made this one mine.
Friends had clipped a description of the Vindicator Valley Trail from the Colorado Springs Gazette a while ago—one of the finds from adventure reporter Seth Boster. They invited us to join them so we set out on a partly overcast, breezy but nice fall day toward the historic mining town of Victor, Colorado.
The trail was easy to find just off County Road 81 and has been well maintained by the nonprofits that support it. As advertised, it not only provides gorgeous vistas of aspen, but also educational discoveries at every turn as hikers stop to read the historical markers and see the remains of gold mines that saw their glory days in the late 1800s.
The two-mile hike up hill and down at 10,200 feet in elevation did exercise my body, but it was my imagination that got the best workout. I had forgotten how many of the old mines were named for women, and I couldn’t help but wonder who these women were, and how they felt about having a gold mine named after them.
Was Theresa someone’s beloved wife, perhaps a mail order bride from back East who responded to an ad to marry a rich gold miner out West? Or did the miner who went into Victor to file his claim slap a piece of gold ore on the bar and tell the barmaid in her flouncy skirt and bustier (like Miss Kitty in Gunsmoke), “I just found me some gold, Theresa! And I’m naming the mine after you!” How would she have responded as she poured whiskey into the glass he held in his gritty hands? And did he expect something in return? Without doing a lot more research, I can only imagine.
Maybe Annie J. was the darling granddaughter of a mine supervisor. A little girl with golden curls who loved to visit the mine with her grandpa, her little hand in his, as he checked on the day’s yield. And what about Glorietta? Was she someone’s grandma known for her beans and biscuits, or a sister who died too young from consumption? Surely Lillie was a dance hall performer. Or not. I’d love to know.
At the end of the trail we were amused to find a sign with an oft used miner’s toast: “May you stand in ore and your labors be in vein.” And may you venture out on Vindicator Valley Trail yourself some golden aspen day. It’s a wonderful reminder of what’s still good about living in Colorado. You may want to include visits to nearby Victor and Cripple Creek, too. Make the golden adventure yours.
Shar Carroll says
Reexperiencing the hike through your blog made me appreciate even more the people who preserve our wonderful Colorado history and in particular the gold mining industry. They certainly presented the miners, the women and the dangers in a very impactful way! They were one tough group. Thanks for going with us and encouraging me along the way. Let’s keep looking for new adventures 🧐♥️
I agree. Thanks for having the idea and taking us along!
Jim Brummett says
I am sure ships and mines are named after women for a reason, but I dare not speculate why.
You can name one after me any time!
Elizabeth H. Van Liere says
Always happy when I see there is a blog from you. This one spiked my curiosity as well as yours, Nancy. Have to leave the actual hiking for you younger people, but I can still “wonder what” along with you.
Thank you, Betty. Hope you’ve enjoyed this beautiful fall season. The wind we’re getting tells me it’s almost over!
Lu McCoy says
Love this, Nancy! And I have to agree with Jim!
Thanks, Lou! It was so good to see you and Steve in August.
Helen Bruner says
I just sent our niece who is moving to Colorado Springs this info as they love to hike. Maybe someday Joe and I can join you all – but it does sound a little strenuous!!! We are headed up to the mountains to catch the fall colors this weekend. Aren’t we blessed to live in such a beautiful country!! Hugs and Love!! Helen
Helen, it wasn’t too bad! Enjoy the mountains. Yes, we are blessed still.
The Victor area is BEAUTIFUL in the autumn! Thanks, Nancy.
It really is Sue. Happy fall!
Jan Keller says
Thanks for ‘taking me along’ on your autumn hike!
You are welcome! Hope you will be up for one of your own soon.
My favorite descriptions so far! Thank you for your beautiful ideas, wish we could have joined you! We haven’t received fall yet here but it is less hot and it is just beautiful. Spent last weekend with our son and this day with our daughter and this weekend with our daughter and watching our football player!!
Sounds like fall to me, Jimmie! Thanks.
Peggy Ellis says
Jim and I have hiked over much of Colorado over a period of some thirty years and at different times of the year. We especially enjoyed the southwest mountains. I must admit, though, to a special fondness for the Garden of the Gods! Thanks for the memories, Nancy!
Patti Fillers McCune says
Have been th o Aspen twice, once in the fall and then
once in the winter to ski.
Chic crowd both time….we were truly in seventh heaven both times! Hung out with the late singer/songwriter. John Denver, who was Number
One on the charts and in our hearts at the same time!
Beautiful blog, Nance..
Thanks for the memories!
Thank you, Patti. Missed seeing you at the 55th reunion!
Alice Scott-Ferguson says
This is my old stomping ground from our Woodland Park days! How we too loved exploring in the Golden Aspen groves. Thanks for the well-captured memories, Nancy!
My pleasure! It’s really been a lovely fall here but there’s definitely a change in the air!
Lea Ann Brookens says
What a fun post, it’s a hike I’ll be sure to do!!!
An easy one for a hiker like you, Lea Ann. But still interesting and fun!
Gay Hope says
I love seeing this trip through your eyes Nancy! Maybe after some work on my knees I can do some hiking.
I would love that, Gay Hope!