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101 Years of Guided Hiking

April 06, 2021

The summer of 1920 was the first summer that Anna and Isabel Pifer stayed at YMCA of the Rockies.

Their father was the YMCA secretary. They quickly became known as the “hikemasters” of the YMCA. Though they worked for free, guests often gifted them dinner after the hikes and the Y gifted them free baths in the bath house. Their hikes ranged from interpretive nature walks to summiting Long’s Peak from the Y grounds (26 miles and 6200 feet).

In 2020, due to COVID-19, YMCA of the Rockies was not able to host a gathering to celebrate the pioneering of the guided hiking program, so in 2021 we invite you to join a “101 years of guided hikes at YMCA of the Rockies” celebration. The celebration is going to be geared toward celebrating both hikemasters and guided hikes through the years. Because there are many families who come year after year to hike with us, and they come during different weeks, we are planning on having two events each week throughout the summer.

On Sundays, join the Hiker’s Huddle presentation, an explanation of how the hiking program works and what hikes are scheduled to go out that week. After Hiker’s Huddle, enjoy a Hikemaster Showcase presentation where a current hikemaster will give a talk on a topic they are passionate about. Some presentations topics include, How Glaciers Shaped Rocky Mountain National Park, Using Hiking to Reduce Anxiety, RV Living and How to Volunteer for National Parks Service, and Victorian Women on the Summit of Long’s Peak.

Additionally, each week, there will be specialized hikes that showcase how unique the YMCA of the Rockies hiking program is. Unlike other hiking outfitters in Estes Park, we have the capability of doing both topically focused hikes and provide special treats on our hikes, free of charge. Some hikes we have scheduled throughout this summer include, Coffee and Donuts at Mills Lake, Afternoon Tea at the Wigwam Tea Room, Perseid Meteor Shower on Sundance Mountain, Bierstadt Lake from the perspective of 1920s hikers and The Legend of the Blue Mist at Miner Bill’s Lost Mine.

Lastly, YMCA of the Rockies is offering a weeklong final celebration the week of August 1- August 7, 2021.

Other events this summer include, an orienteering race on a new course at the YMCA, a Long’s Peak hike from the YMCA in honor of the Pifer sisters and a final celebration Potluck. Stay tuned for details and contact the YMCA of the Rockies hiking program for more information at 970-586-3341 x1104.

Full Celebration Schedule 

Hikemaster Showcase:

June 20: Jeff Brenner
Topic: Wilderness Backpacking
Description: Hikemaster Jeff has been leading backpacking trips for 20 years, and wants to show you why he’s so passionate about these trips. Jeff will take you through the behind the scenes of planning and prepping for multiday trips in wilderness locations. He’ll show you some of his favorite trips, and how to prepare and pack for each location. 

June 27: Dave Mandy
Topic: Hiking the State High Points
Description: Join Hikemaster Dave Mandy as he tells you about his adventures while hiking to all 50 state high points. So far, he has managed to hike the high points in 15 states and plans on checking off 6 more this summer and fall. 

July 11: Leia Atas
Topic: Using Nature to Destress
 Description: Join Hikemaster Leia as she talks about her journey using nature to help with her stress and anxiety. How can you use nature to help center your mind and overcome mental obstacles? 

July 18: Tom Dewitz
Topic: Finding Your Way into the Wilderness
Description: Hikemaster Tom D is known as our off trail extraordinaire! When you hike with Tom, you never go the same way twice. In this talk, Tom will be sharing what he’s learned from 6 years of Search Rescue, 5 years as a Scoutmaster and 16 years as a hikemaster. Tom will be sharing his top pointers for how to plan an prepare in the wilderness. 

 July 25: Harvey Haines
Topic: Geology of RMNP
 Description: Ever wondered why the mountains formed here in Colorado? Hikemaster Harvey is an earth scientist and geophysicist who really enjoys studying rocks. In this talk, Harvey will explain how Rocky Mountain National Park came to look the way it does. He’ll tell how the mountains were formed, how glaciers influenced their shape and what type of rocks you may find here. 

 August 1: Greg Taylor
 Topic: Volunteering for National Park Service
 Description: Greg Taylor and his wife, Cathy, have been volunteering for National Parks across the Western United States for over 10 years. In this talk, Greg will tell you what it’s like living a nomadic lifestyle and how to volunteer for the National Park service.

 August 8: Laura Bush
 Topic: Victorian Women on Longs Peak
Description: Join Hikemaster Laura as she talks about some of the first known women who trekked to the summit of Long’s Peak. 

August 15: Beth Stus

 August 22: Keith Pritchard

 Special Hikes:

June 8: Ginny Kent
 Title: Bartholf Glacier and Whyte’s Lake
Description: Travel back in time with Hikemaster Ginny as she takes you on a hike from the perspective of a hiker in 1921. Hike to Bierstadt Lake (then called Whyte’s Lake), learn about the Bartholf Glacier Basin and see the National Park from the eyes of the past.

 June 9: Ginny Kent
Title: Willow Park and Wooden Castles
 Description: Join Hikemaster Ginny as she takes you to the locations of former lodges and homesteads in the National Park. Learn about the owners of these locations and how they managed to live in extreme situations. 

June 16: Tom Dewitz
Title: Wigwam Tea Room from Y
Description: Learn about women’s homesteading history with Hikemaster Tom D. Starting from the Y grounds, hike to a historic tea room opened by the area’s first female homesteader in 1907. These old cabins were once the site of a common stopping point for Long’s Peak hikers. Our first Hikemasters, Anna and Isabel Pifer, stopped at the tearoom on their route back to the Y from guided Long’s Peak hikes. 

 June 22: Ginny Kent
Title: Bartholf Glacier and Whyte’s Lake
 Description: Travel back in time with Hikemaster Ginny as she takes you on a hike from the perspective of a hiker in 1921. Hike to Bierstadt Lake (then called Whyte’s Lake), learn about the Bartholf Glacier Basin and see the National Park from the eyes of the past.

 June 23: Ginny Kent
Title: Willow Park and Wooden Castles
Description: Join Hikemaster Ginny as she takes you to the locations of former lodges and homesteads in the National Park. Learn about the owners of these locations and how they managed to live in extreme situations.

 June 24: Dave Mandy
 Title: Emerald Lake Full Moon Hike
 Description: Hiking at night can be a surreal experience. Join Hikemaster Dave M as you hike by the light of the full moon to the beautiful mountain tarn, Emerald Lake. Along the way, you may learn a thing or two about the cycle of the moon and moon phases. 

 June 30: Tom Dewitz
Title: Bear Claws from Y
Description: Hike from YMCA property with HIkemaster Tom D to a rocky buttress off the side of Thunder Mountain with panoramic views. Learn about the Native Americans who used these projections as lookout points many years ago. Once you reach the Bear Claws, you have the option of scrambling to the top like Natives used to do. 

July 1: Ginny Kent
 Title: Fall River Alpine Rock Gardens
 Description: Head up Old Fall River Road and learn about alpine wildflowers with Hikemaster Ginny. Stop along the way at roadside rock gardens and journey down Willow Park in search of the most beautiful flower spots.

July 6: Ginny Kent
Title: Bartholf Glacier and Whyte’s Lake
 Description: Travel back in time with Hikemaster Ginny as she takes you on a hike from the perspective of a hiker in 1921. Hike to Bierstadt Lake (then called Whyte’s Lake), learn about the Bartholf Glacier Basin and see the National Park from the eyes of the past.

July 7: Jeff Brenner
 Title: Coffee and Donuts at Mill’s Lake
Description: Join Hikemaster Jeff as he takes you to one of the most beautiful lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park: Mill’s Lake. Along the way, you’ll pass by Alberta Falls, see stunning views of Glacier Gorge and marvel at the peaks surrounding you. Once you reach Mill’s Lake, you may think, “man, what I wouldn’t give to have coffee and donuts right now!” Worry no more: coffee and donuts will be provided by Hikemaster Jeff!

 July 7: Ginny Kent
 Title: Fall River Alpine Rock Gardens
Description: Head up Old Fall River Road and learn about alpine wildflowers with Hikemaster Ginny. Stop along the way at roadside rock gardens and journey down Willow Park in search of the most beautiful flower spots.

July 12: Wendy Meaden
 Title: Medicinal and Edible Plants
Description: Learn about the medicinal properties of plants and snack on edible plants in the park while hiking with Hikemaster Wendy. The destination of this hike will be dependent upon snow conditions in early summer. 

 July 13: Tom Dewitz
Title: Miner Bill’s Lost Mine
Description: Hike with Hikemaster Tom D to Miner Bill’s old mine. Miner Bill lived in his cabins on Fall River road, worked on the trail up to his mines and harassed the park visitors passing by. Although the cabins are gone, much of his trail is still evident. The historic trail climbs steeply past the Old Faithful Landslide to a wonderland of granite pinnacles and cliffs to the open mouth of the mine. Guests with headlamps can join Hikemaster Tom on a short, but fun, walk into the mine shaft. 

July 13: Ginny Kent
Title: Ute Trail West Wildflowers
 Description: Start at the Alpine Visitor Center and descend down to Poudre Pass with Hikemaster Ginny. Along the way, she will point out all of the miniature wildflowers that grow throughout the alpine tundra. 

July 15: Clyde McKinney
Title: Lawn Lake Flood of 1982

 July 15: Natalie Guess
Title: Afternoon Tea at Wigwam Tea Room
Description: Enjoy afternoon tea at the Wigwam Tea Room, a historic stopping point along the original Long’s Peak route. Hikemaster Natalie will bring tea and snacks to enjoy once you reach these historic cabins. 

July 20: Ginny Kent
Title: Ute Trail West Wildflowers
Description: Start at the Alpine Visitor Center and descend down to Poudre Pass with Hikemaster Ginny. Along the way, she will point out all of the miniature wildflowers that grow throughout the alpine tundra.
 
 July 23: Dave Mandy
Title: Emerald Lake Full Moon hike
Description: Hiking at night can be a surreal experience. Join Hikemaster Dave M as you hike by the light of the full moon to the beautiful mountain tarn, Emerald Lake. Along the way, you may learn a thing or two about the cycle of the moon and moon phases. 

July 27: Harvey
Title: Moraine Park Geology Walk
Description: Join Hikemaster Harvey on a hike through Moraine Park. Learn how glaciation from the most recent ice ages formed Moraine Park and the surrounding mountains. By analyzing the features in Moraine Park, you will be able to see how thick the ice was during glaciation and how powerfully glaciers can carve rock.

July 29: Liam Fogerty
Title: Sunrise and Pancakes at Sprague Lake
 Description: Join Hikemaster Liam as you watch the sunrise at Sprague Lake. Watch the rays of the sun paint the mountains at this classic example of a beautiful mountain lake. Hikemaster Liam will be your pancake chef extraordinaire and cook you breakfast during this early morning show. 

 August 2: Liam Fogerty
Title: Scottish Hike to the Loch
 Description: Join Hikemaster Liam as he celebrates his Scottish Heritage. You will take a hike to the Loch, a lake named after a historic Scottish figure, and learn about Scottish Folklore and history in the Estes Park area. 

August 3: Tom Dewitz
 Title: Lake Irene and the Giant’s Ladder
 Description: Did you know there was a road over the Continental Divide before Trail Ridge Road? The Park worked hard to obscure the old road once Trail Ridge Road was completed. Join Hikemaster Tom D as he leads you along the skim remains of the section of road called “The Giant’s Ladder”, due to its 16 hairpin switchbacks. You will learn about the old Native trail that proceeded the road, the early pioneers who built the western part of Old Fall River Road and the natural forces that are slowly reclaiming the old road bed for the wilderness. 

 August 3: Ginny Kent
Title: Bartholf Glacier and Whyte’s Lake
Description: Travel back in time with Hikemaster Ginny as she takes you on a hike from the perspective of a hiker in 1921. Hike to Bierstadt Lake (then called Whyte’s Lake), learn about the Bartholf Glacier Basin and see the National Park from the eyes of the past.

August 4: Ginny Kent
Title: Willow Park and Wooden Castles
Description: Join Hikemaster Ginny as she takes you to the locations of former lodges and homesteads in the National Park. Learn about the owners of these locations and how they managed to live in extreme situations.

August 5: Dave Mandy
Title: Long’s Peak from the Y: Honoring the Pifer Sisters
Description: The Pifers' Longs Peak hikes stopped for rest and refreshment at Anna Wolfrom's Wigwam Tea Room and Enos Mills' Longs Peak Inn.  Their route is no longer viable: it would be off-trail and on private property at times, and their refreshment locations are now historical artifacts.  Nonetheless, it is possible to celebrate their initiative and the beginnings of the Y hiking program by summiting Longs from the Y, but doing so on modern trails.  We will remember the Pifer sisters, celebrate 101 years of Y hiking excellence, and experience the endless lure of Longs Peak with a 23 mile round trip, 6,300-foot net gain, trek from the Y to the summit of Longs Peak.

 August 10: Wendy Meaden and Dave Fore
 Title: Homesteads, Hotels and the CCC
 Description: Take a hike with HIkemasters Dave F and Wendy as lead you through a pleasant valley called Little Horseshoe Park. Learn about the first CCC camp west of the Mississippi and about a man named Willard Ashton who once ran the Horseshoe inn at this very location. HIkemasters Dave and Wendy will guide you to the remains of both his inn and his home. 

 August 12: Dave Mandy
Title: Perseid Meteor Shower on Sundance Mountain
 Description: The annual Perseid meteor shower is probably the most anticipated meteor event each year. In order to get better visibility, you will head to Sundance Mountain with Hikemaster Dave M. While watching the meteors, learn about why meteor showers happen and what determines their light intensities. 

 August 16: John Spano
 Title: Eagle Cliff Geology
 Description: Ever wondered how our mountains were formed? Join Hikemaster John to the summit of Eagle Cliff, a small projection on the edge of YMCA property to get a better look at the surrounding area and learn about why it looks the way it does.

 August 18: Beth Stus
 Title: Remembering Lady Botanists
 Description: Hike with HIkemaster Beth as she tells you about female botanists in the world of patriarchal scientists. 

August 27: Keith Pritchard
Title: Lawn Lake Flood Hike: Honoring Ken Teselle
Description: The Lawn Lake Flood of 1982 changed lives and the face of Rocky Mountain National Park’s Horseshoe Park. Join Hikemaster Keith and see where the forces of man and nature collided with catastrophic results. This hike is in honor of the late Hikemaster Ken Teselle and the impact he left on our YMCA hiking department. 
 

Assigned Categories: Estes Park Center, Snow Mountain Ranch, History, Hiking