Gudy Gaskill: The Mother of the Colorado Trail
By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today
It was in 2002 when I first met Gudy Gaskill. And believe it or not it wasn’t on a Colorado trail!
Gudrun “Gudy” Gaskill who will forever be fondly remembered as the ”Mother of the Colorado Trail,” died last week, July 14, 2016 in Denver at the age of 89. For those who may be unfamiliar with her story, it is succinctly surmised by the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame (CWHF) as follows:
Gudy Gaskill spearheaded the effort to build the 500-mile Colorado Trail, one of the top outdoor attractions in Colorado. She rallied thousands of volunteers from every state and many countries to help build the trail, one segment at a time. Today, the Colorado Trail is a three-foot-wide path for hikers, bikers, horseback riders, and back-country skiers, that winds through Colorado’s mountains avoiding towns and cities, from Denver to Durango. This high-altitude wilderness trail is a model studied by other states and agencies.
But if Gaskill’s vision is considered to be one-of-a-kind, then the woman herself certainly broke the mold!
Never was that more apparent than at the 2002 CWHF Inductions, which was held at the glitzy Donald Seawell Ballroom in downtown Denver. I had been invited to join my dear friend and mentor ML Hanson at the Founder’s Table and was looking forward to the evening’s inspirational stories, After all, in addition to Gaskill, the Class of 2002 included:
- Linda Alverado – Colorado Rockies owner and construction CEO
- Sue Miller – Breast Cancer Activist and Advocate
- Virginia Fraser – Advocate for The Elderly
- Gloria Tanner – 1st Black Woman CO Senator
- Mary Miller – “Mother of Lafayette”
- Emily Warner – America’s first female pilot and captain
- Dr. Jo Ann Joselyn – first woman and the first American to serve as Secretary General of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics.
That year, in addition to their special induction plaque, the women would also receive a beautiful crystal bowl. These were special gifts given by Joy Burnsley, owner of Denver’s historic Burnsley Hotel and CWHF Inductee, Class of 2000.
As Gaskill took the stage to accept her place among an elite group of Colorado women, she was presented the elegant serving vessel, at which point she spontaneously said, “Oh my goodness, what am I going to do with this?” then proceeded to place it upside down atop her head as if it were a bicycle helmet!
The ballroom erupted in laughter, paving the way for Gaskill’s acceptance speech. We hung on every word, celebrating every triumph in her story; much like the steps travelers take along her treasured trail. Happy Trails, Gudy!