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Helen’s Angels

I don’t go out looking for trail stories. I hope to find them. They usually find me. Such was my hike in Alderfer Ranch/Three Sisters Park, Jefferson County Open Space outside of Evergreen, Colorado.I was interested to survey this 1,128-acre wilderness park ó a mix of scenery, including emerald meadows, marshy bogs, huge granite boulder piles and Ponderosa Pines, with 18 miles of intersecting trails.I climbed a granite rock pyramid to get an elevated view. Across open grassland, encircled by thick woods, I could see some of the original ranch buildings by the trailhead. The Alderfer family operated a sawmill, raised sliver fox and pastured horses. The public can now enjoy this beautiful park, crisscrossed with well-maintained, moderate-effort trails.Halfway through my hike, near the base of one of the Three Sisters (three dramatic, connected rocky rises out of the forest), I came upon a group of hiking elders, resting and rehydrating. At first I thought my story from this trip might be history of Alderfer Ranch. But instead, meeting this group of seniors, passionate about hiking, was my story Ö well, their story.Their hiking group had a name: Helen’s Angels (named, appropriately, by their founder, Helen Angel). Most were in their 80s, with their youngest member being 78 years old. They hiked wilderness trails regularly together, although their numbers (currently about 30 of them) and their pace had dwindled a bit.Most of the members of Helen’s Angels had been hiking together for more than 30 years. Adventuring together, they have shared memories and deepened friendships. Today, not every member can make every hike, and some weathered by the years can hike no longer. Others, like Helen herself, now hike with the angels in heaven.I hope that one day when my hair is white or missing altogether (probably along with my teeth), when my old bones and muscles are failing me and the spring in my step is rusted out; I will still be as full of life and have the enthusiasm for the wilderness like the Angels whom Helen inspired. I’d like that to be my story.

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