Aspenite prepares to take 600-mile hike on the divide
Aspen resident Garry Pfaffman will take one heck of a hike this summer.
The teacher at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies will walk 600 miles of the Continental Divide Trail to raise money for two worthy causes.
Pfaffman is seeking local sponsors, both businesses and individuals, for the walk and hopes to raise $10,000 for two local nonprofits. The beneficiaries of Pfaffman’s efforts will be the Aspen Youth Center’s Outdoor Adventure Program and the Aspen School District’s environmental education building.
An educator at ACES, Pfaffman has been teaching environmental education at Aspen Elementary School this school year and will teach in the district’s new straw bale building during the next academic year. He will also lead quarterly programs for the Outdoor Adventure Program.
Pfaffman will hike the trail with his friend Silas Binkley of Boulder, starting on June 20 at Winter Park. Called Walk for the Future, the trip from Winter Park to Colorado’s southern border will take an estimated two months, passing through nine federally designated wilderness areas. The trip includes the highest stretch of the Continental Divide in the United States and Canada.
The highest point on the trip will be about 13,900 feet above sea level, and the low point will be at about 9,500 feet, Pfaffman said. The elevation gain and loss will range from 500 to 5,000 feet per day.
The pair will start slowly, traveling about five miles per day, because both men are nursing injuries. Pfaffman said they intend to cover up to 15 miles per day in the middle section of the trip, where about 200 miles of their itinerary coincides with the Colorado Trail, which is well marked. The men have budgeted much more time to do the southern part, where they expect to spend time finding the route with map and compass.
Pfaffman said they will avoid parts of the trail that descend too far from the divide for their liking. “There are stretches where we’ll go off the trail and stay true to n See Hiker the divide and do some bushwhacking up above timberline,” Pfaffman said.
Though the trail ends at Cumbres Pass, on the Colorado-New Mexico border, the hikers will walk a few miles more to Chama, N.M. to end the trip. “It’s just a small town,” Pfaffman said, “but they’ve got great Mexican food there.”
The programs that Pfaffman hopes will benefit from the Walk for the Future, the Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP) and the environmental education classroom, are both locally operated. They both aid the community’s young people in making responsible decisions, environmentally and socially.
OAP provides programs for kids between 13 and 18 who have been involved in the courts. They must go through the program as part of the consequences they face for breaking the law. A typical OAP session involves team-building exercises and meeting law enforcement officers. The session ends with a weekend snowshoe trip to the Lindley Hut south of Ashcroft. On the hut trip, group discussions address the issues faced by each of the kids.
The program is successful, Pfaffman said, but it doesn’t serve all the kids who qualify for it. It’s understaffed, and the goal of program organizers is to hire a director and offer more sessions to serve more kids.
Pfaffman will accept donations to OAP and the environmental classroom before and after the Walk for the Future. Individuals and businesses may contribute to either or both. Checks for OAP should be made out to Aspen Youth Center and for the environmental classroom, to Aspen School District EE Building. Contributions are tax deductible and go directly to the organizations.
Pledge cards are also available. To get a pledge card, make a donation, or for more information, contact Garry Pfaffman at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, 925-5756.
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