On the trail: Storm King
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The date July 6, 1994, will always remain linked with tragedy in this region.
That’s when a raging wildfire exploded and, fueled by powerful winds, raced up a hillside, killing 14 firefighters.
The Storm King Fire and those who died there are remembered with a pair of memorials. One is located in Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs. The other takes hikers to the location where the tragedy occurred.
The Storm King Fourteen Memorial Trail hike is difficult, long and very hot during the summer.
The trail was constructed as the most meaningful and appropriate remembrance to the 14 firefighters. It allows people to experience a small slice of what it’s like to walk in the shoes of a firefighter. The difficulty of the hike personifies the steep work ethic of a proud profession.
Firefighting is grueling work, and the events of July 6, 1994, showed how dangerous the profession can be.
The hike should not be taken lightly. Be sure to bring plenty of water and proper hiking footwear.
The trailhead is located at the end of the frontage road at Canyon Creek. Take the Canyon Creek exit off Interstate 70, then turn right on the frontage road paralleling the interstate going east.
Walking at a brisk pace, the hike will take close to an hour to the site of the memorial crosses. Plan for more than two-and-a-half hours for the entire trip.
At the trailhead and throughout the hike there are informational plaques describing the Storm King Fire, and bios and photos of the 14 firefighters who died.
The first section is steep, and once you top out onto the ridge, there will be very little shade for the remainder of the trip. The most difficult part of the hike is the final leg. After dropping into a ravine, the trail heads up a very steep section. Stairs have been constructed to help with the climb. The trail flattens out for a short distance, then proceeds up the final section and tops out at a T.
Turning left takes hikers to an overlook site of the two victims who were trapped and died in a ravine. Turning right leads to the sites of the other 12.
Each marble cross has the name of the fallen firefighter. Photos, caps, coins, trinkets and other items have been left by visitors to pay respect to the fallen 14.
This hike is a special one that is more about paying respect than enjoying the scenery and outdoor splendor. Enjoy the trek, and as you make your way to the top, be sure to remind yourself of he true meaning of this trail. It’s about 14 courageous firefighters who died on July 6, 1994.
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