It took 25 years, but Gudy Gaskill turned a dream into reality. Her dream, the 500-mile Colorado Trail, has become one of the top recreational attractions in Colorado. To support her avocation, she sold real estate and sought private donations and individual contributions. 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, a three-foot-wide path for hikers, bikers, horseback riders and back-country skiers, 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.
Gaskill had extensive knowledge and experience as a hiker and climber. She climbed all 54 of Colorado’s fourteeners, the European Alps, and many other major peaks around the world (some as many as 12 times). During World War II with gas rationing, few guests, and a great deal of free time, she climbed Longs Peak in Colorado 31 times when she worked at a lodge.
She began hiking when her father, a summer ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park, left his children at a different spot each morning and picked them up at 5:00 pm. With little else to do, Gaskill and her siblings hiked their summer days away. She was also a downhill and cross country skier, who won many races in her youth. Numerous articles have been written about her achievements, and she was interviewed on many television programs, including the Today Show. Judy Collins and Michael Martin Murphey dedicated songs to her, and she received numerous awards, including those from former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.