Finding Your Way
WHEN SUSAN KEES FIRST MOVED TO TELLURIDE
back in the 70s, her idea of being outside was sitting on the grass at UCLA and reading poetry. Now, forty years and three editions of her Telluride Hiking Guide later, she is the local expert on the network of trails in the region. She is 71 years old and extremely fit, and still hikes in the high country surrounding her Telluride home. “I love the smell of the trees, the fresh air, the feel of the wind…to me, it’s uplifting to be out in it.” She came up with the idea for a guidebook while she was writing biographies of the local miners for the Telluride Times-Journal. She interviewed the miners and their families and decided to find the old mines and encampments in the mountains above town that they talked about, taking notes as she went. One of the first places she explored was the Sheridan Crosscut Mine, after talking to her neighbor Mrs. Clemente, a miner’s wife who used WHO Susan Kees to be a cook at the Sheridan. As Kees made the long uphill trek, WHAT Author of Telluride Hiking Guide she marveled at the thought of Mrs. Clemente and other women WHY “I love the smell of the trees, the fresh air, the feel of the wind...to me, it’s uplifting.” from that era teetering around on the trails and over the rugged mine debris in high heels. For almost two decades, she researched the people and the trails and realized in 1988 that she had collected enough information for a book. “Two things inspired me to write the Telluride Hiking Guide: the miners I’d met who shared their stories with me, and the fact that I got lost everywhere.” Kees enjoys helping people find their way—and her advice has not been limited to just the trails. In addition to writing the guidebook, she was a high school teacher and counselor, and a therapist who practiced for more than 15 years in Telluride. She inspired her students by bringing them up to the top of Coonskin Ridge, and has done some of her best informal counseling on the trails. “Getting exercise, being outside, hiking—it’s my antidepressant.” The third edition of her Telluride Hiking Guide, a must-read for visitors, is due out this summer. It is more than just a guidebook for finding the best trail for your hike, bike ride or trail run—it is also full of captivating history and engaging stories that will make you feel acquainted with the town and the network of trails that surround it. Kees is proud to have hiked every step of every trail in the guide, and with this latest edition she has also had to take a step into the digital age, including GPS points, maps, and a website, www.telluridehikingguide.com. Kees said she was surprised by the popularity of her book, but she chalks it up to the “spiritual, magical” quality of this place and the high country that surrounds it. And even though she has fond memories of all the trails she has hiked here, she refuses to play favorites. “Which hike do I like best?” she smiles. “The one I’m on.”
A resource for visitors to Telluride and Mountain Village, Colorado.