Baldwin visitors hike Santa Fe Trail
Four women recently saw Baldwin and the surrounding area in a little different fashion than most people stopping for a visit -- on foot.
The women from New Mexico and Colorado specifically made the trip to Baldwin last week to hike the Santa Fe Trail.
"I think only if you walk it do you really appreciate it," Inez Ross, the group's trail boss, said.
Judith Janay, from Fort Collins, Colo., Phyllis Morgan, Albuquerque, N.M., and Carolyn Robinson and Ross, both from Los Alamos, N.M., spent nearly a week in Baldwin in an attempt to walk about 50 miles of the Santa Fe Trail.
The four women have spent the last several years hiking hundreds of miles of the famous trading route. They started at the end of the trail in New Mexico and have worked their way backward along the Cimarron route through Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas. Their goal is to reach Franklin, Mo., the official starting place of the Santa Fe Trail.
Ross said the women first started walking the trail after the Olympic torch run for the 1996 summer games bypassed New Mexico. She said a column in a local newspaper suggested the state have its own torch relay up the Santa Fe Trail to meet the flame in Kansas City.
"The more we talked about it and started reading about it, we thought it would be fun to hike the trail," she said.
Once a month from April to June and September through November the group tackles a new segment of the trail.
"We try to walk five days in a row, 10 miles a day," Janay said.
They attempt to walk the exact route of the trail whenever possible, but sometimes have to walk nearby county roads. She said they're not particular about the direction, as long as the sun is at their backs and they're not walking into the wind.
"We decided it doesn't really matter what direction we go as long as we walk it," Janay said.
The group started hiking around Baldwin last Sunday, but were forced into a rain delay the following day. Instead, the women visited the Old Castle Museum and downtown Baldwin Wednesday morning before going to Lawrence in the afternoon.
Baldwin resident Dorthea Jackson showed the group around the area Tuesday, and the hikers spent Wednesday afternoon at the Baldwin City Public Library with local historian Katharine Kelley, as Kelley shared with the group some local information about the trail and town.
"This town has the most enthusiastic people about the trail so far," Ross said. "There are very friendly people here."
The women finished hiking Thursday, and were already making plans for their return trip to Kansas next April when they will walk the trail through Gardner and Olathe.
They said there are a number of reasons they've hiked this far including the challenge of it, the people they've met and the land they've seen, but there's something that might be more important.
"I think it's our love of history," Robinson said. "It gets in your blood."