Frontier doctor comes to life in unique Cheyenne Mountain State Park hike

Frontier doctor comes to life in unique Cheyenne Mountain State Park hike

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Cheyenne Mountain State Park launches the fifth season of its unique “A Literary Walk in the Woods” program on May 27 with a hike led by nationally known storyteller and writer, John Stansfield.

Stansfield will be leading the hike in character, portraying Dr. Charles Fox Gardiner, who came to Colorado in 1883 at age 26 after growing up in New York City as a sickly child. He followed the footsteps of thousands who sought out Colorado’s climate for treatment of their tuberculosis.

Gardiner spent four years practicing medicine in rough-hewn mining town like Crested Butte and hard-edged cattle camps like Meeker, treating everyone from college professors to cowboys to gamblers, Indians, hunters, outlaws and more.

Gardiner recalled his exploits in the wild, early years in a memoir, “Doctor at Timberline” published in 1938 when he was 81 and after a long career as a respected tuberculosis expert in Colorado Springs.

Stansfield is a logical choice to portray Gardiner. For more than thirty years, Stansfield has recounted stories from the American West and the world. Besides Gardiner, Stansfield re-enacts the lives of national park pioneers Enos Mills and John Otto.

And he has written biographies, “Enos Mills: Rocky Mountain Naturalist” in 2005 and “John Denver: Man for the World” in 2008, both for Filter Press.  His book “Writers of the American West: Multicultural Learning Encounters,”  Teacher Ideas Press, 2002, earned a Colorado Authors’ League Award and was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.

A former teacher, John is the founder of the Rocky Mountain Storytelling Festival. For his conservation efforts, the Wilderness Society presented him an Environmental Heroes Award in 2004 and the Palmer Land Trust awarded him the Stuart P. Dodge Award in 2005. He served as an Artist-In-Residence in Rocky Mountain National Park in 2014.

The program begins in the Visitor Center classroom with a biography of the author. Participants then will take a one-mile nature walk on Zook Loop Trail, stopping at the Rock Garden to read selections from the author’s work.

When: 9:30-11:30 a.m., May 27, 2017

Where: Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Cost: Program is free, but a $7 park day pass required

Reservations: Required. Call 719-576-2016

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