Bookworm of Edwards event features three local outdoors authors |

Bookworm of Edwards event features three local outdoors authors

Nathan Free wrote “The Best Vail Valley Hikes." He's one of three local outdoor authors being featured for Trail-to-Trail: Outdoor Recreation Around the Region at The Bookworm in Edwards.

If You Go

What: Trail-to-Trail: Outdoor Recreation Around the Region

Where: Bookworm in Edwards

When: 6 p.m. Monday

Who: Authors Nathan Free, “The Best Vail Valley Hikes;” Maryann Gaug, “Best Easy Day Hikes Vail;” and Mary Ellen Gilliland, “The Summit Hiker & The Vail Hiker.”

Cost: $10

Information: Go to

Three local outdoor authors will discuss where to go and what to do during a Bookworm event slated for Monday evening in Edwards.

Authors Nathan Free, Maryann Guag and Mary Ellen Gilliland will share stories, photography and answer questions about their favorite spots.

Nathan Free

Free has spent more than three decades in Colorado, mostly outdoors. He climbed his first 14ers as a young Boy Scout, and is now leading one of the valley’s Boy Scout troops. Over the past 20 years he has summitted all of Colorado 14ers, and negotiated hundreds of 13ers, passes, creek explorations and meadows.

Plus, he has hiked all of the trails in his book.

And here’s one for you. On his first date with Lisa Siegert, they climbed Snowmass Peak. She liked it enough to stick around and is now Lisa Siegert-Free, although her own obsession is linked more to the cute creatures that inhabit the wild places they hike through.

He’s a leadership coach, a serious bicyclist and a snow sports instructor for Vail Resorts for 20 years.

Maryann Gaug

Maryann Gaug’s newest book, “Best Easy Day Hikes Vail,” includes 20 hikes — eight in Summit County and 12 in Eagle County — that range from easy to more challenging, including a few that are accessible for people with physical handicaps.

“It’s a fun little book,” Gaug said “It’s not a fancy book but just a basic book to go on some nice hikes in Summit and Eagle counties. … It’s an inexpensive, lightweight hiking guide.”

Each hike has its own personality, she said.

“When the wildflowers are blooming, you can’t beat Shrine Ridge,” she said. “The Vail side seems to be lusher, in a way, but on all of the trails, the environment is constantly changing — high up in open meadow, then a big thicket of trees or sometimes an aspen grove with all the wonderful things that grow in an aspen forest, or you might be going along a creek for a little ways.”

Gaug got her master’s in computer science from the University of Colorado and worked at Rocky Flats for 20 years before moving to the mountains and joining Rocky Mountain Outdoor Writers and Photographers. At a conference in Tuscon, Ariz., she got a lead on a company that was looking for hiking authors, followed up and started writing hiking guides, first for Beachway Press, then for Falcon Guides. Now, she writes about the mountains and canyons that are so dear to her heart.

Mary Ellen Gilliland

It was 1987, the year of the bear in Vail, and Mary Ellen Gilliland was researching “The Summit Hiker & The Vail Hiker.”

“Research,” in this case, means hiking out there among the bears.

“People were putting salmon steaks on their outdoor barbecue grills and a bear would get them while they were still rare,” she said. “Bears were climbing onto people’s decks and eating trays of appetizers.”

So Gilliland carried her daughter’s life-guarding whistle around her neck and Swiss cowbells tied to her backpack.

Gilliland has written 16 books, most of them historical books.

In 1988, Gilliland published “The Vail Hiker,” which at the time detailed 40 Eagle County hikes. She penned “The Summit Hiker” first and as she was delivering copies of that book to the long-gone Verbatim Bookstore in Vail, and the owner suggested a guide for Vail.

And that’s how she ended up taking 40 Vail hikes during the summer of the bear.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935, or

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