Hiker slowly starves as he treks Colorado’s backcountry
The Denver Post
Winston Branko Churchill loved the purity of the outdoors. He hated the materialism and greed that, in his view, prevented people from connecting with nature. And he was frustrated that he could not change that.
So, in a story that has dark parallels to the book and film “Into the Wild,” this philosophical former Denver disc jockey and Silverton coffee-shop owner, went into the wilderness of western Colorado last summer to think through this quandary – or to die.
“He couldn’t figure out how to make people change so they were not so caught up in money and cars and big houses and all that,” said his sister, Jovanka Mersman, of Colorado Springs. “He ultimately ended up checking out.”
Churchill’s emaciated body was found a month ago in a remote high-mountain valley northwest of Lake City, nearly a year after he disappeared. He had set out in June 2008 to hike the Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango, but then left the trail and purposefully roamed the wilderness, slowly dying of starvation.
When two hikers came upon his body lying outside the door of an old miner’s cabin, a small backpack still slung over the shoulder of his mummified corpse held no food, just a journal, camera, marijuana pipe and a vial of pills. His clothing was inadequate for the wintry weather he would have encountered before he is believed to have died in late November or early December. He was 41.
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