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It was October , only five years after the first recorded summiting of Longs Peak. Bird was a proper English lady just shy of her 42nd birthday. In her long dress, she looked distinctly out of place in the wilderness, yet she was determined to climb to the top of this dangerous mountain. She lay awake under a pine bower near tree line, covered in blankets and resting on an inverted saddle for a pillow, thinking about her guide, Mountain Jim Nugent. The Rocky Mountains were the domain of Utes, miners and a few settlers hardy enough to put down roots on the frontier. Bears, wolves and other wild animals held court, barely touched by humans yet. Very few tourists had yet discovered the pristine beauty of what is now Rocky Mountain National Park.
Isabella Bird was a noted English author and traveler. Lacking a photograph, this fictionalized drawing was done by Ken Keith for Harold Dunning's "Over Hill and Vale" to represent how Nugent might have looked. Isabella Bird was an author and world traveler who was stopped by few obstacles including her own health problems. In August after a stop in Hawaii, she sailed to San Francisco and then traveled by train to Colorado.
In addition to the millions of tourists who have passed through, here are some other colorful characters who made history in Estes Park. This was somewhat remarkable, since at this point in history, no known person had ever climbed Longs Peak. Verne, mistakenly, thought this was the highest mountain in the United States. They had to raise enormous stones, massive pieces of wrought iron, heavy corner-clamps and huge portions of cylinder, with an object-glass weighing nearly 30, pounds, above the line of perpetual snow for more than 10, feet in height. Joel was a restless man. He and his wife Patsey raised 13 children. Joel crossed the Oregon Trail, went prospecting in California and ended up in Denver in as a cattle rancher.