As the Aspen leaves give up their vibrant green hue for a melancholy yellow, Barr Trail is enveloped by a cool, murky fog that sets the stage for the fall. Droplets of water hang in the air, eventually gently misting and falling to the ground. Time slows throughout Pikes National Forest and at Barr Camp. Barr Camp traffic now mainly consists of weekend frequenters, often nuclear families and couples with wanderlust. The piles of Barr Camp’s characteristic spaghetti dinner are depleted, and chores consist of activities intended to prepare for a hearty hibernation in the iconic log cabin. While the Barr Camp groundskeepers prepare to nestle down, the camp is bustling after the arrival of a new groundskeeper.
Meet Johnathan Lantz, the new recruit to the Barr Camp team, a timid, bearded, Pennsylvania-Dutch man. When Lantz speaks, he is intentional with his words, as he speaks with humbling brevity. While Lantz is new to the camp, he is no stranger to manual labor. Lantz hails from rural Lancaster, Pa., where from age five, he worked on his parents’ dairy farm until he was 19. Lantz has a strong connection to his family, who are devout, practicing Christians. When he finally came of age to move out, the three-mile distance from his family’s farm seemed to transpose miles to light-years. Lantz finished his education in eighth grade and chose to pursue a career in trade work. He began working at Weaver Metal Fabrications in small construction jobs and roofing. After several years and a few odd jobs, Lantz was looking for a change of pace. Luckily, his connections with his friends provided him the opportunity to trade his cattle-ridden home for the Rocky Mountains.
From an early age, Lantz ran long-distance races. His friends coerced him into his first race, and he only began training a couple days beforehand. Despite his lack of practice, once Lantz crossed the finish line, he was fixated. Lantz went on to participate in long-distance races with his friends, all the way up to 50 miles, where he met and befriended Zach Miller, the current head caretaker at Barr Camp. Miller, now an old friend, offered him a position late last year.
Lantz was terrified of moving out of the town he had called home for over two decades, but he was determined to branch out of that small, three-mile radius from the farm. In an effort that took over a year and many heart-felt goodbyes, Lantz finally ascended the peak to make the camp his home. Lantz continues to acclimate to the day-to-day life of the camp, from dealing with bears rummaging through composting toilets to hauling lumber for firewood. He is determined to both continue growing as a runner and to get to know new people.
Tune in third week for more stories of Barr Camp.