“This time of year one thing is for certain. In those candy bowls—let me tell you—chocolate is the first thing to go. I’ll probably grab this Snickers bar and a couple more for the road. I remember as a kid, [when we went] trick-or-treating we would freeze all of our candy bars. Have you ever had a frozen Snickers? Oh, they’re great,” Linda Hohl said as she pocketed several fun-size Snickers bars for the road from Barr Camp. Since 1991, Hohl has been making trips up to Barr Camp and has seen the rise and fall of many dynasties of groundskeepers.
Hohl remembers the groundskeeper family from years prior, caretakers Theresa and Neal Taylor, who managed Barr Camp from 2005 to 2013. “When the family was up here you didn’t dare come into the cabin, it was like their private residence. You know you just sat on the porch, ate your snack, pumped water, and took off. They weren’t the friendliest.”
Nowadays, Hohl sits on a stool with a mug of hot chocolate and socializes with the groundskeepers during every visit. While Hohl is reserved with what personal information she shares, she is a storyteller. As she spoke, she leafed through a collection of Barr Camp photos taken on disposable cameras. She came to Colorado Springs in 1991 as an army dental hygienist and retired from the military in 1995. Wherever she was—no matter the town, state, or continent—she found herself drawn to the mountains. Once her military job stationed her in the Springs, it only took her two weekends to venture up Pikes Peak.
“I’ve always liked the mountains and hiking and nature,” she said. “Even as a little girl I’ve always been wandering or on horseback. I remember when I was five years old, I was wandering in the woods already. We were out in Southern Wisconsin-Northern Illinois area. It didn’t worry my parents that much, we were out in the middle of nowhere, ya know? I would come back on my horse and it would be pitch black. Those woods can get dark back there.”
When asked what draws her so fervently to the outdoors, she shrugged. “I think it’s my nature.” Linda is the oldest sibling of seven. As a child, she was required to take on the responsibility of raising her younger siblings. This role led Linda to cement a strong, familial bond. When asked why she decided to leave her family for a life on the road, she responded, “It was too boring, and I needed some excitement. Plus, I didn’t want to end up married and 300 pounds with 10 children.”
Given her long history on the trail, I asked her what has changed since 1991. She answered, with a hint of disdain, “There’s too many people. When you used to come up here, about mid-way up, it would get eerie. Now you’re running into people all over the place. It’s not that same feeling of seclusion that you used to get.”
Despite missing this feeling of isolation, Hohl has made a home for herself at Barr Camp with the other groundskeepers. She has never had children and has traveled for most of her adult life, but she does not appear to feel lonely. Perhaps that’s just in her nature too.