Isabella Bird the best-loved travel writer of her day wrote effusively about her travels in Estes Park in “A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains.” Three books about here were published in 2021 including my historical novel “Embrace of the Wild.” In April I was honored to be selected as the “Isabella Bird Expert” in the BBC documentary “Trailblazers” a series spotlighting heroic women that have fallen through the cracks of time. I joined the film crew at Bird & Jim Restaurant for a round table discussion centered on Isabella. I was greeted there by the three ladies Emily Atack, Ruby Wax, and Melanie Brown in the midst of following in Isabella’s hoof prints in the Rocky Mountains in the winter of 1873.
Living in solitude in her tiny cabin at Evan’s Lodge she could see Longs Peak, the monarch of the now Rocky Mountain Park, glistening in fresh snowfall from her window. (Linda Ballou/Courtesy photo)
See the official Trailblazer trailer at https://youtu.be/imwhM4nxj8E.
Episode 1 of ‘Trailblazers: A Rocky Mountain Road Trip’ will be broadcast on BBC2 in the UK on 28th November 2022 at 9 p.m., with Episode 2 following on 5th Dec., and Episode 3 on 12th Dec. but at 9.30 p.m.
At the age of 40, Isabella suffering from chronic back pain, lifted herself from the invalid’s bed to take an extended sea voyage to liven her spirits. She left New Zealand in the less-than-seaworthy Nevada where she encountered a hurricane on the way to California. The storm forced the Nevada to dry dock in Honolulu for repairs. Isabella intended to stay six days on the Islands, but she fell in love with the lush, life-giving beauty found there and stayed for six months. This proved to be a transformative experience that gave her the strength and stamina to carry forward with her planned Mountain Tour in Colorado.
Living in solitude in her tiny cabin at Evan’s Lodge she could see Longs Peak, the monarch of the now Rocky Mountain Park, glistening in fresh snowfall from her window. She prevailed on Jim Nugent AKA Rocky Mountain Jim, the self-proclaimed guardian of the mountains, to be her guide. An unlikely friendship bloomed between them and he finally agreed to guide her on the climb. It is rumored their relationship deepened and that Jim asked her to marry him.
Unstoppable, Ms. Bird went on to do her mountain tour where she rode with Comanche Bill a renowned Indian killer through desolate South Park. She stayed in Fairplay a mining town where vigilante law prevailed. She continued on through daunting gray spires to Georgetown and across what is known today as the Peak to Peak Hwy to Estes Park. She averaged 25 miles a day on her springy-legged mount she dubbed Birdie with her feet often frozen to the stirrups.
The Trailblazer series is nearing completion and is scheduled to air in England on Nov. 28, 2022 and on on BBCTwo for U.S viewers. You will need to register on the site. After my visit in April to Estes Park, I was interviewed about Isabella by three UK magazines. This will bring attention to the film, the unending beauty of Estes Park and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
“Embrace of the Wild” is available at MacDonald’s Book shop, Bird and Jim Restaurant, and wherever books are sold.
If you purchase “Embrace of the Wild” on my site I will send a gift-wrapped, signed copy with free shipping anywhere in the U.S. Go to www.LindaBallouAuthor.com.