This guy’s pictures worth more than 1,000 words
For a guy who just wanted to publish his outdoor photography, Rod Martinez sure has been writing a lot of books.
First was 2012’s “The Best Grand Junction Hikes,” part of the Colorado Mountain Club series of trail guides. “The Best Telluride Hikes” came out this month, and “The Best Aspen Hikes” will be out soon.
When the state club approached the Western Slope Group about leading the Grand Junction project four years ago, no one was interested. The state club tried again the next year, and this time Martinez agreed to be the project manager.
Martinez is the retired manager of the Grand Junction Sears store and has taught a photography course for some 15 years through Western Colorado Community College and Grand Junction Parks & Recreation, as well as offering one-on-one tutorials.
“I got involved with the books, starting off with the Grand Junction trails pack guide, because I wanted to get my photography out there,” Martinez said. “I’m more into photography.”
Backpack-size, the guides are 4 by 7 inches, with rounded corners and a durable cover. Inside are detailed trail descriptions, topographical maps, tips on safety, wildlife-viewing and photography, and abundant color photos.
The project manager selects trails to be featured, lines up volunteer writers, plans group hikes for writers and photographers, and makes sure there are the right scenic photos to accompany hike descriptions.
“It took a few months to do the hikes,” Martinez said. “Doing the hikes was the easy part; doing the writing was the tough part.”
The other difficulty was narrowing it down to only 20 trails. For the Grand Junction guide, trails within an hour’s drive are included, from Crag’s Crest on Grand Mesa to Fisher Towers in Utah. Criteria included “really great hikes that showed off the beauty that’s in our area,” Martinez said. A spectrum of trail difficulties was selected to serve “from beginner to even the most expert people.”
Each hike section starts with scene-setting comments about the trail, followed by directions to the trail head, then the trail route. Comments tell hikers what to expect and can include the joy of discovery in the wild, such as this piece by John Gascoyne writing about Main Canyon — Bookcliffs Wild Horse Area.
“Over breakfast in Grand Junction, it was suggested that we might encounter some wild horses on our proposed hike. Even the name of the hike, Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Area, held promise. Although we are fairly serious Colorado hikers, none of us had ever had a person face-off with a wild stallion or even so much as a free-roaming colt or filly.
“Once on the trail things soon changed — dramatically. A large black stallion appeared on a hill above us. Three cameras began shooting. Two more horses appeared higher up, then more. Our excitement was almost palpable.”
Martinez and the other contributors volunteer for the guide books, whose proceeds go to support the Colorado Mountain Club, which was founded in 1912 and is one of the state’s oldest organizations. The club describes itself as aspiring to “engage a robust community in the responsible enjoyment of Colorado mountains and greater outdoor adventures.”
For Martinez, who has been involved with the Colorado Mountain Club Western Slope Group for some 13 years, it also has been a pathway to fantastic outdoor photography opportunities, many of those photos now published in the pages of the club’s guide books.
The guide books retail for $12.95 and are available at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Grand Valley Books and at the club’s website, cmc.org. Find out more about Martinez’s photography classes, and purchase prints and greeting cards of his photos at ramphotography.com.