Photos: Lakewood Gulch art prank celebrates day drinking, off-leash dogs
This time around, the signs are blaze orange and made to resemble construction signs. They, too, feature the West Side "W." The crapping dog and camping icons are also back, along with new ones warning hikers about potential dangers, such as flash floods and light rail tracks.
"The goal is to make them look official enough that if a construction person saw it, they'd have to call somebody to see if they could take it down," Bergman says. "That, to me, would be the best outcome: If somebody actually had to make some phone calls to figure out, 'What is this? Did you authorize this?'"
In 2008, Bergman happened to install the signs on National Trails Day, which falls on the first Saturday of June. It was a happy accident, and this year, he decided to keep up that tradition. Under a cloak of darkness on Friday night, he installed a new crop of easily removable signs along a 3.3-mile route that follows the water from Denver to Lakewood.
"It's something that was intended to kind of increase awareness and facilitate the unsanctioned use of public space," Bergman says of WEDUPT. "There's a path in that area that's paved, and it's for biking and jogging and taking your dog on a leash. But there's different subsets of the community that do other things, and they kind of find their own path." Bergman's trail markers (and map!) are meant to lead the way.
Here's an excerpt from Bergman's trail map:
Follow the only available path west, keeping an eye on the trail to avoid human manure until the space opens up into a beginner graffiti tagging area. As you are trespassing in this are, look for police, RTD or construction workers prior to dashing either across the light rail bridge or into the parking lot to the left.
On Saturday morning, Bergman led a hike along his unsanctioned path, and Westword tagged along. Now, we're no fans of nature, and the hike involved more bushwhacking that we'd expected. By the end, our legs were itchy from walking through tall grasses and our calves were scraped from scrambling over loose rocks -- though our feet were the only ones in the entire eight-person hiking party that were not wet from falling into the gulch.
But it was a hike like none other we'd been on before, and it took us along secret, well-worn paths we didn't know existed. Bergman pointed out the sights, including several camps, a beaver dam and a place he called the "hobo enchanted forest." About two and a half miles in, the group stopped underneath a gnarled, graffiti-covered tree to "picnic," a.k.a. drink shooters provided by Bergman. Ours was peach vodka.
Click through to see photos from our hike.