"Of all the paths you take in life make sure a few of them are dirt" US Forest Sevice

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Protecting Wilderness areas

The Park Record Newspaper in Park City, Utah by Jeff Dempsey published the following article

In mid-July, Utah senators Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch introduced the Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Act, which would mark a significant change in the way the United States stewards its wilderness areas. It would give local land managers the discretion to allow mountain bikes into previously restricted areas, as well as the use of motorized trail-cutting equipment like chainsaws.
“Our National Wilderness Preservation System was created so that the American people could enjoy the solitude and recreational opportunities of this continent’s priceless natural areas,” Lee said in the announcement. “This bill would enrich Americans enjoyment of the outdoors by making it easier for them to mountain in wilderness areas.”
Hatch was equally enthusiastic.
“Utah is blessed with an abundance of beautiful wilderness, and Americans should be free to enjoy it,” Hatch said. “This bill presents a reasonable approach to allowing the use of mountain bikes on trails and grant federal land managers the ability to do necessary maintenance.”
After the bill was made public, several prominent figures made their opposition known, and among them was Peter Metcalf. A Park City resident for 25 years, Metcalf has been intimately involved with the outdoor retail industry. He got his start with Patagonia in the 1980s before founding his own business, Black Diamond. He also played a vital role in securing Salt Lake City as the home of the Outdoor Retailer trade group.
“I think it’s a very bad, negative, and detrimental proposal,” he said. “The Wilderness Act was thoughtfully architected over 60 years ago to protect the wild places that were left in America, which there weren’t very many. And the idea that there should be no mechanized vehicles back there was done deliberately so that these landscapes could be protected and preserved in the most natural state.”
Metcalf said Lee and Hatch are not considered friends to the wilderness and lands management community, so when they introduced a plan Metcalf said his guard was up. After reading the proposal, he said he doesn’t think it has anything to do with giving mountain bikers more access.
“I think this is a bit of a Trojan horse to get involved with this issue, because they see it as one way to begin a somewhat obtuse attack on public lands and wilderness,” he said. “And by allowing bicycles as well as mechanized equipment in there for trail cutting, it puts you on a slippery slope. Because then next is, what is the issue with electric bikes? Are those allowed, too? Do we broaden it to other mechanized equipment? It’s a very slippery slope.”
Put bluntly, Metcalf said he believes Lee and Hatch want to chip away at the Wilderness Act however they can, even if it means the destruction of endangered and fragile ecosystems.
“I am an enthusiastic mountain biker. It’s not about being anti-mountain bike,” he said. “It’s about recognizing that mountain biking is different than trail running and hiking. And also recognizing that part of the idea behind the Wilderness Act was to preserve large, intact ecosystems to preserve their flora and fauna.”
Mountain bikes move faster and would take people deeper into wilderness areas, he said, causing more damage than is acceptable. He also added that the way things work now is already ideal, in that mountain bikers have their trail systems and hikers who want to avoid bikes can turn to wilderness areas for peace and quiet.
“Look at Park City. I love mountain biking here but I don’t hike here,” he said. “There are places here where trying to go hiking would be stupid. You’ll get run over. There are too many conflicts. So you go over to Little Cottonwood or Big Cottonwood, and just imagine having mountain bikes there. The conflicts are potentially huge. Mountain bike trails need to be discrete mountain bike trails.”
Southern Utah shares concern
Scott Groene, executive director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, was also quick to voice disapproval of the Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Act. Southern Utah boasts several Bureau of Land Management-protected areas — including White Canyon, Cedar Mesa, the Book Cliffs and the San Rafael Swell — and he said he worries that those areas would be next to have their protections eroded.
“It’s an attack on the Wilderness Act,” he said. “Opponents of wilderness have long tried to chip away at the Wilderness Act of 1964 by creating exceptions that would be the camel’s nose under the tent. And this is one more effort at that.”
Groene said those who think mountain bikers are clamoring for wilderness area access should think again.
“[This bill] is being pushed by two of the worst senators on the environment, and at a time when the number of mountain bike trails have grown and improved dramatically,” Gorene said. “There is no need for this legislation.”
Groene said Moab is a great example of his point. What 25 years ago was little more than “slick rock and a bunch of Jeep trails” is now completely transformed.
“A lot of hard work by a lot of people, and now we have hundreds of miles of great single track.”
Groene said he agreed with Metcalf that allowing mountain bikes into wilderness areas would only upset the balance outdoor enthusiasts currently enjoy.
“Many of us here in Utah, we enjoy riding bikes, and we enjoy hiking in wilderness, and we have access to both,” he said. “And that’s a great place to be. Right now, less than 1 percent of the state of Utah is wilderness, so it doesn’t really make sense why you would try to push your way in there at the risk of undermining the Wilderness Act.”
Wasatch, Uinta would be greatly affected
The Wasatch and Uinta mountain ranges are home to several wilderness areas of their own, including Lone Peak — Utah’s first designated wilderness area, made official in 1978 — Twin Peaks, Mount Olympus and the High Uintas. Carl Fisher, executive director of Save Our Canyons, did not mince words when discussing Lee’s and Hatch’s proposal.
“I think it’s one of the biggest threats to the Wilderness Act we’ve seen in a long time,” he said. “It’s intention is to try to undo a tried and true conservation strategy and management strategy that’s really been focused on the land, not on use. So this is taking away from the intrinsic value of the land, and focusing solely on use. And wilderness is bigger than that.”
Fisher said he thinks Lee and Hatch are hoping to pit preservationists and bikers against each other. He added, though, that he doesn’t think it will work.
“Overwhelmingly what we’ve seen is that people see the value of wilderness and are afraid it might be jeopardized,” he said. “As divisive as this proposal is — with the pitting of people against each other who I think it’s safe to say share similar values — I think cooler heads will prevail.
“I think everyone understands there is something more important at stake here than our own personal uses.”

Monday, August 15, 2016

Lake Dillon, Colorado

We were glad to be back in Summit County and Lake Dillon after our extended stay in Idaho and the extra driving we had done. It is such a beautiful and peaceful place. Heaton Bay is one of the federal campgrounds surrounding the lake. There are only 11 with electric and water. We were good spending a week dry camping there at $9 per night with our pass. The sites along the water are my favorite but those and the ones with hookups fill the quickest. Frisco's Safeway is just 1 mile away which is pretty handy. Dillon is just across the dam 3 miles away. 
While traveling, medical and dental issues come up and we try to deal with them the best we can. I started having a painful tooth and made an appointment with my dentist in Colorado Springs  driving the two hours down from the mountains. The morning of my appointment the office called and canceled me due to an injury dentist had but would reschedule me the next week. I declined and decided to try and find someone in Summit County. I  found a dentist that was a preferred provider for my insurance that could see me the next day. (score!) When I arrived, I was informed that I would have to pay for the visit and submit it to my insurance myself since they were not familiar with my insurance. She fixed my tooth with a filling and I paid $450.  Mike called the insurance company the next day to find out why this office was listed as a provider. The insurance lady said the office had called and verified my eligibility and were required to accept the rate on which they had agreed. While he waited on the phone, the insurance lady called the office and insisted that they fax over the billing information and we would be reimbursed the amount I was not required to pay. I am good with paying for the work that was done. I just don't want to be swindled in the process.
Saturday, we headed west to Copper Mountain to watch the Copper Triangle Bike Ride. Mike had ridden the 80 miles over 3 mountain passes a couple of years ago. The weather can be volatile with lightening and rain storms popping up in the afternoons. Most people are out at a chilly sunrise.

Peeping at the osprey across the lake. At least, that is what he said.


Summit County has numerous bike trails connecting the mountain communities. We rode east 13 miles to Keystone and found a Bluegrass and Beer Festival going on. There were several venues around the village to enjoy.

We had planned to return home for lunch when we set out on our ride. But we found ourselves hungry after listening to the music and hanging around longer than we had planned. A lady walked by with some good looking giant crepes. We had to  indulge and share one before starting back after riding up towards Montezuma.

There has been a nest of osprey on the lake for a number of years. We have enjoyed watching and listening to their calls on our morning walks as the parents bring fish for the family.

Riding  west up Ten Mile Canyon between Frisco and Copper Mountain

Not a bad place to awaken in the morning.

An old mine on our Meadow Creek hike.

 I found  interesting about this trail is that it passes through an Aspen Forest, a mostly dying Lodgepole Forest from the pine beetles, open Sagebrush meadows, and a mixed Fir forest.   Toss in a few lovely views of Lake Dillon and you have a very nice outing.

Lily Pad Lake with Buffalo Mountain in the background has less lily pads than in the past  but the pond just beyond has plenty to enjoy.

There are two chances to view Dillon Reservoir as we walk along Meadow Creek but no moose today. This was a good way to wrap up our week here.

As we were packing up to move to Breckenridge, I decided to go to the local Emergency Room to see if they could help with the salmon bone that stuck in the corner of my throat during dinner the night before and driving me crazy.  Fortunately, the ER doc was able to contact the local ENT MD and he came over pronto to fix me up with his handy scope and a little fishing expedition. I was thankful he was nearby and willing to see me or I would have had to go to Denver, two hours away.
On to Breck!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Aspen trails

We were dry camping in Difficult Campground on Independence Pass using our solar for electricity and no Verizon except in town. Even with doubling the price of parking there was none to be found. We usually research our hikes on the internet before heading out. We looked at the map from the visitor's center and found a hike that looked about 3-4 miles round trip on Castle Creek Road but not sure about the elevation climb. We had never been up that road before and it was a  beautiful drive.
Once we arrived at the trailhead, we realized there would be quite a bit uphill. We climbed 2000 feet in 1.5 miles to an altitude of 11,200 feet. After being gone for a year, I felt the lack of oxygen and moved pretty slow.

Once we arrived in the bowl, the views were awesome and the  bowl huge. We had hiked 7-9 miles before arriving in Colorado. But I had to call it a day after 1 1/2 miles.

The picture I took at 11,200 was too  blurry to post. this one had to do. It doesn't look like I will be climbing any 14ers this week.

East End Aspen Trail starts at our campground and leads 4 miles into town. We found this was a better choice for getting around. The parking with our big truck was impossible.


We found the Holden/Marolt Mining Museum as we were riding along the Marolt Trail on the west side of town.
In 1891, the Holden Lixiviation Mill sprawled over 22 acres at the edge of Aspen, boasting state-of-the-art technology and industrial design. Just 14 months after the new plant opened, Congress demonetized silver and the mill went bankrupt. Mike Marolt purchased the property for a dollar in 1940 as a family ranch. This site is unique. It tells the stories of both Aspen’s mining and ranching heritage.

A section of the city is for walking and cycling with the roads blocked from traffic.

A few weeks ago, while in Lassen National Park, we met a couple that do volunteering in the Tetons. We told them we were headed to Difficult Campground and they asked that we tell the volunteer, Roy, when we got there that they said Hi! He was tickled when we told him. Small world.

Previously, we had stayed in campgrounds on the Maroon Bells Road but on Independence Pass this time. The site was pretty sunny but once the afternoon clouds rolled in with a breeze causing the aspen to quake, we were good. The campgrounds above us had some bear problems. We made sure to put the grill in the bear proof bin after grilling salmon.

Off to Lake Dillon

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Aspen, Colorado

Our time in Idaho was great. Now it was time to return to Colorado after leaving one year ago. The temps were heating up and the fires on the east side of the mountains were leaving ash on our truck. Bringham City, Utah was 97 degrees when we arrived and the next day in Green River, Utah 106. We found the shadiest spot and let the campground host know that would be ours. Walking the short distance to do our laundry felt like real work in that heat.
Aspen is a ski town in a valley surrounded by 13000 foot mountains that was originally built around silver mining and ranching. Highway 82 runs through the town and makes for slow going and parking that is one of its biggest issues. Friday was not a good day to drive thru town since the Enduro Games were being held over the weekend.

Whenever we are close to the Maroon Bells, we like to ride our bikes from town to the lake. It is a pretty steady climb over 12 miles. We were one mile from the top when the black flies were so bad that I considered turning around. After some swatting of the bugs, I decided to make the last push. A breeze came up as we turned the corner and all was well. We made it. After a brief rest and walk around the lake, we had to start back as the rain was starting. Fortunately, no thunder and lightening.

On the ride down, Mike saw these marmots sunning themselves on some rocks.

There were some easy interesting trails just up Independence Pass from our campground.

The Ice Caves were nice and cool.

Just down the road was a short 0.6 mile hike to Weller Lake.

We  started this blog to keep our family and friends posted as to where we were and so we could look back and remember what we did and felt. Now as we sat down to look over the past year, our heads spin at how fortunate we were to go all of those places. We have had to learn to live together in a small space and find we wouldn't do it any other way. At least for now.