I want to share publicly my exciting experiences on two new, short hikes I did recently in our valley. I thought I had hiked in most local areas in my more than 30 years of living here, but these two places rank up there as "hidden gems" that can only be done safely on foot in my opinion.
The first "gem" involved snaking up the dramatic, sandstone Seven Castles canyon in the Basalt Mountain Proposed Wilderness Area with Collin, our Wilderness Workshop guide. Aron Ralston has described this area as "the red rocks of Utah in our back yard." Wow, I did feel like I was in a slot canyon in Utah at one point and upon arriving at the first waterfall, I stared in awe while absorbing its pristine beauty! There are more waterfalls past that point if one wants to climb with ropes that are fixed there, thus offering more exploring to the adventurous. I did just that and was duly impressed.
The other "gem" was in an area only about 30 minutes from Carbondale in the Thompson Creek Proposed Wilderness. I had long heard about this scenic, stream-side hike with its unique attractions, but was beyond surprised after seeing the large, impressive rock fins reaching up into the sky ... many only about a foot wide. After exploring a short-side canyon and climbing around a bit on the fins I felt like the experience I was having was akin to being in a national park with nobody else around!
My point of writing about this is to lend my support for permanently protecting these two relatively small areas in the Roaring Fork Valley which offer unique hiking experiences such as one finds in the national monuments and parks in Utah and other already protected places in the West. I invite the hiking public to explore these two areas and hopefully they, like me, will be contacting Rep. John Salazar soon about including them in a Wilderness proposal similar to the one just released by Rep. Jared Polis for Eagle/Summit counties. Happy hiking!