Gems will protect land
I grew up in the Roaring Fork Valley. I spent my childhood hiking, backpacking, car camping, and skiing throughout the backcountry of the Elk Mountains and the White River National Forest. I stayed in 10th Mountain Division huts during my school’s outdoor education program and went on my first backpacking trip alone in the Snowmass-Maroon Bells Wilderness.
My family moved away as I started high school and I went to college on the East Coast. When I moved back here four years ago it was because of the mountains and wild landscapes that surround this valley. I still hike and ski and camp in the backcountry but now I also mountain bike and climb. Each of these recreational pursuits is important to me, but more important is the opportunity simply to be in the mountains, regardless of the activity or sport.
It is the landscapes and the mountains that I most appreciate – they are what make this place special. I am most grateful for what we all share here when I look beyond my handlebars, through my ski tips, or over my backpack. When I do, I realize that the Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal will ensure that some of the lands that surround our communities will continue to have the same characteristics they did when I grew up here.
There may be some places where I will no longer be able to ride or climb, but knowing that parts of our mountains will be protected for future generations is part of what makes me want to call this community my home. To those who value our land as much as you value any given sport or recreation, I urge you to support the Hidden Gems.
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A driver looking to squeeze one last four-wheel drive up Aspen Mountain discovered that it’s not the ascent but the descent that poses a challenge.