Local reports threats at campground | AspenTimes.com

Local reports threats at campground

Allyn Harvey

Longtime local Dan Kitchen’s camping trip on Independence Pass nearly turned violent Thursday after he confronted a work crew he says was cutting branches from trees along the road to his campsites.Kitchen limped into the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office on Friday to report an incident that started with a simple question: “Do you have a dog?” Kitchen asked that of the driver of a truck that appeared to be from a local landscaping company. Kitchen said he asked the question because he had a couple of cats with him.Kitchen, 54, has been camping on and off in the Lincoln Gulch campground on Lincoln Creek since Father’s Day. He’s had his daughter’s cats with him – a mother and a kitten – because his daughter can’t keep them where she’s staying in Snowmass.The driver of the truck told Kitchen he’d better get them inside, because his client, the owner of a large motor home that was on its way down the dirt road, had two blue healers. Kitchen said the tone of the driver’s voice was hostile. Kitchen then noticed that there was a second truck behind them filled with branches, and a couple of guys cutting branches from trees along the side of the road.The cuts were apparently to protect the finish on a motor home that had been parked at the top of the road for several days, Kitchen said.When the men told Kitchen that they didn’t need a permit, Kitchen pulled out a camera and started taking pictures.The situation heated up quickly. One of the three men reportedly started chasing Kitchen, while the other blocked Kitchen’s access back to his truck. Kitchen said the man chasing him kept saying he was an ex-Navy Seal and, “I’m going to smash your face in.”Things cooled off only after another camper appeared in response to Kitchen’s shouts for help. Kitchen said that even after he was sitting in his truck with doors locked and the window’s rolled up the purported Navy Seal continued with the threats.Kitchen said he was hurt while jumping from rock to rock while being chased.He says he reported the incident to the sheriff’s office Friday morning and had been trading messages with a representative of the Forest Service.Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is aharvey@aspentimes.com

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