Grinch strips ornaments off Carbondale trail right before Christmas
The Christmas Tree trail in the Prince Creek network outside of Carbondale isn’t all that memorable for its challenge or beauty, but it’s entertained mountain bike riders because of its decorations.
The scrub oak along the route has been adorned with Christmas ornaments for years. That is, until this winter.
A person or persons decided earlier in December to strip scores of ornaments off the brush that lined the trail. It was either a Grinch or a backcountry caretaker, depending on perspective.
Roaring Fork Valley resident Debra Hanna said the trail had special significance to her family and friends.
“It was a tradition to go to this one special trail and hang an ornament to celebrate our loved ones and the great outdoors,” she said. “We don’t hang them in all of the trails, just this one special trail called the Christmas Tree trail.”
When her mom passed away, her dad flew out from Maryland so they could walk the trail together and hang an ornament in memory of Hanna’s mom.
“This year when I got to the trail, the ornaments were gone,” Hanna said. “It’s shameful that someone thinks they were trash.”
Finding out who cleared out the ornaments is proving difficult. The land was recently transferred into the hands of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Agency spokesman David Boyd said the cleanup of an area is something the BLM would do, but in this case, it didn’t.
Adorning public lands with ornaments or other items can be amusing at first, but often loses its luster, Boyd said.
“It ends up not looking good over time,” he said.
Clean-up controversies pop up every now and then when one of the celebrated shrines at the local ski areas mysteriously disappears. People have mixed feelings about getting rid of memorabilia on national forests. As the cliché goes, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
The Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association didn’t participate in a cleanup nor did Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, which owns nearby property. A worker at a Carbondale bike shop said he hadn’t heard the trail had been cleaned up. Whoever did it has the BLM’s thanks.
“Eventually we would have cleaned that up,” Boyd said. “We’re glad somebody did.”
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Every summer there comes a particular hike on a particular day when you know you’re seeing the best wildflower display of the year. It is a magical, and bittersweet, day.