Marolt: We lost a forest but gained an amusement park
October 17, 2017
How do you lose a forest? I have been lost in a forest, but can't say that I have ever been close to losing one; maybe a tree out of one for Christmas — with a permit of course — but never an entire forest. Wait. That would be a forest losing a tree. Never mind.
I mean, if you are going to call a place The Lost Forest, you actually have to lose it in some regard, right? I suppose that could mean two things. One way would be to simply lose track of it. You're hiking along not paying attention and pretty soon you realize you have walked yourself right out of the forest and into the middle of a desert. You scan the horizon and there's no sign of even a solitary tree. You press the panic button on your Subaru key fob and nothing but silence. In an instance like this, you will be glad you purchased your fishing license because the local search-and-rescue chapter will send a helicopter to save you for free, or so they say.
You also could lose a forest in the way you lose an old bowling chum to a thumb infection gone really bad, or something. You know, "We lost a great one today, fellas. Never a gutter ball. Next rounds' on me." Similarly we could lose a forest to wildfire or pine beetle infestation. Technically, I guess we don't actually lose forests in these instances; they're just different in nature's magical ways. Just wait a few generations and it will come back more beautiful than ever.
I bring this up because we now have a lost forest on Snowmass Mountain, or at least that's what it is named: "The Lost Forest." Please tell me Aspen Skiing Co. recognized the irony in that name. I know those guys have a sense of humor over there.
"Hey, Mike. What do you get when you cross a mountain bike trail with a roller coaster twisting around a Frisbee golf course built next to a climbing wall with a zip line strung overhead, out in the middle of nature?"
"Uh, give me a hint."
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"Okaaaay. Hmmm… Got it! You'll need a lot of chainsaws and kerosene to burn the logs with after you cut it down."
"Ahk! Get out! I don't have time for riddles! I'm working on a lovey-dove ad campaign to replace the cool dude one from last year."
"It's a lost forest! Get it? A LOST FOREST! Hahahaha!"
"Get your ax outta here!"
I am not sure it happened exactly like that, but The Lost Forest is what they are calling the all-new, on-mountain amusement park coming summer 2018. There is no turning back now. I suggest you get your fast pass in advance. Don't forget to ask for your chamber discount.
It seems like only yesterday there actually was a forest where the new roller coaster and all that other junk is going in. It was probably more like three months ago that I rode my bike through there on the Cross Mountain Trail and all seemed pretty normal. In hindsight, I should have known all the orange spray paint on selected tree trunks was something more ominous than granola cruncher graffiti.
I'm trying to keep an open mind. I do like forests, but maybe a roller coaster in the woods will be better. I can honestly say I have never wished for one, but I suppose that could be because such a thing was completely beyond my imagination, like cigarette vaporizers.
The good news is that you can hardly see the mess unless you really make an effort to, so it's kind of like they cut down a forest and nobody can even tell. In all fairness, it's a heck of a lot better from a forestry perspective than what we've done cutting ski trails all over the place the past 50 years. I suppose that's enough to keep everyone quiet, even if we're not all roller coaster fans. You destroy a forest the way you like and I'll destroy it the way I do. We're even.
In the end, I think there is only one salient question that needs to be answered when it comes to building amusement parks in the woods: If a forest disappears and nobody notices, is it really a lost forest? The only thing we know for sure is that there aren't any bears crapping there anymore.
Roger Marolt is losing the forest for the zip line. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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