May 27, 2012

SandBoxBlogs: Aspen Daily News "Wilderness gone wild"

Carolyn Sackariason:
"There are so many people attempting to seek solitude in the Colorado wilderness that it’s no longer possible to find it in certain areas, and that has U.S. Forest Service officials wondering whether it’s time to limit visitor use.

Take the case of Conundrum Hot Springs, where there can be as many as 120 people camping there on any given summer night.

An assessment by the Forest Service showed that there is human waste at nearly all of the campsites there, resulting in fecal coliform in the hot springs.

Conundrum is the second most popular overnight destination in the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness, behind Crater Lake where tens of thousands of people visit each year.

This two-mile hike is undertaken by hordes of tourists, peak baggers, day hikers and backpackers from all over the world; it provides access to three Colorado fourteeners, and is along the popular 4-Pass-Loop.

“Solitude is not an option on the hike to Crater Lake,” reads a statement in the Forest Service’s “Assessment of Visitor Use and Resource Conditions” of the 10 highest-use destinations in the wilderness area.

Even though Snowmass Lake is eight miles from the Snowmass Creek trailhead and seven miles from Crater Lake via Buckskin Pass, it is the third most popular destination in the wilderness area.

Thousands of people go there each summer, resulting in massive degradation of the wilderness with bandit campsites, human waste and tree damage caused by people collecting firewood — despite that fires aren’t allowed there...."  (Read more?  Click title)

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