Wilderness Areas, followed closely by National Parks.
Sure, Jazz, the Blues, Democracy and baseball are up there, but the notion of "Let It Be" land use is our Nation's best idea. (Besides the Internet, which I happened to have invented.)
What a concept! A piece of land valued for what it doesn't have. No mining, no logging, no ranching, no motorized vehicles, and best of all, no subdivisions.
For the past week, I visited four designated Wilderness Areas-Indian Peaks, Mount Zirkel, Sarvis Creek and felt compelled to visit the Cradle of Wilderness. I'm talking about the Flat Tops Wilderness (Colorado's second largest preserved area).
All great ideas start with a visionary. The lovers of Wild Places (like myself) can thank U.S Forest Service landscape architect Arthur Carhart for his epiphany. His bosses sent him to remote Trappers Lake (in the year 1919) to come up with a game plan to build a few vacation cabins along its shore. When young Arthur saw the lake, and the volcanic amphitheater leaping from its shores, he filed this report to his supervisors.
"There are a number of places where scenic values are of such great worth that they are rightfully the property of all people. They should be preserved for all time for the people of the nation and the world."
Thank you! Arthur! I couldn't have said it any better.
Now I'm at a campsite scattered along the outflow of Trappers Lake. While I quietly quaff my IPAs, my neighbors seem to whisper in their conversations. Maybe they are showing reverence to the beauty that's around them.
On today's 11 mile hike to Wall Lake the only sounds I heard was the wind whistling past the burnt snags from the 2002 Big Fish Fire. (I heard my heavy breathing too, but we won't go there.)
Shortly after Mr. Carhart's proclamation, another visionary saw the light. Aldo Leopold fought for America's first Wilderness Area-the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. He won that battle, but in reality, we all won.
Here's a plethora of photos from our Treasury of Just Trails. In the last photo, there's Paul, Robin and Jenny overlooking Gilpin Lake in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. Contrary to popular belief, I don't go solo all the time. Oftentimes I go fishing for companions, but I usually come away with an empty creel.
As Jeff Shakespeare once wrote, "Tis better to go-eth alone, than never to go-eth at all."
Enjoy America's best invention. I do.