Cheryl Jensen: Trail no place for motorized vehicles
July 27, 2017
On July 22, I was part of a Yampatika anniversary hike to Rabbit Ears peak to celebrate 25 years of that excellent organization's existence. The hike was led by local treasure Karen Vail, who regaled us with fascinating information about the flowers and geology of the area. Karen never lost her composure or sense of humor, despite many motorized distractions along the way.
There were vehicular issues from the start of this fairly easy 3-mile hike. In spite of "No Camping Here" signs, several motorized campers were parked at the small parking area at the trailhead. During the hike, we were passed by a number of trucks, SUVs and noisy motorcycles. Most of the vehicles drove only partway up, but one persistent one shadowed us all the way to the base of the Rabbit Ears, taking a little shine off the beauty of the place.
At a campsite about half-way up, we came across a campfire ring with live embers from a fire the night before that thoughtless car campers had not bothered to extinguish. Karen put out the embers with her drinking water, thus avoiding a potential forest fire, but who knows what might have happened had it been a windy day.
With its stunning views and flower-filled meadows, the trek up to the Rabbit Ears is popular with visitors from around the world, as well as local residents. It's unfortunate that their experiences are often affected, even ruined, by the sounds and smells of passing vehicles, the dust they generate and the sometimes poor manners of the drivers.
In light of this, I ask the Forest Service to consider closing the Rabbit Ears peak trail to all motor vehicles except those involved in emergencies or rescues. Until and unless that happens, the beauty and serenity of this very special trail will continue to be compromised.
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