Thursday, November 03, 2005

Gold Camp Road opening? Not so fast...

I guess it was only a matter of time before the decision by the U.S. Forest Service to open Upper Gold Camp Road would be appealed. The Gazette reported today that a group of property owners and non-profits moved to stop the opening of the 8.5-mile road that has been closed since 1988.

No one opposed to opening the road will come out and say it, but I think they are afraid the move would attract what I once heard a long-time outdoor guy in town refer to as "bad hombres."
The "bad hombre," he said, is a peripheral member of society who uses the region's mountain roads for drunk driving, target shooting, and major appliance abandonment. The best of these guys are able to combine all three elements in one outing. He said you can already find these guys on Old Stage Road and Rampart Range Road, and occasionally on Lower Gold Camp. And the amount of old washers and bullet-riddled signs on these roads certainly backs up his observations.
Would the Bad Hombres ply their trades on Upper G. C. as well? Maybe so.
But right now the opposition is talking about "safety" and "cost" and no one has uttered the B.H. words. Maybe they're concerned it would make them look like bigots.
Strangely, at the same time talk is swirling about opening Upper G. C. the folks at the Pike National Forest are busy erecting burly steel gates to block off other roads in areas trashed by the B. H. such as Emerald Valley.
Rangers in the Pike National Forest have told me they are blocking off these areas because they don't have the staff to patrol them and without ranger super vision, the areas are being ruined.
Why open a long swath of road at the same time you are closing off several others? Well, it doesn't seem like Pike National Forest really plans to open Upper G.C. Rangers have said the area doesn't have the money. So this whole plan may just be a way to follow regulations while not doing anything.
Good news for hikers. Not so good for the Bad Hombres, if they really exist. - Dave


Anonymous said...

Dave, you're really not sure the bad hombres exist? Have you never stopped at Rampart Range? Come on!

mizedog said...

Thanks for the info. I sincerely hope that readers of this article are able to differentiate Bad Hombres from off-highway enthusiasts (commonly called "Jeepers" but who drive other types of 4wheel drive vehicles as well). True Jeepers will not only appreciate the opportunity to drive Gold Camp road, but will do so for the love of history, discovery, and do so in support of the nucleic family. Under the supervision of rangers, organized Jeep clubs put thousands of hours into maintaining trails, and blocking off false, or unlawful B.H.- caused trails. I'm looking forward to driving the full road, but will research the history of the railroad from Cripple Creek before hand to better understand its origin, and importance. I'll also carry a trash bag and will stop to pick up litter so the next person driving by won't have to see it. Multi-use is good. Multi-abuse is not. Thanks.