Archive for the ‘Recreation’ Category

Trail tales

July 20, 2021

A 2019 shot of the Paseo del Bosque trail.

A hop, skip, and a jump from the moneyed boutique community of Aspen, an abandoned coal mine with a grim history, an environmental disaster one expert called “the worst coal mine site I’ve seen in the West,” has become “a mountain biking park for the masses,” thanks to the grandsons of Walmart founder Sam Walton.

Writes Jason Blevins in The Colorado Sun:

The word “model” comes up in almost all discussions of Coal Basin, used by the landowners, trail designers, mountain bikers, land managers and locals alike. The single track trails are a model for restoring environmental danger zones. A model for Forest Service managers seeking partnerships with private entities to help build and maintain trails. A model for open space protectors offering landowners a way to marry recreational access with an easement that prevents any other type of development.

Down here in Duke City, meanwhile, just six full-time and seasonal workers strive to maintain about 160 miles of trail, including the fabled Paseo del Bosque, known to many of us here around the old burrito cart.

According to park-and-rec PR person Jessica Campbell, via D’Val Westphal at the Albuquerque Journal, our limited trail money “must also accommodate public demand for new trail segments” in addition to maintaining what we already have.

I guess the Waltons can’t be everywhere, though of course they are, especially when it comes to selling you something. Maybe we Burqueños need a new model.

If you build it, they will come, as folks are fond of saying. But don’t neglect the upkeep of your particular field of dreams.

Coasting into climate change

April 11, 2021

Sandia Peak Ski Co. wants to build a mountain coaster as a hedge against climate change. And who can blame them?

Well … plenty of people, it seems.

“Ski areas have found it very challenging to be dependent on winter alone,” notes Sandia Peak president Benny Abruzzo in a chat with the Albuquerque Journal. And the U.S. Forest Service seems supportive of the project.

But the Journal says the majority of responses during a public comment period have been less so, and a random sample indicates that they do not lie.

“If we built a mechanical bull ride at the top of the Sandias, yes, more people may go up there, but at what cost to the land/view?” one critic quipped. No, not me.

Every time I hear of a project like this I’m reminded just how little I understand about business. How does Sandia Park Ski Co. expect to make bank on this deal? A casual glance at mountain coasters in Steamboat, Gatlinburg, and Branson tells me that tickets are cheap — $16-$20 a rider — but I’ll bet construction and maintenance dollar up on the roof right smart.

Maybe there are enough sedentary bucket-listers to make a dog like this hunt in a town where Topgolf is considered economic development. Ride the Tram, ride the coaster, ride the rental car back to the motel. Whoop, watch out for that fairy on his bicycle. What’s for lunch, hon’? I really worked up an appetite clenching my butt-cheeks on that coaster.

But frankly, it doesn’t seem very imaginative. The Duke City has thrill rides aplenty, with infrastructure already in place.

For instance, anyone who craves a hair-raising vehicular experience in Albuquerque need only take an automobile for a spin on I-40 when the motorcycles are in bloom.