Leche Creek Trail, San Juan National Forest

If I were doing a wilderness inventory in this little section of the San Juan National Forest, here are the characteristics I would include:  no other humans encountered or signs of human activity; wildflowers abundant; sense of solitude and opportunity to experience nature “untrammeled by man”; human imprint substantially unnoticeable, consisting only of the narrow trail.  This is what wilderness is supposed to be like.  My feet follow the trail across little Leche Creek, stepping on stones, slipping a little, plunging my walking stick into the mud for balance.  Up the side of the hill — do we still call them hills in CO at 8,000 and 10,000 feet? — switchbacking to an aspen park.  Dense and primitive, the forest is a mix of pine, fir, and hardwoods, with an understory of Robins and warblers.  One scat, fresh on the way down; did I miss it on the way up?  Probably cat.

My self opens wide in this place, as it does in the wild lands of the Gila.  This is my sangha.  These places are the balm that allow me to function in the busier world outside.

And meanwhile back in the RV park on the San Juan River, others pursue what makes them happy.

About the Author

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I grew up and lived in the DC Metro area for most of my life. For the last 20-some years of my career, I worked for the Federal Government. Much of that time, I worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service. Visiting refuges and National Forests around the country, working with the folks whose jobs were to protect, restore, and manage the wild lands, forests and creatures that depend on them is where my heart resonated. I didn't know it then, but that's where my public lands advocacy must have been born. I moved from DC to southwestern NM in 2008. I continued to work until 2013, when I left the government in December. Now I spend my time volunteering for various conservation non-profits. And advocating for the protection of these lands that belong to all of us. I enjoy hiking, tracking, writing, photography, reading, birding, and driving bad roads in my big-girl 2013 F150 4x4.

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