It’s hard to ignore the fact that CC’s location provides enviable outdoor opportunities for students to engage in, including hiking, mountain biking, and climbing. However, the region is not immune to tragic fires and floods, tainting the Colorado Springs community.
An unsettling number of Colorado fires this year have destroyed thousands of acres, notably the West Fork Complex fire in Southern Colorado (burning 110,000 acres) and the Black Forest fire in El Paso County this June, not far from CC (burning 16,000 acres), adding to the damage caused by the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire.
In addition to the damage to people’s lives and properties, these ruthless fires reshape the natural landscape of the affected areas, creating more problems when it rains; fires make it harder to prevent flooding because there is less vegetation to impede the progress of water flow. A devastating example of this phenomenon occurred this August in Manitou Springs when it rained on an area scorched by last year’s Waldo Canyon fire, causing severe flooding.
These tragic events, however, have not hampered the Colorado community’s enthusiasm and participation in outdoor activity.
Shortly after the flooding in Manitou Springs, more than 3,000 runners took on a challenge in the 58th Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon on Aug. 17 and 18th.
Also gaining popularity in the Colorado outdoor scene is a hybrid of backpacking and mountain biking, called “bikepacking.” According to the Gazette’s OutThereColorado.com, “The last few years have seen a jump in popularity of multi-day mountain-bike races, like the Colorado Trail Race, a self-supported 485-mile monster between Denver and Durango. It had six finishers in 2007 and 27 in 2012.”
Although the seven-mile Waldo Canyon Loop Trail’s forced closure due to the fire in 2012 is seen as a setback, a new section of the Palmer Loop trail is currently in progress. The Palmer Loop trail ends just across the road from the now-closed Waldo Canyon trailhead. The new 3.5-mile trail plans to be open by December and will become part of the Ute Regional Trail which aspires to connect Manitou Springs and Teller County.
Surely CC students will continue to take advantage of exploring the surrounding regions during block breaks. First-years are especially excited to embark on FOOT trips, and many have commented about memorable experiences from last week’s NSO trips.