Johnny Appleseed and the Real Hidden Gems

Last night nearing the home turf, this blogger was treated to one of those rare glimpses of the natural order many only read about – crossing the road in front of me were two elk and their three spotted calves. I sat and soaked in the image thankful I’d been in the right place at the right time.

It’s a moment similar to those Johnny Chapman might have seen time and time again on his wanderings throughout the Ohio Valley.

Johnny Appleseed was less legendary and more authentic in his deeds of generosity and conservation. He planted nurseries, built fences around them, arranged for their care and returned them to the locals for profit-sharing. Conservationist to the core, he paid to rescue animals meant for slaughter, wore no shoes (to save leather), ate no meat, and would accept a floor and meal at a stranger’s home in exchange for the chance to share stories about his meanderings. And a humanitarian to the core he never missed an opportunity to help someone in need.

By today’s standards, Chapman would be profiled a vagabond, a hobo, homeless. By today’s standards, we romanticize his life rather than recognizing that something as simple as walking in nature is not only possible but necessary for ourselves and for the greater good.

So we come to the Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign. Appleseed would likely be one of its biggest proponents. John Muir, too – walking quietly along paths untrammeled by wheels, hooves, motorized sounds. No voices shouting “to your left” (if you’re lucky), no side-stepping things moving faster than you to avoid being run over, no vroom of two-stroke engines to scare wildlife and bury the sounds of birds, the wind, the cold crackle of boots on snow.

The difference now is that we needn’t romanticize it – the Hidden Gems Campaign sits at our fingertips ready to preserve more of the last-remaining pristine wilderness in Colorado. It’s not a lot of land but sensible in how it manages and connects other already protected areas. Surely there are ample opportunities for mountain bikers (and this blogger is one), dirt-bikers, equestrians, and snowmobilers to enjoy their sport that supporting these gems isn’t going to break the Trail Bank.

Who knows – this might be the year to rediscover your own two-footed human-powered adventure. With or without apple trees. And a couple of elk calves for the photo album.

No comments: