I don’t live in Colorado, Wyoming, Washington, Alberta or British Columbia (although I did live at one point in the last two…) I DO care about climate change and I care DEEPLY about what is happening in these special places. What I am not sure about, is why more people aren’t outraged and “making the connection” between climate change and our national forests, as BILLIONS of trees across the western USA and Canada are dying at an alarming rate!
Rewinding to the beginning of July…..summertime, vacation time…where to go, what to see? It was going to be a little different this year. My children are at summer camp and our annual family summer vacation would now just be my husband and I – a second honeymoon? Rome, Paris….no way, we love to hike and to spend time outdoors, we had visited national parks in Texas and New Mexico on our honeymoon so it seemed an obvious choice to head out “west” and explore our beautiful country. We decided to visit Colorado, a place neither of us has been outside of ski season; a “wide open” place with big mountains and summer wild flowers. Rocky Mountain National Park seemed like the place to go, as it was a National Park neither of us had yet “checked off” our respective lists.
A few weeks before our trip however, I began to have a few doubts about our location choice. I was visiting with my friend Keith and excitedly shared our travel plans, as he too is an avid National Parks fan. When I told him where we were going, his face fall, and he said: “Don’t do it, I was there in 2009 and it is just SO sad to see the damage in the Park from the pine beetle, go somewhere else, anywhere else.” A surprise caution coming from my usually enthusiastic friend. We considered, and then decided to go for it anyway…our plans had been set, it couldn’t be that bad, and for me, it sounded like an interesting opportunity to see climate change in action.
The Park was beautiful, reminiscent of many of my favorite places all rolled into one – tall granite peaks like Zion and Yosemite, red rocks like Sedona, and boulder fields like some of my special places in the Canadian Rockies..there were lakes and waterfalls, rainbows and vistas. We saw mountain goats, a moose and her baby, elk and many beautiful birds. We also saw forests of dead trees, as far as the eye could see – hundreds of thousands of trees in front of us, joining the billions of dead trees spreading like wildfire across North America’s west.