Fees take a big bite

  Dear HCN,

Your article on federal recreation fees (HCN, 2/14/00: Land of the fee) touched a nerve with me, so to speak. While beginning a hike into the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area near Granby, Colo., last summer, I paused to insert my fee stub into the collection box at the wilderness boundary. My groping fingers met with some resistance at the unusually large opening of the box, then a sharp stab of pain. Exploring the situation by removing the box lid revealed a furious mother squirrel and her two half-grown pups who had taken residence within. The unhappy campers promptly made for the nearest tree, from whence my friends and I were roundly scolded while contemplating our next move. As we had failed to capture Momma for examination, it was decided that I should seek medical attention while the rest of the party continued the hike.

At the clinic in Granby, I was informed that squirrels don't carry rabies and was given a lollipop and a $10 insurance co-payment bill, for which I was cheerfully reimbursed from the coffee fund of the Hot Sulphur Springs Ranger District across the street. While my friends enjoyed a Rocky Mountain hailstorm which caused their dog to tear down their tent, I checked into the Hot Sulphur Springs Lodge to enjoy a soak and nurse my wounds. The wilderness rangers removed the offending squirrel condo (a somewhat embellished photo is enclosed) on the following day, while I, hopelessly separated from my friends, enjoyed a solo hike into the Never Summer Wilderness, which was thankfully fee-free!

John Webb
Golden, Colorado
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