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641 Summer Stories
Sunscreen Conspiracy

First site, the elk provided the only shade

In the spring of 2011, we began planning for our summer trip. We had the general idea that we wanted to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, but we first had to find a place to pitch our tent. We were hoping to find a campsite in a campground near the areas where we were planning to hike. But, as anyone who has ever tried to reserve a campsite in a popular National Park knows, often times it is difficult to find any sites open, much less ones you want.

We started planning early and surprisingly there were still plenty of sites open at one of our favorite campgrounds, Glacier Basin. From past trips, we had notes to remind us of which sites were the best. Going online to the www.reservations.gov site we found most of the secluded sites on the outside loop of the campground were still available. We snatched the sites up immediately. Wow, we not only reserved sites, but we reserved two good sites.

June arrived and I drove to Colorado alone. My wife was taking care care of a few important details at home and would join me at the earliest possible date. After spending a day in Boulder, I went to the Park. I stopped at the camper check-in and proceeded to the site. Before I arrived at the site I realized the campground looked different. The pine beetle had killed almost all of the trees. My site for the night stood barren. The site had been one of our favorites, because it was isolated in a grove of trees. After the pine beetles arrived, there was not a single tree for hundreds of feet. It was like camping in a desert.

The reservations for the barren site were only for two nights and then I moved to a different campground, just outside of the Park. Soon, my wife joined me and we had to return to Glacier Basin for five more nights. The second site was just as bad as the first. Our tarp provided the only shade at our desolate site. Of course we were away from the campground for most of the day, but on returning, we baked in the afternoon sun.

Second site the tarp was the only relief from the sun

Sitting under the tarp, I tried to write as the afternoon sun made life miserable. While enduring the heat, I began to think about the missing trees. Suddenly it came to me, the only people who would benefit from the trees being killed by the pine beetle - were the sunscreen companies. Anyone who camped at Glacier Basin would have to regularly douse themselves with sunscreen. Across the state sunscreen use would have to skyrocket. Folks, it was a conspiracy. It was the sunscreen companies that started the pine beetle epidemic so they could sell more of their products.

That evening, a ranger came around to the campsite promoting his campfire talk, which just happened to be on the pine beetle. When he stopped to invite us to the talk, I shared with him my pine beetle conspiracy theory. He laughed so hard, I thought he was going to fall out of his golf cart!


Happy sunscreen conspiracy trails


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