Bilingual public lands map designed to get Latino community onto the Roaring Fork Valley’s trails
Pueden encontrar la versión en español aquí.
Editor’s note: Spanish quotes are translated in parentheses and italics, following the original quote.
Trini Rochin and her husband Jaime Lopez love to walk on the Rio Grande Trail near their home in Carbondale. And on a cloudless Saturday morning, they’re ready to hike to Mushroom Rock in the Red Hill Recreation Area in Carbondale.
They’d love to be able to hike with their friends, but they often go alone because their friends don’t feel comfortable navigating the trails without information in Spanish.
“Pienso que tal vez, el no saber dónde están, qué tan difíciles son,” she said.
(“I think that sometimes, they don’t know where [these places] are, or how difficult they are.”)
And a lot of the time, their Spanish-speaking friends and others in the Latino community don’t have the time or energy to do that research on their own.
“Y también el trabajo, mucha gente hispana trabaja muchas horas, y cuando llegan, ya están cansados y no quieren salir a hacer ejercicio,” she said.
(“And also work. A lot of Hispanic people work long hours, and when they get home, they’re tired and don’t want to go out and exercise.”)
Those kinds of issues are what a new map from the local advocacy group Defiende Nuestra Tierra — part of Carbondale-based Wilderness Workshop — is hoping to address.
“El Camino Latino” features 19 areas on public lands around the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys. It also includes information on what you can do there, like hiking, biking, camping, and picnicking, how difficult the trails are, and whether the area has bilingual signage.
Red Hill is one of the areas with bilingual signage. Those trailhead signs include information about trail etiquette and the “Leave No Trace” principles, as well as background on the ecosystem of the red rock formations.
That made it the perfect destination for Defiende Nuestra Tierra to hand out the first copies of the map to the public.
Omar Sarabia is the director. He’s been working on the map for a little over a year, and encouraging agencies like the White River National Forest to translate trail signs into Spanish.
“Y la intención de esto es generar cultura de la caminata, del al aire libre, sobre todo después de COVID, que todo el mundo estaba encerrado y que ahora mucha gente dice ‘donde salgo’ y ‘no sé,’ pues este mapa lo agarras y dices ‘ok, tengo 16 opciones, a donde puedo ir?”
(“The intention is to create this culture of hiking, of the outdoors. Especially after COVID, when everyone was stuck inside and now, lots of people are saying ‘Where do I go? I don’t know.’ Now, you can grab this map and say, ‘Ok, I have 16 options, where can I go?’”)
Sarabia grew up in Chihuahua, far away from any of Mexico’s national parks. He says the idea of public lands as they exist in Colorado is a new concept for many immigrants.
“We don’t have many places to do hikes [in Chihuahua], because a lot of the land is private, so you have to find out places that you’re not going to get in trouble to hike, but it’s hard,” he said.
Back on the trail, Trini Rochin is excited about the map, bilingual signage and what it could mean for her and her friends. Now, she says, they can head out onto the valley’s trails with confidence and less fear of getting lost.
“Porque hay veces hay mapas en los lugares y los Latinos no puede entenderlos, o no podemos, y tenerlo en tu idioma va a ayudar mucho a que la comunidad Latina puede ir con confianza a los lugares, sin temor a perderse.”
(“Sometimes there are maps in these places and Latinos can’t understand them, and to have them in your language will help the community to be able to go with confidence to these places without fear of getting lost.”)
The hike was also a valuable opportunity for Sarabia to get feedback on what can be included on future versions of El Camino Latino.
For example, another hiker, Carlos Cornejo, pointed out that people might appreciate information on wildlife they may encounter — like bears.
“Yo no se porque, pero en general la comunidad tiene mucho miedo a los osos. Dicen va a ver osos de aquí, va a ver los allí, ver los osos a todos lados. Tienes información sobre eso? Porque a veces son mitos, pero por miedo las personas no saben.”
(“I don’t know why, but in general, the community is really afraid of bears. They say, ‘You’ll see bears here, there, bears everywhere.’ Do you have information about this? Because sometimes there are myths, but people just don't know.”)
This is the kind of thing that English-speaking outdoor enthusiasts in the Roaring Fork Valley take for granted, that there’s information about wildlife. And in a culture so centered on the outdoors, that can be alienating for Spanish speakers who live in the community.
For Rochin, that’s another important part of the map: helping her community feel like it belongs on Colorado’s trails.
“Y sentirnos parte de… vivimos aquí, y tenemos total libertad a salir y disfrutar, y oxigenarnos… si.”
(“And to feel like we’re a part of… we live here, and we have total freedom to go out and enjoy the outdoors, get fresh air… yes.”)
Defiende Nuestra Tierra will join other community groups at Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs on July 22 to celebrate Latino Conservation Week.
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