Monday, April 25, 2016

I Guess That's Why I Do It

Oddly I didn’t do a whole lot this past weekend.  I’m not the kind of person that is content to sit around and watch TV on a nice Saturday.  I have to feel pretty bad before I’ll throw that out the window.  But for whatever reason I couldn’t even come up with good honey-do projects on Saturday.  Everything I considered ended up seeming like it wasn’t a good time or I didn’t have the stuff I needed to accomplish anything.  I felt like I was pissing away a perfect day.
Late in the day I took off with my camera into the woods behind the house.  Long time readers will remember that I was once working on a trail on a forty-some-odd acre wooded parcel owned by some cousins.  But then last summer when things started ramping up in Flat Hollow I stopped working on it.  It seemed like a waste of time when I could put my energy into a better long term opportunity.
But as I try to scale back my time in far flung places trying to build trails at a snail’s pace I realize that a mile or two of passable trail in my own back yard would go a long way to satisfying my short term cravings for dirt therapy.  And I decided maybe I should put a little effort into finishing up my mile loop.
It had been a long time since I was up there.  The last time I visited was just after a bad storm with high winds.  A large tree had fallen over two switchbacks and needed chainsawing.  Since then I’ve mastered sharpening the saw myself and I just need to get in there and clear the corridor once again.  I then need to cut a tough but short section of bench to bypass an unrideable section I thought I could build.
And then there are some longer sections of bench that need to be cut or maybe even just the organic stuff scraped off and it should all go quickly.  Especially now that I have access to proper trail building tools.  Before I used a mattocks to do all of the benchcutting and it was taking a long time.  Now I have rogue hoes and a McLeod.  I should be able to knock it all out so much faster.  And better.
As I was walking through my little fantasy trail kingdom I noticed a hillside speckled with pink lady slippers.  I was delighted to find fifty or more of them within a small area and I got a few photos.  I might try to go back up this afternoon before the rains set in for the week.  Maybe take the fam.

Dogwoods are also blooming right now.  I love dogwoods and the contract they splash on a still dingy landscape.  This time of year there are darks and brilliant lights in the woods and it makes for some fantastic black and white photos.  These aren’t my favorite, but I was pleased with my initial photographic stab at dogwoods this year.

On Sunday afternoon I headed out for a GPSing slog on Indian Creek.  I had five crags still left to visit.  Two of them are of the most remote in the Gorge area.  Even when FR 9b is open Lost Ridge, Purple Valley, and Board Wall are a haul.  I had gotten Purple Valley a few weeks ago, but started feeling unwell and cut my expedition short.  I dreaded making the long jaunt back out to Lost Ridge.  Right now it holds the distinction of being (in my estimation) the most remote published crag in the Red.  It’s a four mile bike ride and a half mile bushwhack to get to the closest of the spread out routes along the cliff that makes up the crag.  One way.
I felt my age on the slog up from the confluence of Big Amos Creek and Little Amos Creek.  I didn’t bother to walk along and identify all of the routes.  Once I was certain of my location I headed back down.  I was intent on getting all five remaining crags before sunset.
But by the time I reached Board Wall and identified the first route I knew my clock was ticking.  I resolve I would at least capture Between Wall on my ride back to the car.  I had at least visited that one in the past.  While reading the new guidebook approach description for Bear Wollor Hollor I realized that years ago when I went looking for that one that I was in the wrong place.  That meant a completely new effort in find the obscure crag.  When I finally reached the King Minas pinnacle at Between Wall I decided I would come back and hike to BWH on another day.  I hated to leave, but I was tired and feeling the miles.
I have that one and a roadside crag left to GPS and I’ll be done with capturing the approaches and trails for all of the Red River Gorge North crags.
Meanwhile, Tomahawk was out riding the new trails in Flat Hollow.  I received a text from him before I set out on my GPS quest:
Nice job up there.  You deserve a lot of credit.  I will do something special for Mandy to show my appreciation.
“What’s so funny?” Mandy asked from across the table as we finished our lunch.
I turned my phone and showed her the text.  She laughed out loud too.
Well…I guess that’s why I do it, I replied.
It means a lot that people are getting out and hiking and riding the trail and giving positive feedback.  I want the trails in Bald Rock (aka, Big Sinking, Flat Hollow, PMRP) to be of the highest quality. 
I’ve talked about my selfish motivations in building new mtb trails.  But I do take a great deal of satisfaction in seeing trails on the ground that more people can use.  I believe in the power of trails.  I believe conservation can only happen if people can interact with nature.  I believe our environmental health and well-being is only positive when we appreciate the environment.  And I believe that active transportation and recreation are superior to other forms of activity.  I believe there are greater health benefits from running or biking on a trail than in running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. 

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