Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A bit of catching up, a volunteering opportunity, late summer sightings and trail ethics

I started writing this post in the last few minutes of summer 2015. Tomorrow (now today) brings us the autumn equinox and the slow, beautiful slide towards winter. 

I am off on my annual camping trip in a day, though this time not to Isle Royale. That trip will need to be deferred a year due to lack of PTO (new job = resetting the time off clock to zero). Instead I am heading for the Sibley Peninsula and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. If all goes well I will hike/run out to the Head of the Giant at least one day and gaze at Isle Royale across the water. 

I have hit a bit of a lull in my running, finding it quite hard to run more then about 11.5 miles at a time. This is not setting me up well for Wild Duluth 50K. But, I have decided to go with what feels like fun while running and figure the fire will rekindle in due time. I suspect several years of very stressful work conditions, coupled with my injury this spring, have emptied the tank and it will just take time to refill it. 

I did make it up to Superior 100 to volunteer this year. I did some crewing as well, though no pacing this year (just as well in light of my attitude towards long runs of late). 

I have been helping Andy and Kim Holak with recruiting and organizing volunteers for the Wild Duluth races on October 17th. If you, or anyone you know, would be interested in volunteering please contact me at lbmessereratgmaildotcom. As Robyn Reed points out in a recent blog post volunteering can make you a better runner!

Autumn Crocus - they always appear just as the seasons change
Sungold tomatoes - Mmmmmmm
Riders out after a heavy rain = wrecked trail.
This is on a brand new section (not open) of the Duluth Traverse
I was saddened to see the damage to the newly built trail above my house. I was exploring the area a couple of days after we received heavy rain (1.5 inches in an hour). This section is so new (built the previous week) that it isn't even open to riders yet. It will likely mean a delay in opening the trail due to the need for repair work. A similar situation happened at Lester Park earlier this year and resulted in a really nice section of new trail being closed a large part of the summer for repairs. Hopefully along with all the new trails will come a push by COGGs to educate the mountain biking public on trail ethics, something similar to IMBA's Rules of the Trail.


Londell said...

Sounds like you have a great alternative to the trip. I did not make Superior and will not be volunteering at Surph the Murph this year either. Work is just to much... I also understand the frustration over trail damage by the bikes. In Bloomington we hear about hot the changes to the river bottoms will hard the eco-system and take the trails away from the bikers. As someone who has been on the river bottoms for 20 years, the mountain bikes have really harmed the area with ruts and exposing soil for increased erosion. There needs to be a balance...

wildknits said...

Londell - it was a great trip! The weather was quite wet and cool the first two days but then the skies cleared just as we summited the Top of the Giant trail. I will be posting photos up soon. So hard to capture the grandeur.

The trails that were damaged were purpose built for mountain biking. Actually this is section is part of the Duluth Traverse and is being billed as multi-purpose trail. The issue is that many, many bikers either don't know to stay off trails when they are wet or do know, but choose to ride anyway. I had an encounter with biker on the SHT earlier this summer on a wet day. He claimed to not realize he wasn't on the bike trails (didn't know where he was). As I discussed with him where the bike trails were and that they were actually closed as we had received an inch of rain earlier that day he stated "... but how am I supposed to train?".

I would think someone who is racing mountain bikes would know better then to ride on saturated trails. I did redirect him to a nearby abandoned railroad grade (gravel) and then redirected him off the SHT towards the ski trails, pointing out that they could be damaged as well in the current conditions.

I enjoy riding my mountain bike on local trails and am looking forward to the new section above my house being ready for use. But it will need some time before it can handle any traffic within days of a rain (the surface needs to harden). All this is compounded by clay soils that don't drain well.

COGG's trail crews are out weekly repairing sections and tweaking others to make them more resistant to damage and to fix areas that stay wet.

I guess it is similar to trail hikers/runners that insist on going around wet areas and spreading the damage vs going down the middle of the trail (in cases where staying off the trails is not an option).