Bill, our Maintenance Specialist, spent most of the month of January doing erosion rehabilitation in the Santa Clara River Reserve.
Due to the incredibly dry conditions that Southwestern Utah is experiencing, the majority of this work was armoring eroded areas with large rocks to help prevent future damage to the trail tread and bring the level of the tread back to a reasonable level. Bill also spent a good deal of time removing loose rubble and rocks from the tread of the trails.
Armoring trails is probably the most time and manpower intensive form of trail rehabilitation. The rocks must be found, moved to the site and then placed. Placing the rocks rarely happens quickly. Each one must be moved, balanced and worked to ensure that it stays put. While this work is strenuous, we feel that it is the only way to create a trail tread that isn’t going to continue to erode in our soil and climate.
As an example, one switchback can require the moving of up to a half ton of rock and soil. As these trails are not located in places where power or heavy equipment can access them means that Bill is doing that work by himself. And sometimes with a few well chosen volunteers.
In addition to his work in Santa Clara, Bill spent a couple of days in Green Valley armoring a couple of sections of steep trail that will be used in some of the upcoming races. As an added bonus, the rock used for the armoring was actually garbage that had been dumped in the area solving two problems at once.
The Trail Crew’s goal is to make our trails sustainable. Our trails see an incredible amount of traffic because we have amazing riding opportunities. Unfortunately, every tire that rolls over our dry, desert dirt removes some of it. A lot of our trails have lost an insane amount of dirt over the past few years making many of them rocky, rubble-strewn trails that have become considerably harder.
When we look at a trail issue, we always consider whether it will change the intended riding level of that trail, but ultimately, we always attempt to make repairs that we feel are sustainable and will keep our trails rolling for the next 5-10 years. Sometimes these repairs will make the trail seem easier and other times more difficult (there are sections of both found in the recent work done).
We fully understand that not everyone is going to be pleased with every trail repair we do. In the instances where adding some tread back to the trail results in obstacles feeling easier, we will be accused of “dumbing down” the trail. And on the inverse, every time the trail gets harder, we run the risk of alienating newer riders and giving them a reason to create ride arounds. We take both of these possibilities seriously and do our best to balance the work needed with how it will be perceived.
We are working closely with land managers who ultimately have the last say in how a trail should be and all of our repairs are authorized. We ask that you give them a chance. We are positive that if you take the long view, our trails will be much better for it even if that means your favorite section of trail is slightly different.