April 20, 2015

Trail Conditions

Ok...I try really hard not to go off on rants here because few people really want to read that kind of stuff, but I need to make an exception. My blood was boiling on Saturday.

Trust me when I say that know how it feels to really, really want to ride and not be able to. Between work, Wyatt and a host of other responsibilities my trail time is significantly limited. It really sucks when the little time I do have gets squashed by bad weather. I 100% get it.

But I don't think heading out anyway and ruining the trails is the answer.  What am I talking about?

Saturday afternoon we took the pups for a hike at Sumter National Forest. I love hiking there because it is generally void of anyone else. It has an extensive bridle trail system and a horse camping area which aren't used very much. We were very surprised to see two horse trailers and another car parked there when we showed up in the late afternoon in between rain storms.

We entered the woods along a horse trail and I was appalled at the condition of the trail. Muddy, deep hoof prints were everywhere. It has rained the entire last week and the trails were soft and fragile. In fact they were nearly impassable.

As we made our way along I saw two people on horse back with a filthy scruffy white dog come barreling down the trail towards us. The horses were sinking 6" to a foot into the mud and they just didn't give a crap about it. They were eating that trail apart. I even saw where people bypassed the really muddy spots going off trail and creating even bigger holes and mud alongside it.

Seriously people?

Look...I know you want to ride. I know it has been super rainy lately and you haven't been out. Maybe you have planned this ride for a long time. Maybe you just figured it would be empty so your scruffy dog could come along. I don't know what went through their minds, but I know trail conditions didn't enter it.

The trails are horrendous now and even when they dry up the damage done by people riding when they shouldn't be won't be fixed for a long time. If ever. Trails need maintenance and they need care or they won't last. Erosion is a big problem and multi use trails that are destroyed by riders when they really should have stayed home and waited for them to dry out a little are easy pickings to hikers/hunters/bikers who want riders kicked out. I won't ride when it is like this. I wait. A little wet? Sure no harm done. But sloppy muddy and fragile, no way. The same people that tear up the train in muddy conditions are the ones who complain how terrible the trails are when they finally dry out and are so rutted and gross you can barely even walk down them. Who is to blame?? You are!!!

I love riding and yes I would have liked to get a ride in this weekend, but destroying the trail just to get a few miles in isn't worth it. When it has been raining for so very long and the trails are sopping wet, stay home. Or ride the gravel roads. Or anything other than ruining a nice trail system because for some reason you just had to ride that day. It will dry up. You will have another chance to ride there. If you wait until they are dry and able to take the abuse riding causes to the land, you would have had a more enjoyable ride anyway instead of slogging through knee deep mud and creating absolute havoc.

Before you tack up and fit in those few miles, please be mindful of the damage your horse is creating as you do it. It doesn't take much for other users to get angry and file a complaint and it isn't hard detective work to figure out who ruined the trail. Unless you plan on being out there grading it, packing in the ruts and figuring out ways to make it more sustainable, stay home and wait until the conditions improve.

Ok...rant over....

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