BTCEB Blog No 30: That ditch is Boss Kean’s ditch. And I told him that dirt in it’s your dirt. What’s your dirt doin’ in his ditch?
Between September 10th and 12th Members of V-O-Cal, Volunteers for California and B.T.C.E.B., Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay joined forces and helped reroute the popular Big Trees trail in Joaquin Miller Park.
While there was some last minute disputes concerning the ultimate design of the new trail it seems that both sides had gotten mostly what they wanted. As with any compromise neither party is a hundred per cent satisfied with the results it’s better to get most of what you want rather than little or none.
Which brings me to my point not only do you have to fight for what you want but sometimes a little subterfuge isn’t really a bad thing. One of the sections of trail I worked on had a course lain out for it in such a way that any one who wanted to try to ride it on a bike had to partly duck under a tree branch while simultaneously trying to negotiate a tricky left hand corner, avoid a huckleberry stump sticking in the middle of the trail and, with any luck, carry enough momentum up the rest of a steep rise.
While that may be fine for hiking and one on a bike would have a tough time with it and if an equestrian tried their luck at the bend I’m sure the would have rung their bell on the overhanging branch. Not a good design. While I don’t always work under the assumption that it’s better to beg for forgiveness rather than ask for permission in this case the huckleberry stump needed to be removed (clearly it was a matter of time before it got demolished by trail users of every stripe) and some cleaver, albeit unauthorized, changes to the tail needed to be made.
Eventually I was joined by some other BTCEB members who lent some much needed muscle power to first remove the shriveled stump in the middle of the trail, cut a “bench” into the side of the hill using hand tools, chop through a couple of thick roots, grade the trail’s slope, and pack down the dirt.
Okay, a guy from V-O-Cal chopped through the tree roots with an axe with all the fervor of some one trying to escape from East Berlin but for the most part that stretch of trail was a BTCEB effort.
So what did I learn by all this? First and foremost different user groups can work together even though their objectives may be somewhat different. We all want to enjoy the outdoors and that’s what brought these two different groups together. While we may see things in a slightly different way than do other user groups it’s that difference that defines us.
Secondly, trail building is fun. Where else do you get to play with large, dangerous hand tools for the public good, outside of a “Cool Hand Luke” style chain gang that is. Let’s face it, a Mattock is an evil looking tool and if you accidently swing one of its blades into your shin it’ll ruin your day.
Lastly joint user group projects can help bridge gaps and lessen trail user conflicts.