Saturday, January 30, 2010

latest trail conditions report

Latest (Jan 28) general conditions report from R2R: "We are beginning a short period of cold mornings and warmer afternoons. With a mild freeze overnight, most trails should be good to ride or hike on this morning. Look for them to soften by late morning however so at that point you should confine your use to only the sandier trails. Remember - If you are leaving tracks, it will be time to turn back."

For detailed reports please go to one of the following:

When planning your trail usage this weekend, please remember that trails in the Hulls/Crestline area are generally sandy and well-draining. By contrast, Tablerock trails and most Military Reserve trails are generally clay/sedimentary and are not good choices when not frozen. Happy trails. (Thanks Tom !)

Thursday, January 28, 2010


i got a call from a woman yesterday who has had a few bad experiences with the ihs enforcement officers. she called ridge to rivers and the humane society and didn't feel like either one took her complaint seriously.

i am just relating the conversation here. since i wasn't present, i don't have an opinion one way or the other. but she was clearly upset, so i'm going to share what she had to say.

this woman and her husband have used the trails for 30 or so years. they clean up after their dog and pick up opp. she feels that the current signs are confusing and was not aware that the sign that says "on leash trail" means that the trail starts right there, at that spot, rather than being a warning that an on leash trail is coming up. she has discussed this with her friends and most agree with her. (note to readers to dispell any confusion- the on leash portion of the trail starts at the sign).

she and her husband felt ridiculed and talked down to by the officers, she used the term power trip a few times. she said comments like "bet you don't have a leash" and "bet you don't have a bag" were made. the dog owners have been cited 3 times over the past year.

her complaint sounded a lot like the last time i got a speeding ticket. the officer wanted to scold me. i just wanted him to write the ticket and be done with it. i'm old enough to know i made a mistake and to take responsibilty for it. scolding serves no useful purpose. (this, again, from our conversation. i am certain that, as is always the case, there is another side to the story.)

a little history- many dog owners requested increased enforcement of existing rules rather than having additional restrictions put in place when the off leash dogs on trails issue was hot a few years ago. it is our responsibility as dog owners to understand and follow the rules. the role of the officers is one of education as well as enforcement.

i have heard people say that they won't support the humane society any more because they provide the enforcement on trails & in parks. this really bothers me. money sent to the ihs goes to care for the animals there, pure and simple. the officers are contracted by the city as part of animal control. the city pays for the service, not your contribution to the humane society.

i told the woman that i would pass her story along. i asked her to send me an email, which i haven't gotten yet, so i thought i'd go ahead & write it up here.

i'd also like to remind all dog owners that we do need to learn and follow the existing rules. there's no guarantee that things won't change. if parks and ridge to rivers get a lot fo complaints about unruly dogs or a lot of poop we're going to be going right back down the same road we were on a few years ago.

here's hoping that things dry out soon!

Monday, January 25, 2010

monday monday

gray & sort of soggy.... started work early so we could get out during the day. it's always good to be out on the trails, and we've been missing it lately. headed down red fox which was fine since it's sandy. when we got to chickadee i started up, but noticed halle leaving prints in the soft mud to the side so we turned back around & did the loop across the road & through the grove instead.

took an early lunch, so we didn't run into too many other people. i did see the i.hs van in one of the parking lots, and ran into 3 other folks with dogs & 1 group without. much quieter than first thing in the morning or at noon. lots of birds about- saw a red tailed hawk all fluffed up high in a tree in the grove, lots of chickadees and some mourning doves.

 nice, peaceful head clearing walk- good start to the week.

if you know anyone who's looking for a small red dog bootie it's waiting for them on the sign going into the grove from 8th street.

have a great week & happy trails!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

beautiful sunday

i took a different route this morning. usually don't do the lower trails on the weekens, both because i want to go farther and because i want to avoid the crowds. we went out early while things were still frozen & took a longer loop, past the sign that talks about how many people invested a great deal of time to save hull's gulch from development.

this is a reminder to me that we have a responsibility to take care of the space that these folks worked so hard to keep public.

these bags are not on an out & back route. the contents were cold & hard. they are between 2 trash cans- not too far from either. and yeah, i picked them up & tossed them, reinforcing that if you leave a mess someone else will clean it up.

i haven't been on these trails for quite a while, mostly because they are usually pretty busy. i started going up higher on weekends after a series of unpleasant encounters with clueless dog owners- more the norm than an anomoly a few years ago. i was shocked to see how much wider the trails are now than they were a few years ago. this is kestral before the red cliffs cut off.

on top of red cliffs.

the trails were frozen when we were out this morning, but have clearly had lots of traffic when wet.

that's ice in the center of the trail, so you can tell that it will be wet here once things warm up.

when i mentioned my surprise at the width of the trails to my husband he said it was because of increased traffic. he mt bikes & covers more ground than i do. this is the parking lot at 9 a.m. i have to agree with him.

it was a beautiful day, and we had a nice hike.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

beautiful blue sky day

another beautiful day, so glad to be out in it!

happy trails!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

back! pretty dry!

the dogs & i were so glad to be back on the trails today- and what a beautiful morning it was! you can seet that things have dried out.

 beautiful blue skies and snow on the mountains. i opted not to look down and to just enjoy the walk today. didn't have time for opp duty either, so why stress about it?

 this woman was walking out ahead of us. i had to stop and wait while she and her dog who was walking behind her at least 6-8 feet on the flexi got far enough away from us. not knowing how her dog reacts to other dogs or whether mine might think they needed to play and knowing that the owner is paying zero attention to what's going on (tho at least she'd know if there was a poop stop) it seemed easier to hang back. (yeah, i get that it's an old dog, walks slow, etc but i still think that if there's a chance of running into other people the dog should be in sight, not 6 feet behind). 

anyway- beautiful morning, 6 with and 1 without.

Monday, January 11, 2010

heading out

there's money in the travel budget again, and i'm headed out for the rest of the week, so you'll be spared laments about trash & trails & trashed trails. have a great week-

damage and trash

these photos were taken on table rock this weekend.

in addition to widespread trail damage caused by users getting out when it's too wet, there is a lot of poop along trails & in parking lots. other trash too- we saw a sofa & chair or two dumped by the side of 8th street, some yard waste dumped out just past the road closure.

things do seem to cycle and i know it will get better, but things are pretty discouraging right now.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

one step forward..... five steps back?

i am generally a positive person, looking on the bright side, wanting to see the best. the sun was out today, so i had high hopes for a nice walk today. the dogs were sure glad to be out (but then, they always are, unless it's a trip to the back yard in the rain).

things on red fox were pretty much dried out, a big (and pleasant) change from yesterday's slop.

but then i started running into clueless dog owners. the woman who had a leashed border collie & an unleashed small dog. i leashed up & sat the dogs. asked if her loose dog would come up to us. she said probably. ok- i leashed my dogs because your dog is leashed, leashed and loose dogs don't mix, and now you're going to let your loose dog run up to us? help me out here.

of course the puppy wouldn't come when she called it. of course echo grumped when they all came up to us. she said she couldn't let the border collie off leash because he runs away. but what she needed to do was have the puppy under control, not have the other dog off leash.

oscar the schnauzer running ahead of his person on the trail. i went the other way, leashed up, sat the dogs because it didn't look very controlled. owner calls oscar, who doesn't respond to her but instead charges toward us barking. i let halle go.

walking out going down the hill in the on leash area a small dog comes racing down the trail barking at us. i sit the dogs. it comes rushing up to us & gets rolled, yips. owners calling it with no luck. i mentioned that it was the on leash part of the trail. they apologized, weren't familiar with the area. said the dog was new to them and they were sorry it had run up to us. do you think it might be a good idea to keep a new dog leashed until you know how it's going to behave?

this is the first time in a long time that i've had stuff like this happen, but on top of all of the poop i'm seeing and the seeming disregard for trail damage it's a bit discouraging.

but just to prove that it isn't just on the trails, i took this on the way home.

and just to remind myself that it ain't all gloom and doom, it was just a bad week for this sort of thing and there is way more positive than negative here are the shots of the lovely (which was most of it) part of the walk.

happy trails!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


when the alleys look like this, it's a safe bet that the trails are wet and sloppy.

i decided to check out red fox, since it (and red winged blackbird) is sandy. it may be sandy, but it's still sloppy and choppy. this is the section coming up from around the pond. it will regain its shape much quicker than a muddy trail, but until things dry out some when this freezes it is going to be really bumpy and difficult to run or ride on.

you can see that i wasn't picking up mud on this part of the trail. i did, however, have to go through some puddles and my feet got wet. stepping off trail to avoid water, mud or ice causes widening. if you're not willing to go through, turn around. i watched this happen several times today.

we did not go up chickadee as it was thawed and muddy. you can see that this doesn't deter everyone. i saw a guy & his dog coming down as we were going out. better yet, he had a tennis ball thrower.

as nasty as it was, we saw 3 other folks/groups with dogs and 3 without.

also, judging from the amount of opp i picked up in the same section of the trail i cleaned up 2 days ago lots of people are out on the trails.

here's hoping it gets cold & snowy again.

Monday, January 4, 2010

loving it to death

most of us use the foothills trails because we find something special there. the ability to access nature this close to town is a wonderful thing. many of us keep our bodies (and minds) healthy by getting out there regularly and get cranky if we miss our daily hike, bike, run.

given how strongly people feel about the trails, it surprises me that it's seemingly so difficult to get the concept of stewardship across. i know that people feel strongly about being able to use the trails when we want the way we want to, but in doing that we may destroy the very things that make this a special place.

this is the trail up around the pond- still icy.

red fox heading up past the pond. note that although it's obvious that there's been lots of traffic the sandy soil is holding up pretty well.

unlike the soil on chickadee. this is frozen, but someone ran on it when it wasn't and put some nice divots in the trail for the rest of us. these trails become ankle breakers. sandy soil will regain a flat aspect when things warm up but mud holds the shape a long time and is very hard to run, ride or hike on.

this is coming down chickadee to meet red fox. you can see how nicely this is going to chop up if people continue to use when it's wet.

here's my shoe from today- you can see that there's a bit of sand, but i'm not picking up mud- the trails were frozen enough to use.

here's the other thing that happens. people start a trail next to the trail because the trail proper is icy, or too wet or too packed down or choppy because it was used when it was wet. over time, the vegetation between the trails is trampled an disappears, widening the trail and the whole process starts over again.

then there's the matter of trash left behind. all of this from the beginning of the off leash area up to the junction with chickadee. not far. dog poop is a health hazard, it smells bad and it is really rude to leave it for other trail users. period. dog owners have a responsibility to pick up after their pets everywhere.

it seems to me that we should care for our trails, want to leave them in good condition for other users and for future generations. nothing stays pristine, there will be some degradation from use, but we can sure do a better job of maintaining what we have.