Factors of Maintaining Trails
I don't think I'm alone when I say we are very fortunate to live in this town. The people, the views, the mountains and rivers, even the critters we share it with. We are also fortunate to have an incredible trail network. Our trails provide us with an escape, a place to connect with friends, nature and even ourselves.
Our trail network is constantly growing and evolving. Just like us, the trails have personality and just like us, the trails mature. Over time our trails will change, they will adapt. What we used to know and remember may not be how the trail is now. Just like the leaves changing, this is inevitable. As our trails become more and more popular this is going to become more obvious.
Again, like us, our trails need a little help along the way. Not only do we have epic trails we also have the most admirable trail crew. People who dedicate their time to creating new trails, restoring old forgotten trails and keeping our ever-growing network maintained and trim. You might not always see these trail gurus at work but what we do see is all the work they do; berms buffed, features built, and trees trimmed.
It may not be common knowledge but before any work is started on our trails there is a process that has to happen. The Fernie Trails Alliance must always approve any work. Why? We want to keep the personality of the trail consistent. If something does change on the trail it’s always gone through a lot of careful consideration.
Lots of factors will determine if and when something changes on a trail. The overriding factor is always to improve the trail longevity and allow the trail to continue to thrive. Even with the amount of effort, sometimes we all need to help the trails out. This could be as simple as leaving no trace: the pack it in, pack it out rule applies! This can become more complex when it comes down to the mark we leave from our tires or runners. Keeping on track is vital to keeping the trail close to its original state. Granted there may be a more direct route, which may be faster (and you might even beat your buddy on a certain social media app); however the trail wasn’t built to get you from one point to another the fastest, the trail was built to flow. By cutting corners and not staying on trails you can be undoing years of work.
One other example of trying to minimize our mark is being conscious of not riding when the trails are muddy. I’m not talking about every time it rains we can’t use the trails, however think back to spring, when the ground is thawing. Damage here can have long lasting effects that may not be reversible. A prime example of this is the section of Lazy Lizard, which has now been armoured. What started out as a wet section of trail soon became a damaged section of trail, which required many hours of work to fix.
As we look back and remember how fantastic and rewarding our season has been I think this is the perfect time to thank anyone and everyone who has played a part in creating and maintaining our trails. All the people who have come out to help with our trail work parties. Without these volunteers we simply wouldn’t be able to keep up with the work that needs to be done. It is passion and community spirit like this that help our trail network flourish. We also have a small group of passionate trail builders who dedicate a tremendous amount of time and effort to our trails. On behalf of everyone who uses the trails, a huge thank you to these people.
As the season changes and we look forward to using the trails again in the spring, take a moment to ask yourself if you can contribute just a little of your time and give something back to our trails. Cut a fallen tree, swing a tool at a maintenance night or just be conscious of your impact on the trails. To many more seasons of amazing riding, hiking and running on the Fernie trails!