Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sabotaged trail?

Normally I try to keep my posts positive, after all, most things relating to bikes and the act of biking are good.  But after my ride on the White Mountain Trail was cut short and my day marred by the acts of some thoughtless individuals, today will be different.  If you are opposed to ranting and raving, mild negativity and the threat of violence...WARNING...you might want to skip this one.

A little history on the White Mountain Trail.  This trail is on the Apache Ridge and originally connected Dodge Peak to the White Mountain Trail and then traveled down the East side of the ridge to eventually end at the back side of McAurthur Lake.  Due to a lack of use over some 50-60 years, much of the trail is difficult if not impossible to find.  This section of trail is part of the Idaho Centennial Trail, a 900 mile connection of trails and back country roads that weave through the heart of the some of the most primitive and beautiful country the state has to offer.  Here is a map of the White Mountain Trail and if you are interested you can read more here.

Let me also be right up front, the White Mountain Trail is in my back yard.  I've spent a lot of time trying to find the entire trail and clear/maintain what is still visible.  It has been a major challenge.  I have been deterred by storms, lack of info, disparity between maps and the actual and most recently sabotage.

Let me now explain.  I was excited to have the day off and took off to drive up the East side of Apache Ridge, parked a few miles below Dodge Peak and biked to the White Mountain trail head. 

the goal: Dodge Peak in the distance
I hadn't biked 30 feet on the trail when I noticed a very fine nylon string strung along the side of the trail.  It was a foot or two above the trail tread and hung in the brush lining the trail.  After following it for several hundred feet, I stopped to investigate more closely.  I followed the string back to it's beginning and found it was tied to a piece of brush.  There went my thought of this being some sort of accident.  It hadn't just gotten hooked on some brush as someone walked the trail.  It was tied in with knots.  Maybe it was some sort of trip line for a game camera left by some hunters?  Nope, I followed from end to end and both ends were attached either to brush or branches.  Hmmm...

This stringing of the trail continued for a mile and a half.  Sometimes it ran along the trail.  Other times it zig-zagged across the trail.  It was obvious someone had spend a lot of time creating this web.  As I rode I tried to keep my distance from the string.  At some points I did have to ride over string that was strung across the trail.  After a mile and a half, I stopped in a meadow to talk to a hiker who was taking some pics.

He said he had noticed the string, but had no idea of its purpose.  He claimed he'd never seen anything like it.  We exchanged stories and he continued up the trail.  I turned to go back down the trail and noticed right away my bike was not right.   I was pedalling but had no freewheel.  My chain kept getting sucked up.  Upon closer observation, I noticed that string had gotten wrapped around my rear hub.  It was wound so tight between the hub and cassette that it had disabled my drive train.  It was also wrapped around the disc side of my hub and in between the bottom bracket and cranks.  I guess I hadn't done as good a job of avoiding the string as I thought.  Son of a bitch!  It now occurred to me that the string was laid to disable mechanized traffic.  Probably by some hunter who didn't want to have his prime spot disturbed.  The intent was to limit trail traffic to hikers only.

note string wrapped around both sides of the hub

I tried to pull the string out, but it was wrapped too tight.  It kept breaking off.  I was screwed.  I was gonna have to walk my bike back to the truck.   I coasted on the downhills.  And walked the flats and uphills.   I fumed the whole way.  Yeah, it was a beautiful day.  Yeah, I had some amazing views, particularly of Roman Nose.  Yeah, I was out in the woods getting some exercise.  BUT, I couldn't get over the fact that someone purposefully created a situation that would damage someone's property.

one of the many great views of Roman Nose...yes I need a better zoom
There was some obvious evidence of a conflict between motorized vehicles (4-wheelers and motorcycles) and hunters in this area...wild, wild West.
one of the many shot up signs in the area

far sign reads, "Warning, 4 Wheeler Nails"
I made it out fine enough and I also learned a lesson.  However,  I spend a lot of time in that area, so a word of warning to the individual(s) who sabotaged a public trail: don't let my find you engaging in any activity like this or I'll put a Marine smack down on your ass!  Over and out... 

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