Bikes on the PCT
|What to Do Trail De-Maintenance High Use Areas Anger Fuels Insanity|
The Metal Threat
I thought a lot about bikes on the trail. Their tracks were more common that I would have thought. Rather than let all that quality trail thinking time fade into obscurity, I put them down here.
First, some disclosures:
What you do from there is up to you. It's most important to let them know that you think that it's not OK. Bikers think that silence equals consent. Be vocal. You probably will not change their mind, but you might make them think twice about coming back.
On the very rare chance that you see someone from the jurisdiction, report your bike encounter. It's worth the time.
Remind the biker that even if they are riding safely, there are bikers who do not, making it unsafe for everyone. Hiker discomfort is reason enough to justify the law.
Remember that you are dealing with other people. Treat them with respect, even if you are angry. Threats don't do anyone any good, even a pompous biker.
In the heavily used areas, create obstacles for bikes. Place rocks so that a turn is wide when a wide turn means slowing down. The same with creating uncomfortably tight turns. Pull branches and logs across the trail, especially at naturally narrow points on the trail. Look at the uphill and downhill experience. If the rider is flying down the hill, where will a well-placed obstacle be the biggest joy-drain?
Keep in mind that bikes can jump some obstacles, so put another obstacle to keep the jump from happening. Parallel branches work well. Or find a natural obstacle/jump and add a rough landing to it. You get the idea.
These efforts may not keep them off the trail, but at least it will decrease their speed (and fun). And then maybe they'll not come back and not tell their friends about that section of trail.
Uncomfortable with messing up the trail? The bikes will do a lot more damage, and long-term damage, if they travel fast. De-maintenance is obnoxious and in your face. Cumulative bike damage is more insidious and a threat to the tread of the trail.
I noticed high use in the following areas:
Just south of Barrel Springs
The (large) area around Mojave and Tehachapi
Near Walker Pass
Just north of Sierra City: climbing Sierra Buttes and points north
South of Ashland
Presumably you are not hiking to spend a lot of time angry. Learn to take action rather than get angry. There's not a lot that you can do because you won't encounter most of the bikers. You'll only see evidence of them. If you stew in the anger, when you do run into a biker, it could erupt. I speak from experience.
I enjoyed my hike more when I was doing what I could (being vocal, creating obstacles) and let the rest go. There's lots of time to think when hiking. Don't let it be about pointless negative stuff.
Here are some of the more crazy things I thought about when hiking:
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