Monday, January 3, 2011

Can 50” Wide Make Our Trails Better:

I love riding the Paiute Trail. I love that you can ride for miles and miles – even days and days on some of the most beautiful backcountry trails anywhere in the U.S. I love that there are some difficult trails and some very easy trails. I love it all – well almost anyway….

Over the last few years I have seen a remarkable change in the usage of the Paiute Trail. The change is an influx of more and more high-speed riders. While some are sport ATVers here to just ride the trails (that’s as opposed to riding the trails to see the scenery), the most harmful group is the high performance UTVs that seem to be proliferating rapidly. In addition to being ridden (driven) far faster than the scenic riders the trail was designed for, these new machines also are typically larger - wider, and heavier than ATVs. This new class of UTVs actually fit much closer into the size category of Jeeps (OHVs) rather than ATVs.

This change in usage is a result of two major things. One, the industry is going through a big change in manufacturing more of these of high performance UTVs. This means that there are more of these users looking for places to ride. And two, the businesses that prosper from the tourist riders on the Paiute Trail in an effort to keep their pockets full, are marketing the trail to everybody and anybody they can.

Both of these are happening without any obvious regard to the consequences. Oddly enough, while the 50” RZR remains the best-selling UTV (or Side by Side), the manufactures seem to be marketing their new models to the faster, high-performance crowd rather than the 50” crowd. One reason for this is the very real possibility that the government ‘power’s that be,’ the CSPC is more than likely to be coming out very soon with standards for the UTV/SxS market. And rumor has it that the CSPC thinks that 50” width is too narrow and therefore too dangerous for a side by side machine. And thus they will be banned. I learned long ago not to try to figure out the actions of the bureaucracy.

But I get off course. My point was to talk about the consequences of this burgeoning new market. Wait a minute! Let me digress just to say that I really do love these machines – it’s just that they have their place, and the Paiute Trail is not the place.

Why is that? The damage they do. They harm our image due to their high-speed riding which results in more dust on the trails and perhaps more importantly, around the residents near the trails. They also damage our image due to the fact that they are more often modified with loud exhaust systems – something that is pointed to as the single most likely method to irritate non-off-roaders and close access to our trails. And, they damage the trails because of their higher speed and more aggressive driving. Then on a more particular note, they damage the trails because they have a wider track than ATVs and therefore create a trail not just wider than needed for a ATV, but wide enough for many full-sized off road vehicles.

So the manufactures make more large, high-speed vehicles and the businesses that cater to the area trails need every rider they can get to make ends meet. What are we to do?

It might just be that by marketing to the higher speed, larger vehicle crowd, we are actually chasing away the ATV riders that made the Paiute Trail what it is. My guess is that fewer scenic ATV riders are willing to risk riding the same trails that the bigger and faster machines use.

My answer? (And you thought I’d never get here;-) Make the Paiute Trail for 50” machines only. Market the trail to 50” users. Market the trail for its scenic value. Leave the big, fast and loud crowd out of the brochures and videos promoting the area. And on a rather separate note, use the money spent to overly groom the trails to install 50” gates.

And for those of you saying you need this new crowd and new machines to pay your bills, I say, “How long do you want to have your business?” The answer is ‘sustainability’. The Paiute Trail is not immune to the same forces that have closed so many other areas to back country travel.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Paiute Trail in the Snow!

 Come the end of September, most folks park their ATV in the garage under the boxes of christmas lights and ornaments, and curl up on the couch and watch past episodes of 24, the NFL, or (hopefully!) sit with their computer on their laps and read about ATVs!

Well let me tell you, just because the temperature drops and there's some snow on the ground doesn't mean you have to stop riding!

While much of the higher elevation trails are now covered with snow that's deep enough to keep you from comfortably exploring them, and others with many downed trees blocking the trail, there are still many, many miles of trails that are waiting to be enjoyed.

While I'm not a big fan of riding in the mud, there is unfortunately some to be found on the trails between the elevations of damp dirt and snow. But not all that much, and if you are one of those folks that know about the advantages of keeping your tires within the confines of the fenders of your machine it's not all that much of a problem ;-)

So right now there are still way more miles of trails than you have the time to ride, open and ready to be discovered. And I say 'discovered' because with a little bit of snow, every trail takes on a whole new character. There is nothing better than putting the first set of tracks on a trail. And every trail looks like a new one when there's snow on them. Plus, they take on a whole new feel - they are both smoother and more challenging.

Oh, and travel with a friend, because chances are you won't see another rider all day!

It's awesome! Maybe I'll see you out there.......

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dear Mr. Forest Service

Dear Mr. Service, et. al.

For years I have practiced riding behavior that I felt was the best for preserving the wonderful back country environment that I love so much. That meant riding quietly on the trails. It meant staying on the trails. It meant going so far as to not even run overly aggressive tires so not to overly damage the trails and create added erosion. Treading lightly!

For many years I have spent my time attempting to transfer these principles for treating our environment kindly as a duty - a service (so to speak). I hoped that as others realized how important it was to protect our wonderful back country we would see s difference.

I now question why I bothered with any of this.

Several weeks ago I rode one of the most incredible and pristine 2-track ATV trails I have come across in a very long time. It wandered for several miles through incredible country. Unfortunately at one point I came across a gate that stopped my travel by ATV. Although I couldn’t understand the reason for this closure, I obeyed. I even questioned the tactics of other trail users that attempted to show their disdain for the needless closure.

Today I look out and watch it all burn. Yes, it was a lightning strike, a natural cause, but your decision to let it burn has not only cost us taxpayers many MILLIONS of dollars more than if you had put it out when you had the opportunity, but it has now burned through many more acres of pristine wilderness, including the very trail you had closed off to me so I wouldn’t damage the environment. I now question your judgment, and wonder why I bothered not going ahead and riding onward. What difference would it have made in the end? I trusted your judgment and yet I now realize you didn’t have my interests at heart at all. It was merely control.

I more recently took a ride up to what had been a wonderful high country lake only to find it had been fenced off to use by ATVs. No longer could I ride to the shore of this small lake and park my ATV and have lunch with my (handicapped) daughter. It was crudely fenced and gated. And all quite ugly actually. Much uglier than the ATV tracks I’d seen on the shore before. Or even the trash I’d seen there left from campers. I can pick up the trash left by the idiot inbreeds and haul it out. I’m rather certain I can’t dismantle your fence and haul it out without spending some time in a small grey room with free meals. I question you again as to whose interests you had in mind when you made the decision to fence this lake. I’m rather certain if you had my daughter’s and my interest at heart, you wouldn’t have made it impossible for me to get her to the shore. We didn’t eat our lunch on that wonderful shore that day thanks to you. But I left wondering why I paid you to do something so against what I wanted?

I then rode further down the trail only to find several big pieces of machinery working through the forest. They were cutting down trees. Nice trees. Not the hundreds of trees dying to the bark beetle. Nope. These were healthy trees. And the machines went wherever they wanted, leaving tracks much more severe than my ATV ever could. Or all the ATVs I've seen on the trail as a matter of fact! They also left fuel and oil spills – something I know I have never done. I questioned you again. Is this what I wanted? Who wanted this? I rode on the existing trail, keeping the area clean all these times only so you could do this? 

Once again I set out to explore another wonderful 2-track trail I had ridden just last year. When I got to the trailhead, it had been, ah, changed. Once again, you had spent my hard-earned money to close this trail to my use. But you didn’t just set a gate to limit travel. Or even a 50" gate to limit the type of vehicles. Nope. You used a piece of heavy equipment and destroyed it. And scarred this beautiful area. Once again you spent my hard-earned tax dollars doing more damage to the environment to keep me out than I could have done in many years of riding the trail!

Shame on you! I hired you to manage this great backcountry area for my kids, and myself and even paid you well to do it. Let me also remind you that while I may someday get older and have to stop working, when you stop working for me (us), we will continue to pay you! How can this be?

How can I have hired someone who works so against me rather than for me?

I question you. Why is it that I’m such a bad person that you must close trails to my use, only so you can then let then burn, bulldoze them over, rape them, or let dying cattle lay on them and rot? Oh, that’s right! I struggled to get to the fencing I paid to have you install, having had to ride past a rotting, maggot-infested carcass of a dead cow. Don’t remove that. Nor the trash. Just spend thousands of my tax dollars building an ugly fence to keep me out!

So let me get this straight. I pay you, but you tell me what I can and cannot do? I pay you and yet you do not protect the riding areas that I want preserved? I pay you, but yet you call me bad on the environment? All this while you destroy trails with bull dozers rather than let me ride on them, let fires burn through pristine trails, all the while costing me more money than I wanted to spend had you put it out when it started, rather than let me ride on them? I pay you to build fences around lakes rather than let me ride to them? And this while knowing full well that cleaning up the trash would cost less, and look better than what you did?

I didn’t hire you for this! How long would Home Depot remain in business if you went in and paid for the material to rebuild your kitchen and although they took your money, they said all you could do was have new dishtowels? Or worse yet, hired a contractor to remodel your kitchen and they put up barricades to keep you out. They tore down your kitchen while you ate TV dinners in the family room? I say not long.

So let me get this straight one last time – I can’t ride there, but you can bulldoze it, fence it, cut it down, let rotting carcasses lay, and burn it all down, and that’s okay?

And through all this, you want me to pay you? How do you sleep at night?


Maybe two!

Yes, two!

Monday, July 19, 2010

EV's - The future of the Trails

If you haven't read the ATV Television Blog entitled, "I've seen the future" please do. That way you'll understand this one much better.

I now have sitting here outside my office, a new Polaris Ranger EV (Electric Vehicle). And guess what? It is quiet! So quiet that I can here my passenger talking to me. And I can answer back without ending up hoarse. In fact it's so quiet I can here the stream flowing beside me as I drive along. I can also here those dastardly fossil fuel powered wheelers coming long before I can even see them.

I can also here the wind in the trees, the deer running up the bank, and the sound of thunder off in the distance. I hear the birds singing and the rocks from the tires flipping up into the air.

I can also see the smiles on the faces of all (okay most) of those that pass by. I see wildlife startled at not hearing me coming from far away.

And I see the future of back country travel where peace and love abound. Okay, whoa, that went a bit far, but I do see a future where vehicle travel disrupts the forrest and the community around the forrest far less than now.

Of course there's a lot of things that just don't work on the EV, for one, it's slow. For another, it doesn't go very far.

But what I do see is the advantages of the quiet operation of a UTV. Perhaps we need to mandate electric vehicles for operation on all our trails?

Or maybe all we need to do is ride more responsibly on what we have.

Slower, quieter trail use is an amazingly wonderful experience I can assure you.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Treading Lightly on our Trails

"We ride to have a great time, not to make great time." (An adaptation of a comment from Sally, in the movie Cars!)

When it comes to the promotion of trail systems there seems to be endless amounts of energy and resources spent getting people to come see it and ride it and far less thought given to who exactly is being invited to experience that particular paradise. It seems more than short-sighted, perhaps even irresponsible to promote an area without giving due thought to the impact that promotion has on the environment.

Whoa, what's this(?), an off roader that's worried about the environment? Ha! Now there's an oxymoron! Well, it shouldn't be. Us so-called 'off-roaders' should be very concerned about the environment we enjoy. We need to be increasingly careful in our use of the great back country that we love to explore so that we can continue to enjoy it into the future - the future where our kids and grandkids will be able to enjoy it too! The key word here is 'sustainability!'

It seems rather obvious that some trail users are considerably more harmful on the trails, to the trails, to the surrounding areas, and therefore most especially to our desire to keep our wonderful trail systems open! Who you ask are these harmful users? It seems so obvious it shouldn't need to be said.

First let me say it's not necessarily always a 'who' that's bad for the trails, but more often a 'what'. And like in so many cases, these are generalities. That means that there are exceptions to each. So if you're reading this and you're the 'exception' don't tell me, tell all the others that you are the exception from!

* Speed is bad. Speed of course is a relative term, but there is a point where too much speed is not only extremely dangerous to other trail users but also to the trail itself, as the spinning and sliding tires dig up the trails causing more dust, more ruts, and more erosion. Speed and dust is also known to be a rather unpleasant greeting to other trail users.

* Which means that sport quads are bad. Although it's not impossible to enjoy scenic trails on a sport machine, the typical sport ATV rider is usually more concerned with enjoying the thrill of riding than being thrilled, enjoying the ride.

* So too are most motorcycles. They necessarily require more speed to ride and their single rear tire spins most of the time leaving a smaller and more pronounced rut. Someone once mentioned that the fewer driven wheels a vehicle has, the more damage it does to the terrain. It may also be said that the fewer driven wheels a vehicle has, the less the operator is looking around enjoying the scenery.

* Aggressive tires are also destructive to the trails. We've tested plenty of different tires and types of tires over the years and the outcome was always that deep-lugged mud and snow tires were not only unnecessary for regular trail riding but not even necessary for mild mud or snow conditions. Of course non-spinning aggressive tires may well do less damage than the mad spinning of more regular treaded tires.

* Noise. Loud machines are irritating to everyone from other campers nearby, home and property owners you pass along the way, and of course the wildlife. And let's not forget to mention the interruption to the serenity of anyone stopped along the trail enjoying the scenery.

* Trash. It never ceases to amaze me how selfish or just plain ignorant many people are concerning trash along the trails. Do they not see it or do they just not care about seeing it. So I'll assume that those not concerned with the beauty of our trails are not concerned with riding beautiful trails. In which case I say stay home.

Did I sound mean, or selfish? Let me just say one more time that the key to being able to continue to ride our trails is sustainability. Keep them clean, keep them environmentally friendly, and keep the other trail users happy.

Of course I imagine if you are reading this I'm preaching to the choir - so-to-speak.

Happy trails -

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Paiute Trail Guides

Well, we did it! We finally made the leap and decided to offer our services as guides on the Paiute Trail system.

We'll keep you up to date as we get more information ready.

Until then —

Monday, July 5, 2010

"Secret Trails"

There are few experiences that I enjoy more than exploring new areas, finding new trails, and seeing new sights! Although it's true that the changing weather and the passing of time can change often-used trails enough to make them a new experience, there is just nothing like traveling over a trail that hasn't been ridden by the crowds!

And so it was that I rode a trail that was not only new to me, but was trackless and most likely had not been ridden by anyone since at least last summer.

A secret trail!

Like many, the 'secret' part of the trail dead ends after just a couple miles, but when put together with the trails to and from can still make a 25 mile loop and a wonderful way to spend 6 hours.

We'll keep you informed as things develop, but we continue to work on a plan to offer a guide service so that those of you that want to explore the same Paiute area trails you've seen us ride, can. We hope to not only be able to take a few riders up to some of the best trails we've found, but also some of those 'secret' trails we've discovered.

Stay tuned —

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Paiute Trails are Opening UP!!!!

We've been spending more time on the trails now that things are warming up!

And that also means that if you have tires that extend out past your 'protective' fenders you're gonna get dirty!

But there are also a lot of the trails that are 'mostly' dry and beautiful as only Springtime in the mountains can be.

But be careful as with the trails very wet they are easy to tear up with aggressive tires and aggressive riding. So please TREAD LIGHTLY.

There are great things about every season on the high country trails. While Fall is overwhelming in its beautiful colors, and Summer is the chance to get up out of the heat of the lower elevations, Spring is the season for budding trees and grasses, and the runoff, which means water everywhere and oftentimes quite challenging stream crossings!

Stay tuned as we prepare some more trail pictures...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Deer Creek Trail Conditions

The snow is finally melting at the lower elevations. If these pictures don't make you want to ride, you should sell your ATV!

But it's leaving plenty of downed trees that need to be removed.

Fortunately there are plenty of 'early explorers' willing and eager to put the first tracks of the season on the trail. (Same spot with the tree removed)
But why is it that the snow lingers the longest on the trail?

Although currently only open about 5 miles up, Deer Creek is still a beautiful ride!
Please remember that if you are riding beyond the last rider's tracks, please stay on the existing trail!

All these wonderful photos are courtesy of the Lone Rider.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Paiute Trail Picture(s) of the Day

Another picture from the Lone rider's exploration of the Dry Creek Trail. We are so thankful that some people take time out of their busy schedule to explore the trail conditions so that others can sit around and wait for the absolute 'perfect' trail conditions thereby not having to ride one day more, or one mile longer than absolutely necessary ;-)

This is a waterfall from the heavy snow run off. Gee, it's too bad more of us aren't needed to check out trail conditions. . .