I’ve got some emotional investment in the flooding that’s gone on over Colorado’s Front Range foothills this past week. We lived there. My old position will be seriously affected by all the damage. That makes me glad I’m not there anymore, but it also has me wishing I could be back in the middle of it all so I’d know more about what was going on. I felt this way when we lived in Colorado and the tornado struck West Liberty, Kentucky.
The magnitude of the impacts didn’t hit me until Salvagetti posted a photo of Apex Gulch in Golden on Facebook. The singletrack trail was under a chocolate deluge. And most likely that trail has been utterly destroyed. As have so many others. Too many.
Earlier during the news stories I kept thinking about the impacts to the urban and suburban cycling infrastructure, and believe it or not I hadn’t considered the impact to the mountain biking in the area.
|Chimney Gulch Trail where it intersects Lookout Mountain Road|
So much energy and time will have to be dedicated to repairing the crucial infrastructure. I know volunteers will dig in and start fixing up the singletrack trails, but I also know this rebuilding process is going to take some time. I know that there are trails that will be necessarily neglected for a long time. For an area that has a wealth of such trails it is both a tragedy and a comfort. There are alternatives. Cyclists have options there.
It gives a bit of perspective to those areas that may not have such a robust trail network. Get busy! Build those alternates. If your favorite local trail is the only one, or one of a small handful, then this kind of catastrophe could wipe out all of your hard work in one fell swoop. And when the community is focused on rebuilding homes and public structures the recreational trails will have to take a back seat.
A while back Fatty tweeted that a wildfire and subsequent rain storm destroyed one of his favorite trails. In years past I had favorite hiking trails be seriously damaged or impeded by forest fires and wind storms. Long term erosion can obliterate a good trail as well.
We need to consider all of these things when envisioning, designing and building trails. We should plan for them to be resilient. We should consider placement and structure. We should do these things even knowing that trails fit best into the urban and suburban fabric in floodplains and other fringe areas that often get hit hardest by “natural” disasters.
Knowing it, we should build many trails. Trails are good. Trails get us into the outdoors and make us healthy and happy.
I’ve said what I can. I can’t dedicate too much emotional energy to the Front Range’s plight because I live in a place that suffers from trail poverty. Oh, we have hiking trails out the wazoo. We just don’t have much good quality legal mountain bike trails. We don’t have any multi-use paths or urban bike/ped infrastructure worth mentioning. That’s something I want to change.