Let’s get one thing straight – trail building is one thing, but fixing and maintaining them is on a completely different level, and we could be closer to losing our trails than we realize.
There’s an unofficial, unwritten code mountain bikers don’t just abide by, it’s in their DNA – take care of what you love, and it’ll love you back. For them, it’s not an option, but a requirement, to keep our trails sacred and preserved.
On the morning of May 28, the city of Pocatello’s Parks and Recreation Department loaded-up a team of CBI Bikes volunteers with: shovels, pickaxes, reseeding material, and a pat on the back, before we set-out to rebuild one of the city’s most popular trail systems.
Earlier in April, frustrated trail enthusiasts noticed people were digging-up large, heavy rocks along parts of City Creek, particularly near the Death Valley portion of the trail. The city placed these rocks there on purpose to stop erosion and prevent the destruction of one of Pocatello’s most iconic, well-known features.
Our team was shocked to see someone also dug-out a large portion of dirt, creating a hazardous cornice in one section. Nearby, someone built a fire pit under a Juniper tree, which is notorious for being extremely flammable.
On June 28, 2012, the Charlotte Fire destroyed 66 homes in Pocatello, and devastated the community. Fire officials have since warned about Juniper trees’ high flammability, which contributed to this massively destructive fire.
The CBI Bikes team spent hours filling-in and reseeding the areas someone dug-up, while we also replaced the rocks someone removed from the trail, and rebuilt the land around it to make sure the area is safe from erosion. Our main concern was making sure our efforts to preserve the trail won’t be undone.
City officials believe someone came out with a set of tools and specifically dug-up these critical features, thinking they may have been helping.
Besides building a fire pit under a Juniper tree, this is probably the worst idea.
With the influx of hikers and bikers hitting the trail this past year, along with the spring rain storms and snow runoff, trails are seeing damage at a faster rate than crews are able to fix them.
“When water hits these rocks, it’s almost as if it’s hitting the ‘reset’ button for the trail,” Pocatello Parks and Recreation Outdoor Supervisor Lance Clark explained. He added, most people don’t realize the federal government gave City Creek to the city as a watershed. So, if the city is not able to maintain that area up to federal standards, the government can take it back. But, with minimal federal funding coming in to help, or enough manpower and resources to keep up, the city’s hands are tied.
City officials are not the only ones feeling exasperated.
Bikers, hikers, families, and visitors who take advantage of the City Creek trail system, also know how rare it is to have such a remarkable feature within the community. If that’s taken away, everyone suffers.
The other problem — getting people to volunteer.
However, social media communities made-up of bikers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts, are continuously growing and bringing attention to these issues. Thanks to groups such as the more than 7,100 member “Pocatello Trails” Facebook page, strangers are coming together to spread awareness about how critical it is for everyone to be maintaining our trails.
One of the first questions people ask when they visit Pocatello is, “What is there to do around here?” And most people usually respond, “Hike up City Creek!” This is usually followed by some personal anecdotal reason as to why that hike is so worth it.
Hit one of the City Creek trails any time of the year, and you’ll see people of all ages hiking, biking, or even snowshoeing past you. No matter what sort of day you’ve had or how lonely you’ve been feeling this past year, these trails somehow manage to wipe all of that away, by connecting us through our love for finding peace in whatever capacity.
For many, peace is a form of escape.
The team at CBI Bikes knows this drive to tap into whatever sense of adventure fuels your own, personal happiness. For us, it’s about putting those shocks to the test by hopping on a Rocky Mountain bike and flying down a sick rock bed before hitting a sweet jump. For some, it’s about making yourself work for “it” with that uphill push, knowing you earned your sweat and stripes. For others, it’s about a gentle ride to soak-up those brief moments you finally get to yourself.
Losing this feature would take away the one place people find freedom and the connective tissue holding us together.
Protect what we all love, and we’ll have a chance to love it for one heck of a long time.