Home, April 14, 2020 — As the debate about when America can go back to work stutters along, I’ve been wondering when trail maintainers can start digging dirt again. We want to work too. Time’s a wasting.
I am under no illusion that someone is going to flip a magic switch and the world will shift from black and white to living color regardless of the political pyrotechnics. The virus doesn’t care.
Until there is an effective vaccine, COVID-19 can be a potentially mortal threat to anyone who catches it. Respect alone for this potential will certainly cause some people to avoid crowds and certain public places.
Nevertheless, at some point the parks and trails will reopen to the public. People think they’re far from others when they are in the woods as if civilization can’t follow them there. It’s an attractive illusion, so they’ll be back.
For one, I’d like to have the trails safe and ready when they come.
The problem is that the trail you tidy up in the fall …
… looks very different in the spring.
Between now and when the people come back, nature will be hard at work. Spring has sprung and the weeds are growing. It won’t be long before they take over the joint unless they are cut back.
Why worry about weeds? They are the way ticks carrying Lyme disease get to hikers. Lyme disease or COVID-19? Each is ugly in its own way.
Weeds are only one of the jobs that need to be done in the spring.
The tread itself needs maintenance. Water control structures silt up or rot over the winter. A bear destroyed this one. This waterbar has to be cleaned and rebuilt. It’s clear from the detritus that it’s no longer effective.
Blowdowns also have to be cleared.
We’ve has several howling windstorms recently which increase the probability of finding blown down branches as well as tree trunks.
Everyone I know is itching to get a jump on spring maintenance before hikers return. Trail maintainers like nothing better than packing up for an honest day’s work, although I despise the two-hour drive each way.
The tool caches are ready. With the people gone, we could get a lot done when it’s easy to maintain safe social distance. Maintainers in our area are spread about one to two miles apart.
But, like they say, the trail will be there when the time comes. True dat. Meanwhile, I’m on the bench yelling, “Put me in coach!” Where’s coach? He’s sheltering at home just like the rest of us.