Share the trail: Not enough to go around
June 8, 2017
We have tried for years to chase the success of places like Summit County for the tourist and the tourist dollar drawn to their trails, lakes and mountains. We reach out to hikers, mountain bikers, boaters and many other outdoor enthusiasts saying Come to Grand county and see what we have here to enjoy. Grand County is endowed with beautiful scenery, incredible mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, and public lands to the envy of many other places. One of our biggest assets is the incredible system of trails we have built over the years that take us to our magic places.
But there are never enough trails to go around.
Many user groups must share the same path. Programs have been written across the country to encourage the various groups to exist together. Signage appears everywhere but do people hear or see? Share the trail campaigns have sprung up in mountain communities filled with avid mountain bikers, hikers and horsemen yearning to get outside and claim their part of the mountains.
Mid-week traffic on our local trails is still reasonable but weekends can get crowded. A friend recounted her experience last weekend riding the busy Fraser river trail. While casually riding her bicycle and enjoying the sounds of the birds and the waters flowing in the creek, she encountered a tourist family with two smaller children who were wandering back and forth across the 10 foot wide path. She wasn't riding very fast and was able to easily stop and speak to the kids warning them that they need to be aware of other people using the trail. But the father got angry and worried that this intruder was bothering his family and spoke angrily to her, succeeding only in frightening his own kids. What would you have done?
With limited areas to recreate, people need to be aware that it is our responsibility to share what we have and be tolerant of other user groups. We need to be constantly aware that there may be others around the next corner. Rules of the trail indicate that pedestrians yield to horses, and bikers yield to both pedestrians and horsemen. Dogs are welcome on many trails but need to be kept under control either by leash or voice command and owners need to understand that some people have fears and allergies. If you need to ride fast, a populated in-town trail with families, dogs, and small kids is not the appropriate place. Please use common sense and common courtesy dealing with others. Use encounters to learn about people and nature. As a community, we want to see people get outside and enjoy our most precious resource – the beauty of a flower, the stillness of a deer, the flight of the fragile butterfly, the power of the elements, the gentleness of a trained horse, the smell of the air after a rain. These are but a few of the ways that nature speaks to us.
Together we can exist and still be able to see what nature has for us to see. We need the share our trails and special places and be aware that these belong to all of us to enjoy. We need to be aware of the presence of others and know that our space ends where their space begins. As the population of the world grows, our space gets smaller and smaller. Common courtesy and respect for others goes a long way toward making this valley a draw to visitors and a desirable permanent population as well.
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Let's start the summer season off right. Share the trail. Be aware of your surroundings. Show common courtesy to those around us. What goes around comes back around. And that includes the tourist – the major livelihood of the Fraser Valley.