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Share Your HopJoy: Meet John

Hi! I’m a trail gnome!

What this means in practice is I'm a mountain biker who carries (some) trail tools with me – notably a Silky Katanaboy saw and a Gerber E-Tool (a folding shovel) – and, as happenstance to a ride, will take care of what (minor) trail problems I encounter. Anything I can’t – too big, can’t do it safely, … – I document it (with photos) and alert the Land Manager (LM), the guy/gal in charge of that riding area. Of course, if I DO take care of it, I also document it and alert the LM, just cuz that’s good practice.

So what does this actually look like? Well, one morning (I like riding at sunrise), I rode upon a double blowdown completely blocking the trail. The problem with leaving it: the very next person coming upon it – rider, hiker, dog-pooper, it doesn’t matter – will do what people want to do: go around it. This creates what’s known as a “trail braid” – a beaten path around an obstacle. Essentially, it moves the trail someplace it doesn’t belong, which since the whole point of having trails in the first place is to focus impact in one specific location, means you’re extending it beyond, perhaps onto something delicate. So the goal is to get the original line reopened if at all possible, and as quickly as possible (and close any odd braid that had formed).

It's work - I'm usually really dirty/sweaty/stinky when I'm done (so it's a Good Thing there's Hoplark waiting for me post-ride). But the privilege of riding comes with the responsibility of stewardship, and that is its own reward.

Wanna learn more? Check out John's blog!

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