Monday, April 15, 2013

oh, behave!

Sunday was yet another sunny spring day for Anchorage. I spent the morning finishing my final project for a class I'm taking and then decided to head off to the park for a short loop on my snow bike. It was noon and, though the air was warming, the snowy trails remained firm and wonderful for biking or for skiing.

I pedaled up the trail thinking about bears that would soon be ambling out of hibernation; about work and how most of my customers are lots of fun to help with only the occasional "Mr Know-it All" to make me roll my eyes and wonder who he's trying to impress: me or his girlfriend. I came across lots of other people out enjoying the early afternoon. Runners, dog walkers, skiers, some other bikers. I tried to yield the trail if I saw the others first, but sometimes runners were quick to step aside; we exchanged greetings and continued on our ways.
Artist Unknown.
Shortly after passing a rather large group of cyclists, some of whom I knew, I arrived at one of the trailhead parking lots. On a hunch, I took a look around at the license plates on the cars, searching for a vanity plate that had been mentioned during a discussion at a recent trail-user meeting.

Earlier this month, while I was at a the monthly meeting at the BLM, an equestrian told another cyclist and me that some other snow bikers had been very rude, cursing & admonishing some equestrians because their horses were "wrecking" the snowy trails. She told us what the couple's vanity plate said. I wrote it down and wondered who it was. On Sunday, when I was riding through the parking lot, I saw the plate. I saw a business name decal on the rear window. I knew who the car belonged to. It was a couple I'd just seen on the trail; people known to be active in the bike community.

After making my discovery, I kept riding as the trail got rougher from divots kicked up by some horse hooves. I tried to ride the smoothest line, but it was somewhat rough. Yep; the snow was kind of torn up.  Soon, I met a pair of equestrians. I got off my bike to make room for them on the narrow trail. Before they rode past, they warned me about a mother moose and calf on the trail ahead that had compelled them to turn around.
I thanked them, got back on my bike and continued up the trail.

Soon I came across one of the moose browsing on the side of the trail. The other was out of sight. I called to the moose in the high sing-song voice I reserve for wild animals, just to make sure it knew I was there. When I turned back to retrace my route, I heard cracking branches nearby. Now I was between them! I stepped off the firm trail and started hiking through knee-deep snow to get around the younger moose (wishing I'd worn my gaitors to keep the snow from spilling into my boots). Just a few feet into my detour, the youngster decided to follow his mother off the trail and I was on my way.

Some other moose on another day.
As I pedaled up the trail, I thought of all the encounters I'd had that day: people who'd made way for me; others whom I'd allowed to get past me. An old dog who wasn't about to step off a narrow trail, for whom I walked my bike, front wheel high in the air to wheel by him. The runners whose shoes probably filled with snow when then stepped off the trail to wait for some bikers, some friends I'd seen twice since we seemed to be riding the same loop, but in opposite directions.

It's all pretty easy, you know? It can be very civil and even a little charming. We say thank you, no problem, beautiful day, wonderful sunshine. Me? I'm just happy that I'm back on my bike and that we still have winter in the woods while it's springtime in the streets. If you're out riding, skiing, hiking, snowshoeing or horseback riding and you're angry at other folks and creatures on the trail, you're doing it wrong. 

Though I will make exceptions if the creature is threatening to attack.


Gus said...

Thanks, Rose. I like your frame of mind.

Wildfiretales2013 said...

Very very well said! Thank you! Lets all relax and enjoy! Here it is late summer and I can't wait to get my Fatback off the dirt and onto snow trails.