I bought a set of cross-country skis a couple weeks ago, happily in time for the storms to hit. But I work until 5 and finding time after work when ...
April showers bring May flowers, but actually, in Fort Collins, there can be everything from heavy snow to 60 degree days from now until mid-May. While Larimer County reports trails being closed only about 30 days a year, it’s going to feel like trails are are closed all the time starting right about meow. Primarily, this is why:
Even thought it might be a great day today, it wasn’t necessarily yesterday or last week, and our fragile, clay trails could still need a good drying out.
Even for seasoned rangers, trail conditions can be hard to predict. Imagine you are a ranger who gets up at 7am to a frozen trail (ok, no problem, you can run on a frozen trail). But by 9am (when the weekend crowd is already at the trail head) the sun has suddenly come out from behind the clouds and created a beautiful, but sloppy, muddy day. And you know your trail is going to be a trench by the end of it. Should you have closed it preemptively or not? Hmmm. Tough call.
So if rangers don’t always know, how are you supposed to know when it’s OK to be out on the trails and when you need to find something else to do?
It’s not that easy for anyone, is the real answer. But by knowing a few things about mud season, you can estimate much, much better.
I had the opportunity to tag along with the City of Fort Collins and Larimer county for an afternoon this week and have some tips for avoiding the deaded I-Already-Drove-Here-Now-What? scenario.
First. Understand that most of our trail are clay trails, which means they hold water for quite a long time. To give you an idea of what I mean by “quite a long time”, here’s what Towers Road looked like the day after a half an inch of rain. This isn’t even a trail, this is a well-drained service road that spends most of the day in the sunlight:
How does trail damage happen? It’s actually not from walking all over the mud that’s already there. When this yucky-ness is the trail, what’s the first thing you do? Go around. Which is when the real problem begins. When you go around and the person after you and the person after them goes around the mud, you effectively expand trail, trampling vegetation that absorbs water and creating a kind of bowl for water to sit in. Soon, you have a three-foot wide mud soup that takes even longer to dry out than before.
So what if the trail gets damaged? They can fix it.
This is probably the most alarming thing I didn’t know was a real thing: Trail Urbanization.
Trail urbanization happens when so much of the natural composition of the trail has been removed via users tracking it out on their boots (remember the 1.2 million here, stick with me) and the trail has to be built back up with materials, like road gravel and sand and other materials that actually have no ecological place on our parks!!! They can bring in noxious weeds, which is a huge problem. Trust me, I know, I spent an entire summer pulling them from sites in the area during a very long and uncomfortable summer as a CSU Ag department intern.
Do you really want all your trails to be made out of expensive and unnatural road materials? Oh, you don’t want to pay to for that? Or see it on every mountain? I didn’t think so. So to protect our resources and drastically reduce the cost of the natural areas maintenance, here’s what you as a responsible citizen need to do before you drive out to the trails:
1. Pay attention to the weather, if there’s been any precipitation, check before you go.
2. If it’s a city park, call their on-duty ranger for closure information: (970) 416-2147
3. If it’t a county park, check facebook or twitter page for closure information. Often rangers can report there from the field with their cell phone, whereas updating the county trail conditions web page requires they be back to the office.
4. Keep in mind that city parks (primarily foothills locations like Reservoir Ridge, Pineridge, Maxwell, Soapstone, and Bobcat) are typically the first to close. These locations see about 1.2 million users every year (WAAAT? Yes.), which is a LOT of traffic. Because increased traffic to these areas, they see increased trail damage.
Both the city and county are looking for ways to keep you better informed of trail closures, by sending out notifications via text message and email. So keep that in mind when you’re voting this fall, because the county has a ballot item you should consider. More on that later.
Have a great weekend and don’t despair! We have a great paved trails for you to explore, too!
Fire in the dead of winter is, somehow, not that strange a thing in Northern Colorado. We’ve had some surprisingly bad ones in the past, despite the fact that if feels as if the entire state gets covered in a 5 foot layer of snow for half the year. Feels like…..this is not actually the case. But in any case, we have had a winter fire the last week or so over by Reservoir Ridge trail, which closed the trail for the afternoon.
I went out there to check out the damage from the fire:
This is from near the top of the ridge. See that black area among all the other brown grass? That was the fire. Not terribly large (A official acreage was not listed), and it was never out of control. The sheriff’s department reported the fire being caused by arching power lines. So, that (fortunately) is all there was to it.
Chances are that if you’re reading this blog, you enjoy being active and healthy. You not only enjoy exploring the outdoors, but the physical exertion and adrenaline high that you get from pushing your physical limits.
Maybe you enjoy it so much you want to teach other people how to run a marathon, scale a mountain, or have the physical endurance to bike around Fort Collins?
Well, I have something for you then. I’m excited to announce that US Career Institute is a new sponsor here on Fresh Air Fort Collins. USCI is one of the largest distance-learning institutions in the nation, offering career-focused, flexible, accredited and affordable certificate and degree programs – including a personal training certification program.
The cool thing is that it’s really flexible. So, if you’re stuck in an office job that you want to get out of, you can take the personal training certification courses at home and at your own pace. It’s affordable, so much that you can make $49 monthly payments if you need to. And, can take as little as four months to complete.
While they’re at it, USCI’s program makes you eligible to take the NCSF exam so that you’re the real certified deal, and they will pay for your study materials and exam fees that are valued at $300 as a program graduation gift. Seriously. That’s pretty sweet.
If you’re interested in a career that makes people harder, better, faster, and stronger, and taps into your outdoor enthusiasm – go check out their personal training program. Let them know you’re a Fresh Air reader, too! Their advertising support helps!