One of the numerous personality inventories I took when learning psychology and counseling left me with the label of “trailblazer.” There wasn’t room in the inventory to note that’s only an approximation. I don’t cut many paths through raw wilderness, but tend to rediscover old trails long neglected.
Here in Central Oklahoma, there is precious little land in its natural state. Indeed, a century ago, most of this area was open grassland, with a few copses of scrub oak and cedar. Over the last hundred years, the natural moisture level here has risen some, but man-made ponds have exploded in numbers. There is not a single natural lake in this state. Almost every ranch or farm has a pond made at one time by damming a flow, even if that flow is purely seasonal. We also have a penchant for open lagoon sewage treatment. Thus, available ground water has risen sharply in the last few decades.
Where there is more water, there are more trees. Thus, fallow land here, especially where it is hilly, is covered with young forest and attendant underbrush. Much of the land near me has been cultivated at one time or another within the last 50 years. While the expensive housing developments are exploding faster than farm ponds, the current economic pinch has halted a lot of speculation in that area. The trailer park where I live uses a lagoon system, and adjacent is an abandoned farm, which runs into a hilly forest that at one time had a few paths bulldozed in those cutesy curvy street layouts. Those paths are now head-high in grasses, shrubs and thorny vine thickets.
The property is already currently being invaded by four-wheelers and some kids leaving litter here and there. I try to pack out the trash when I pass through, but my primary intent was to detect much older trails now overgrown. I don’t intend to cut new trails, but simply clear the ones already existing for mountain bike use.
Tomorrow, I’ll lay out a few principles involved in minimal impact trail finding.