Volunteers key to building, maintaining trails

 

By Teri Vance

Johanna Foster, an ecologist and adjunct biology professor at Western Nevada College, moved to Carson City a year ago. The first organization she joined was Muscle Powered. She believes in Muscle Powered’s mission to create more walkable and bikeable community. “I love being outdoors and hiking, just being around nature,” she said. “Human beings need to be connected to open space. People will protect the environment if they understand it. They’re interested in protecting what they know.” Foster recently joined the group on an outing to repair the Ash to Kings Canyon Trail in the mountains west of town. “This is such a treasure we have in Carson City,” Foster said. “In 15 minutes from town, you’re walking in the wilds.” The 7-mile trail will be the centerpiece of this year’s Carson City Off-Road mountain bike race as the trails around Lake Tahoe are still covered in snow. Crew leader Oliver Lieder said the race, part of the Epic Rides series, is a testament to the work volunteers have done to create and maintain the three-year-old trail. “I think it’s surreal and exciting at the same time,” Lieder said. “It’s really cool they chose this area for the race, it wouldn’t be here without the trail, I don’t think.” Volunteer crews have been working to repair the trail after damage caused by heavy snowfall, and rain.

 

“A mudslide put about three feet of mud on the trail,” said Jeff Potter, who initiated the building the trail and organizes volunteers. “The water kept running, creating a channel which undercut below and gave way. That’s not fun for riders.” Potter said they expect to have 2,000 trips on the trail during the race. Muscle Powered is working with Epic Rides to get signs printed and installed to warn riders of upcoming turns. “You come into these turns hot and you’re concerned about your time,” Potter said.” If you don’t know they’re coming, you’re going to have some skid turns.” Epic Rides is helping Muscle Powered maintain area trails with the Hail the Trail fundraiser, raffling off three mountain bikes. The proceeds from the raffle with benefit trail-building organizations — including Muscle Powered — in the three communities that host races for Epic Rides.

 

“Single-track trails don’t just appear as if by magic,” said Randy Gaa, Muscle Powered secretary. “There are years of planning, permitting, and back-breaking work that go into building a trail system. When an organization like Epic Rides offers to help out with financial support, it’s always a big deal, helping move a lot of the process forward so that the entire community can enjoy the outdoors.” Lieder, who met Potter while out on the trails in Carson City, has jointed Potter in the effort to build the trail since they broke ground in 2012. He said his motivations are similar to Potter’s.

“I wanted to be out on the trails that were close to my home, “ Lieder said. “Jeff’s vision for this has been wonderful.” Dave Johnson, a physical therapist, feels a sense of duty to help with the building of upkeep of the trails. “I use these trails three to four days a week,” he said. “It’s pure altruism.” Although the work can be strenuous, Potter said, it is always worth it, especially this spring as pine needles are scattered across the trail and an array of wildflowers are in bloom. “Man, this is cool,” he said. “It’s really neat seeing that type of life happening.”

Learn more about Muscle Powered at musclepowered.org.