In the saddle: Good-deed doer | AspenTimes.com

In the saddle: Good-deed doer

BASALT – Take any kind of recreational user of public lands – hiker, mountain biker, dirt biker, off-roaders – and you’re bound to get some jerks.

Some drivers of motorized, wheeled vehicles feel the landscape is at their disposal, and they go anywhere and everywhere they please.

Some mountain bikers cut trails where they want with little forethought into whether they are built for the long haul. And the most irritating cyclists of all insist on widening the beloved single-track trails by riding off the established route.

Hikers aren’t free of sins. There are plenty of examples of braided trails, multiple routes across streams and cuts of switchbacks in wilderness, where other users are prohibited.

It’s just a fraction of people in each user group who cause the problems. Unfortunately, the problems are usually severe enough to make us take note and build some prejudice against the offenders.

That made the actions of an acquaintance of mine all the more commendable. I was riding my bike on the Mill Creek Trail on Basalt Mountain the other weekend. When I first hit the sweet, downhill singletrack, I noticed that a deadfall tree that had been there less than a week before was gone. I screamed through the woods and approached a meadow when I caught sight of a cyclist off his bike up ahead. I couldn’t immediately look because the rocky trail required focus. As I approached, I saw the biker was walking, and at first, I thought maybe he flipped over his handlebars in an “endo” accident and was getting back on his mount. A second later, I realized he had a sweet little scythe/handsaw and was thrashing a proliferation of thistles in full bloom with purple flowers in the meadow.

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I recognized the guy, Whitey, and stopped to talk. Turns out, he’s been doing a significant amount of maintenance on and around legal, inventoried trails in the Basalt Mountain/Cattle Creek area this summer. Forest Service crews haven’t been able to get at all the deadfall or hand treat the infestations of noxious weeks like thistles. So instead of just bitching about it, Whitey was out there helping out on his own. He wasn’t looking for a pat on the back. He was just selflessly doing the right thing.

It inspired me to try to be more of a giver and less of a taker.

scondon@aspentimes.com