Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Avoiding Collisions

I have only been tagging Ole Dangerous around about five years. So, I have to believe him when he tells me that back country traffic has increased. Supposedly, 30 years ago he wandered the Escalante River and rarely saw another rider or hiker. He tells me that he was pushed off the Uinta National Forest by ATVs and bikes. According to him, you can hear an ATV coming, but you don't want to meet a biker coming down a steep grade looking at his front tire with his ear phones plugged in. I have been there when he's explained to mountain bikers that having an 1,100 lb. horse land on them doesn't usually end well. I don't help a lot, but who can blame a sheep dog for joining in the action. Barking at fast moving ATVs and bikes is fun, and when you throw in a lunging, bucking horse it's even more exciting. Horse and rider usually survive, but the bike and rider don't. Most mountain bikers ignore Dangerous' appeals and pedal on after plugging their ear phones back in. Fortunately, the High Plateau has lots of steep, rocky trails that discourage potential conflict with wheeled travelers.

I am not sure what the answer is, but Ole Dangerous can't retreat much further. The High Plateau is probably his last stand. Dangerous tells me that he frequently hears conflicting groups say, "...can't we all just get along." I am not sure that's possible. Maybe those who pursue the quiet sports like biking, hiking, and horse riding can work something out, but it will require improved communications and trail manners. It's really hard to explain to someone on an ATV or motorcycle that you don't want to eat their dust or listen to their noise. You especially don't want to look at the four foot wide swaths cut across the landscape that they call "trails." If you have some answers, let me know. I might be able to calm Ole Dangerous down, and pass your suggestions along to others.

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