Monday, February 6, 2012

Ice and Mud

Most of the trails in and around Los Alamos are snowpacked, icy, and muddy. Using traction devices that attach to shoes are a great way to enjoy a safe trip until the spring thaw. I use STABILicers and they are great, but they tend to fall off my boots once every three miles or so. The $49 model has an extra strap and might be worth the added $20!

As spring approaches, be aware that strong winds can topple live trees along trails. The late January windstorm that produced gusts up to 72 mph blew down at least 18 trees that fell across trails. Be especially aware that trees recently killed during the Las Conchas fire are particularly vulnerable to windthrow. Avoid trails in the burned area when the wind is strong enough to make you hold onto your hat.

Trail users need to be particularly sensitive to their potential impact on trails this time of year. Staying on the trail, no matter how icy or muddy, helps prevent inadvertent widening of the trail or damage to the trail corridor. Here's the International Mountain Bike Association's Rules of the Trail Number 2:

Leave No Trace: Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don't cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.

This applies to all trail users, not just mountain bike riders. It's a tough rule to follow, but it helps reduce the amount of trail maintenance come spring.


  1. Thanks for this post. I've got a similar one, but not as diplomatically stated, over on the Wheelhouse Blog.


  2. Only *slightly* less diplomatic.


Please enter reports on trail conditions. Thank you.