Having been essentially homebound by the storm now referred to as "Icepocalypse" locally, I was able to easily make the trip to work on Thursday morning. I drove the dog truck, which is better equipped for hazardous conditions than the overgrown roller-skate car I usually use as my "daily driver". With chains over the rear tires, studded snow tires all around, and judicious use of four-wheel-drive, I had a slow but trouble free trip, making the 73 mile trip in two and a quarter hours. Normally that drive only takes me about an hour and a half.
As the road conditions improved, travel restrictions were lifted up and down the haul-road, employees who had been stuck at their job sites for several days headed home to salvage what they could of their holidays. It made for a busy day keeping track of all the travelers to ensure they arrived safely at their destinations. Now we seem to settling back into our normal winter routine.
On Tuesday, as rain pelted down turning our snow into a heavy mass of half-slush, a pair of horseback riders traveled down the powerline trail that crosses my property. I dreaded the damage they were doing to the trail as each hoof plunged through the little hard-pack that remained. To make matters worse, they traveled only to the Two Rivers Road trailhead, and then returned by the same route, compounding the damage wrought to the trail. Ted spoke with them for a bit, and they had the audacity to state that they knew horses leave dangerous holes in the trail that, once frozen, can injure sled dogs, even snapping leg bones. They also knew they were trespassing, but apparently just didn't care.
Sometimes I grow frustrated by the attitudes of people who feel like they are somehow entitled to trespass without concern for my interests. Snow machine riders are notorious for screaming down the powerline trail, cutting moguls into the hardpack with each blip of the throttle. At least most of those guys can honestly claim ignorance. This pair of equestrians don't even have that excuse. Perhaps it's time for me to post some signs. My neighbor to the west went even further, fencing off the power-line right of way on each border of her property.
I'm certainly not the first to curse such abuse of the trails. Back in 1906 missionary Hudson Stuck was mushing his team in similar conditions. Traveling on a reasonably good trail Stuck was enjoying himself up until the moment he encountered an army mule train, carrying supplies from Fort Gibbons. Stuck wrote "But put a horse on that trail and in one passage it is ruined. The iron-shod hoofs break through the crust at every step and throw up the broken pieces as they are withdrawn. With mules it is even worse; the holes they punch are deeper and sharper. Neither man nor dog can pass over it again in comfort....there is not much love lost between the horse man and the dog man in Alaska." (Hudson Stuck, Ten Thousand Miles with a Dog Sled, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1914, ppg 201)
One can hope that the next snowfall will fill in the holes and we will once again enjoy a safe trail on which to run the team. Should the problem persist I'll have to hunt down the perpetrators and discuss the legal implications of trespassing. Hopefully Ted's conversation with them will be sufficient to keep them off of our property.