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The Observer Paper 12/17/14

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Home arrow Opinion arrow Mountain awakens after long winter’s nap


Mountain awakens after long winter’s nap

“Spring has sprung, the grass is rizz. I wonder where the flowers is?”

— Author unknown

Spring has truly sprung on Mount Emily and the wild flowers are beginning to show their faces. The mountain is awakening after its long winter’s nap and various outdoor activities are once again beginning to happen.

The areas adjacent to Owsley Canyon Road and above Igo Lane are designated for non-motorized use and will be the focus of this month’s column.

At this time all the Igo Lane trails including Skills, Fast Twitch and Upper and Lower Hot Shot are open for hiking, mountain biking and running. All the trails on the Owsley Canyon side are also open for all uses including horseback riding. A word of caution, though: in this early spring season, it doesn’t take much of a rain shower to make the trails unusable. In deciding whether or not the trails are the right condition for use, a good rule of thumb is if your tires, shoes or horse’s hooves collect mud, the trail is too wet to use. Please stay off and plan your outing for a drier day.

Once again this spring and summer we’re expecting fairly heavy use of the trails in the non-motorized area. Because the trails are used by lots of people in different ways, a few common etiquette tips aid in making use of MERA a pleasure for everyone. Three such tips are as follows:

1. Uphill traffic always has the right of way. If you are cruising downhill on your bike and meet another mountain biker huffing and puffing his or her way up, stop and step off the trail and let the person pass. It’s a lot easier for you to get started again with gravity working in your favor. Don’t forget to say “hi” and offer some words of encouragement as he or she struggles past.

2. When you need to pass a slower biker, runner or horse rider, avoid giving the person an unwanted startle by first getting his or her attention. A polite “hello,” throat clearing or a good robust cough should do the trick. For bikers, a handlebar-mounted bell comes in very handy during such encounters as well. Once you have the person’s attention, let him or her know you want to pass.

3. Specifically for bikers and runners: If you approach a horseback rider stop before passing. Ask the rider what he or she wants you to do. Some will say it’s OK for you to bike or run on past. Others will tell you to wait and they will ride past you. The important thing is not to spook the horse and thus not to injure its rider.

The most important trail tip is simply to have fun! MERA is for all of us to use and enjoy. Whether you ride a mountain bike, a horse or simply want to go for a pleasant family hike and look at the birds and the flowers, MERA is the perfect place.

Mark Larson of La Grande serves on the board of directors of the Single Track Trails Club. He and his wife own Flagstaff Sports in Baker City. He is an avid mountain biker and is co-author of the book “Mountain Biking La Grande.”



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