Sunday, November 8, 2009

Leave the Leaves?

This morning I cleared the Midnight Trail with a leaf blower. This is good for several reasons.
Joggers, runner, bikers and muni riders can now see the roots and avoid twisted ankles, getting tripped, wipe-outs, and UPDs. It also helps keep the trails dry and not slippery.

It went surprisingly fast, and if I wasn't so particular it would have been even faster. I won't bring a rake with me again. It had no use.

While I was working, a couple walking their dog were approaching. I turn the leaf blower off out of courtesy when people come by. The woman asked me why I was leaf blowing, and I explained. She was not happy and said she likes the leaves on the trails when she walks, for the sound and smell. She was clearly upset. I tried to explain some benefits but she said she didn't care. Her husband didn't voice an opinion. I awkwardly stood there as they walked away, and only started my leaf blowing again once they had moved off into the distance.

I continued leaf blowing, and right when I finished the loop I ran out of gas. I brought more in a gas can, but after refilling I couldn't get the leaf blower started again. I waited and tried repeatedly but failed. So I walked back to my car, passing the trail into to West Loop without clearing it. I asked a few groups of people along their way what they thought of clearing the leaves. It was a small sample, but including the woman who didn't like it, out of 7 people, 5 said clearing was good/ok, and 2 said they prefer the leaves.

I understand the desired to leave the leaves. If I could see the roots and if they weren't slippery, I'd prefer them to stay, at least during this season.

Since then I've thought about it some more and I think we might be able to compromise.
I think the leaves bother the joggers, runners, and riders mostly because of the roots and slippery hills. Instead of just leaf blowing everything, I can selectively blow the problem areas. I'd have to know the trails to do this, but it some cases I actually do. And I could take note of these areas next year, once the leaves are gone.

Once I got to my car I traded my leaf blower for my unicycle and rode in Whiting. Some areas had no leaves, some a sprinkling, and only a few areas had dense leaves. There was only one area in particular where I felt I was treading lightly in fear of an imminent UPD. So some trails are worse than others.

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