Tuesday, November 3, 2009

We found this little guy a year ago while racking pine straw onto the trail. I've never seen a Diamondback on Munson. I have seen a bunch of these Pygmy Rattlers and a half dozen Coral Snakes.

We had a killer full moon ride on the 29th. 14 riders in all, we did about 15 miles. I noticed several trees down on the Twilight Trail, who can remove those? The trail is getting rerouted.

This is the time of year for Munson, ever time is the time of year for Munson.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pressure Released

I was more than a bit concerned about the future of Munson Hills and the “enhancements” planned for it future. Some relief found me when I discovered Trail Dynamics and Valerie Naylor were handling the assessment. Saturdays ride, meeting and party confirmed my expectations. They do not plan to alter the original path of the trail except in a few instances. The character of the trail will live on.

Although I do not agree with the need to redo the signage, both the intersections signs and the interpretive signs at the access point to the St. Marks Trail will be replaced, I can live with it. The signs are part of the trails history, maybe they could be incorporated into some aspect of the new signage. At the very least I hope to salvage them, maybe give one to Mike McCue, Joel Byrd and JB for creating the trail in the first place or auction them off as memorials to the trail and use the money for other trail work.

As we road the trail on Saturday Valerie addressed many of my concerns before I raised them. How much relocating would they recommend, what material would be used to reinforce the tread, would technical features be added, would the trail remain open, what consideration would be taken to protect the ecosystem while the work is done. It was a relief to know they had considered these issues in advance, their experience shows.

The only significant reroute discussed concerns the north end of the Tall Pines short cut. A spot long know to be trouble. It could be reinforced and left in place but would likely need an aggressive maintenance schedule, additionally the alternate route is likely to more closely resemble the swooping turns that characterize the rest of the trail. I hope other reroutes do not come up as the process moves forward. Crushed concrete or lime rock will reinforce the trail tread, most people will not be able to tell the difference between the two. No artificial technical features are planned, an occasional fallen tree is the only technical feature Munson Hills needs. Portions of the trail will be closed during different stages but the trail will never be completely off limits. This last part, damage created from working on the trail, is still a little concerning to me. I do believe they will try to protect the areas around the trail as they do work. I know it will look worst right after the work and get better over time. They plan for an 18 inch tread but will use four foot wide equipment to do the work. The wrong operator on that equipment will make scares lasting 3 or 4 years, maybe more. The plants in the ecosystem do great after a burn but do not handle soil disturbance very well. One too many trips up and down the trail carrying material could have a long lasting negative effect.

I have confidence in Valerie Naylor and Jim Schmid to protect the character of Munson Hills. My personal stress level associated with this is way down. They are doing what I have tried to do and hoped would happen for years. Their work will have a long term positive impact on the trail. Thank them when you can and thanks to everyone who came out to support and protect Munson Hills.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Great Expectations

An important step in my journey takes place tomorrow.

Thanks for being there.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Loser At Work

Someone has pulled flags placed on the trail to identify areas in need of work.

How can you dislike something you don't know anything about?

Leave the flags alone!

Not such a good idea.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Flowers of Munson Hills

Here are the next set of flowers. Some of these my not be blooming right now.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Look Closer

Here are a set of photos taken within 10 feet of the trail. Can you help identify any of them? Is that a Prickly Pear Cactus? If so they don't get very big at Munson.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hers is our group at the access point to the St. Marks Trail, The Tall Pines Shortcut and me doing a derailleur adjustment. I haven't performed a field conversion in a while. Fortunately it went well. His derailleur was pushed into the spokes by a hitting an object on the trail or a poor adjustment on the limiting screw. This is one of the worst trail ride breakdowns, it is sudden ugly and hopeless looking but the best trail side repair, quick, simple and exhilarating when you can start riding you single speed, no rear brake bicycle home.

Friday, August 28, 2009

20 riders in the rain

We had twenty people ride Munson Hills last night. It was raining while we loaded the bikes, it rained on the drive down, it rained in the parking lot of the St.Marks Trail, it rain a little during the ride. As you know Munson gets better in the rain.

I enjoy watching that many people ride a single track trail, something about the line of bikes winding through the woods. As the sweeper on these ride I get a good view of the riders ahead.

I see great things on the horizon for Munson Hills, I believe the Forest Service and the contractor they have hired understand how to take care of the trail, join us at 830am on the twelfth, be ready to ride at 830 please. A meeting will follow the ride at the apartments next door to distribute information.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Time to be counted

Besides the creation of the trail, this is the most important time in its life.

We, as mountain bikers are an independent group. Loose organization is about the most we can tolerate. For many years I have done work on Munson Hills, sometimes exceptional work, sometimes some not so, but I have talked to many of you about the conditions of the trail and feel I do work we all appreciate. We are now at a very critical stage. I can't help the trail with out a show of documentable support. Please post a comment here or better yet join us on facebook (Fans of Munson Hills/Twilight Off-Road Bike Trail) or the Tallahassee Mountain Bike Association.

For our voices to be heard we need to be counted. Munson needs your help.

Munson Hills Trail:
A morning group ride, gathering at the St. Marks Trail Head and afternoon meeting will be held on Saturday September 12th to discuss improvements funded by the $250,000.00 in stimulus money. Ride time, meeting location and time are not set but will follow in the next day or two. Besides the creation of the trail, this is the most important moment in its life. Please attend the ride and meeting and or show your support by joining the Fans of Munson Hills/Twilight Off-Road Bike Trails on Facebook or the Tallahassee Mountain Bike Association, SORBA’s local chapter.

Tallahassee Mountain Bike Association:
Our first fall meeting will be held Thursday September 24th, 7:30 pm at the midtown location of Uptown Café on Magnolia at Miccosukee.

It's about the trail.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Munson is in good shape today. Our past work day’s efforts held up well to the rains. The recent burn is beautiful. The fire protection sleeves on the sign legs seemed to have done the job fighting off flames or the fire crew put down a little water to protect them. Either way the signs survived. As did the fence and information kiosk at the entrance to the St. Marks Trail. Most of the Carsonite post remained as well. Mr. Rogers might have some re-blazing to do.

Munson sure does like the fires.

The Yucca plants are in full bloom.

I saw another long time rider on the trail tonight as Colter and I did a casual loop. I hate it when I can’t remember names but I do remember the rider. He’s from 10 or 15 years back. He has been one of the regular users of the trail. You’ve probably seen him but don’t realize, like you, how much time he has spent riding those sand hills, absorbing the nuances that etch that trail in our minds.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

it was once a place, hallowed ground, beauty, light, connection, now it's no place, its, anger, hate, disappointment

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Family and Time

Homework, bike ride, maybe walk downtown, dinner, bath, bed.

Calls out of town.

Here’s that picture of my Tin Man Legs. They are growing on me. I heard there is some kind of acid treatment that’ll give them a little seasoning.

Monday night’s casual ride at Munson was good. I saw a first time Munson rider do a superman over the bars. I never saw what he hit. He truly bit the dirt, sand was caked around his mouth like sugar from a Krispy Kreme Doughnut.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tin Man Legs

Around each corner, I remember a different story, time seems measured by the happenings between events at Munson.

I think I still have an Neon Orange hammer head shirt.

We'll get to that corner when we can and you know I'll call you for help.

I agree the humps we put in are too big, the right idea but still to big.

The trees lining the trail do a good job but I am certainly open to other suggestions. Please post some new ideas, anyone, someone. How can we narrow the trail to it's original width and hold materials in place?

Except in a few circumstances I don't think rerouting the trail is a good idea. In another 20 years or sooner, we'd have the same problem and need to move the trail again and it would not likely get moved back to where it came from. Agree or disagree, let me know.

You've all probably seen the tin man legs on the directional signs at the Tall Pines Short Cut intersections. The McCues, me and the kids replace some of the fire damaged legs some months back. With the permission of the Forest Service I put those on to keep the fire off. At first I really disliked the look, on my last ride out though, I kind of started to like them. How about my camouflage efforts, kind of weak I know. What do ya'll think?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A little history.

About 19 years ago Mike McCue, Joel Byrd, JB Ritter and I started work on the Munson Hills Trail. We spent about a year in those woods, wandering, mapping, riding, walking and designing. Many others helped along the way, including some folks at the US Forest Service. I remember John Cameron, Steve? and Ron Smith. I am sure there were more.

Check out the Challenge Cost - Share Agreement from 1991 and Design Narrative from 1990. Some interesting details come up. Mike McCue is listed as FOTL Club. We had a bridge in the plans for crossing Munson Slough. Joel Byrd wrote the complete Design Narrative, does anyone have a copy? What I have posted seems to be a reply to what Joel wrote. It does however refer to levels of difficulty and interpretive plans. There must have been a maintenance component.

Our intention, as I remember it, was to get more people in the woods and on bikes. I knew we reached that goal the day I saw a dad, on an old road with a baby seat and baby, riding along the trail. He stopped to lift the bike over a log, I caught up, he looked over smiled and said how cool he thought the trail was. It felt good to see someone enjoying what I had helped create. It was not uncommon to see beach cruisers, BMX bikes and old road bikes on the trail, mountain bikes had just began to catch on. All kinds of riders were discovering the trail.

Doug Alderson spent a lot of time on the trail designing an interpretive tour to tie into the mural at what was then the Munson Hills Trailhead, where the information kiosk is now. The mural was hand painted by T.S. Elliot (I'm not sure about the T.S.) Doug finished the tour information but it never seemed to make it to the trail system. The original mural can be found at the Forest Service Office in Crawfordville. They removed the original hand painted canvas mural and replaced it with the current one. They were concerned the original might get damaged. A good decision, what they installed has lasted 15 plus years, the original is still in great condition. I never meet the artist but his work has educated a lot of trail users.

We did regular maintenance for many years after Munson was created. Some of that in the form of organized work parties, some of it was done by users taking care of their trail. Munson Hill was one of our first run in with sand. Water bars, sections of telephone poles, was our first try, conveyor belt sandwiched between 2x6's, our second try. These were intended to slow down the water. Neither worked particularly well for water but did slow down the riders. The third and lasting effort consisted of pickup truck loads of pine bark and road base lime rock. The lime rock was used as humps, like the new ones you see on the trail now. In between the humps we put loads and loads of pine bark. The bark was intended to absorb the water flowing down the hill and eventually deteriorate and blend with the sand. We also lined the trail with logs to hold in the materials and narrow the trail back to its original width. Walk up Munson Hill next time you are on the trail, you'll see the work I did there about 15 years ago.

My regular maintenance efforts faded over the past 10 years or so, kids, careers, life just kind of changed things. New efforts are afoot though. With those new efforts and all the users now enjoying the trail, disagreements on how things should get done to the trail have arisen. With the permission and help of Forest Service personnel I have been doing bits of work here and there. The most obvious work are the humps, pine straw and trees used to line the trail. For the most part this work has been well received. Unfortunately someone in disagreement with the use of trees to line the trail has begun to tear out some of the previous work. If you see these people please ask them to contact the Forest Service or me directly (544.5040) or through this blog. The Forest Service and I want input from all users. The Forest Service has requested I/we stop doing any further work until a trail "Operating Plan" is complete. It should be done in about 4 weeks.

Please take the time to post your comments on this blog. Tell me what you like, don't like and what you want to see done to the trail.

I can't get the Challenge Cost - Share Agreement and Design Narrative to post so click on these if you want to see them.