Last Sunday, we returned to Annadel State Park to find out if we could circle Lake Ilsanjo without getting lost. Upon arrival we were pleased to find that the rangers had set out a stack of updated trail maps, diminishing the possibility of getting lost, although in general one should never underestimate my ability to misread a trail map.
Now that we have a few dozen miles of local park trails behind us, I can pass the following judgement with the authority of experience: some of the trails in Annadel really suck. The route we’ve been using is apparently a favorite destination for regional horse owners; the first hour of the hike requires careful picking through minefields of horse-bombs, by which I mean, crap, shit, dung, feces, excrement, turds, and poop. I didn’t photograph every one — I just ran out of words.
Climbing further into the park, we got away from some of the horses, but faced a new threat: mountain bikers. There has been controversy over trail usage by bikers for years; I never paid attention because the issue seemed petty and remote. But I have an opinion about it now that I’ve nearly been run off the trail by some of them.
We were hiking up a narrow trail that had turned into a slow, muddy stream by recent rains. Two bicyclists rounded a corner a hundred feet ahead. These guys were flying low, heads down, butts up in the air. They yelled out a warning (“hikers up”) to the cyclists behind, but did not slow down.
I was on the right edge of the path, trying to keep my feet out of the muck. I’d paused when I saw the bikes coming so they wouldn’t have to navigate around a moving obstacle. I guess they understood this as permission to zoom past at speed and spray mud at me. So much for standing to one side, I thought — I stepped back onto the path and continued hiking, when a third bicyclist flew past within ten inches. I wasn’t playing “chicken;” I didn’t realize that I was within a foot of having my arm broken by his handlebars. That was enough for me. I spun around and yelled at them, “You’re supposed to fucking yield!” I was ready to shove somebody’s head through their sprockets.
Bicyclists really are supposed to yield to hikers. And to horses. I bet these bike-ninja guys don’t zoom around horses; the risk of getting squashed is too great. I guess I’ll have to start carrying a big walking stick, sideways. Hmm, and if I put a shovel on one end I could solve two problems at once.