“How do you go about flagging a trail?” we were asked over delicious PRBs at Kulshan.
“You figure out where you want the trail to start and where you want it to end and then you must figure out how to connect the dots in between. So, you hike a line, you hike it again, you drop some flags, you move some flags, you have discussions to voice different points of view, you talk about purpose, you visualize, you ride the line in your mind’s eye, you…” Those are all the concrete ways you flag a trail. But what about the unspoken, unwritten, instinctual, innate, intangible, unexplainable sense that is the true essence of the trail.
Perhaps that is why at times it can seem almost political – there can be so much at stake, but not really. The identity, the belief and depth of individual purpose that is wrapped up in the planning and flagging and then the sense of accomplishment as the beauty of the zone unfolds before you. From start to finish you see your dream take shape and the creation that lies before you, once inside your head and heart and soul, now lies before you in epic beauty and it is a tangible, touchable experience, from beginning to end. It is personal.
For the beauty of the earth, feeling the essence of the land, the nuance of even the slightest undulation of the ground beneath your boots, the golden earth, the packed berm, space planning and strategizing, the sweat and laughter and banter, and dirt caked shoes, and eye hoes and gloves, the lush foliage and ferns, imagining the line with your rake “handle bars” in hand, glorious stumps and local history, the energy of teenagers and friends and family, young and seasoned, all one with nature, sharing communion with hot dogs and IPAs, and then, seeing the beauty and progress accomplished in less than a day. Not replacing existing, but working as one with nature. Merely enhancing and clearing so our feet and wheels and even hooves can embrace the journey into destinations to be discovered.