Monday, April 16, 2012

A Free for All at Giuffrida Park

Dirt Bikes on the NET at Mount Lamentation Overlook.
So you're hiking miles in the woods and up a ridge to get away from it all, and enjoying the scenery of a National Scenic Trail, when some neighborhood teenage boys shatter the peace and quiet with their dirt bikes or quads. I've been trying to do most of my hiking on weekdays when the kids are in school, and have managed to avoid a lot of it, although I see the tracks and trail damage.

But at Giuffrida Park (and the surrounding land...I'm not sure where the park boundaries end), for whatever reason, the kids are particularly brazen.  I've been there four times now in the past month or so, and I think I've had to deal with them each and every time.  The last time, my teenage daughter was with me. "Those are SOOO annoying!" was her take on the dirt bikes. The sound of revving motors can be heard throughout the park, detracting from everyone else's pleasure.  From a distance, the sound is reminiscent of  a mosquito flying about your head in the dark when you're trying to go to sleep.  Close-up, the sound can be deafening, depending on the vehicle.

They basically own the trails.  In other places, kids will at least be polite and pretend like they didn't know it's illegal to ride on the trails and then bug out, never staying in one place for long in case someone calls the cops.  These guys are bold. At the Mt. Lamentation overlook (junction with the yellow trail), I approached one (Bike No. 961, top photo) and told him they weren't supposed to be here and should leave.  I got the 'ha ha you stupid lady you can't make me move' glare until I pulled out my cell phone camera and started taking video, and boy did they leave in a flash then (video below).  Hikers:  Cameras are your friends. If you see someone doing something harmful to the trail that is also illegal, take a picture or video if you feel you can do so safely.  Parents: Stop buying your children ATVs unless you have someplace legal they can ride.

Fresh NET dirt bike damage
Here's something a lot of hikers don't know:  It's a state law that all ATVs and dirt bike rides must carry written permission by the landowner unless they own the property they are riding on.  Also, such vehicles need to be registered. The Police can give you a ticket for not carrying that written permission (they did in my town). It's not like hiking, where you can legally walk on someone else's wooded property unless they post it 'no trespassing'.  With a dirt bike or ATV, you can't do that. So when you're hiking and see someone riding a dirt bike or ATV nearby, the odds that they are doing so legally are extremely slim. 

At Giuffrida and elsewhere along the NET, there are a ton of unmarked trails they use (illegally, I'm sure), but they also use the official trails, which is even worse.  Biker No. 961 and crew ripped up about a half mile of the New England National Scenic Trail, which is rather their intention. They TRY to throw up dirt, because that makes it fun (for them at least, but at everyone else's expense). For a half a mile the blue-blazed trail was full of freshly ripped up and throw about dirt, tire tracks, and rocks ripped out of place. For any ATV enthusiasts reading this thinking, "So what?"...This trail was built in 1931, by hikers, for hikers. 

These rocks were just dislodged from the trail bed by dirt bikes minutes before I hiked it.

And then as an addendum, we found a stash of metal BBs for use in air guns. This was up on Chauncey Peak at a popular lookout.  I like metal BBs better than plastic ones in terms of the environment, because they eventually corrode and disappear, while the neon plastic ones are just permanent litter.  But these metal BBs are, of course, a hazard to other park users, and this was a busy spot. I don't want some idiot shooting out my eye when I'm trying to enjoy the view. By the way, that thing weighs almost five pounds! Now what do I do with these BB's? 

Metal BBs cached on Chauncey Peak

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