As part of my trail monitoring work, I run measuring wheels down trails in all corners of the park. In the early morning mist of the valley and the oppressive heat of the late afternoon, you can find me rolling along with a rickety wheel in one hand, a tape measure and clipboard in the other, and a pencil between my teeth. I must make a curious sight to visitors because I draw even more engagement than when I’m walking with a flat-hatted ranger. Here are a couple of the notable interactions I can recall:
“Are you plotting the race? Any insider tips to offer?” Wheezed by breathless runner burdened by so many weights that he looked as padded as I did when I was first learning to roller skate.
“Can I try?” When I held out the wheel, the child shook her head and pointed to the clipboard.
“Watch your dog!” Called out by a mountain biker whipping past at top speeds.
Most people are simply looking to learn more about the kind of work that goes on behind the scenes at parks. Anyone who is interested enough to stop and chat leaves a little more enlightened on the importance of trail conditions monitoring.