Poaching Karma

sign_trail_closed

 

  First let me preface this story by saying I don't poach trails anymore, and believe that it is a VERY BAD IDEA. It doesn't do any good for the folks that work hard for trail advocacy. But back in the day, when I was young and dumb, I did a lot of things that I would tell you not to do now…………

  During my early days at the first Airborne, I used to ride a lot with a friend of mine named "Don" (name changed to protect the guilty). Our favorite trail to ride after work on weeknites was a 17 mile loop that consisted of mostly hiking trail, with a little bit of road section, at the Ceasar Creek reserve.  It was a known "Hiking ONLY" trail, but the enforcement of it was rather lax at the time and most everyone we knew rode there. And the signage was bad; it only was visible if you rode the trail clockwise because the signs only faced in one direction. All of us knew that if we were stopped and questioned, we were to just play dumb and say that we were getting off of the trail right away. The spot where we parked was a bit out of the way and there were never any signs at that entrance to the trail head.

  Don and I hit the trail at 5:30 on a late summer Wednesday nite looking to get a nice easy 2 hour ride in. Something you have to know about Don: he always carried his wallet with him where-ever he went. Even though I lectured him about the fact he didn't need it, and that a copy of his ID stuffed in his seat-pack would suffice for body identification if things turned sour, he didn't like leaving it in the vehicle. And it wasn't a small wallet either. It was like George's wallet on Seinfeld. Big, fat, and stuffed with everything to the point where the rubber band strained to kept it all together. It barely fit in his jersey pocket.

  The ride was awesome. Except for the tall, old and haggared hiker guy who yelled at us for riding on the trail. "Sorry sir". "We didn't see the sign". "We'll get right off!". I think I heard him say something about "pesky kids" but I wasn't certain.

  We arrived back at the truck at 7:30pm and the post-ride euphoria began. Visions of Bentino's Pizza and a beer began dancing thru my brain as I started packing up my gear.

  "Uh oh".

  "Uh oh what?"

  "My wallet fell out of my jersey pocket somewhere on the trail."

  Damn. After talking about it for a few moments, Don and I decided the thing to do was ride the trail in reverse, looking for the wallet. He remembered having it still when we were more than halfway in during the first lap, so the thought was we might find it going back in reverse quicker. It started getting dark fairly fast in the woods, and by 8:30 it was pitch-black. We were forced to make our way back to the truck.

  No lights. No wallet. Hungry.

  We made it to the truck by 9pm and packed up the bikes in the bed. On the off chance that someone had found the wallet and turned it in, we drove over to the Ranger Station to check. I stayed in the truck with the gear and bikes while Don went inside.

  10 minutes passed. Then 20.

  Don, along with a ranger, finally appeared at the front entrance. They both walked out toward the truck. The ranger poked around in the back of the truck and looked at the bikes, then had a heated discussion with Don before he got in the truck and we left.

  "What happened??"

  "Remember that old hiker on the trail? The one that yelled at us? Well, he found my wallet and drove back here to turn it in after his hike. He told the ranger that I was riding on the trail. I just got a $100 fine."

  Sometimes Karma can be a bitch, and sometimes it comes in the form of a hiker.

 

Jeremy

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