Remember April, the snow was melting, the temps were starting to warm up, things were turning green and Spring was in the air... it was also the last time that Wilderness Park was open and you were able to ride the trails within. The the big man said unto Noah,
"There's gonna be a floody, floody."
Lord said to Noah, "There's gonna be a floody, floody."
"Get those children (clap once) out of the muddy, muddy!"
Children of the Lord.
So Noah, he built him, he built him an arky, arky.
Noah, he built him, he built him an arky, arky.
Made it out of (clap once) hickory barky, barky.
Children of the Lord.”
~Rise and Shine~ A Scouts song.
Those rains they did come, the flood it did happen and for nearly 5 months the park has been officially closed and unusable but starting last month the city has started allowing people back in officially but on a limited basis. While technically still not opened to the public, the Friends of Wilderness Park has been tasked by the Parks and Rec. department to survey and document the damage the floods caused to the trails within the park.
Saturday was supposed to be just another ThNNDDR out at the trails of Wagon Trail SRA but Gary found a post on the Friends of Wilderness Park's Facebook page about a trail day at Wilderness on that same day. To me it seemed like a no-brainer, selfishly ignore a trail that has been so good to so many mountain bikers for years and go riding or help out an old friend a little bit down on her luck. I knew if it was just me what my decision would be but I didn't just want to make the call for everyone so I "talked" (not sure what the correct term is for a Facebook communication) to a few of the regulars and they were all feeling the same way... to Wilderness it was. I've said it once and I'll say it again, mountain bikers are some awesome people, if you don't have some in your life you really need to get a few.
There was a really good turn out, not all of them were part of the ThNNDDR crew but we made up a good portion of the volunteers that day.
Janelle even showed up with a new Farley 5 that she got from Cycle Works, it's a pretty rad bike with room now for even larger rubber than the 4" versions of previous years.
As with any city function it was safety first, plus a good old fashioned waiver to CYOA if that safety thing failed a little.
Someone had their own idea of appropriate safety equipment, fortunately none of that type of equipment was needed nor required on this day.
We even had someone from the Lincoln Journal Star come out to see what was going on, you can find that article here. I talked to the guy for a little bit but didn't make the cut for the paper and ended up on the cutting room floor, which is a shame as I even made sure to use proper grammar and errything.
After signing the waiver and getting the game plan, we were split into groups of two... you know, because that's how you get on the ark; two by two. Each group was given a section of trail and a map to mark where the problem areas were. Those markings also had photos to go with them so that Parks and Rec could assess the damage and disseminate that information without having hundreds of people walking the entire park, it was a pretty slick system actually.
Most of Wilderness Park was in really good shape but there were other parts of it that could use a lot of love.
Riding through the park there were several sections of trail that were so close to the edge now that they are dangerous and it's most likely only a matter of time before they fall in as well. These were the things we were identifying and documenting.
When you look at huge chucks of soil with large trees and grasses still growing in the them that were washed into the creek, you have to be in awe of the power that water can posses.
Missing trails or trails on the edge of the bank wasn't the only concern, there were massive piles of branches on the trail in some sections, left there as the flood waters receded.
Thankfully the new bridge that was put in last Spring seemed to survive the floods and is none the worse for wear.
It wasn't all destruction and devastation though, the flowers out there were pretty amazing. The whole place was awash is various yellow flowers of one variety or another, nature takes and nature gives.
After a few hours of amateur surveying we turned in our maps, copied the email address to send our pictures to and headed in whatever direction home was. Gary, Kyle and I decided to ride by the other big news in Lincoln lately and check out the unearthing of Robber's Cave.
Should be a pretty cool place once it's been all fancied up. We didn't get too close and stayed behind the construction tape, there were signs saying it was under 24 hr video surveillance, which I suppose it could have been but with the quality of the video screenshots that are always posted up on Crime Stoppers we weren't too worried about getting caught but opted to be law abiding citizens on our own accord anyway. We came, saw the hole and then boogied on home ourselves.
Anyone interested in helping out on future trail days out at Wilderness Park should watch for posting on the Friends of Wilderness Park's Facebook. If you can help out at all I know it would be greatly appreciated by not just FOWP but all of the trail users in and around Lincoln.