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That's Not a Rock, It's a Gravestone...

Our first visit back from vacation was with the Hoosier Mountain Biking Association (HMBA) in Indianapolis, IN.  HMBA had us working out at Southwest Way Park with Alex Stuart, planning a small project for our volunteers to tackle that Saturday.

Alex is working on redoing a lot of the trails at Southwest Way Park, so he was able to find us an area that we could use as our volunteer project that would teach the people attending out school a new skill base. The project he picked for us to flag was on a very steep side slope, so it would require a lot of digging. We try our best to incorporate bench cutting new trail into our workdays, so this worked well.

Saturday, after Trail Building School, we took 25 volunteers out to Southwest Way to start on our reroute. The purpose behind the re-route, was to move the trail up onto the contour and away from the river. Seasonally, the current trail is under water. The re-route is necessary for the longevity of the trail.

We got to work digging the bench and struggling to do so seeing as how we were on a steep hillside. Then, just as everyone was seemingly in a flow, we were derailed. Three feet below the surface, directly on the trail, was a gravestone.

The area had undergone all the normal approval procedures and they were aware of an old gravesite on the premises, but since we unearthed a stone, we decided it would be best to stop building, report the stone, and move from there.

HMBA will be handling the progress of the trail once the approval is given to more forward after the stone. Hopefully this will not stunt their progress with future trails! The volunteers were super patient while we hashed out our options and were even willing to stay, in the rain, and hand finish some other trails Alex had been working on in another area.


For a full set of photos from this visit, click here!

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Gravestone search

The entire day was a great experience! While we were cutting in the new trail, I could tell we were going to knock out quite a bit of distance, but then heard Paul ask everyone to stop, and announced they uncovered a headstone. Now, what are the odds that on the very section of contour we are working on, just happened to uncover a headstone? My first thought was, so that's where it is! See, about three years ago, Paul asked me and Allan Weir to search around the area of where the power line ROW begins for the Winding River golf course, to find a gravesite that might be within the RTP grant trail corridor. We needed to locate it so we would not build too close to it. Needless to say, we searched on a very cold and snowy day for about three hours, and could not find it. The area we were asked to search was just above where we were working on Saturday. I know we can't be sure the stone we found is from the gravesite we searched and could not find, but it's highly possible. It's also possible the gravesite is still up high, and the stone was thrown down the sideslope by kids or vandals. Let's hope we can resume work on that section soon, and return the stone to it's proper site.


This is an example of what IMBA and its chapters do when faced with difficult decisions. They strive to do the right thing. Such actions may seem to slow down the process of trail improvement in the short term, but by putting the protection of resources first we help ensure that what we build serves its intentions and lasts for generations. We also build confidence with the public and land managers as we strive to create, enhance, and preserve great trail experiences. Applesauce (opps - darn spell checker) - Applause to Alex, Jesse, and Lori, and to all the good peeps at Hoosier Mountain Bike Association. Keep up the great work!