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A Dog Named Chris

Furry friends – we’ve met a few of them over the last two years. They are the faithful companions to the advocates we work with on a weekly basis. Their names are original (Fenway, Wink, Betty, Yoda, Monkey, Punk, Turtle, Zoe, Moxy…) and their lives are rich. Most often they are outside, on the trail. This past weekend in northern Arizona we met another memorable canine; a dog named Chris.

Chris is short for Christmas. Tom, his best friend, found him wandering around Christmas Eve day and took him in for the night. Thirteen years later he’s spent his lifetime hiking in the woods. Chris was our constant companion during our visit with TRACKS, the local trails organization in the Pinetop-Lakeside area.

TRACKS has been around awhile. And just like Chris, they have been a dependable and loyal resource for the trails in the Apache/Sitgreaves National Forest. With over 200 miles of trails to look after, they were eager to refresh and update the body of their trail knowledge. Already experienced with construction and maintenance, we used our time together to concentrate on designing trails in challenging scenarios. 

Many times during our TCC visits we are presented with difficult trail situations. It’s our job to take trailbuilding expertise, think outside of the box, and provide solutions. The key to our success is to go through the process with the local trail crew.

On Friday and Saturday we worked with several of members of TRACKS on a design scenario in a steep hillside basin. While some worked on building a new section of the Land of the Pioneers Trail, others practiced some design fundamentals. We focused on the basics of using a clino (the quintessential design tool), identifying the fall-line (where water likes to go), and how to see UM (undulation and meandering). During each session, Chris (the dog) was never far away, watching new skills in practice. Sooner than later, he’ll likely be part of TRACKS using the information to help the USFS design some fun, sustainable re-routes.

When we think back to our time in Pinetop-Lakeside, we’ll remember a beautiful landscape, a tireless trails group, and a dog named Chris. He loves the trails just as much as we do.

A BIG, special thanks to Nick and Peggy Lund for being our awesome hosts. Thanks to the core group of TRACKS for organizing our visit. Thanks to all members of TRACKS for providing much needed support to the trails in the Apache/Sitgreaves National Forest and surrounding lands in Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside. Thanks to the USFS for joining us in the field. And thanks to everyone who came out Saturday to work on the Land of the Pioneers Trail – your help is greatly appreciated!

Photos can be found here.

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