Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group

Scott Winans - COPMOBA & Palisade Plunge - Full Circle With The Christi Reece Group - Episode 8

November 10, 2020 Scott Winans Season 1 Episode 8
Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group
Scott Winans - COPMOBA & Palisade Plunge - Full Circle With The Christi Reece Group - Episode 8
Show Notes Transcript

Join Christi and Scott Winans for an inside look at the new Palisade Plunge and all the work COPMOBA and others have done to make this exciting  trail a reality!  Learn more about the Plunge and COPMOBA at https://www.copmoba.org/.

Speaker 1:

The full circle podcast, compelling interviews and incredible tales from Colorado's Western slope, from the mountains to the desert Kristie Reese and her team here from the movers, shakers, and characters of the grand Valley and surrounding mountain towns that make the Western slope, the place we all love. You'll learn. You'll laugh. You'll love with the full circle. Hello and welcome to the full circle podcast. I'm really excited today to have our guest Scott widens , who is the board president of cap-x MOBA, also known as the Colorado plateau mountain bike association, mountain bike trail associates , bike trail association. They silent T in there , silent T love it. And also the koan owner of rapid Creek site cycles in Palisade, Colorado. Welcome Scott. Thanks Christine . So obviously a big topic that we want to talk about today is the Palisade plunge, but we have a lot of things to get through. Before we talk about the plunge. I want to know a little bit of your backstory and how you got to grand junction.

Speaker 2:

Well, I was born a small child. Um, I came to, I came to the grand Valley in the early nineties , uh, following my girlfriend who came here for a job with the Bureau of land management, oddly enough, from where we at that time was living in Tucson, which is near where I grew up in central Arizona. Uh , I went to school at U of a, both undergrad and grad school there as well, a few years later. Um, so early nineties, I, you know, it's funny, I've thought about a few times and I can't remember exactly. I think we got here in about 92 , um, and was working and living seasonally at that time because her job was in wild land fire here , uh, which was a seasonal activity. So spent a couple of years bouncing back and forth between the grand Valley and Tucson and realized that I didn't enjoy bouncing back and forth like that because , uh, interestingly it, it lacks a sense of community, which was something that stood out to me. Um, I love both the places they're both wonderful places to be, but as I moved back and forth between them, I realized, I always felt like I was heading somewhere, not being somewhere. And that was important. And you chose grand junction? I did. Um , but oddly enough, there was another lap of other activity in there. Um, so on a home in Fruita that bought in the early nineties, and then in beginning of , uh , uh, end of 1997, I took a job on the front range and moved to Colorado Springs and was the head of engineering for a flying model toy company there.

Speaker 1:

That sounds like an amazing job. I want to hear more about that. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So a lot of people grew up with STS rockets, if you've ever fired rockets with your kids or had him yourself , uh, S this is a hobby company , uh , they're actually based in Penrose, mighty Penrose on highway 50 near Pueblo and Canyon city Penrose. So lived in Colorado Springs for about a decade and was the head of engineering there. Um , and the things I realized, the things that I had when I was 12 years old, is what I've done for my life's work. Uh, I've rode bicycles and I've built and flew rockets and model airplanes.

Speaker 1:

Is it when you got into engineering, was that kind of your plan? I mean, did you know that that's the kind of engineering you wanted to do?

Speaker 2:

Oh, plans that that's a big word. Um, it, it is those hobbies are what took me into being an engineer. Um, I remember going to school with my dad to look at colleges and , and thinking to myself, well, I'll either be a history major, or an engineer and engineers probably have a lot better job prospects in history majors. So that's, that's how I ended up in engineering. Um, I'm an aerospace engineer by degree and spent a few years coming out of school, working in the aerospace industry in Southern California and realized quickly I am not a huge company, monstrous , uh , engineering company, sort of person. Um, so quit that became a bike messenger in Seattle for a short time and, you know, bopped around and ended up here working in the bike world and then spent about a decade as head of engineering for S Diskox.

Speaker 1:

Wow. Yeah. Um , owning a bike shop here is kind of a world away from , uh , big time engineering firm and company and in the big city at no good choice, but, but you do some engineering here also. So the cop MOBA and , um, rapid Creek cycles are not your only job.

Speaker 2:

So that's right. Um, so Cola and rapid Creek cycles. And I don't spend much of my working time there that's, that's an activity where I'm mostly kind of behind the scenes , um , you know, helping out in all kinds of different ways, but I'm not employed there on a day-to-day basis Rondo and I co-own the business, he, for the most part is the head operator. I am , you know, takes care of our employees, but in the winter time, he's also engaged on the ski side of the world. And we take her down in the winter and skiing tapers up. So that's a nice dovetail for him. My day job is head of engineering for mountain racing products. So we are based here in grand junction. We design and develop , um, suspension high-end products for mountain bike industry, primarily. Um, so suspension, forks shocks drive , train components, and we test and develop those things on our local trails. So my web of activities in my life is all very interrelated between that type of engineering cop mobile on the trail world, bike shop , uh, and bike industry. They all touch each other and yeah.

Speaker 1:

In different ways. And so you started riding bikes when you were a little tyke. My grandpa , what's your first bicycle memory,

Speaker 2:

Hand me down girls blue Schwinn with a big flag on it. Nice. And then I got my grandmother's black single speech when , and, and tore around the deserts in central Arizona on that

Speaker 1:

Jumping and all kinds of stuff on a , on an old Schwinn.

Speaker 2:

Yep . That's pretty much it breaking things and not myself mostly, which is good .

Speaker 1:

Okay . And were you thinking when you're a kid, like I can make this better if I only had this kind of gear, or I remember thinking engineering when you're riding your bike.

Speaker 2:

I remember inventing the idea of a moped as I, we lived a few miles out of town and I would ride my bike to town, which took about an hour and a half. Wow . And as I was riding down my country road, I remember thinking I need to put a motor on this thing. And then I learned later, it's like, Hey, they have these things called mopeds. And I , that was a little

Speaker 1:

So , like I was my idea. Right. Did you ever get one stuck with the bicycle bike? Yeah. Yeah. Do you road ride as well? Or do I do? Yeah .

Speaker 2:

Um, not as much time in mileage , uh, on the road as I do mountain biking, but I do it's for me, biking is a real intrinsic part of my life. So I, I get out opportunistically given all the other things that I'm doing. Um, I don't typically plan bike outings. I'm , uh , you know, when I have a couple of , when I have a couple hours, I get out and ride and that's sort of a constant background, but again,

Speaker 1:

You've got to test products. Right. I

Speaker 2:

Do. And that's a fun part of it, you know, on, you know, half half of my week , uh, my lunchtimes at work, I'm out on the lunch loop trails, you know, I can get out, do a quick ride and we're always testing something. It's a constant, which is fun.

Speaker 1:

So , um, when you first came to grand junction, what were the trails here like, and did you get out on your mountain bike and did you think, wow, this is going to be a great place to ride my bike, you know? Yes, I do .

Speaker 2:

Um, so we ended up in Fruita right off the bat , um, which was a very,

Speaker 1:

I keep saying grand junction, but I should refer to Fruto it's you cover the whole Valley from , because you have a business in Palisade and

Speaker 2:

I work in grand junction business and fallacy . Um, I remember pulling out the maps very early on and looking at the book cliffs and looking at the monument, not knowing that some of my ideas in the monument were just not accessible because of the monument. Um, but looking at the terrain , uh, and I just started going on some big back country rides to kind of get familiar with the area. And, you know, at that time, the trail world was not particularly developed there, not a lot in existence. Um, so that jived with me, I love to get out and just explore on bike. So heading out, you know, for what would turn out to be six, seven hour rides and just figuring out what was out there was a great way to get started. And then a couple years after we had been here , um, Rondo opened over the edge sports in Fruita and I actually began working for them. Uh, and we began developing trails in the North through the desert or 18 road. That was kind of a very immediate activity out there.

Speaker 1:

This was you as a group of friends or as cop MOBA.

Speaker 2:

This was me , uh, as an employee of over the edge and just as an interested party , um, and a group of folks, this was not under the auspices of cop MOBA at that time, although cop mobile was an existence. So Canova formed in 1989. And so this was about three, four years later. Um, and the trail development at that time was unofficial , uh, mostly , mostly out of ignorance as opposed to any sort of malice, but the trail work that we were doing in the North through the desert was riding cow trails and connecting them and realizing just what a fun place it is, what fun terrain. And there's a small grade that comes out the book cliffs there that sort of gives everybody this great feel when you're doing those downhill runs. You know,

Speaker 1:

It is really perfect , uh, terrain. And I think that there were lots of , um , different, multiple use users out there that were, you know , um , people like to go out there and shoot people like to ride their motorcycles, Jeeps, but , um, it really is great mountain bike terrain. And how did you work with all of those different groups to start to build trails and build a mountain biking community out there that kind of took over that area?

Speaker 2:

We, we started the community building really at that point was oriented around the shop , uh, simply because people were looking for a group to ride with and it just sort of grew organically. And a portion of that ride interested group was trail interested, you know, building and, and figuring out trails. So kind of a bigger group that was interested in getting out and doing activities. And as a subset that was interested in doing some trail work. Um, so in the early nineties , uh, you know, we, we would go out and do some trail work and come back the next day and find that someone had driven their Jeep down the trail with one tire on and one tire off. And, you know, and , and you sort of get the picture that whatever you did out there in that case was going to be kind of transitory, you know, there, there was nothing permanent about it. And we really did not understand the relationship we needed to have with BLM to be doing that work above board at that point. So I was involved with that activity for a couple of years, and that is when I then left and relocated to the front range to , uh, you know, take my job with estas Cox and was just sort of back and forth here as a lot of that more formal and larger development was taking place in through the desert. Um, and at that point, that trail development really caught the eye of BLM , uh, because a lot more people were using it and it became contentious because it needed to get everything needed to get above board, which, you know, it had not been formally done at that point or prior to that . Um, and that was an era that was, you know, not particularly easy, but a lot got done in forging a relationship between the trail community and formally with BLM. Now that this is a messy story because cot MOBA is one arm of that activity.

Speaker 1:

And the honesty story, wait , cheers, cheers.

Speaker 2:

The , uh, the unofficial or, you know , more socially driven trail construction was not tied together with cop MOBA and cop mobile was doing the formal work with BLM at that time. And, and the BLM realized, Hey, we're getting a lot of attention in this era , a lot being a relative term compared to now, but , uh, we're getting a lot of attention on these trails and we can't just accept socially built trails and pull them into cop MOBAs or a BLM inventory and responsibility. So they reached out and Cabo was who they reached out to and said, we need to build trails under a certain process. And , uh , separate from cop Mobo was this group of social trail builders who were doing a lot of work and thought and felt that that was really productive, but it was really leading to a problem. And the resolution of that problem took a few years to occur. But that timeframe, that resolution, that getting everybody around the same table is really what allows for what we have today.

Speaker 1:

Well, MOBA is very well-respected wouldn't you say? I mean, they have good relationship with the public, with the users and with the government.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And , and you have to have all those relationships in place to be effective. So in Mesa County, we're about 75% public land, almost all of that BLM managed. Um, there's a lot of us forest service managed public land, but most of the cop MOBA trails are on BLM managed lands. So that relationship is really key. We, we can't really make , uh , trails in the grand Valley and in much of Western Colorado , uh, without working with the federal land management agency, primarily be a lamb , but also forest service. So as co MOBA forged that relationship , uh, you know, in the early nineties, they were still a pretty novice organization. The , the first big project that they got on the ground and the Genesis of the organization was the Kokopelli trails . So from Loma to Moab, and that's primarily , uh , stitching together a bunch of old to track, you know, back country road ,

Speaker 1:

Right. Trails that are already in existence in one state or another. Yeah .

Speaker 2:

But identifying them and making a few links and really, you know, getting the , the mental picture of a trail like that on the ground and up and moving is really important. The fact that it was conceived of as easily accessible for my 70 , uh , was an important point and an important part of the thinking at the time, all along and from the very early days, camo has realized that the trails are not only great for us locally. Um, you know, for the , be able to walk out your front or back door, either be on your bike immediately or in your car for a few minutes and be on trails that are really impactful and, you know , important to you as a local resident is a huge value, but these things are also an economic engine in our community. So absolutely having visitors who will one pull off the interstate in the early days and say, Oh , I can be in an interesting place writing neat trails. Um, and too , as that body of visibility and the trail networks physically grow, clearly, the attention has, has come to our communities that is based on this outdoor recreation activity. Not that that trails are the only part of that, but there are very intentionally created. Part of that. And hub is now a little bit over 30 years old, we've been doing this. Uh, we have been five chapters recently coalesced to four chapters, but we're in communities all over Western Colorado, and we're doing the exact same thing that is coordinating volunteer effort, creating a relationship with our land managers so that we can actually create these projects and do everything we need to do legally and formally , and also working with our municipal partners, business partners,

Speaker 1:

Coordinating volunteers. Right.

Speaker 2:

And you don't get much done in a volunteer way if you can't sort of keep the energy up and get the engagement up. And that's what caught mob has done pretty successfully for three days.

Speaker 1:

Okay . So when you came back from your Colorado Springs gig , um, is that when you got involved in the leadership?

Speaker 2:

It is. Yeah. So in early first quarter of 2009 , um , returned here as I was bouncing back and forth. I kept my home in Fruita during those years. And , uh, to my wife's chagrin, we spent a lot of weekends over here working on an old house. Uh, but , uh, ultimately moved back in 2009, took my position with mountain racing products as head of engineering there and joined the cotton mobile board , um, served as a board member for a couple of years and then have held the presidency for the last 11, 10 years, something like that.

Speaker 1:

And why did you feel the need to get into a leadership role there? What did you want to accomplish with Kaba during your tenure and, and looking forward at , at the time that you became the , the board president?

Speaker 2:

Um, well, I first off that there is only one Avenue, just like I was talking about to do that trail development work. And that is through a formal organization and, you know , a very solid relationship with the land management agencies. And that is who cot MOBA is. Um, and by that time, by 2009, the idea of , uh, unofficially created trails had mostly tapered off because we had a strong formal presence with cop MOBA. So I simply wanted to be involved. I wanted to help. I realized that the planning efforts are so much more , uh, time intensive and energy intensive and important than just the building activities themselves. When you finally get to building a trail, that's at the very end , that's the easy part you're at the long end or the tail end of a very long, you know, process of formally getting things planned and ready to go.

Speaker 1:

And so , um, over that, the tenure of your , um , leadership, what areas of the Valley were you focused on? Obviously North Fruita desert, but what era , what other areas were you working on building more trails, connecting more trails, and what were your goals?

Speaker 2:

Well , um, you know, I had some personal goals, but organizationally is , is probably much more important. Um, we, it's always a mix of opportunistic activity , uh, where can we strike when an opportunity becomes available? Um, and that could be based upon a whole variety of different things. It could be a funding driven opportunity. It could be the completion of a certain stage of planning, and now you can get to a construction phase. So as you can imagine, we might have a handful of projects going simultaneously at different stages of development, so that something is always in the hopper, you know, sort of on a rolling basis. Um, so our main three trail networks of North Rita , desert Kokopelli and tab washer , lunch loop area, you know, they get the lion's share of the attention. Um, there's a lot of mileage there they're tremendous resources and we always want to expand and improve on those, which is great, but we're also looking to establish things at the Palisade end of the Valley, which was just physically removed from those trail networks , um, and looking for opportunity out there. So the Palisade rim trail was an early project , uh, and that really paved the way for a few things. It's interesting how these projects and what they accomplished sometimes rolls into greater opportunity. Later on when we designed and created the Palisade rim trail, we crossed that big open water siphon, which is the orchard Mesa irrigation district ditch, right there crossing that ditch was a huge accomplishment. Um, you know, the , the conversation in our Valley about, you know, riding ditch trails and, you know, ditch banks, things like that , um , getting the orchard Mesa irrigation district , uh, to work with us to allow a formal trail, there was an old social trail that crossed it, you know, for decades , uh, but to have a formal trail designated, there was a real accomplishment. It got a wonderful trail network , uh, you know, for that end of the Valley established. And when we get to the plunge and talking about that later, the , the crossing of that ditch , uh, one allowed for the, the ultimate exit point for the Palisade plunge, but it really established kind of a broader set of relationships that we drew upon later, but you really needed , you absolutely had to have. Yeah, you're right. We did need that. Um, and it, it's wonderful to look at these building blocks as you go. And the one thing that I think is neat is when we do this in one of our chapter areas, one of , so we have four cop MOBIT chapters, one in the grand Valley, we have one in Delta, Montrose, and Ridgeway. Uh, and when you, when you accomplish something in one area, you take that platform and you apply it somewhere else. And the relationships that you improve with your BLM office or your forest service office also go to improve relationships in other areas. So it's great to see, you know , you get something done in one place and it improves an opportunity in another town. Absolutely . So that's really cool.

Speaker 1:

So , um, Palisade rim, I , I, I have a mountain bike. Um, I don't ride it a lot. I , um, when I first moved to grand junction , uh, so I have a , I bought a stump jumper in , uh , 90 gosh, 93, 94, maybe I lived up in Lake city and I, I wrote it around, up there a little bit. Um, I finally got a new bike about two years ago. Yeah. So , um, and , and it's way more comfortable, way more fun to ride, been up to the power horn trails , uh, this summer with my kids a couple of times and my husband, that was super fun. Um, but I'm , I'm getting a little more trepidatious, but I tell you when I hike the Palisade rim trail, I think people mound like this. Yeah . You bet. Yeah. It seems really difficult to me. I can't believe it was constructed as a mountain bike trail. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Um, so that climb, it's funny, you mentioned Lake city, cause everything in Lake city is up right . Going out of town. So , uh , it's a lot like that on a smaller scale in Palisade, anywhere you go, you got to go up , um, you know, some , you just, you have to work with the terrain you have in, in large part. So that climb, not many of our trails in the Valley are quite like that. You know , not many force you, if you want to get out to the main loop, you got to go through that climb to get there. Um, but the beauty of that area is stunning to me. And there was an old social trail that actually went up to the petroglyphs up there that had been around for decades. You know, people would hike up the drainage and they would hike up Ridge line and get to the petroglyphs. And part of the motivation was to put in a trail that was sustainable. The old trail just went straight up the Hill in several areas and was really bad.

Speaker 1:

So you actually put in a few switchbacks that weren't there before.

Speaker 2:

Yeah . Had quite a few. Um, and it was no small challenge to get a buildable rideable maintainable trail, you know, up that first climb. Um, there's a gentleman named Carl Quist who has been a long time cop mobile member who , uh, created most of that layout. We employed him to go up and spend his time , um, you know, working out a trail alignment up there and then BLM of course had a big hand in it too. They , uh, worked on quite a few character spots of going up that first climb. And part of that construction was also completed by the WCCC that . So they had a group of youth up there that camped out for a couple of building weeks , uh, you know , camped out up on the rim would build constantly and did a ton of that work. Um, taking advantage of riding along that Ridge and that cliff side , uh, you know, it's just beautiful terrain,

Speaker 1:

Beautiful terrain . Yeah. So when did you first start to get the ideas for the Palisade plunge ? I mean obviously if you're hiking and biking, anywhere in that area, your , your mind was probably working like there's so much untapped potential. There's so much land out here that nobody is accessing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, boy, you , so you just brought up like three or four things that are exciting to me. Um, so the top of the Mesa has some wonderful back country trail that gets nearly no use, certainly from a bike point of view and highly from a foot point of view and even only moderate use from an equestrian point of view. And that is the trail that is flowing park area and in the Cantor Creek drainage, which is just a little further South of ultimately where the plunge happens to be that kind of back country trail is my favorite sort of riding . You know, you have a big day outing, you cover huge country. That's just gorgeous trails are 10 tend to be totally empty and rough. And that just is enjoyable for me. Not everybody likes that, you know , that most people don't tend to take off on rides like that. Um, so the idea of connecting the top of the Mesa to the Valley is really natural when you're standing up on top of the Mesa and you're looking at the Valley and you're thinking, I know what the country is like between here and there. And it's really neat. Yeah . So that discussion was in the back of my mind. And also on the back of my partner, Rondo's mind Rhonda lives in the town of Mesa and has worked on the Mesa at powder horn for years. And he was up there one day and bumped into some mule writers . The Clark's from Clark orchards down in Palisade, who were up on top of the Mesa and Rondo said, how did you get up here? And , uh, they mentioned what's called the Miller stock trail. And that is an old stock trail that people drive cattle up and down still in use , uh , because cattle are, are grazed on both the top and some of the lower benches. Um, and that connects up through the rim of the Mesa and that that's the key to getting on the Mesa is getting through that big rock band that we all see that forms that sharp edge of the Mesa. So, you know, Rondo quizzed him. And he said, well, you know, we wrote up the Miller stock trail and it , it is a ver we went and found it it's on city of grand junction property, right ?

Speaker 1:

Neither one of you knew about it before, before they mentioned it. Or

Speaker 2:

I had, I had not heard the name, but I knew that a connection existed there physically, but that it wasn't until we started having that discussion that I put two and two together and thought more critically about it. Um, and while the stock trail is a really neat place in and of itself, it's in an , a location that's not very convenient or very friendly for a high quality trail to get to and get away from. And really getting through the rock band of the Mesa is one of the key elements of what ultimately the plum drought had to do, which is we're on top. And we know we need to get below and there's this big rock band, and we have to find a way through it. And we , we committed I an idea that we were not going to go through it on a road. We're going to go through it on trail. So as the idea of a trail from top to bottom of the Mesa started to come together. The things that were stuck in our minds were this has gotta be, you know, the country is just stunning and it offers so much to take advantage of if you're going to make a trail there, it's gotta be a high quality trail. It's not going to be linking together pieces of dirt road and, you know, using lands and road to get through the rock band, things like that, it's going to be a very intentional activity. And at that point, so I think that discussion I wasn't there, but I think that discussion probably took place in about 2007. And in 2008, we started poking around by bike looking little more formally, there are some existing trails that kind of gave you the, you know, the Genesis of thinking about this and started doing a couple of back country rides with some other folks who are willing to push through Oak Brook .

Speaker 1:

I was going to say, I can only imagine I'm visualizing rocks and bushes and Oak brush and how hard it must be to get a bike through there when you're just searching for a place.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. You're just looking for, you know, what makes sense? How can I get from a to B and what makes sense out here? Where, where could it go? And you're, you're way far ahead of where will it go? You know, that those are two different.

Speaker 1:

So when I look at the, the map that we've got here, I'm sure that excitement grew as you realized, how perfect is it to be able to end up in the town of Palisade? I mean, it's right. The bottom of the trail and where can you do things like that? I mean, maybe Switzerland, right? Where they've got a little town at the bottom of every mountain, but

Speaker 2:

You know, that this was th there are several really important elements to the trail. Um, one of them is simply from the physical aspect of making this connection. One as a writer , you recognize that having 6,000 feet of net relief is just a really attractive bikeable thing, right? That's fun. And, and that doesn't happen in many places in the world we happen to have in this region, two examples of trails, similar to this. So Monarch crest, which starts at the top of Monarch pass and can leave you near to the town of saliva , but not in it. And , uh , the whole enchilada, which starts in the LaSalle mountains and leaves you near to Moab, but not in it. And the opportunity to end adjacent the town of Palisade with all of our wineries and vineyards and viticulture and agritourism and BnBs, and, and to be a positive impact on that community to keep those businesses thriving and alive, where they have been very challenged to stay that way for decades. Um, you know, so that the physical fun of the trail was certainly one key element. The other was very much an economic driver picture. Um, and the fact that we are sitting next to a physical resource that is very, very seldomly found anywhere. There are not many trails like this around the world. And very few of them, other than, you know, your examples of, you know, in the Alps and right next to a small municipality that can cater to, and the trail also links in. So, you know, so broadly with her other trail activities and resources in the Valley. So a lot of pieces that, that, you know, filtering together,

Speaker 1:

I I'm, I'm kind of thinking about a trifecta of the whole enchilada and the , uh, the one in Slyda Monarch crest , um, you know, completing all three, you get some sort of trophy, right.

Speaker 2:

Um , tattoo . Perfect.

Speaker 1:

And we've got great tattoo artists here in town. We can do them happen . We need to commission something . So talk about your baby here. How did you ultimately decide on the path that it takes? I mean, this had to have taken hours and hours and days, and weeks and months of writing and searching. Um, not to mention where we are now, which is most, a lot of the trail is already built at this point, but yeah. How did you, how did you get the , the final course here?

Speaker 2:

Let me point at it, which won't do anything for our audience.

Speaker 1:

Right. So you'll just have to watch on video. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Um, so the Mesa top Trailhead is an existing Trailhead that many of you have probably been to that's right on highway 65. If you drive up highway 65 past powder horn up to the top of the Mesa and right past the Skyway and in-between Skyway and County line ski areas is the Mesa top trail head. This was actually established by the forest service in large part to serve the winter snowmobile users. That's why that parking lot is so monstrous and they have changing rooms and bathrooms, but they also recognized that they were going to encourage bicycle use on the top of the Mesa. That was part of their intent for the planning of that Trailhead really , and the creation of flowing park trail and Mesa top trail was just, you know, part of the evolution of that planning. So there was already a focus on trail based rec and utilizing the Mesa top trail head . It's a great resource. And there are existing trails that , that come out of that area over to the flowing park area, which is the South side of the Canik Creek drainage. That's the Cantor Creek drainage. And there are existing trails that actually go below the rim from , uh , Carson Lake, which is up in this area and they wrap around and they, this one called coal Creek trail comes down to the wild Rose picnic area. So this, that right on lands end road, yeah. That start of using coal Creek trail to get to wild Rose was a huge starting path. Uh , and this co-create trail is open to bikes in , did you not

Speaker 1:

Consider just using that as the first part of the trail?

Speaker 2:

We absolutely did because this is about 15 miles of existing trail, a little bit less , uh, that you immediately think of as using that as part of the route. And that was part of the original , um, you know, conceptual route, a very important part. And then you have to think about, well, okay, how do I get from here to way over there in town of Palisade, there is an existing trail that goes, this is called whitewater basin through here. And we, this is the only part of the existing forest service trail that we actually use. And this was trail that existed. It's called the whitewater basin trail. And we reuse that, although we also rebuilt it a fair amount, but then you're out here in the middle of nowhere and you still have miles and miles to go a couple of , uh , bike ride efforts through that area. And that's where the, the Oak brush and the scratch legs, you know, endeavors really, really were big. Um, I, a few years ago, I put out a notice on Facebook to a ride group called the alcoholics. And I said, going on an exploratory ride, working on a trail from the top of the Mesa to the Valley floor, I can promise you adventure. I can not promise you any fun. And I had two people sign up to join me that day. One of them broke his bike very quickly and had to bail out , uh , the other fellow. And I made it all the way down. And, you know, I'm, I'm enthused to take him out on a ride of this trail that a few short number of years later is nearly a finished

Speaker 1:

Thing will be a finished thing. It has happened pretty quickly. When you think about all the effort that's gone in and the number of collaborators that have had to come together to make it happen. I mean, really it's been pretty fast.

Speaker 2:

It's been very fast when you look at trail development on public land, it's almost always a 10 year process, and you're only a tenure, you're a tenure process for those that are successful. And that sort of, you know , ignores the fact that a number of those good ideas never make it through a long process like that. They get filtered out. So, you know, we, we really had the basic idea , uh, ground proofed or ground truth , uh, for where this thing could go by about 2013. Um , you know, we had been out there on the ground, had either walked or written, you know , through these various areas and had a good idea of what could be done. And it wasn't until fall of 2015 that the state , uh, Colorado state under governor Hickenlooper announced what they called this program that was going to be called the 16 and 16. So it was 16 trails to be implemented or worked on in 2016. And in the fall of 2015, they were, you know, reaching out to the community and saying, if you have trail ideas, consider submitting them to this program and the program didn't guarantee any money or funding. Right. But what it did guarantee was some state interest and that really paid off because it just helped get everybody to the table. You know, it added a little bit of heft to the idea.

Speaker 1:

And was that born out of the outdoor recreation office and Luis Benitez?

Speaker 2:

No, it preceded that by several years. Yeah. Um, in early 2015, governor Hickenlooper in his state of state state of the state address mentioned , uh, this commitment to trail based recreation. And that really caught my ear. I was listening to that , uh , on a podcast. And , um, I thought, wow, I wonder what he means by that. And what's going to come of that. And they announced the program in the summer of 2015 with some sort of generality to it. And I thought, Oh my God, this is a great opportunity for our trail idea. And , uh, he gave the keynote address at what's called Interbike, which is a , um, a bike industry. Um, what do you call it? Um, convention, convention. Yeah. Um, held in Las Vegas and governor Hickenlooper visited. And , uh, Ken Gart was his , uh, bike czar , appointed bikes are at the state, paid the dollar a year salary to be the bikes are , uh, and they came and I got to touch base with , uh, Ken at the Interbike convention and talk about the plunge. And then within about a month or two had submitted that, and the trail was selected to be on the 16 and 16 project list as was our riverfront trail, which was also submitted,

Speaker 1:

Which is amazing. Were there any other communities that had two trades ? I don't think there were, I don't think so either.

Speaker 2:

That was, you know, we were very aware of that because as we applied, we, we both knew we were applying and we wondered if that might not work well. So each of our projects interests that we had to what we thought were good projects coming from the same region. The fact that both were selected, I think was really fortunate

Speaker 1:

That says a lot about the planning and dedication of the people here in our community , uh, you and the other group that submitted the plans and, and, and the potential that we have for connectivity and trail use. I mean, this is outdoor recreation Mecca we have right here. It is. Um, and they were both, both

Speaker 2:

Ideas are really powerful ideas in slightly different ways, but they both are really community investments. Um, when we made the application for the plunge , uh, in , I don't know, September, October, 2015, we reached out to let you know, because you needed to make an economic argument for this too . Uh, you were talking about spending a lot of money to, to build a trail like this, and you could have conceived of it as doing it on a shoestring budget, or really kind of investing and doing it on a more full-throated budget. And as I looked around at , uh, you know, it's hard to find economic impact information in the first place, but in 2007 that the Chafee County visitors and convention Bureau wrote a note to the federal agencies, the forest service, when, when they were talking about making changes to the trail that the Monarch crest , uh , ride uses, they were considering closing that to bikes , uh, a portion of it, which rarely would have impacted the Monarch crest trail and the Chafee County VCB wrote a letter to the forest service saying, please don't do this. This is really important to us economically. And here are some numbers that, that target the economic impact that that trail makes in our community in $2,007. That was a great dart on the dartboard for me to look at , uh, you know, what, what is the economic evolution been between Oh seven and current, and how, if you're an active bike user and rider and know the bike community like I do, it's easy to see how these economic things balloon and how they dovetail with each other,

Speaker 1:

Right? But it took a long time for that data to get into a form that we could use to .

Speaker 2:

And you're still pulling strings, you know, from anywhere you can find them to try to make that case and the bike industry, as well as his head has been and continues to try to get that information established. So you can really look at how these trail resources affect communities economically, because it helps with construction, budgets, maintenance, budgets, you know, getting what might be public dollars and, or , uh, you know, business community dollars to be invested into these resources. So making that case was really critical. And I think that was really important at this time.

Speaker 1:

Talk a little bit about the funding and how much did the trail cost . It's not fully complete yet, but there's still a little bit more to be done.

Speaker 2:

I'm very close, but the budget part has been behind us for a couple of years. Um, so you have to look at everything from the formal planning costs to get through the environmental study process that's required, you know , to build a trail on federal lands.

Speaker 1:

I discovered things along the way that you didn't know were going to happen, right.

Speaker 2:

The things. Um, so there were , um, let's see, one, two, three, four grants. I believe if I'm not forgetting any, that two of the grants for the planning process, one was a very preliminary , uh, you know, basically get your ducks in a row and really formalize this as a project. Uh, so we had some support from a town of Palisade application that was funded and critically to go back to the partnership discussion. We enrolled Mesa County in this process in a way that the County has never been a partner in our trail building activities in the past and the County participation. When you go to apply for grants, it's great when cop mobile applies and we have a bunch of supporting voices, it's even more powerful when somebody like a municipality is the applicant and has a bunch of supporting voices. It's yet even more powerful when the County is the applicant and has, you know, supporting municipal voices and nonprofit voices and the business community. And, you know, so getting Mesa County on board , uh, which was not a heavy lift once we finally had the pitch to make , uh, was really a key aspect. So being in the 16 and 16 project, having Mesa County as a committed partner, having the municipalities of Palisade and city of grand junction, because we actually cross city of grand junction property, Palisade property, both of their watersheds, you know, all kinds of partners , uh, having Colorado parks and wildlife at the table, which was what came along with the 16 and 16 work , uh, was really critical. So we got through initial planning and then we were awarded the formal money to do the planning that would get us through the NEPA process, which is the national environmental policy act, which if you're going to build a project and disturb public land, you know , under BLM or forest, or this process got to go through NEPA. Um, so that's when our working group really sat down, which was representatives from forest service, BLM , uh, CPW CD of grand junction town of Palisade cop MOBA , uh, and then business community with , uh, not only rapped to Greek cycles as a representative, but also Powderhorn mountain resort , uh , you know, a strong advocate from early on and got to work on the formal horse trading as to where this thing was going to go. Um, and you know, some big changes were made. I, you know, I talked about this initial coal Creek trail early on. I give the credit to the forest service when we first provided them that proposal that they said, yeah, let's talk about this. You know, we're , we understand the idea. We generally support the idea. Let's, let's look into this. Well, what came out a little bit later on is that using that existing trail to really did not have a big conflict with their management strategy for the Cantor Creek basin. They look at that area as much more back country focus. It really conceptually and management strategy would not support the idea of funneling. A lot of users through an intensively use trail in that region. So they said, well, you basically, if you keep the trail up on top of the Mesa, until you get outside the Cantor Creek basin, that we can support that it's like, wow, that's giving up 15 miles of existing bike, accessible trail, and a whole bunch more money to build new trail. And we have to find a way through the rim that isn't sort of a natural way along that drainage. Um, and you know, we were talking about the Miller stock trail to get through the rim and we were giving up our one best bet that what really cinched the deal was finding this old historic John auto built connection that we call the auto trail

Speaker 1:

And autos wall as

Speaker 2:

Well, which had, it was an old fallow trail that had been developed in the very early 19 hundreds. And it basically, it had certainly gone out of use. It had very nearly gone out of existence. It was, there was a landslide through kind of the crux part of it. Uh, but when we, when we found this as an access down through the rim and recognize that this was our best high-quality trail location choice and the forest, we're still in the kind of the edge of the Canterbury base and the forest service said, we think that's a fair trade-off, you know , we're willing to allow the access to the basin in that area, even though you're still formally in the basin, but it meets the general trade offs that, you know, everybody was looking to protect the things that were most important to them. We were protecting and managing impact on wildlife. You know, Colorado parks and wildlife was very focused on that. We're providing for a great recreation opportunity activity that really needed to be high quality. I always said if , if somebody rides this trail and if they don't finish it and think, Oh my God, I've got to bring my friend back here and do this again. Right. Then we've missed the Mark.

Speaker 1:

I'm sure that is going to be an understatement. Um, talk a little bit about the , uh , difficulty of the trail, because it's not for your average Joe writer . Like I'm not going to go up there and take my , my mountain bike that I ride a couple times a year. No, you would not want to do that. No ,

Speaker 2:

I will point out that there are , um, kind of some different segments to it and things vary by segment. Not, not just that they were intended to be that, but that's the way it has worked out. So from Mesa top trailer , if you think about the trail riding high to low, you know, top of the Mesa to down, which is probably how most users are going to interact with it that first , uh , roughly 11 miles, you only lose about a thousand feet between Mesa, top trail head and the edge of the Mesa.

Speaker 1:

Cause you're still really on , on top all the time.

Speaker 2:

You have a lot of rolling terrain. The , the trail style up there is not particularly technical and it intersects other trail and dirt road connections up there. So it, it not only creates this brand new trail, but it expands the connectivity, which was an important part again, of the planning of the route. So that is going to be not just an out and back opportunity, but it opens up multiple loop opportunities.

Speaker 1:

And to be clear, this is a great top to bottom ride, but it is not restricted. That's right. It is not. You can go, you can go travel as well. You could ride up at, which would be super challenging, I'm guessing, but you can also hike or horseback.

Speaker 2:

You it's open to foot and bike everywhere. It's open to a Crestron used on the forest service, which is more than the upper half at the forest service. BLM boundary is to the North side of lands and road below the rim of the Mesa. But so everything from there up is horse accessible and then the entire trail is foot and bike accessible .

Speaker 1:

I know I've mentioned you a couple of times. My husband thinks this, this be a great re run up. Oh yeah. They were just attract a lot of people. That's a huge climb. Um, okay. So keep talking about , uh, the difficulty , um,

Speaker 2:

So that first 11 plus miles to get to our brand new Trailhead , this is called shirt , tail point, this little geologic feature here. Um, so that's a, you know, a beginner to intermediate skill level experience with other trail connections. So, you know, just that's a world in and of itself when you're at ShoreTel point, you're confronted with , um, that I'm now kind of leaving the easier access of the top of the Mesa for , for one of the , you're making a commitment and it's about three and a half miles until you cross lands in road right here. And this is a great taste of you start off with immediately very technically challenging stuff to get down that auto trail. A lot of folks are gonna choose to walk that, that, you know, these segments are relatively short, even good writers. Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. And it's not a machismo, you know, situation. You need to look at the trail, decide what you're going to do and, and, you know, take that choice willingly. This three plus miles gives you a great experience of, you know, back country. You like you're out in the middle of nowhere and it's, it's just stunningly, gorgeous, beautiful country, Aspen groves, and a few water crossings. And you get to the lens and road crossing, which is about Mike mile 14.7. And if, if you realize that that was a huge commitment on your part, you have the opportunity you could ride back up lands and road if you wanted and return returned by road. So that is really kind of your last opportunity though. And now you depart into whitewater basin and you ,

Speaker 1:

So what's the mileage from there. Like if you leave that point, what are you committed to writing? Yeah. You would be writing about four miles, you know, I mean, if you go down from there, you okay .

Speaker 2:

I have about 17 miles until you finished trail from lands and road crossing here. Uh, so total, total, we are a 31.8 miles of trail. And then , uh , about another two miles , uh, to get from the finish of dirt trail, into downtown Palisade, which is the formal start finish of the route. So when you leave lands and road, you're at mile point 14.7 and you have about 17 miles to get to what an essence is, the Palisade rim trail head. We don't share any of the Palisade rim trail. We don't reuse that for the plunge. We are totally separate, but we do have a couple of little connectors down in the rim trail area that gives us some great lower loop activity for our local rides and access, which is a great , uh , Benny. Um, and while not all of this trail is, is highly technical. There are definitely some very technical parts of it. So, you know, we w we decided as a working group was that to classify below the rim as an advanced trail. And that isn't to say that every bit of that mileage is technically advanced. There's a lot of it that is not, but you have to be prepared and mentally prepared and skill prepared for the sections that are, and, you know, the trails have their , they have a life in the world of users out there with so many web , um, web accessible, you know, trail websites that you can get to, to find trail information and people are chiming in, and they're ranking. And they're talking about how wonderful and how terrible and how hard and, you know, yeah , there's tons of information out there. So it's hard to convey a real strong message, you know, with the output channels that we have, but we have to do that. Uh, so advanced, so beginner intermediate for the upper mileage, advanced below the rim, and we have been running , uh , because this is an economic impact project. We've been running some media trips, taking media writers down the lower, what we call the phase one part of the trail, which is lands and road down to , um, to offer some visibility to that for articles and media activities that will show up next spring when the trail is really ready to open and full , um, most folks are just blown away by what they experience.

Speaker 1:

So I've heard, yes. You know, we ,

Speaker 2:

We live in a country that a lot of people never have the opportunity to access country like that. Uh, it has a great variety, you know, you're starting the high point of the trail up at the very top Mesa top trail head is about 10,700 feet a little bit over that. The river where we end at the PA the Palisade rim trail head is at 4,700 feet. So it's a little over 6,000 feet net vertical, and you are, you know, pine Aspen , uh, Alpine in the upper area. And you finish in , you know , upper desert and the diversity of terrain, the views in that are just frankly stunning. There , there are many times when you turn corners on this trail. And I personally was just like, the Valley just explodes in front of you. And, you know, you're looking down on the Booklist , you're looking at the red rock country of the monument area. You're looking at the mouth of [inaudible] Canyon. You're looking at, you know, the slick rock of the ribbon when it rains, and it's shining out there on the opposite side of the Valley. It's just, the country is gorgeous. And, and it's , uh, it's access to public land that we have never really had. Um, unless you were somebody who was just gonna take off hiking across the back country, which very few people do. Absolutely . There has never been trail access to a lot of this public land. And that's one thing that this plunge trail provides. It's a really important part.

Speaker 1:

Thanks so much for your vision on this, Scott. I think, you know, people are just blown away at , um , how big you thought on this. And , and that's a great thing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it is. It is , uh , a big project. It's sucked up a lot of my life in time. And , and I don't mean that in a bad way, I'm happy to do it, but it is, it's been a lot of work. And a lot of people, you know, you just, you could not get through a project like this without the community saying, yeah, we think this is really interesting.

Speaker 1:

Lots of thanks to all the various organizations who have participated in , in making sure this got approved and, and constructed and enter the people that donated money to a lot of, a lot of businesses in town. And , um, a lot of our community really got behind this

Speaker 2:

In a huge way. Um, business donations rolled in to the tune of $5,000 here, $2,000 there , $3,000 there. And I had people literally handing me dollar bills saying, put this in the kitty , love it . You know, so it, it ranged far and wide. We also had money that came in from outside our country and outside our state. We had donors from New Mexico, Arizona, California, North Dakota, Massachusetts. I think if I'm remembering properly , uh, you know, donors from the UK, just, it, it , it resonates with folks. And we're kind of getting used to seeing , uh,

Speaker 1:

Uh, van loads of foreigners at some of our trailheads . So I think it's just going to keep increasing with this. Scott, what is your favorite part to ride on the whole trail?

Speaker 2:

Wow. Um, that's like saying, you know, who's your favorite kid? It , uh,

Speaker 1:

If there's one place you could dislike do over and over and over,

Speaker 2:

You know, I mean, I have to say, so living in Fruita and driving, you know, aimed East through the Valley, I'm looking at the Mesa all the time from far away. And I find myself driving down the interstate or driving down highway six, coming towards grand jugs and looking at the Mesa. And I thought one day I don't as much, like see the trail up there as I feel it, it just feels like there's this connection up there. And so to me, this whole route, you know, I've been so involved with it. So tied up in it. Um, every little bit of it is interesting to me, the , the physical aspect of it. Um, I really love the whitewater basin area. You come through whitewater Creek, which is this beautiful , uh, you know, regularly flowing. There's very few regular water spots, but, but that is one of them. And you dropped down below the nose of this landslide right here down this really fun descent . And then you're traversing through just back country. And then that gets you over to the Ridge line, which is if you've ever hiked or written the Palisade Ram , if you stop and look towards the Mesa, you've got this big Ridge line over your head. This trail runs from South to North along that Ridge line. And then ultimately comes zigzagging off the face of it. And that is just this little spider web of trails here is just , uh , it's a surreal experience, frankly, to , you know, you stand at the top of high hiked all over that Ridge time and time again, with my dog, with my son's dog and , uh , to , to picture and see a line down that is it's, you know, when it finally occurs to you that yeah, you can make this work well. That's neat. So I can't really answer your question very definitively. I love it all . Well,

Speaker 1:

I could talk about this. I'm sure we have plenty of , um , topics on just the Palisade plunged to cover for another hour. But I think , uh , in the interest of time, we'll wrap it up. Um, tell our listeners and our viewers , uh, about the opening and when they can expect to go out and ride the Palisade Flint .

Speaker 2:

Well, this is really going to be a spring opening endeavor. Um , very late spring, actually it could fall into early summer just depending on , um, water and snow and mud access timeframes. So a couple of important points. We basically broke the project up into two phases. Phase one was from lands and road down, which we worked on first phase two is obviously that, which we're still working on. Now. The part that is yet to be completed is between ShoreTel point and lands and road there's currently work going on. And if the crews can get that completed before the weather stops work, the great benefit is that all this trail's going to sit under our winter moisture for a few months, which is wonderful for it. That's the best thing that could possibly happen. And if they finished that construction, then by the time that the snow melt is clear and things have dried out next year, the entire route will be open and ready to go. Uh , if they haven't finished all this construction, they'll have to get back in once things dry out and complete that bit of work. So we might be delayed, you know, a few weeks or maybe, I don't know, I I'd say on the high side, probably four to six weeks of work, and I don't think it would be that long. Um, so, you know, pretty much a guarantee by early summer next year, entire route is complete and rideable . Uh, so that's 31.8 miles of dirt and finishing into town of Palisade. Um, the, the other small things we're finishing up right now are the signage, which is going to go be installed up on the second phase of the trail, which is this really great project that, you know, the working group did it together. And I think the results came out wonderfully working with one of our local graphics , uh , uh, resources to , to create this monument graphics , um, and , uh , search and rescue plan to get finished up, which is things like identifying heli sites and access points and having the local Serkan search and rescue resources know what their access times are and things like that, which is still in process now, which is really important. This is a back country route, and it's not about scaring people, but even, you know, a simple accident when you're far removed can be a very serious thing. So the search and rescue side is , is important.

Speaker 1:

And if people want to find more information online, where can they go find that ,

Speaker 2:

Um, cop moba.org , we have a web page strictly for the plunge. It is right now, it still was oriented around the initial fundraising effort. We have not transitioned that page yet, but if you go to cop moba.org , there will be ongoing plunge activity there , information. And we have the website , um , Palisade plunge.com , which will ultimately be that portal of impact .

Speaker 1:

And do the , both of those websites have information on shuttles and how you can access

Speaker 2:

Well. So that's called mobile information. These, those web page resources are going to be trail information and Cottonwood has not engaged with providing access or shuttling or things like that. That is actually a state managed process to provide shuttles. You have to have what's called a PUC permit. So you're kind of the equivalent environment of operating a taxi service. Um, so there are three , uh, permitted shuttle providers , uh , which the forest service has permitted at this point, although none of them were active yet because trail access is not yet open, right . Uh , but next year, those three shuttle providers will be providing services to get folks up to the top of the Mesa. You can self shuttle, certainly, you know, it's not, you don't have to be provided access through one of those providers.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Scott widens, Palisade plunge, super excited. Thank you for all your hard work. Thanks for talking to us today. And we look forward to celebrating with you in the spring when this opens for the general public,

Speaker 2:

We are going to have, I think, a few good parties too , to celebrate a lot of, a lot of the different aspects of this, the partners, just the , the fun, the cop Mobis side, get out dude as group rides, you know, things like that. So keep your eyes open for that.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much for joining us today. This is Kristie Reese with the full circle podcast. Thanks for listening and watching. Be sure to join us next month. When I talk to the awesome ladies behind hot tomato pizza in Fruita, I'm getting hungry, just thinking about the Stromboli.