Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Back To Camp Robinson-Getting A New Pass, Upcoming Closures and More.

A Rite Of Fall

I'm primarily a road rider. I enjoy mountain biking mostly as a chance to get out of the cold wind in the woods and to let my trail dogs enjoy the freedom of running unfettered for miles. Camp Robinson is my preferred locale for doing that--it is just a few minutes from the house and is a perfect place for Willie and Ivy to do their thing. I also prefer to get out on the dirt after most of the snakes, ticks, and chiggers have hunkered down for the winter.

There were a few puddles after recent rains but the upper trails are hard packed and hold up well. The pups like to cool their paws when they get a chance. 

There are about 40 miles of well maintained single track in TA 2, the mountain bike area. Frequent community work days complemented by the regular efforts of folks like Basil Hicks, Jr and 3, and Scott and Sharon Saunders mean that the trails at Camp Robinson are always in top shape. 

The leaves are falling fast but there is still plenty of color and the trails are still clearly visible. 

There seems to be an annual debate as to how much leaf clearing is appropriate. I come in somewhere in the middle on this discussion. The most frequently ridden trails may benefit from some protection afforded by fallen leaves, while trails like Merlin's and Shipwreck can be rendered invisible when buried under the thick cover. I've found myself off trail on more than one occasion and rocks and roots can become hidden mines. That said, this is a quiet debate that resolves itself.


Trail Dog Training

I've been asked several times how I trained the pups to be such good trail dogs. I can't take any credit. Willie and Ivy, like their predecessors Zuli and Josie, take to the trail naturally. They go where I go, whether that be hiking or riding, and they love having the freedom to run, something I can't afford them on leash. The dogs seem to instinctively want to take the lead and I take great pleasure in being able to witness their sheer joy of running.


 Willie and Ivy always lead the way. I do my best to keep the pace and distance low on fall rides but they are not real patient. Willie is the most senior athlete and, like me, he needs more conditioning  and recovery these days. Ivy's bandana makes her more visible in the woods.

If you trust your dog to stay with you, and most will, Camp Robinson is a good place to take a well behaved dog for some mutual exercise. Keep aggressive dogs at home. 

Fungus 

This wet fall has created a perfect environment for mushrooms. Like many other folks, this has spurred my interest in learning more about them.
Coral mushrooms like these are everywhere at Camp. They are edible but I've refrained from trying them without some expert confirmation.

 These caught my eye due to their size-they were 9-10" across


I'm just trying to learn some basics of mushroom identification and have not eaten any wild finds. The variety of types is almost overwhelming but very interesting. 

Current Sportsman Pass Procedure
Access to Camp Robinson for riders requires a Sportsman Pass. The procedure has been slightly different each year since the system used for hunters and fishermen was made to include cyclists.
I renewed my pass yesterday and the current process is below, subject to change:

1- At the visitor center, where riders normally check in, present your driver's license, along with current auto registration and proof-of-insurance
This step is required even if you have a current pass, as they run the required new background check at this point.
You will be issued a temporary pass that confirms the background check. 

2- After entering the gate with your pass and photo ID, proceed to Building 4201, where you pay $30.00 in cash or check (no credit cards) for the annual pass and will get a receipt.  This is a new step from last year's procedure. 

3-After getting a receipt for your payment, go to the nearby HQ building where signs will direct you to the office where passes are issued. They will want to see your pass, receipt, and photo ID. They'll take your picture and issue a new pass and dashboard card. 

The process is only slightly tedious, and I would suggest allowing about 30 minutes and a little patience. 

Current hours for obtaining passes are Monday-Friday 8:00AM-3:00PM, closed from 11:00-12:00 for lunch. 

The most common hang-up is lack of current proof-of-insurance. Check your documents before heading out to avoid delays. 
This was mentioned to me by the security guard because mine had just expired and my new proof of insurance was laying on my desk at home. I had to call my agent and have it e-mailed to my phone as I waited. 

Upcoming Closure Dates
TA 2 is closed from time to time for hunting and for military operations.


 Note the closure dates shown above.

I'm looking forward to my annual re-learning-to-mountain-bike experience. I love being in the woods and I also get reacquainted with my dedicated dirt riding friends. Wednesday evenings are regular ride nights at Camp for many folks, often including a post ride social hour.