Sunday, April 29, 2018

Review - Secret-Lamoille Trail, Lamoille-Talbot section

A friend of mine - a photojournalist and adventure sports writer - recently blew through town on his way back home from covering the Sea Otter, a huge season-opening mountain bike race meet in California.  While he was here, he decided to give the completed portion of the Secret-Lamoille trail a spin, and here's what he told me via e-mail, along with some photos he took:
"I’ve been riding in the Rubies for about 12 years now. I first rode them back in about 2005, returning from Colorado to the Bay Area, where I lived at the time. I asked the desk clerk at my motel if there was anywhere to mountain bike and she sent me to Lamoille Canyon. My expectations were low and since it was November I hit snow pretty early in my ride and didn’t get far. However, what I saw stuck with me and I’ve been going back at regular intervals, ever since.

"Although I’ve explored the Rubies a bit, my main ride is the one that goes to the pass at the top of Lamoille Canyon. It’s pretty steep and rocky and definitely not for everyone. The scenery and descent are fabulous, though.

"A couple of years ago Sue took me on a short hike up the Secret-Lamoille Trail. Aside from easy access and friendly grades, it didn’t make much of an impression on me at the time. However, after riding it for the first time (the morning after our phone call), I have very different feelings about it. Other than a couple of corners that were too tight for me to make, it’s a very, very nice trail. It flows well and I think it has pretty broad appeal to both beginners and experienced riders. The climb up was pretty comfortable without being boring or easy; and the descent was super fun. I like that they left some rocks in the trail to keep things entertaining. And as you’ll see from the photos I took, the landscape is absolutely spectacular.

"Lamoille Canyon and the Rubies were already a worthy mountain biking destination. But if the Secret-Lamoille Trail can be completed, they will have a whole lot more to offer. The Secret-Lamoille Trail is more than just a fun trail, too. It would provide increased access to the whole Ruby Mountain range, most of which is blocked by private ranches. It’s the beginning of what could be a huge trail network. I would love to see that."
It's gratifying to get such a glowing review from someone who's ridden some of the country's most epic trails, and who has covered some of the most important MTB events in the world. The even more exciting part is that there is the teeny tiny possibility that IMBA, the International Mountain Bicycling Association, may be interested in working with locals to get the trail, finally, completed and built to USFS spec for an MTB and equestrian trail.

We'll see.  The potential is there to develop a trail that could earn IMBA's Epic Trail designation - a designation that will put Elko County on the map for mountain bike tourists. I'm not counting chickens, at least not these ones, but stranger things have happened...

More pretty pictures from my friend John Shafer, a man perhaps better known in MTB and photography circles as Photo-John.  Click on the pictures to make them bigger - you'll be glad you did.

Friday, January 12, 2018

SnoBowl Bike Trails RFP

It's finally happening!  After what seems like FOREVER, we have final approval from the folks at the Recreation Trails Program to fund our mountain bike trails project up at the SnoBowl!

Here is the RFP for the project.  Contact me if you'd like me to e-mail you a .kmz.


The Elko SnoBowl Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, (the “SnoBowl”) invites all interested and qualified persons or firms capable of providing the listed Scope of Work to submit bids for the completion of an approximately 9.15 mile singletrack mountain bike loop trail system. Completed bids must be received by the SnoBowl prior to bid opening.  Mail or deliver bids to Elko SnoBowl Foundation, PO Box 281267, Lamoille, NV  89828.  The bid-opening will occur at 2:00, Friday, February 23rd, 2018, at the Elko BLM office.

The Elko SnoBowl Foundation has acquired grant funding from the Federal Recreational Trails Program (“RTP”)  to build a new natural surface, purpose-built, singletrack mountain bike trail loop system at the SnoBowl Ski & Bike Park in Elko, Nevada  (hereinafter referred to as the “Project”). The Trail will commence at the ski base area of the Elko SnoBowl, and will feature a stacked loop system on the west and southeast aspects of the SnoBowl property.  While this is to be a cross-country mountain bike trail, the SnoBowl will also in future provide weekly lift-served trail access to riders. This will be the only constructed mountain-bike specific singletrack trail in the region and it should be designed in anticipation that it will eventually (with future undetermined funding) serve as the heart of a trail system connecting the SnoBowl with the Elko city limits. The SnoBowl desires to purchase the services of a professional trail building contractor (the “Contractor”) to build the Project, the build to commence in spring, 2018, with a completion date of no later than November 1, 2019.  Contractors able to complete the project before December 31, 2018 will receive special consideration in the bid process. 

It cannot be more strongly emphasized that this project is for purpose-built natural surface singletrack mountain bike trail. Desired characteristics include: cambered trail surfaces, insloped turns, rolling terrain, incorporation of native rock features, novice-friendly switchbacks and seamless transitions between trail types.

The following preliminary work has been completed: a flag line has been established which generally marks the Trail corridor; archaeological clearance of a 100’ corridor centered on the flag line has been completed, and a grant agreement has been signed by the SnoBowl and RTP administrators.  Approximately one mile of frontside trail has been completed by community volunteers, and a second mile of frontside trail has been started. Cooperation has been committed by local businesses and community groups to provide material support for the project. 

Contractors are asked to outline strategies for and professional experience in meeting the following general specifications:

1. Federal Grant Requirements.
Because funding for the Project relies upon federal grants, Contractor must demonstrate a thorough understanding of the requirements of Federal grant agreements related to Project Work and agree to make every reasonable effort to abide by said requirements.

2. Suggested Site Visit (“Walk Through”).
The Project will be built on terrain with slopes averaging 15-30 degrees with specific soil and drainage characteristics.  While it is not a requirement to bid, it is suggested that any Contractor who wishes to submit a bid for the construction of the Project should complete a Walk Through of the Trail location sufficient to gain a general understanding of the area’s terrain, general topography, rock and soil types.  Ignorance of building conditions related to the natural conditions in the trail location will not be considered in any requests for waivers or changes to Scope of Work.

3.  Coordination with Community Groups
A significant portion of grant match for the Project consists of a series of at least eight scheduled community build days.  Community volunteers will consist of a mixture of experienced volunteer trail builders and new trail volunteers.  The SnoBowl will coordinate these build days with the Contractor, and the Contractor will provide appropriate supervision and, if needed, training to volunteer crews.  A SnoBowl representative will be onsite for all build days to serve as volunteer coordinator/crew lead.  Please note that, while community groups can and do provide significant manpower for the build, Contractor should not anticipate that volunteer crews provide all or a majority of needed hand work for the Project.

4. General guidelines for trail design.
A. Desired characteristics include: cambered trail surfaces, insloped turns, rolling terrain, incorporation of native rock features, and seamless transitions between trail types.  All trail tread, rock-armoring, switchbacks, and all other features should be built to best industry standards.

B.  Treadway shall be a minimum of 24” and wider where necessary.  Because of the ongoing trespass by ATV users in the Elko area, use of trail building machines with a tread wider than 30” is discouraged.  Please include the tread width of any machines anticipated to be used for the Project.

C.  Because of the lack of available mountain biking trail in the region, and because of the topographical features of the land it is being built upon, the trail will largely be designed for riders at a beginner skill level with some short intermediate sections as needed. There may be opportunities to build advanced “opt-in features” if funding is available.

D. A flag line has been established and GPS of the route completed. There is a 50’ buffer to each side of the flag line for Contractor’s preference in building the trail.

E.  Specific trail design features to discourage trespass by ATV/OHV users will be critical to the long-term success of the Project.

5. Qualifications and Selection Criteria.
The SnoBowl will consider the status and capability of the bidder along with responsiveness to the bid requirements in its analysis of which is the lowest responsible bidder. The SnoBowl will use a points system to aid in its selection of the winning bid, the parameters of which is outlined below:

A. Company Profile. The bidder may receive up to 150 points for demonstrating its capability to complete the work and its status as a reliable contractor. The bidder should be a member of the Professional Trail Builders Association (PTBA) or equivalent and should demonstrate stability of its business. Civil or criminal judgments against the bidder or financial weakness which would affect the bidder’s performance or ability to complete projects will negatively affect this rating.

B. Relevant Experience with Similar Projects. The bidder may receive up to 250 points for demonstrating experience in building natural surface mountain bike trail in similar conditions as those existing in the Project location. The contractor should submit a portfolio of at least three, and up to six, projects of a similar nature to this project, completed within the last five years and preferably completed in similar terrain.  Please include contact information for project clients.

C. Project Details and Work Plan. The bidder may receive up to 300 points for the demonstrated ability to comply with the specifications in this RFP and how well the work plan suits the needs of the SnoBowl. Contractors able to complete the project by December 31, 2018 will receive an additional 100 points.

D. Cost. The bidder with the lowest total cost shall receive 300 points. All other bidders shall receive cost-based points based on the following formula:

Lowest proposed cost total
points awarded
Bidder’s proposed cost total

1. Business Registration. Any Contractor which is a Nevada business must be currently registered with the Nevada Secretary of State.

2. Performance and Payment Bonds. Formal, notarized performance and payment bonds issued by an insurance or surety company are required for the Project and must be provided upon execution of the contract.

3. Worker’s Compensation. The Contractor must certify that it is in compliance with Nevada statutes regarding Worker’s Compensation insurance.

 4. Commercial General Liability Coverage. The contractor shall carry Commercial General Liability  Insurance of $1 million/occurrence, $2 million/aggregate, and shall furnish a certificate listing the SnoBowl, the City of Elko and its partners as additional insureds upon execution of the contract. The certificate shall show the type, amount, class of operations covered, effective dates, and dates of expirations of policies.

5.  Contractor must have a valid and current Nevada Contractor’s License at the time of contract execution.

6. Invasive Species Prevention. Active steps to prevent or limit the introduction, establishment, and spread of invasive species are required during contracted work. The contractor shall prevent invasive species from entering into or spreading within project site by cleaning equipment prior to arrival. If the equipment, vehicles, gear, or clothing arrives at the project site with soil, aggregate material, mulch, vegetation (including seeds) or animals, it shall be cleaned by contractor furnished tool or equipment (brush/broom, compressed air or pressure washer) at the staging area. The contractor shall dispose of material cleaned from equipment and clothing at a location determined by the SnoBowl. If the material cannot be disposed of onsite, secure material prior to transport (sealed container, covered truck, or wrap with tarp) and legally dispose of offsite.

7. SnoBowl reserves the right to reject any or all bids. Low bid will not be the only consideration for award.

8. The warranty period is one year from the date of acceptance by the SnoBowl.

The following is general information to assist contractors in their understanding of the geological and biological conditions of the trail building location.

The SnoBowl Trail Project shall be constructed on a 640-ac section of land owned by the City of Elko that serves as a community ski hill in the winter.  The section is bisected by a 7500’ ridge, and the trailhead is at the SnoBowl ski base at approximately 6500’ on the east side of the ridge.  Two trails climb from the base area over the ridge to a series of stacked loops on the western side of the ridge.  A connector trail links the top of the SnoBowl ski lift to the trail system. 

The trail traverses soil in the Sumine-Cleavage-Cleavage, very cobbly association group.  Slopes range from 15-30 degrees, with mean annual precipitation approximately 7-15”.  The soil surface is a very gravelly loam, well drained, with a gravelly clay loam layer from 6” – 29”.  There is limiting bedrock averaging 20” – 39”in depth.  Rock outcroppings are scattered throughout and are composed of a gravelly composite.   Depositions of faceted loose rocks 6” – 18” in size dot the hillsides.

There are numerous small springs in the area, and the trail crosses several very ephemeral small streams. 

The typical plant community is a mix of grasses and forbs, with intermittent small sagebrush.  Short, tundra-type plants populate the ridgetops.  A portion of the subject parcel burned a decade ago, and there has been a significant cheatgrass incursion in the burn area.

The Elko SnoBowl is approximately five miles north of the city of Elko, NV, on North 5th Street.
Please see attached map for trail layout and topography.

PROJECT CONTACT:        Sue Kennedy, Elko SnoBowl Foundation (775) 934-4466

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Oh, what fun it is to build!

There is just something completely awesome about getting new trail on the ground.

The IMBA/Subaru Trail Care Crew blew through town this week. Their goal was to host a couple of days of classroom learning and a few hours of on-the-hill training, getting a great group of volunteers up to speed on how to get new trail on the ground. It's a pretty big deal, as IMBA has only one (count 'em) trail care crew in the country. As it turns out, the local BLM office has a new rec guy who's a bit of a fireball, and one of the first things he did when he clocked in for work was start lobbying to get these guys here. It was a real coup.

Fortunately for all concerned, there was (and is) a shovel-ready project available to use as a trail building classroom - the new bike trail system being built at SnoBowl! So, lucky us, some real trail experts used our local hill as a classroom to teach the nuts and bolts of getting new trail on the ground.

Pinch me, is this for real??  :D

About twenty folks joined Jordan Carr and Lani Bruntz from IMBA after the classroom sessions, and built several hundred feet of very fun new trail over the course of a few hours. Best of all, after the build, the IMBA team walked up the route of the under-construction beginner MTB trail to give us ideas on what we can do to make it a better riding experience for newer riders. Most of the volunteers expressed interest in weekly build days to get a top-to-bottom trail completed before summer, so that we can run the lift for lift-served riding once school's out. 

To call this a banner day for SnoBowl would be a profound understatement.

Here are a few pics of the build:
The pre-talk.  Several of the folks on the crew had not used trail tools before, and the IMBA folks gave an overview of safe tool handling.

A determined bunch

Lani and Jordan demonstrating the work sequence that ends with finished trail.

Putting that instruction to good use

Some very cool progress happening here!

The finished product - a phenomenal upgrade from the previous route

Here's a big, healthy THANK YOU to Mike Setlock from the BLM for bringing the IMBA team in, to Subaru for footing the bill for such a great program, to the City of Elko for the volunteer lunch, Great Basin College for the classroom space, to Jordan and Lani from IMBA for being such enthusiastic and skilled trail evangelists, and most of all to the volunteers who showed up to learn how this all works. It's so incredibly cool to see what we can all accomplish working together!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Some much needed maintenance on the Ruby Crest Trail

Boy, was this ever needed.  Some great work done last summer by the Friends of the Nevada Wilderness, brushing out and maintaining the Ruby Crest Trail between Overland Lake and Harrison Pass.  While they were there, they also did a lot of work on the Overland Trail, between Overland Lake and Ruby Valley.

Too bad these guys can't just move here permanently, there is a LOT of work to be done up there!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Nevada

While I'm on hiking/climbing hiatus waiting for my knees to heal up and my leg strength to come back (Lord give me patience, and I want it RIGHT NOW!) - here's a neat write up on the work the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) did in Nevada during and after the Great Depression.

Those who know and love Lamoille Canyon and the Ruby Crest Trail know their work firsthand, as the CCC built the Lions Camp (Camp Lamoille) as well as the Ruby Crest Trail itself.  Two portions of that trail, in particular, are wonderful monuments to the quality work those men did - the switchbacks and ridge trail west of Echo Lake, and the trail between Lamoille Lake and Liberty Pass.

The next time you hike those routes, take a few minutes to appreciate the rockwork.  And to appreciate the vision of the President who made the CCC a reality.

Anyway, here's the link.  Lots of great photos and Nevada history... enjoy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Missing in action

So... I've been awfully quiet recently...

There's been good reason.  I injured myself in 2013 and am "enjoying" the second of three surgeries, the last of which is scheduled for September. That sounds a lot worse than it really is, but I've not been able to hike since my trip report to Cold Lakes nearly two years ago.

The exceptionally good part is that I'm anticipating a full recovery and hope to be back wandering around late this fall.  Or... at least I'll be able to sit a horse and let HIM do the work.

Either way, that's where I've been.  Haven't been ignoring you all, really.  Just staring out the window, wishing I were at altitude.  Get out there and have some fun for me, OK?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ruby Crest Trail Car Shuttle

I get a lot of requests from folks interested in a shuttle for a Ruby Crest Trail trip, and I've met some exceptionally cool people that way. Unfortunately, I'm pretty well stapled to the ranch these days (check out my Facebook page for Kennedy Ranch) and, as much as I'd like to do it, can't often do shuttles any more.

Cowboy John to the rescue!  Call John Collett at Cowboy John Tours, 775-753-7825, and see if he can help you out.  You might just get an earful of local lore on the way.