From time to time members of Indiana Trails Community Board Members, Staff, and Guest Authors will write articles of concern and interest to the organization and community of trail users in general. Indiana Trails Community in general are welcoming of articles to be published on our web page and Facebook page. In addition, we hope you like these articles and find value in them. Submissions are welcome at webmaster@IndianaTrails.com
What is a Jeep Doing On My Rail-Trail?
by Jim Garlits
What are the odds that an Indiana Trails Community board member will come in contact with local trail leadership in the wild? The odds improve significantly when said leadership is as active as Steve Gough, treasurer for the Nickel Plate Trail, Inc., the not-for-profit that oversees and maintains the 44 mile rail trail in north central Indiana.
During a recent down-and-back ride from Peru to Kokomo, I spied a jeep ahead of me on the trail near the Blake Street trailhead and wondered if a motorist had taken a wrong turn. But upon closer inspection, the vehicle's occupant repeatedly emerged with a pair of loppers in his hand.
Steve was doing vegetation management, and appeared pleased to chat with me as I stopped to drink some water and examine his work.
Steve Gough and his Jeep
It has to be one of the greatest "jobs" in the volunteering world, rambling along at a slow cyclist's clip on a beautiful spring day with an NPT volunteer placard on your Jeep's windshield, getting more exercise from pruning back errant branches than from pedaling or strolling.
We talked a bit about the trail's history, and our mutual acquaintance Richard Vonnegut, whose involvement with the NPT's acquisition and expansion was crucial at a time when there were few bike and pedestrian trails in the state.
I continued on my way, reached the outskirts of Kokomo and headed back, passing Steve again with a wave near Bennett's Switch where the trail crosses Indiana 18.
I'm sure we'll see each other again soon, as I plan to once again make the NPT a part of my weekly outings now that I'm back in Indiana full-time.
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Jim Garlits is an ITC board member who has been using and enjoying the NPT since 2008