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Abuse on the Mickinnick

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Sandpoint's Mickinnick trail is showing signs of abuse

One of Sandpoint’s greatest assets is the Mickinnick Trail. I use it during the spring to train for more ambitious pursuits in the wilderness of the Scotchman Peaks. Hump up that baby two or three times a week with a couple rocks in your pack and your legs, lungs and cardiovascular system will pay attention, I assure you. It’s also a great spot to hunt for puff-balls in May, and the place is resplendent with wildflowers practically from the moment the snow goes off.

In summer, I abandon the Mickinnick for other elevation changes. The call of the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness from mid-June until the snow flies is deafening from where I live, and I succumb to the Sirens of Blue Creek on at least a weekly and sometimes daily basis. But, come fall, especially during hunting season and until the snow is deep enough for snowshoes or, even better, skis, I return to that beautiful tread ascending the ridge south of Sand Creek.

This year, I had about five months of perspective when I made my first fall forray up the Mickinnick. I hadn’t been on the trail since early June, and what I noticed yesterday was disturbing and somewhat maddening. The corner cutters have been at work this summer and the damage they are doing is becoming very distinct.

Corner cutters identify themselves as ignorant, lazy or both by taking shortcuts that contribute to the ruination of an otherwise beautiful place. Saving a few seconds or a couple of dozen steps seems more important to corner cutters than trying to keep a place beautiful for all to enjoy.

So, are you a corner cutter? If you are, stop it! A bunch of people worked very hard, most without pay, to put that tread where it is. It is marvelously engineered, and laid with great skill and lots of sweat, plus a few tears and probably even some blood. It was built in memory of Mick Pleass, a man who loved the outdoor life and the Earth so much that he and his wife Nicky donated the piece of property that most of the trail is built upon.

Mickinnick users, educate yourselves. Have some respect for the Pleass family, for the beautiful place the trail runs through and for the people who built it. If you are hiking the trail, stay on the tread. If you are biking the trail, stay on the tread. If you have to walk your bike through some rough spots, going up or coming down, stay on the tread. It might mean a little extra work on your part, but that can’t match the work that went into making this place ready for you to hike and ride.

Mind your trail manners on the Mickinnick, in the Scotchmans or on any trail. Don’t cut corners. Thank you.


Sandy Compton, Program Coordinator

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness

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Author info

Sandy Compton Sandy Compton Sandy Compton is one of the original contributors to The River Journal, and owner and publisher at Blue Creek Press (www.bluecreekpress.com). His latest book is Side Trips From Cowboy: Addiction, Recovery and the Western American Myth

Tagged as:

Sandpoint, hiking, Mickinnick Trail

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