Black-Eyed Susan along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

Black-Eyed Susan along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

Friday, March 16, 2018

A printed newsletter

Every time a new physically printed Friends of the Pumpkinvine newsletter comes out, I ask myself if printing a hard copy of a newsletter is still a good idea? It is expensive to design, print and mail, and I see that other trail groups send out electronic newsletters. I know of only one other trail in Indiana that prints a newsletter -- the B&O Trail in Brownsburg, Ind.

Then today something happened that underscored the difference between print and electroic newsletters. I wrote a letter to the new president of Goshen College, Rebecca Stoltzfus, and her husband, Kevin Miller, inviting them to the Friends of the Pumpkinvine annual dinner April 24. Since I did not know their address and I didn't want to send a letter to both of them to the college, I decided to drop it off in person at their house, a location I knew. I thought it would be helpful to put a newsletter and brochure with the letter, also. I wrote the letter, picked up the extra newsletters at the Goshen College printing office and then drove to their house. Kevin was home, and I gave him the materials and talked with him briefly about the dinner and the Pumpkinvine, which he has not seen. However, I discovered that his daughter is dating someone who works at Pumpkinvine Cyclery, and he naturally had heard about the trail, so we had a connection of sorts

How much better it was for me to be able to give him a printed brochure and newsletter, rather than refer him to a website with basically the same information? (I had links to our website in the letter, also.) I think it made for a much more cordual and helpful exchange, compared to telling him to go to a website, which I would have needed to do without a brochure and newsletter in hand.

So, I'm still a proponent of a physical newsletter that I can hand to people. I'll bring the extra copies of the last three newsletters to the annual dinner, with the hope that new supporters will pick them up.

Soft trail section

From January to April, the crushed-limestone section of the PV from SR 4 to CR 28 is soft and as a result, becomes quite rutted from the bikes that ride the trail. Riding on it when it is this moist put a coat of dust on your bike frame, chain, derailleur, wheels, and usually your legs as well. And the ruts you create make it more difficult for subsequent riders to ride.

As as result, many of us avoid that section of the trail, and for those of us in Goshen, it means we just avoid riding on the PNT altogether because the cleanup involved is a hassle.

I suspect that walkers and runners also experience some of the same frustrations as the biker. Their shoes would become caked with dirt.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

On which side of the trail should walkers be?

Occasionally I have a discussion with walkers about which side of the trail they should be on Should they be on the right with the bikers or on the left facing oncoming bikers? As children, we learned that when we walk on a road, we should walk toward traffic to make sure cars are not driving over the edge of the road where we are walking. We might, therefore, assume that we should do the same when walking on a trail. 

However, a trail is not a highway, and the safest way for bikers and walkers to interact is for both to use the right side of the trail. 

Here's the general rule.

Walking (and biking) on a multi-use trail like the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail (no motorized vehicles):  Walkers (and bikers) use the "keep right except to pass" rule. When a walker or cyclist wants to pass (just like driving), they use the left lane and only pass when no one is coming and there is no curve. 

In addition, bikers need to signal their approach to walkers with a bell or a verbal warning like, "Passing on your left," and walkers should acknowledge that they've heard the warning by raising their left hand -- not a law but a gesture I'm promoting -- and moving right, if necessary. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pumpkinvine one of Indiana's longer trails

I'm always surprised at how many people travel from a distance to ride the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. They come from Detroit, Indianapolis and Chicago and all points between.

Then the other day I was looking up something about the B&O Trail west of Indianapolis on, the website where the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has a listing of all U.S. trails. I noticed that Indiana has 110 trails listed on the site, but most of them are fairly short, like five miles or less. A quick look through the list showed that the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail at 17 miles is actually one of the longer trails. Here's a list of all trails 10 miles or larger.

  1. Cardinal Greenway - 62 miles
  2. Nickle Plate Trail - 36.9 miles
  3. Rivergreenway, Fort Wayne - 30.1iles
  4. Monon - 24 miles
  5. Panhandle Pathway - 21 miles
  6. Erie-Lackawanna - 17.7 miles
  7. Pumpkinvine Nature Trail - 17 miles
  8. Columbus People Trail - 15.7 miles
  9. Vandalia Trail - 16 miles
  10. Milwaukee Road Transportation Trailway - 10.3 miles
  11. Prairie Duneland Trail - 10.3 miles
  12. Delphi Historic Trails - 10 mile
So it's possible people come to ride the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail for its length, as well as its natural features. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

2017 Pumpkinvine Bike Ride photograph

For the past 16 years, I've taken photographs of the Pumpkinvine Bike Ride, rather than riding in it. (I did ride the first two years.)  We use these photographs in our August Friends of the Pumpkinvine newsletter, in the bike-ride brochure for the next year, on our website, blog and membership brochure. We also frequently get requests for trail photos from the Elkhart County Convention and Visitor's Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce or other publications, and I'm able to send a nice selection from the bike ride, since it is by far the time when there are more riders on the Pumpkinvine than at any other time of the year.

Besides myself, there were five others taking pictures: Branden Beachy, Danny Graber, Jim Loomis, Bruce Nethercutt and Ryan Smith. We divided the territory up so that some of us were on the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, while others drove the sections of the routes on the county roads.

I like to take photos on the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail but change which section I cover from year-to-year. This year I was on the trail between Goshen and Middlebury. I started out taking photos south of State Road 4, a section that I'd never photographed during the bike ride. There's nice curve in that section that allows me to see a number of riders at the same time and see separation between them than is the case on a straight part of the trail. I like to capture groups of riders, if possible, as well as various ages.

As I was standing beside the trail, I began to notice that there were a lot of mosquitoes attacking my bare arms and face. I swatted them away as best I could, but found that it was making it difficult to concentrate on the riders. After I'd taken what seemed like a good sample of riders in that section, I went back to my van and made a quick trip the CVS in Goshen for insect repellant.

That did the trick. The bugs let me along, and I was able to continue taking photos. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

July 14 Elkhart Truth article on Krider Garden

Article from Elkhart Truth

Krider Garden is one of the gems along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, and this article explains some of its history and significance for the town of Middlebury.