Black-Eyed Susan along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

Black-Eyed Susan along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

Monday, February 28, 2011

Exercise your brain: walk the Pumpkinvine

Dogs love the PV, too.
It will soon be spring and time to be outdoors more. When you do, think about the benefits of walking daily.
Recently, I started taking a 15-minute walk at noon around the neighborhood where I work. As a result I found that I was noticeably more alert and productive in the afternoon.
What I discovered about the benefits of walking was the subject of the cover story of the March 26, 2007 issue of Newsweek. It reports that scientists are making the case for a direct connection between exercise and physical and mental well being. We’ve know for years about the physical benefits of exercise, but the mental well being is something new.
Under the headline, “Exercise and the Brain” is the subhead: “We know that working out is good for the body. But now research says it also makes us smarter – and may help fight breast cancer and Alzheimer’s.”
Well, I can’t claim a leap in I.Q. because of walking 15 minutes at for the lunch hour, but I can tell a difference in my productivity.
These articles, and many others, point out that walking is one of the best ways to get exercise because you can do it in short bursts any time of the day.
            “Walking is often underrated as a form of exercise, but it is something nearly everyone can do,” one article says. “All you need is decent shoes; no workout gear or showering afterward is required. Walking slowly burns about five calories per minute, walking briskly burns seven calories per minute and jogging burns roughly nine calories per minute” (Newsweek, March 26, 2007, p. 63).
Walking has many benefits. 
§  It lowers your blood pressure
§  It reduces levels of bad cholesterol
§  It enhances stamina and energy
§  It is easy on your joints, i.e., doesn't abuse your knees like jogging.
§  It can be done at all ages.
§  It doesn't require any special skills or training.
§  It can be done anywhere there's open space.
§  It strengthens bones and raises the heart rate.
§  And now scientists say it might make you smarter.
Naturally, I think the Pumpkinvine is an ideal place to walk and enjoy these benefits. Many of you agree with me. When I walk or ride on the trail, I estimate that two thirds of the people I see are walkers or joggers and one third cyclists. (According to a survey[1] done in September and October 2000, walkers make up about 38 percent of the users on the Goshen section, joggers 20 percent and cyclists 40 percent.)
If walking on the Pumpkinvine isn’t possible, be creative and walk during the day or around your neighborhood in the evening.
Walking with others is also fun. That’s another incentive: join us for a walk on the Pumpkinvine on National Trails Day, June 2. An article in this issue gives the details of the walk. It will be good exercise and give you a better idea of the potential of using the Pumpkinvine corridor in Middlebury for walking your way to health.
(Another version of this note was published in the April 2007 Friends newsletter)

[1] The study was done by the Eppley Institute for Parks & Public Lands School of Health, Physical Ed. & Recreation, Indiana University Bloomington and the Center for Urban Policy & the Environment School of Public & Environmental Affairs Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Planning for the management of the trail

Today we had a meeting of the four government agencies that will eventually manage the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail and the Friends of the Pumpkinvine to discuss how we plan to coordinate our efforts once the entire 17-mile trail is open. It's an exciting development because it signals a level of cooperation that will be necessary for a successful trail. The four government agencies are Goshen Parks, Elkhart County Parks, the town of Middlebury and the town of Shipshewana.
            The purpose of this council is to establish common policies and procedures for managing the greenway, policies like when the greenway is open, event coordination, having consistent signage, rules for trail etiquette and a patrolling philosophy. The Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, Inc. are involved as historic landowners and greenway consultants.
One early decision of the group is to use the Friends’ website as the central location for information about the greenway and trail policies. Ultimately, the group will likely formalize relations between the government agencies and the Friends in an intergovernmental agreement.
            Members of the council are: from Shipshewana, Sheryl Kelly, town manager and Dave Palenchar, building and grounds superintendent; from Middlebury, Mark Salee, town manager, John McKee, chair of the Middlebury Park board, and Tom Enright, park and recreation manager; from Elkhart County Parks, Larry Neff, superintendent, Steve Gangloff, area manager and Ronda DeCaire, superintendent of operations; from Goshen Parks, Sheri Howland, superintendent, Rich Kindel, director of maintenance, and Tanya Heyde, recreation supervisor; from the Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, Inc., Robert Carrico, trail operations manager and John Yoder, president.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Back to cross country skiing

So much for hoping to ride soon on the trail. Goshen got five inches of snow today, so we'll all have to postpone that first ride up the trail for a few more days or weeks.

Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter -- New York Times today

There's something sobering about the fact that the day we announced our Friends of the Pumpkinvine blog, an article appeared in the New York Time announcing the decline of blogs. The happening places are Twitter and Facebook according to this article.

Well, we do have a Facebook page, but so far I fail to see a value in Twitter for us. What's a non-profit organization to do?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Trail conditions

Although the warm weather of the past week has melted the snow from the asphalt sections of the trail between CR 28 and CR 33, the section in the city of Goshen between CR 28 and SR 4 is still very soggy. I wouldn't recommend trying to ride it on a bike, even a mountain bike.

Trail managers everywhere debate the vitues of a crushed limestone surface vs. asphalt. This time of year the hard surface comes out ahead because it doesn't get waterlogged like the limestone does in the sprng. At other times of the year when it rains alot, the asphalt can have puddles while the limestone is puddle free because the water drains away. Overall, the nod goes to asphalt in regard to wet conditions. Another disadvantage of limestone is that can easily coat the bike (and biker) with dust and stones when it is wet, making for a major clean up after a ride.

The biggest advantage of limestone is that it won't break up from tree roots pushing up from beneath the trail. Even though trail managers cut the vegetation back from he trail by up to five feet, the tree roots and other vegetation eventally have a way of breaking up the surface.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reflections on leaving the Friends’ board

Frances Ringenberg
  By Frances Ringenberg
Note: Frances Ringenberg resigned from the Friends’ board in November 2010. She lives in Middlebury and served on the board since 2005. She wrote the following reflection on her five years on the board.
Serving on the Friends of the Pumpkinvine board has been a great experience for me.  I was new to the area when I started on the board, and being on it was a great introduction to Elkhart County geographically and culturally. 
In my five years on the board, I have seen a major increase in enthusiasm for the trail in Middlebury. The public, many of whom were unfamiliar and a bit suspicious of trails, has finally seen the benefits as a result of the actual trail laid down in Middlebury.
I learned about bikers too. When I first volunteered for our annual bicycle ride, I was ready to pick up litter and make sure the ride made a good impression.  I saw families, energetic elderly, happy young people, and plump matrons, all rolling out and wondered how anyone could have reservations about the trail.  And there wasn’t as much as a gum wrapper to pick up.
One of the highlights for me has been seeing how much the renovated trestle bridge across the Little Elkhart River has added to the delights of Middlebury.  Getting funding for the tunnel under State Road 20 was another great moment, but the real Big Excitement is ahead – the first trip from Middlebury to Shipshewana on finished trail!
One thing I will always take with me from this time on the board is a great appreciation for the commitment and energy any park, trail or beautiful public space represents.  I’ve learned these resources don’t spring from the ground by themselves.  Every time I enjoy a beautiful recreation area I will know that someone made the plans and did the work to make it happen.   What a wonderful gift to healthy community and hopeful future.
A new opportunity to serve on the pastoral team at Prairie Street Mennonite Church as well as family responsibilities mean that I need to give up evening meetings, like the Friends’ board, but I look forward to continuing as a regular supporter and enthusiastic promoter of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Commuting by way of the Pumpkinvine

[The following article by Buddy Dyck will be in the March Pumpkinvine Trail Talk.]
Matt Lind
 If you had occasion to ride the Pumpkinvine this past autumn in the so-called rush hours of the day, you would likely have met Matt Lind, on his 1972, 40-pound, Jacquef Anquetil two wheeler on his way from Goshen to Northridge Middle School in Middlebury where he has been teaching for some 20 years. There was a time when Lind wondered if that Pumpkinvine Nature Trail would ever become a commuting option for his trip to work since it had been in the making for so many years. However, this past year, that option became possible when another phase of the trail was completed between County Road 28 and County Road 33.
“I had done some minimal commuting to school,” Lind said, “but I found that County Road 22 between Goshen and Middlebury was unsatisfactory for a number of reasons: traffic quite fast, very little brim. I continue to use that road when I'm in a hurry because it cuts several miles from my commute. The biggest difference between County Road 22 and the Pumpkinvine is that the county road is a way to get to work, while the trail is a destination in itself.”
When he started riding the trail to work, Lind had little intention to make it a daily commute, but after just a week or two of commuting, the ride proved increasingly doable and even exhilarating. Ultimately, after spending a day in a school classroom, he started to anticipate the ride for the relaxation it provided. 
 “The trail always offers something new to experience, whether the changing colors on trees or fields, or the activity on adjacent farms, or Amish children in their school playground who stop to wave a greeting as I pedal by,” he said. “You don’t get this experience when commuting in a car.” 
Lind had intended to commute only as long as the temperatures remained above 50 degree, but he realized that he could handle 30- and even 20-degree chill, too. But with the coming of the snow, Lind put enthusiasm on hold to await the inducements of the spring melt. 
What are Lind’s lasting memories of these 40-plus commutes along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail? The constant changes of scenery, the beauty of the environment, the peace and quiet away from the noise of traffic, and the shock of deer exploding up and across his path to mention a few. 
But whichever direction he pedals, Lind claims, “The commute is always new.”

Friday, February 4, 2011

Blog topics

What would be some of the topic a Friends blog would address?
  1. Drafts of articles for the newsletter, particularly "From the president."
  2. Outline of the newsletter.
  3. Breaking news, e.g., a law suit settled
  4. Trail history. Many people don't know how it got started
  5. Notes from board meetings, i.e., major decisions.
  6. Announcements of mailings.
  7. Announcements of coming events.
    • Wildflower walks
    • Annual dinner
    • Bike ride
    • Trail walks
    • Maple City mini-marathon
    • Trail openings or groundbreakings
    • Work parties
  8. Report on events like the bike ride, annual meeting, work parties.
  9. Answers to questions about the trail from the website. 
  10. Profiles of a trail users.
  11. Profiles of board members.  
  12. Profiles of adjacent landowners who are supporters
  13. Requests for feedback on trail-related topic. 
  14. Benefits of being a corporate sponsor
  15. Trail maps
  16. Trail etiquette
  17. Photos
    • Trail construction
    • Bike ride
    • Variety of users
    • Work parties

How often would a post occur?  I'm thinking it would be once or twice a week. 

Pumpkinvine Nature Trail bike ride in six minutes

Matt Lind produced this video of the trail in October 2010