Aug 18, 2010

Unintended Consequences

When I lived in Anchorage (2003 - 2006) I was quite active in the Anchorage Trail Watch Program. The Mayor's office established the Trail Watch program because there had been several high profile assaults on the Coastal Trail and Chester Creek Trail, and these trails also got heavy use from Tourists and residents alike during the summer season.

My regular Trail Watch schedule was Thursday evenings from 6:00 - 8:00 PM and Sunday morning from 6:00 - 8:00 AM. The two shifts could not have been more different - Thursday evenings were very crowded, with tourists mixing it up with commuters who were dodging roller-bladers and dog-walkers. The Sunday morning "dawn patrols" were very quiet, but I encountered the remains of Saturday night mischief more than once (passed out drunks, stolen bikes that had been ditched, or trash from illegal camp-outs).

The purpose of Trail Watch was to assist tourists, report maintenance problems, report homeless camps, call Community Services if one of the many drunks were stumbling around getting into trouble, warn people to stay away from the moose that frequent urban Anchorage, and generally help to keep the peace and render aid to those that need it.

One beautiful Thursday evening, I was riding west on Chester Creek Trail, a chronic problem area for homeless camps and drunks. Near the Anchorage Aces baseball field, I rolled up behind a little girl and her father, who were riding down the trail at a slow pace. I called out "Hello there! Can pass by?". The little girl looked over her left shoulder at me, turning her handlebars to the right as she did so, and promptly pedaled her little pink princess bike right off the trail and into a nasty patch of alder thicket and ditch at full speed.


I pulled over, and her Dad pulled over, and we got her and her bike out of the vegetation. Tears were dried and some band aids applied to various ouchies, and once more all was well once more on the Chester Creek Trail.

But I still feel kind of guilty that I was somehow responsible for the only incident where I actually had to use my First Aid kit during Trail Watch.

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