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Veteran trail planner tells his stories in verse

Roger Bell, a trail contractor for many years, has been turning the grit and labor of trail building into poetry.
From the Fall 2005 issue of Trail Tracks, the magazine of American Trails

Poetry by Roger Bell


Graphic: backpacker enjoying vista

We were invited as SoCal experts
To create some showcase trails—
Palos Verdes looking out on Catalina,
A golf community looking for sales.

These would sit on magnificent cliffs
Right next to Portuguese Bend—
That was an earth slide warning
A hint how this tale will end.

We worked on these trails for years
They tested our skills to the max
Fitting them into the landscape
Not much would Ocean Trails lack.

One interesting drama played out
Some visitors who probably were hoods
They left a lookout above them
While picking up contraband goods.

Or maybe the Mafia likes trails,
And strolls along desolate shore.
Trailbuilding can be quite exciting
But here we could do without more.

Well finally the trails were built—
We went on a final walk-thru.
A crack in the ground was discovered
This generated one major stew.

They scrambled to find the true cause
And shortly they got a strong clue—
'Cause the 18th fairway collapsed
Our trails were wiped out too.

Eleven acres just sunk while we watched,
Ocean Trails made the Seven O'clock News.
My wife called me quite alarmed
To see if it was real or ruse,

Or else she thought we caused it—
Somehow had triggered the fall.
I assured her we had a few problems
But this one sure wasn't our call.

So that very high priced amenity
Had sunk almost into the Sea.
Getting paid was going to be iffy—
Get in line and make a strong plea.

Donald Trump would later take over
After the owners went belly up—
Insurance covered most the damage
But the situation was still corrupt.

California coastline does recede,
The Sea and the soil take a toll.
We lost good trails in the process—
Swallowed up kinda' like they were stole.

Trails and golf are my passions,
I spend quite some time on each.
I've noticed that golf's even harder
With many a lesson to teach.

So here's to more trails on courses,
A trend that is coming to be.
Just don't build too close to the edge—
Your trail might fall into the sea!

January 2006

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