Everybody’s Scalin’ – The Ranger Always Wins
If you’re into scaling odds are you’ve spent time at the local park hitting up the trails. There is also a good chance that you’ve met the local park ranger. Ah yes, the Park Ranger – Judge, Jury, and Executioner. Much like your significant other, if they ain’t happy then no one is happy (on the trail, that is).
See, at most parks r/c vehicles fit into a strange grey area of technical illegality. This is especially true when riding trails designed for hikers, bikers, and equestrians. “MOTOR VEHICLES NOT ALLOWED” is a sign you will surely see. These ordinances were originally put in place not to deter r/c, but to keep Joe Blow from carving up the trail on his Yamaha, and as such you normally won’t have issues if you behave. The problem is “technically” your Axial SCX10 is a “motor vehicle” in the eyes of park staff if they view you as a nuisance. It’s an easy out to stop you (and your friends) from running.
In the four years I’ve been doing this regularly I hadn’t had any bad experiences with law enforcement. Sadly though, this changed recently as our group in St. Louis lost one of the best places to run thanks to complaints by the local populace. With this fresh in mind and summer scaling season upon us here’s a quick list of tips to stay in good standing with your parks department.
Be courteous to animals.
Hiking trails are super popular for those walking dogs. Many pups go nuts when they see an r/c car, so when they see a group of 10-20 out in the woods they go even crazier. If you see a dog coming up on you, do them a favor and take 5. While this is good for the dog (and potentially keeps your fancy truck from being a chew toy), the courtesy is generally very much appreciated by the owner. You DO NOT want them to complain about your group as it’s the easiest way to draw a ranger’s ire. This is even more important if you are on an equestrian trail as a freaked out horse is dangerous for all involved. (Umm, unrelated but here’s another tip – watch out for horse poop. If you think mud sucks to wash off, well….)
Bring a bag and pick up litter.
This is a good idea for multiple reasons. The most important thing is that it’s always good to do your part helping to keep our parks clean. A nice side effect of helping out is that it garners goodwill towards your scaling group and shows you are good citizens.
Play nice with others.
It’s pretty simple – don’t be a jerk. Look, you are bound to eventually run into the holier than thou “you guys are playing with toys in MY park?” person while out and about. There is also a very good chance it will be someone riding a mountain bike. Just be cool, pull off to the side and let em’ pass.
If a section of trail is marked off, stay off.
In your bigger parks it’s very common to see certain parts marked off for whatever reason. While most of the time this consists of new foliage or freshly planted grass, sometimes it involves rock formations. You must fight the urge to crawl these areas, no matter how enticing that craggy waterfall base (or whatever) may be. Not obeying the rules is a quick route to getting the ban hammer.
Talk to the park staff!
Should you run across a trail ranger (or any other member of park staff) do your part to educate them on what you’re doing. You can immediately clear up any preconceived notions they may have about what this part of the hobby entails and, from personal experience, there is a good chance they will find it interesting! Being upfront can insure that you will have hassle free running.
As scale trucks have grown in popularity it’s never been more important for us as a group to be proactive about how we are perceived. If we want it to keep growing we must keep in good standing with our local, state, and national parks. If you follow these tips and use common sense you can hopefully travel the trails for many years to come.
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