Here is a post from Singletrack Trails employee Aaron Mattix. He originally posted this on his blog Local Stash.
Juniper branches scratch and claw at me as I drag their severed limbs away from the trail corridor. In a densely choked declivity between lichen covered boulders, I arrange the branches to lay flat as possible against the dark duff of needles, branches, and bark, and wonder how many cycles of rainstorms, erosion, and decay it will take for this collection of disparate organic material to turn into dirt.
As a trailbuilder it is our medium, the corpus of our work. Sure there are wonderful creations of wood, and signature slickrock rides, but dirt is the sine qua non of mountain biking. Cutting a trail through the landscape is akin to process of surgery & dissection, abliet with picks and McLeods. Excavating by hand through the landscape, one is exposed to a very intimate and detailed natural history of erosion, decay, and life. One sees what an incredibly slow process by which dirt is formed here in the arid mountain west.
Growing up in the fertile pastures and fields of Southeast Kansas, I took the existence of dirt and green growing things rather for granted. When I moved to the high desert of Western Colorado, it was a shock to realize that every green and growing thing existed only because someone had brought water to it. Then I began to understand the miracle of life in the desert more, and appreciate against what incredible odds it survived against, whether it be a juniper tree, a chunk of crytpogram, clump of cactus, or fragrant sage. The smallest difference, a dead juniper branch laying across a steep slope, creating a miniature terrace for rabbitbrush to take root, the shade of a boulder protecting a deep bed of moss, all random elements coming together to support life, and by their own cycle of life and death, enriching the earth for those to come after them.
And then we use it to play on. So I think about the gravity of my acts every time I prune a juniper limb to blood red purple eye, hack through the bed of rootbound organic matter that vacuum seals Wyoming rocks in place, or crush lichen covered rock into backfill, and make sure that I am doing my best in the cycle of life and death to make this world a better place for those that come after me.