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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Good Grief’ mountain bike trail to honor man who died in Pend Oreille River boating accident 2 years ago

Jenny and Aaron Faulhaber did just about every outdoors activity, but mountain biking was the one they enjoyed the most together.

Their rides were cut short two years ago when Aaron Faulhaber, 49, of Laclede, Idaho, and three other men – Gregory Daiker, 59, of Laclede; Jason Maxson, 51, of Laclede; and John Schulte, 59, of Sandpoint – died after their boat capsized June 28, 2022, on the Pend Oreille River near Priest River.

To honor her late husband, Jenny Faulhaber, a Sandpoint bicycle club and volunteers added a 0.6-mile memorial biking trail, named “Good Grief,” to the roughly 8-mile Velo Tout Terrain trail system southwest of Sandpoint.

Jenny Faulhaber said the trail gave her a sense of purpose and a way to celebrate Aaron Faulhaber’s life.

“I’m finding healthy ways to process my grief over the loss of my husband, Aaron Faulhaber, by channeling my emotions into activities that bring me closer to nature and to his memory,” she said in a text message. “Mountain biking has become a therapeutic outlet for me, allowing me to clear my mind and connect with the outdoors.”

The couple was married for nearly 16 years, together for 20 years and knew each other for 24.

Jenny Faulhaber described her husband, who was born and raised in Spokane, as “loving,” “strong” and “amazing,” according to a Spokesman-Review story shortly after the boating accident.

Jenny Faulhaber said last week her late husband taught her how to mountain bike when she met him almost a quarter-century ago.

About a month before the accident, the couple was riding mountain bikes at the VTT trail system and encountered former neighbor Scott Rulander, who was also riding his bike.

They never crossed paths despite living on the same road about 1½ miles from each other for several years. The Faulhabers then moved to Laclede in 2019.

“We chatted a little bit and ended up riding together for the night,” Rulander said. “Yeah, that was really special to get to spend that time with them.”

Rulander was the lead designer and builder of “Good Grief.”

The VTT trail system sits on wooded property couple Julie and Steve Meyer purchased in 2020. Hiking and biking trails were then constructed on the property, Rulander said.

The Meyers, who Rulander said are avid mountain bikers, started the Pend d’Oreille Winery in Sandpoint in 1995 and ran it for 22 years before new owners took over.

Good Grief starts in a cedar forest and cuts through the dense woods filled with larches, firs, hemlocks and other tree species. Riders can pull off the path at one section and take in a beautiful mountain landscape and a glimpse of the Pend Oreille River.

A sign marking the start of the trail will be posted in the future. Jenny Faulhaber and Rulander said they hope to install a bench at the scenic lookout point. The bench could include a message about grief.

Rulander said they started examining the landscape May 6 to decide where to build the trail. After determining the location, the group went to work excavating, cutting down small trees and removing roots and rocks.

Rulander and Jenny led the effort, but Rulander said the community was crucial, especially doing “heavy lifting” by dragging downed trees away.

The work parties involved Pend Oreille Pedalers and other volunteers. Rulander estimated 200 hours in volunteer effort since work on the trail started. The trail was completed June 20.

“I think everyone feels good to be part of building a trail, and especially a trail that has the meaning that this trail does,” Rulander said.

Rulander and Jenny Faulhaber put in many hours by themselves.

Jenny Faulhaber said she loved cutting out roots and chucking rocks off the trail.

“She’s a very hard worker, and she’s super meticulous,” Rulander said.

While the trail is inspired by Aaron Faulhaber, it’s a place for everyone to think about loved ones they lost, he said.

“It is truly like a memorial for all the folks that we’ve lost throughout the years, because I think everyone can relate with loss,” Rulander said.

Rulander said the 2-mile Rotarian trail, the longest in the VTT network, connects with Good Grief. He said he feels most riders will want to take Good Grief on their way out of the woods.

“Because as fun as Rotarian is, it’s not as fun as (this trail) is going to be, so it’s really going to become a super popular trail in the system,” he said. “It already is.”

Jenny Faulhaber said she’s extremely happy with the trail.

“It’s one of the last things that I had on the list of things that I really wanted to do to honor Aaron, and I think it’s a great honor and he would be thrilled that the community’s going to use it and enjoy it,” she said.

Rulander said Jenny Faulhaber inquired about building a trail in her husband’s honor shortly after his death. He told her to get in touch with Pend Oreille Pedalers, of which she is a member, so the bike club can set up a donation system on its website, which it did.

Jenny Faulhaber said several people donated, and they thought they could build a trail right away, but it didn’t pan out.

“The timing is great because two years ago, I probably would not have been able to help out, and now I’m really enjoying being part of it and it’s been helpful,” she said.

Rulander, who is in his first year as Pend Oreille Pedalers trails director, said he wanted to see the trail come to fruition and brought the topic to the bike club’s board meetings. The club and the Meyers eventually approved the trail.

He said it felt right to build the trail on the VTT system because the Faulhabers, who were part of the bike club, frequently rode it.

“It could have been built in many different locations, but I feel like it ended up being built in one of the prettiest spots possible for a trail and really great terrain that was really inspiring to build on,” Rulander said.

Jenny Faulhaber agreed.

“When Scott first brought me here, when we were just scouting the trail, I was like, ‘Yep, this is it,’ ” she said.

Those who wish to honor Aaron Faulhaber’s memory are invited for a group ride at 1 p.m. Sunday at the memorial trail. From U.S. Highway 2, take West Pine Street north about one-half mile and look for a gravel parking lot and shipping container on the right.