Fall is one of the best times of year to ride in the mountains. Unfortunately it also comes with it's own unique challenges. One the biggest problems with Fall riding is trees. Here in Central Washington we have pretty warm and dry summers. The lack of moisture tends to dry the ground pretty seriously and allows tree roots to sort of loosen up. So, when the weather moves in and it starts to blow and rain it is not very unusual for trees to fall over and of course many of those trees fall across the riding trails. When you are out riding and you come to one of these trees you have three choices: 1) Call it a day and go back to the truck, not my idea of good time, but it is an option. 2) Go over or around the tree; which depending on where you happen to be riding might require angel's wings or a helicopter. 3) Clear the tree the tree somehow. Which in some cases might still require a helicopter and possibly the entire crew from Axemen.
For me, going back to the truck is the last and worst option. Going over or around the tree is usually the first option; but keep in mind going around the tree can add 20 miles to your ride sometimes, and could put you on a federal "no fly list" for going off trail. Going over is the preferred method and for small tree is not so bad. I know there are lots of Youtube videos out there showing the proper technique for going over bigger trees; videos made by people that make it look really easy. Unfortunately I am not one of those people and more often than not I end up on the ground with the bike laying on top of me. Or worse if you happen to be on one of those lovely exposed side hills that fall away to who knows where you may find yourself in need a that helicopter just to get you out and forget about your bike. So that leaves clearing the tree out of the way.
In my opinion, in most cases clearing trees off the trail is the best. It's not the easiest and certainly not the fastest. But, in the long run it makes for better riding for everyone, if you document your time and turn it in it helps the local ranger station get funding. Not to mention when one some snooty hiker starts telling you how terrible you and your sport are you can remind them that if it wasn't for dirt bike people doing trial maintenance many popular trails would not be usable.
Over the years I have tried different methods of removing trees and have learned quite a bit, both from trial and error as well as from other people I ride with. I have also tried, or been with people who have tried, a variety of tools and saws. So far I have not found the magic joo joo that makes trees get out of my way, no matter how much I yell, beg, plead or cry. What I have found is some tools that make the job easier. Short of carrying an actual gas powered chain saw (which I have and will do again in the spring) I have found that the best saw is a pocket chainsaw and a wedge. The pocket chainsaw is not one of those cheesy cable saws they have at Bi-Mart, but what looks like an actual chainsaw chain with handles. One of these saws along with a simple plastic falling wedge will allow you cut trees relatively quickly, take up less room in your pack than a folding saw and will really impress your friends.
Whatever your preferred method, always keep in mind that at some point you may want to go home, so don't get in a position where can get hurt or captured by Big Foot.