Pictures by Andy Gomes
Story by Larry Gomes
Once in a great while, you have one of those days where everything goes right. Not only do you get more done than you expected but then some other good stuff happens and it turns a great day into a once-in-a-lifetime fantastic day. We had one of those days on Saturday.
It started out normal enough. The first great thing that happened is two volunteers called to say they would be there to help with trail work. That's always a plus because doing trail work alone is never any fun. We packed up the materials at the clubhouse and set out for a meeting with a landowner out on Corridor 19 in Milan about a mile south of the junction with PT114. This was a new section of trail built last summer to get the trail off the power line and away from a wet area prone to flooding.
The new trail was excellent except for one corner that was too sharp and difficult for the groomers to negotiate. It gave our operators trouble all winter and needed to be corrected.
The second great thing that happened that day was the landowner showed up right on time and gave us permission to cut down several trees so we could soften the corner and remove a choke point. We proceeded to cut down about a dozen trees and all except one came down exactly where we wanted them.
The original trail took a hard
right turn at the stump with the rock in front of it. This was hard to
negotiate with the groomer.
With several trees cut down along the right side of the trail, the turn is now much more gradual.
The stumps were all cut down even with the ground and rocks were moved by hand so no excavator work is needed.
BEFORE: The trail goes to
the right between a pair of trees that are only 12 feet apart.
It was a bad choke point and you can see the tree on the left near the
gas jug has been scarred by the groomer and drag.
AFTER: The big pine near the
gas jug has been taken down and laid along side of the trail ready to be hauled
away by the land owner.
The pine was limbed and cut into three 18' long sections so it could be run through a portable saw mill.
Once the stump was cut level with the ground, it added another 4 ' to the width of the trail eliminating the choke point.
BUSTED! Larry hangs up
the last tree of the day in the canopy and Andy grabs the camera to snap a
picture before Larry can clean up his mistake.
Eric Johnson stands by ready to help dispose of the tree after it has been undercut into smaller pieces.
All of the hardwood trees that were taken down were cut into manageable lengths and piled up
neatly next to the trail so it can be picked up by the landowner.
After finishing work on straightening out the curve, the crew stopped for lunch and then moved on to the second project of the day. Their goal was to find a way to move Corridor 19 from the East side of the power line to the West side. Relocating the trail would have two main benefits: less water and more snow. Many of the older members in the club remember the trail being along the West side of the power line years ago, but for some unknown reason it was moved to the center of the power. Now the West side is overgrown and there are no remnants of the old trail. The plan was to see if the West side of the power line was free of obstructions so the trail can be moved back. Because there is so much wet ground, the crew had to do this survey work on foot carrying all their tools with them including a chain saw, extra gas, grade stakes and sledge hammer.
Andy pounds in a grade stake to
mark one side of the trail while Eric uses a chain saw to cut some of the bigger
brush from the center of the trail.
The entire length of the relocated trail will eventually have to be brush cut using a tractor in dry areas and by hand in the wet areas.
Larry marks the outside edges
of the trail with ribbon through a very dense growth of alders. Eric cuts
down some of the larger
brush in between the markers so we can have some idea where the trail goes. This section has several small streams running through
that will have to be bridged. There were also many large boulders, but there was a passageway through them just wide enough for the trail.
Is this the trail the old timers talked about? There is simply no way to know. Its so over grown that no remnants of the old trail remain.
The existing trail is on left. You can see it is washed out and there is a river flowing down it. At the very bottom is a small pond across the trail with water up to 2' deep.
During last winter, this "pond" froze solid and did not give us any problems. In years past, this has been a water crossing, a mud bog or a combination of the two.
You can see where Eric and Larry are working along the new trail on the right, the elevation is slightly higher than the existing trail.
This will prevent water from building up in that section of the trail. Also note that parts of the new trail along the tree line are already in the shade while
the existing trail is still in full sunlight. This shading effect is even more pronounced in the winter (when the sun is lower in the sky) and
most of the new trail will be in shade right after lunch keeping the snow melt on sunny days to a minimum.
Great thing number 3 - Finding a way around the worst water problem on the power line.
It was getting late in the day and the crew has arrived at the junction of the trail to the Mahoosuc Inn. They had two choices. A long hard slog back through the water and mud along the power line or head down to the Inn and get a ride back to the car. Larry gave the Inn a call and they said they would be glad to give the crew a ride. It was a much more pleasant walk along the flat grassy paths to the Inn. As the Inn came into view, it was clear there was something going on there.
A picture of the large back deck behind the Mahoosuc Inn that has hosted many outdoor events. Today would be no exception.
Kim (office manager) and Mark
(owner) of the Mahoosuc Inn had a surprise in store for the crew when they
Mark said we all looked dehydrated so he walked us around to the back deck where there were two
ICE COLD kegs of beer!
Larry pours a glass of Stella
Artois. The keg in the foreground is Newcastle. What cure for
The crew is all smiles as they
toast to the hospitality of Kim and Mark. This was the fourth great thing
to happen today.
So we are thinking, it does not get any better than this. OH YES IT DOES!
Out comes some snacks and nice
late afternoon fire. It turns out that the people around the table are
relatives of Kim and Mark
from Maine and one of them is a groomer operator. So now we cold beer, tasty food and great conversation.
Great thing number five - ITS AN OUTDOOR PARTY!
There was still a few more
surprises in store for us. Mark said they were having a fundraising event
for the Muddy Paw Kennel in Jefferson.
In addition to raising sled dogs and running tours, the owners of the Kennel have been rescuing huskies from animal shelters
that are about to be put down. The kennel owners take these dogs in and then try to find people to adopt them.
The Mahoosuc Inn was hosting a party that night to help raise money for the kennel and we were invited!
As we headed for Mark's car, he
handed us an envelope for the club.
Inside was a payment for his map ad plus a substantial donation for the club.
In spite of the low snow conditions, Mark said he had a lot of dog sledders and snowmobilers
stay at the Inn and his guests had nothing but good things to say about the WMRR trails.
Great thing number six - compliments and a donation!
We arrived back at our cars, packed up and drove back to the clubhouse. After putting away the tools and we headed home for showers and then back to the Inn for the festivities. When we arrived, the parking lot was full, the barn was decked out in lights and music was playing.
The top floor of the barn had been renovated by Mark into a comfortable function room that can seat over 100 people. Complete with a bar area and wood stove, it was the perfect setting for a party.
There were tables of food everywhere, each one looking better than the next. Outside was the cold keg of Newcastle. Inside bottles of wine and other beverages. A DJ in a tux (less the jacket) was spinning a variety of music.
The food was excellent and we found out later that it was prepared by many different people, some of whom were professional cooks. It was gourmet pot luck dinner - great thing number seven!
After two helpings of main courses and multiple desserts, we were stuffed. We ended up sitting at a table with a couple from Milan. Turns out they were both past members of WMRR and he was the assistant trail master for the club 15 years ago. Now that is an amazing coincidence because I am the current assistant trail master. It was really fun hearing about some of the things they did building the trails that we were working on today. It was the perfect ending to a fantastic day. Great thing number eight!
We would like to express our
sincere thanks to Kim, Mark and all the people we met on Saturday
for making the first trail work day of 2012 the best trail work day ever!
Many thanks to Eric, Andy and Larry for the trail work they did on Corridor 19 and for finding a way around two of the wettest areas on this section of trail. We are at the beginning of this project and we will be working several more weekends to finish laying out this trail along a new route and doing repairs where needed. Please consider giving one day of your time to help us with this trail work. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. Free accommodations are available to any volunteers coming from out town.
PS: Almost $500 was raised to Muddy Paw Kennels help take care of their rescued huskies. Glad we were able to help.