Pictures by Dan O'Reilly
Story by Larry Gomes
Our third trail work day of the season featured another crystal clear day with bright sunshine. Amazingly we have had over 2 weeks of these sunny clear days and the ground has really dried out during that time.
It was our second week in a row with a crew of 7 volunteers and it was nice to see some new faces showing up to help along with our reliable veteran volunteers. Our goal for the day was to continue the work started last week of cutting brush and trees to widen the Cates Hill trail so our excavator operator can fit his equipment down the trail to do repair work.
This week we started from the other end of the trail, leaving from the top of the Suicide Hill trail and working our way west. Since we had enough people, we split the crew into two groups.
The first group consisted of chainsaw operators John Higgins and Eric Johnson and brush throwers Richard and Hunter Dagesse. The second group consisted of chainsaw operator Larry Gomes and brush throwers Dan O'Reilly and Roger Jones. Roger's grandson Joseph was in charge of carrying supplies as the group moved down the trail.
The two groups started cutting at different locations in the trail so they would not be in each others way.
The crews started cutting at 9:30am and by 2:30pm another 1,900 feet of trail had been cut bringing the total trail cut to 3,900 feet. Now there is only about 1,200 feet of trail left to clear.
Roger Jones gets ready to throw
a log off the trail while his grandson Joseph looks on. Roger is a local
resident who uses the Cates Hill Trail to gain
access to the trail system. He stopped the groomer last year and said he would be willing to help with trail work so we called him and he kept his promise.
Larry Gomes takes a moment to survey the cut brush he has just cut laying across the trail.
Dan O'Reilly and Richard Dagesse drag a pile of heavy brush off the trail.
Hunter Dagesse work the
opposite side of the trail from his brother. This part of the trail was
thick with fir trees which created
a two-foot thick carpet of brush after they were cut down.
Imagine coming around a corner
and seeing this mess. The worst part is, the guys who are cutting are so
far ahead of the throwers that
they are no longer in sight. The throwers were thinking at this point, "Its going to be long day".
As usual, John Higgins AKA "The
Taskmaster" set a torrid pace knocking trees down one after another. Here
John is cutting the larger trees into
smaller sections to make it easier on the throwers.
While John was working one side
of the trail, Eric Johnson was working the other side. It did not take
these two long to leave
the throwers behind. Normally it takes 2 throwers to keep up with one chainsaw operator. In the morning, there only
the two Dagesse brothers trying to keep up with Eric and John, so they quickly fell behind. In the afternoon, they were joined by Dan
and at the end of the day, all of the cutters joined to help finish throwing the brush.
After two days of cutting, over
75% of the trail widening has been completed. The section that remains is
in the center of the trail and can only be
accessed by hiking in from one end or the other. The good news is that its not as thick with brush and its only 1,200 feet long, so that it should
be able to be finished in a short day. The club has been working for over 4 years making improvements to these trails starting with the Berlin Trail
in 2009 and 2010 and then reworking the Suicide Hill trail in 2011. The goal is to make these trails groomable in low snow conditions.
Before the improvements were
started, these trails needed 2'-3' of snow to cover the rocks, stumps and
streams which were a minefield
of hazards for the WMRR groomer operators and for the riders who use these trails. All of this work is being funded by WMRR and also through
donations of excavator time by Matt Godbout of MG Construction. Grant funding for local trails like these is just about impossible to get, so the club
has tried to do some work on these secondary trails every year. Those four years of effort are finally starting to pay off!
Our thanks go out to the seven volunteers who came out this past weekend to help with this project. We are hoping to finish up this trail next weekend (weather permitting), so watch the website for details.
Also remember that if you volunteer to help next weekend, you will be invited to our annual volunteer party on May 18th! Hopefully that is a good enough incentive for those of you that have been thinking about helping with one of our projects.