Tales from the Trails
In 2012, Expresso was the trail adopted by MEC through the NSMBA’S TAP program. Over the course of the 2012 season for MEC there were: 6 trail days, 47 volunteers, 380 volunteer hours, 30+ feet of trail restored, 2 rock hauling chains were formed, and the crew dug for countless buckets of gold.
“If you build a trail, you maintain it for life – it is your responsibility.”
-Todd ‘Digger’ Fiander
The entrance to Expresso is found just before the sixth switchback on Fromme. Considered an advanced trail, there are enough drops, ramps and plenty of downhill to keep your heart racing. The trail required some much needed maintenance and some of the woodwork needed to be removed. Prior to the work, the assessment done by the NSMBA noted some drainage issues and one reroute needed to be put in place. Expresso has been adopted by MEC, nsmb.com and RockShox meaning that lots of the work was going to get done.
For the MEC crew, the meeting point for each trail day would be at the top of Mountain Highway. From there the group would drive to the start of the trail and head down to the area to be worked on. At this point Digger, a trail building legend on the North Shore who has been trail building for 20+ years, is MEC’s assigned trail builder, walks the group through the plan was for the day and it was off to work. Along with the digging, shoveling, tamping and lifting, the trail would be beautified by laying down organic soil known as gold and ferns and moss would be planted on the edge of the trail giving it a more natural feel.
On one particular trail day last fall, after thousands of rocks had been hauled from a far distance it seemed to be the end of the day: the group was tired and could barely walk and they were ready to pack up and go home. Digger came to look at the work and proclaimed “well we can’t leave it like that.” And the group knew that Digger was right. With MEC staffer Berglind digging for gold as fast as she could, the 15 other volunteers moved buckets of dirt so quickly that not only was the work completed in 30 minutes, but there was an immense sense of accomplishment among the group.
MEC staffer and trail coordinator, Ash Kelly had this to say:
“We learned about drainage techniques, rock laying, gold digging, how to split cedar and stake take-offs for jumps, how to build bridges and skinnies, and how to finish a trail with details such as moss and ferns. We learned how to work efficiently, and to take pride in the work we were doing.”
This year with the help of a $15,000 Access and Activity grant from MEC, the NSMBA will take their tools to the Bridal Path on Mount Seymour. The 4.2km trail that is used by mountain bikers, hikers and trail runners will be broken into 4 sections with 4 different builders assigned to each particular section. In the end, due to teamwork and the help of many volunteers, the trail work is expected to be completed by mid-July.
Interested in volunteering with your local trail maintenance organization? Check out IMBA Canada, a partner of MEC, to find regional news and events and search for IMBA affiliate clubs and retailers.
The Trail Adoption Plan, or TAP as it is commonly referred to, was launched in 2011 by the NSMBA so that the North Shore recreational trails for all to enjoy forever.
About North Shore Mountain Bike Association
The mission of the NSMBA is “Trails for all, Trails forever!” They are the voice for the mountain biking community on the North Shore and develop and sustain the network of trails while fostering a mountain biking culture and community.
About the International Mountain Bike Association
IMBA Canada is a non-profit trail advocacy organization whose mission is to create, enhance, and preserve great trail experiences for mountain bikers throughout Canada. MEC is a national partner of IMBA Canada to help deliver their Take a Kid Mountain Biking events which happen across the country.
The Finger of God
If you spend time in the backcountry, you have likely seen the recent New York Times feature Snow Fall, with its detailed analysis of the February 2012 Tunnel Creek avalanche. That story, which went viral in part due to its groundbreaking integration of multimedia, and an earlier Outside piece on the same event (Tunnel Vision ) are both well worth reading for their revealing look at decision making and group dynamics in high risk situations.