Trail Work

The Yellow trail was the last piece of Waldo still disrupted by the May storm. A lot of us put in a bunch of hours reopening the park. Some of the work was sanctioned, but I’m sure not even close to most of it. Given the circumstances, I didn’t hear many complaints. Whoever re-opened the upper end of the Red trail added two log-overs that have come to be some of my favorite features. There’s now a challenging chicane on the lower end of Red that’s really satisfying to clean. On Hunter, a tree went down and the hump between the trunk and the root ball has become an unofficial feature. The Housatonic Valley NEMBA chapter president, Paula, re-routed the lower Purple trail, turning it from a straight ride into a fun and swoopy hoot, and there’s a big log-over on the lower end of Yellow that still scares me.

Waldo is better than before.

It bugged me that the middle of the Yellow trail was still closed, so I bugged Paula to flag a re-route. She brought it downhill in a series of turns, then across the base staying mostly uphill from the wet areas. I get a kick out of trail-building. I like it nearly as much as riding the trail, and I felt privileged to have this section to work on. I walked it multiple times before lifting a tool, just letting the lay of the land sink in. I found a couple of tweaks that would move the trail a few feet laterally in the wet areas, placing it on rises that were maybe 6 in. above the original route. Six inches isn’t a lot, but it can be enough to keep your tires dry and to protect the fragile ecology of wetlands.

I spent a day cutting downed trees and clearing branches, leaf-blowing and raking, then quarrying rocks from the root balls of downed trees to armor the squishy sections. I love the smells of working in the woods; the spice from cutting a birch, even one that’s been down for 6 months, the mossy odor from rocks knocking together, the fecundity of the earth, the fall air as crisp as a Winesap apple.

I’m curious how it will hold up, how thick the brush will grow in the areas where there’s no longer a canopy of hardwoods, and whether the wet sections will need more work. I’ve ridden it four times now, three times down and one up. Each time it’s better, the earth more packed. Paula put some time in benching the upper section of the trail, and when the whole segment is properly bermed and benched, it’s going to be awesome.


About swampyankeecyclist

I'm Andy Engel, just a middle-aged, middle-class guy from Roxbury, Connecticut. I've been married to my best friend since 1988, and we have two grown sons. I like riding bikes, and my biggest accomplishment is the 180K D2R2. I own 5 bikes but my go-to rides are a 2016 GT Grade gravel and commuter bike and a 2016 Specialized 650b hardtail mountain bike. Additionally, I have a 2000-something carbon-fiber Orbea road bike, a 1990-something Specialized Sirrus that's my old dirt and commuter bike and which now serves as a spare and a trainer bike, and a 1985 Ross Mount Hood MTB. All but the 650b have Brooks saddles. I work from home now, but used to commute 32 miles round trip to work by bike year round. I was a carpenter and still love building things, but regular paychecks, insurance, and vacation time lured me into journalism. I've written a couple of books on carpentry, and I've been an editor at Fine Homebuilding, Fine Woodworking, and Professional Deck Builder magazines. Currently, I manage construction events at the JLC Live and Remodeling Show trade shows. Additionally, my wife and I run Transylvania Guest House, an Airbnb. Find us on Instagram. Come stay with us and I'll show you some great cycling.
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